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EXCLUSIVE: Legion's John Sankey Says 'Trust Needs To Be Restored' After Soundwave's Demise

19 January 2016 | 1:21 pm | Neil Griffiths

Following news that the festival has moved to 2017.

Following yesterday's announcement that the inaugural Legion festival has been postponed from this March until January 2017, organiser John Sankey has assured fans that the team are working toward next year's event amidst concerns from punters that the new festival will experience a similar fate to that of the now-defunct Soundwave.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with theMusic Sankey said, "We are 100% committed to it."

Legion has been touted as the 'Soundwave replacement festival', given that it was announced within just days after confirmation that Soundwave had folded, but Sankey has insisted that that they are doing everything possible to assure the festival goes ahead in 2017, which has included extending the crowdfunding campaign by another 60 days. 

"We realize there's a certain amount of trust that needs to be restored and that's also a big reason why we decided to do the Pozible campaign," Sankey said. 

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"We didn't want the fans to take any risks financially and from day one we have made it very clear that no one will be charged a cent unless we confirm the festival will go forward without doubt. It also showed people that even with no guarantees we are still willing to put our own time, hard work and reputations on the line to do all we can to make this event a reality."

Though he admits he would have preferred news of the festival's postponement not be leaked prematurely yesterday, the Devil You Know drummer said it simply proved their commitment to fans. 

"I've been part of the music industry for a long time so I'm used to it and it really doesn't worry me, it's almost laughable because the public easily see through the nonsense so I just smile and keep the peace so I can stay focused on the things that matter," he explained.

"...We personally reached out to each and every one of the people who have pledged and supported us to thank them and let them know of our plans to reschedule before going to the press or public. That was an important priority for us because it's those fans who are the direct reason for us now having the opportunity to make a much bigger and better event in January 2017 for all of Australia."

Sankey revealed that he initially envisioned Legion to feature a "minimal line-up" of bands who were scheduled to tour Australia for Soundwave, but the overwhelming response that the new festival received was one of the reasons why postponing it until next year was the best decision. 

"...Things blew up so quickly that we realized we have an opportunity to develop Legion into a major festival for the long term, so that's our ultimate goal now and taking more time to do things on a much larger scale is a very positive move."

While he opted not to disclose some of the headliners that are being discussed for next year, Sankey didn't shy away from the fact that some international acts are hesitant to join an Aussie music festival line-up, given the current festival landscape . 

"There has been some hesitation because of recent issues surrounding other festivals, but we are assuring the bands, agents, management etc that Australia has one of the most loyal and supportive fanbases in the world who are willing to support a new event that will bring the bands back," Sankey said. 

"This is another big reason why the crowdfunding angle is so important, the whole industry world-wide is watching because they need to see that the fans want this and will be a part of rebuilding a music festival that will attract bands on a global level."

"International bands love touring Australia and so many of them have already told me they want to see Legion succeed and they want to be part of it, so it's just a matter of proving we can offer a sustainable event and showing the world we have the support of the fans. I see this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give back to the music scene in Australia, we have the chance to lead a new movement created directly with the fans and the artists, and we will do all we can to see that happen."

Sankey went on to say that the opportunity to build Legion up as one of the flagship festivals in the country is one that he is passionate about.

"Australia has a lot of amazing bands that do not get the credit they deserve, so firstly there needs to be a serious focus on helping local artists move forward by giving them a platform such as this to develop," he said.

"As a musician myself I'm very passionate about helping young bands and keeping the scene alive by giving them opportunities."

His aspirations for Legion is no surprise given that it will now take place over the Australia Day weekend, a festival which was occupied by the long-running event Big Day Out before its final event in 2014; a move that Sankey made intentionally. 

"Historically the summer festivals have become legendary on the Aussie calendar so that's what we're aiming for, and we're confident fans will embrace the event and celebrate a great national time of year with us!"

Check out the new dates below and for more information, head to the Legion website

21 January — Perth 

22 January — Adelaide

26 January — Melbourne

28 January  — Sydney

29 January — Brisbane