Following on from the rumours that the Big Day Out had been sold to Soundwave and Harvest festival promoter AJ Maddah, buying in a majority stake into the rival festival, Big Day Out’s Ken West has confirmed to dispel the hearsay that he has sold his share and walked from the iconic Australian one-day festival.

West has instead confirmed that “kindred spirit” Maddah is coming onboard the Big Day Out team as the festival’s co-promoter, with the two jointly running the festival alongside C3 Presents, the Texan promoters behind Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

“I need everyone to calm down,” West told Fairfax media. “The world is not collapsing. In short AJ is joining the BDO circus and I am staying. So the BDO team will now be C3, AJ Maddah and yours truly.”

On Monday afternoon, West’s former Big Day Out partner Vivian Lees spoke to Triple J’s Hack, stoking rumours that Maddah had bought out West’s stake in the festival after he was quitting. Lees also took several swipes at the Soundwave/Harvest/Warped promoter, describing him as an “odious character” and “a gambler.”

But West has thrown his support behind his new business partner, saying that the deal is about a ‘passing of the torch’ and that Maddah is “the logical choice” for the long-running national festival moving forward. “I feel AJ is a kindred spirit. Crazy in a good way… even as a competitor… I know him and I trust him.” – Ken West

it’s “about time I let a new generation help continue the BDO evolution,” said an ’emotional’ West, who added that Big Day Out’s triple-headlining bill of Pearl Jam, Blur, and Arcade fire was a “bucket list” lineup for him, allowing him to begin to pass off the festival to its next helmsman.

“I will always be with BDO through thick and thin, I love this show and all the passionate people that make it happen,” says West, “especially… the music fans who allowed me to have the greatest job in the world.”

West added that: “I feel AJ is a kindred spirit. Crazy in a good way… He knows this event better than anyone and has always been its greatest supporter, even as a competitor… I know him and I trust him.”

It’s a huge change of heart considering West’s open criticisms of the rival promoter less than two years ago, labelling Maddah a “financial anarchist” in an interview with The Vine ahead of the 2012 Big Day Out. “He hasn’t got any interest in the Australian music scene whatsoever… He should go to another country. He’s done more harm to what was a reasonably stable business here…”

Maddah tells Fairfax that it was West that had approached him to become involved with the Big Day Out, stressing that West would continue – though at a lesser capacity – with the two holding equal share in the festival, though from a monetary view, he would only confirm they hold “equal” financial interest, with the actual figure being “nobody else’s business.”

The Soundwave boss had been teasing his involvement with the Big Day Out following Monday’s rumours, tweeting “as usual, the rumours are a bit exaggerated and not quite as sensational.” Additionally, he noted as a result of the Harvest 2013 cancellation that he’d been in discussion with West about moving CSS to the Big Day Out 2014 lineup.

Maddah has now revealed that he has in fact helped in wrangling acts for Big Day Out lineups for “seven years” prior to 2011 – including Kasabian, Rage Against The Mchine, Trivium, Slipknot, and Bullet For My Valentine – and would be involved in booking future Big Day Out bills.

Maddah emphasised that West would continue on with Big Day Out, with no immediate plans to step aside, but that it would be “inevitable … I will hand over the reigns of Soundwave one day. None of us are immortal. Well maybe [Michael] Chugg.” “If the festivals aren’t played off against each other hopefully we can make our artists’ budgets go further which means better lineups and better value.” – AJ Maddah

The Soundwave honcho also promised “better value” for the consumer with negotiations for booking both Soundwave and Big Day Out bands simultaneously would help keep the spiralling costs of international headliners in check. “If the festivals aren’t played off against each other hopefully we can make our artists’ budgets go further which means better lineups and better value,” he says.

As for what he planned to bring to the Big Day Out, Maddah also shot down speculation that he would reduce the Big Day Out’s strong support of Australian artists, and bring back “a bit of energy and vitality… part of the problem at the Big Day Out was they had gone so far away from where the event started,” explains the promoter, “you could stay it had been a bit bloated and bureaucratic.”

From a practical standpoint, Maddah pledged to improve the fan experience by bettering site layouts, adding extra toilets, and work on increasing the efficiency of facilities for shorter queues for food and alcohol. “We are asking people to invest in 11 hours of entertainment, if they have to spend an hour queuing that devalues the ticket by 10 per cent,” he adds.

As for concerns that a Maddah-booked Big Day Out bill would mean less slots for Australian bands given his tendency for few Australian acts on his festival lineups for his flagship events, the promoter explains “that’s partly because we didn’t want to recirculate the lineup of the Big Day Out.”

Adding that: “the percentage of Aussie bands at the Big Day Out will not change. There will be no change to the spirit of the Big Day Out. It’s Ken’s vision and I’m working for him. For 20 years it’s been my ambition to work for the Big Day Out… It’s been a great festival for 22 years. I don’t need to fuck with that.”

There are unconfirmed industry reports that along with the installation of Maddah at the helm alongside West and C3 Presents, that a large percentage of the Big Day Out staff have been sacked.

Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit will remain in his role. The BDO chief executive, who has taken a leaf out of Maddah’s approach to social media in the lead-up to the Big Day Out 2014 lineup announcement, also defended the event’s new co-promoter against the attacks from Vivian Lees on Triple J’s Hack in a tweet (that has since been removed) that read: “AJ Maddah was basically Viv Lee’s only source of artist insight or Music knowledge for a decade…why do the old always hate the young??

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