The Big Day Out 2014 tour may have concluded, but the dust hasn’t quite settled from the latest edition of the long-running Aussie festival.

A war of words has erupted between Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit and Fairfax journalists following an article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday (9th February), swiftly following Big Day Out promoter AJ Maddah’s revealing interview on Triple J’s Hack program.

Entitled ‘Big day off for boss of struggling Big Day Out’, the SMH piece targets Zammit for taking a fishing trip with Big Day Out act Portugal. The Man prior to the staging of the Melbourne leg of the festival, making a point of mentioning his wife (“the lingerie model jailed in Bali in 2005”), as well as criticising the chief executive for a five-day “motorcycle ride.”

The Fairfax report also cites anonymous “insiders [who] say losses will be more than $10 million,” while emphasising the Big Day Out’s low attendance figures. The article also alleges Zammit’s responsibility for mass staff lay-offs last September as a cost-cutting measure and raises questions over the VIP Like A Boss tickets after several Big Day Out attendees complained to the ACCC about the $285 tickets.

The piece was labelled as a “shocking piece of journalism” and a “character assassination” by Chris Tanti, the CEO of headspace, the Australian youth mental health foundation that had partnered with Big Day Out for the 2014 tour, presenting a stage for unsigned acts to perform at the festival as part of a competition.

Mr Tanti also took issue with the article failing to research or mention that Zammit’s ‘motorcycle ride’ was for Rock N Ride, a Big Day Out-presented charity roadtrip  – that the headspace CEO also took part in – to raise awareness for mental health among young Australians.

The SMH piece – written by The Age’s Chris Johnston – soon reached the attention of Zammit, who tweeted “disappearing evidence he (Johnston) has any interest in music. I called him unethical once, now he is determined to prove I was right.”

Johnston replied in a series of tweets defending his article, telling the headspace CEO, “if you want personal attacks on people from your man that are untrue, villifying and cruel I can show you plenty of those.” Additionally, Mr Johnston tweets he “wanted to ask the question (about Rock N Ride) but was denied opportunity” of an interview with Zammit.

“More lies,” rebutted the Big Day Out CEO in a series of tweets, lashing out at the journo as a “gutter scum liar” while adding: “No questions were asked about me. Attacking my wife!!?? My charity??”

He also took another swing at the publication in tweet promoting AJ Maddah’s appearance on Triple J’s Hack on Friday.

In the same revealing Triple J interview, in which the Big Day Out co-promoter admitted to the festivals’ “ugly” financial losses, AJ Maddah made no secret of his distaste for the news organisation (and it‘s hardly the first time).

“The thing about Fairfax… they’re essentially enablers of gossip… they will take any old rubbish from any idiot [and] run with it completely irresponsibly,” Maddah said, responding to allegations made in a Fairfax article that suggested the festival was facing losses of between $8 to $15 million over lax attendance figures.

“These morons at Fairfax, they don’t stop to actually think through the allegations they’re making,” Maddah says, while pointing out he’d offered the publication to “come in and go through my emails, to see what was going on [but] they weren’t interested… because the truth isn’t sensational.”

Maddah also responded to Fairfax allegations that Mr Zammit had been fired ahead of this year’s Big Day Out leg in Adelaide only to be rehired. Calling the CEO a “really good guy [who] obviously has got his own style of doing things,” Maddah did say his position was “something that we’ll review with time.”

Referring to his own “brash management style,” Maddah went on to say “had I fired him it probably would have been on Twitter. You can take it on good authority he wasn’t actually fired.” Before defensively adding that he “didn’t see the relevance” in firing the festival’s CEO or not, but admitted “If he had been dismissed, it would have had wider ramifications.”

In related news, Maddah is today dealing with the loss of another major act from his Soundwave Festival 2014 lineup after Megadeth announced they’d be pulling out of their festival commitments. News that follows just days after the festival announced that metal band Newsted had been booted as support from Sidwave shows “at the request of Megadeth”, while the band’s touring manager claims Soundwave had “ignored” Megadeth’s support requests.

You can read our Big Day Out 2014 festival coverage below, along with some of the twitter exchange between Adam Zammit and Fairfax journalist Chris Johnston.

Big Day Out 2014
Gold Coast: 

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