Heavy metal fans around the country thought their wildest dreams had finally come true earlier this week when local touring company Heathen Skulls announced the inaugural Rolling Thunder festival, a heavy metal event set to take place at Kryal Castle.

As Tone Deaf reported on Monday, Rolling Thunder boasted a lineup featuring The Sword, Clowns, American Sharks, and more, as well as a venue torn right out of a heavy metal album cover. It didn’t take long for FOMO to spread amongst Australia’s heavy metal community.

But overnight that FOMO turned to confusion and disappointment after Heathen Skulls took to social media to announce that the event will no longer be held at Kryal Castle, citing an issue stemming from a previous Kryal Castle event.

“Due to unfortunate circumstances that related to a previous event at Kryal Castle, it is with a heavy heart that we announce it is no longer possible to hold Rolling Thunder Festival at the Kryal Castle site,” the statement opened.

“We would like nothing more than to continue as originally planned but the situation is now outside of our control and the venue is concerned about alcohol fuelled violence due to their recent experiences.”

The event to which the statement refers, presumably, is Oktoberfest, an event hosted at the Ballarat venue late last month, which The Age reports ended with the assault of two male punters, who were punched and kicked in the face after a dance floor confrontation.

“Although we appreciate the efforts of everyone involved, it has become apparent that Rolling Thunder Festival needs to find a more suitable home,” the statement from Heathen Skulls continued, before confirming that organisers have found “an amazing new site”.

“You will now be able to camp overnight!” the statement read. “Full details of the new site, location & transport will be announced very soon, stay tuned. All tickets to the Kryal Castle will be valid for the new site.”

“We understand that the new location may not suit everyone, for that reason anyone wishing to get a refund is welcome to do so, please email and we’ll process your refund: [email protected]

While it’s understandable Kryal Castle would want to avoid a potential repeat of the Oktoberfest incident, Tone Deaf can now reveal that the event was never actually scheduled to take place at the popular Ballarat venue.

Speaking to Tone Deaf, Kryal Castle’s marketing & business manager Serena Eldridge was emphatic that Kryal Castle had told MacManus repeatedly they were not interested in hosting the Rolling Thunder festival.

“The use of Kryal Castle imagery and our name has been without our authority…”

Kryal Castle management have now issued their own press release overnight, to clear the air about what actually happened behind the scenes.

“The promoter of this event approached Management in late October to commence a dialogue and was advised that an event of this scale would require further discussions, but he should ‘…not be basing the event around the use of the castle before any discussions have taken place.'”

“Continued communications took place with no commitment or agreements for the use of the venue and Mr McManus was advised definitively on November 12th that Kryal Castle was not interested in hosting the event.”

“The use of Kryal Castle imagery and our name has been without our authority and the promoter was asked to remove all reference to our venue as soon as we became aware of the pending ticket launch.”

Despite being told that the event could not be held at Kryal Castle, Heathen Skulls promoted their event as taking place at the venue, issuing a press release to media outlets, purchasing ads in a local street-press magazine, and launching a Facebook event page.

Email correspondence obtained by Tone Deaf between MacManus and Kryal Castle representatives dating back to late October — weeks before Rolling Thunder was announced — confirms that the event was never going to be held at the Ballarat venue.

After pitching the event to Castle stakeholders, a Kryal Castle representative informed MacManus on 23rd October that the venue has “a wedding already booked in” for the dates included in the promoter’s pitch.

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MacManus was persistent, offering to meet with Castle management and plead his case. But in an email sent three days later, the representative told the promoter that “all events of this type are on hold until after a complete analysis by The Directors and the event managers”.

The representative suggested MacManus find “an alternative venue for your 2016 event”. Then, on 12th November, four days before Rolling Thunder was first announced, a Kryal Castle representative gave MacManus a definitive ‘no’.

Despite being told repeatedly that Rolling Thunder would not go ahead at Kryal Castle, Heathen Skulls touted the Ballarat venue as the official festival site, with tickets going on sale yesterday. Only time will tell if misled punters will get their money back.

However, the mismanagement behind the scenes of Rolling Thunder festival doesn’t end there.

While event posters tout Young Henrys as one of the official presenting partners, a Young Henrys representative has confirmed to Tone Deaf that while the company was approached by Heathen Skulls to present the festival, they passed on the offer.

As was the case with Kryal Castle, Heathen Skulls apparently decided to go ahead and claim that Young Henrys was a presenting partner despite being told otherwise. All of this begs the question: is this one of Australia’s most dishonest music festivals?

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