Years ago, Destructo, also known as Gary Richards, spent Halloween 2007 promoting the first-ever HARD NYE in Vegas, which, by his own admission, made for a sucky Halloween.
Since then, HARD has become a ubiquitous representation of high-quality DJ acts and has no problem moving tickets. Destructo discusses this year's mansion tricks and treats after the jump.
OC Weekly: Tell me about your first DJing gig.
Gary Richards/Destructo: Whew, first gig, that's a tough one. We used to own a club called The Sermon and we started at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning and we didn't really have anyone to DJ so I became the DJ. And I really had no idea what I was doing.
How has the role of the DJ changed over the last 15 years you've been in the 'biz?
Back then it was about mixing two records together and it wasn't so much about the DJ. It wasn't like “Look at me I'm up here on stage” it was more about just creating a vibe for the club. And when people dance they aren't really as into what the DJ is doing. But it's changed a lot since then.
And I'm sure you get this question constantly, but for the sake of our readers who don't know — why is the festival series called HARD?
You know, I really need to come up with a good story for this. But the real reason is that Steve Aoki was like “Why don't you call it hard on? Like, I got a hard on for LA.” And I was like “Eh, hardon.com that sounds like a gay porn site. Why don't we just call it HARD?” And it stuck.
What's the capacity for the Haunted Mansion and how big of a team do you have working to make this event a reality?
Ten thousand per night, so 20,000 [total]. My team … that's a good question. Around 400 to 500 people? It's a pretty big pain in the ass.
How long does it take to plan each of these events?
Months and months, it depends on the event.
Some of the restrictions at HARD are kind of interesting. On the site you say “no kandi” and “no glow sticks.” Why?
We're just trying to tell people that we're a concert and not a rave event. You know, like, keep it civilized. We want people to have fun, we're just trying to promote a different type of scene. To me raving just has the connotation of little kids with no clothes on, doing drugs. And that's just not what I want HARD to be. I want HARD to be people who are 18+, responsible and are having a good time and enjoying the music.
What was the best costume you've ever seen at HARD?
I think it was DJ AM's costume — he dressed up as Daft Punk. This was in 2008. Everybody thought it was Daft Punk and he played all Daft Punk songs for like … 45 minutes. And I was nervous and I thought that people were going to get mad at me and say I brought a fake Daft Punk but then he took the helmet off and was like “haha, fooled you all!”
You've mentioned that HARD is about electronica and dance music, but you've booked a variety of acts from different genres. How do you know that an act like Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All would appeal to HARD's audience?
I feel like the basic backbone of HARD — obviously it's electronica, but, I also feel like HARD is a party and I love all kinds of music, so … I would like to put some rock music in there. Some rock music people might show up on Halloween. (!) But I like to mix it up — I think it gets stale with just one kind of music the whole time. To me, the groups just wanna have to party. We were the first group to have Lil Jon come out with Diplo, and how that whole thing came about was we invited Lil Jon on stage and I told him, “hey, by the way, here's the microphone it's live if you wanna get on.” and he just jumped on and people were like “what the heck, is that Lil Jon?”
HARD Halloween will be at The Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Show starts at 6 p.m., October 28 and 29. Tickets are $65 for one day, $125 for two days. They can be purchased at www.hardfest.com