Pasquale Rotella x Tom Petty

Tom Petty has been doing some press to promote the new Heartbreakers record Hypnotic Eye, and one of those interviews found him sounding off on electronic dance music festivals. You’ll never guess what he thinks about them. Specifically, Petty has this to say about the highly profitable Electric Daisy Carnival, where two people died this year:

Watch people play records? That’s stupid. You couldn’t pay me to go. I’m not oversimplifying it. That’s what’s going on. I don’t think it would be any fun without the drugs. It’s a drug party. You take that many kids to Vegas in the summer, what could go wrong? I knew it as soon as I saw the ad. I went, “Ooh, dead people.” Do you need the money so bad that you’ll put some kid’s life at risk?

Petty’s comments, from an interview at, inspired a somewhat passive-aggressive but mostly friendly response from EDC founder Pasquale Rotella of the Insomniac event production company. Rotella essentially says Petty is an aging classic rocker who’s grasping for relevance, but then he invites Petty to come see one of Insomniac’s festivals for himself. Here’s Rotella’s full response, as posted on Insomniac’s website:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about records, DJs and dance music, including Tom Petty. We’re living in a very electronic era with constantly evolving forms of entertainment, which may be a daunting thing for a classic rocker in search of contemporary social relevancy as he starts promoting new music. But I would think that someone who played shows with Dylan and the Dead — someone who lived through and actively contributed to the counterculture era of the ’60s and ’70s — wouldn’t be so quick to drink the overhyped media Kool-Aid about our festival experience. If he wants to come to EDC Vegas next year and see what it’s really about, we’ve got a ticket with his name on it. If he doesn’t want to wait that long, Nocturnal Wonderland is right around the corner. My Mama Irene would be stoked to meet him! Who knows? He might just have a “Change of Heart.”

Pulling the “My mom would be stoked to meet you” card was a ruthless move, Rotella! I guess Petty won’t be sticking around Outside Lands for Tiësto’s set the next day.

Comments (35)
  1. Rotella is totally right though, and that “my mom would be psyched to meet you” comment is a great hack.

  2. Thank goodness nobody has ever perished at a traditional rock show.

    • yeah, that wasn’t his point.

      i’ve been dragged to the EDM area at Lolla on multiple occasions and i’d venture a guess that a significant portion of the kids there who are on something don’t know and sure as shit don’t give a rat’s ass who’s up on stage (EDM headliners notwithstanding) hitting play on their ipod, so as long as it’s EDM.

    • I think he was implying it was irresponsible to to have a festival for a form of music where everyone going and listening takes molly, a drug known for overheating your body and dehydrating you, in a city where the weather is hitting 105 degrees on average. Having typed that, I acknowledge that EDC is almost entirely at night, when the temperatures are more fit for human living (and partying).

      But, I’ve thought similar things about EDC and not temperatures but drug laws. Las Vegas and Nevada drug laws are draconian. Simple possession is a felony that can lead to actual prison time (as well as a life-destroying felony conviction). Having a festival based around drugs there is like a honeytrap for ruining the lives of your customers. And, like Petty, I did think that the festival organizers in this case care more about money than the well being of their attendees.

      • Is it? Is it the job of someone in business tp refrain from creating a product that makes money due to the fact that it’s patrons act illegally and stupidly? Should Jim Beam stop distilling whiskey because some people misuse their product? Slippery slope you are talking about here.

        Cuz once we say “Damn The Torpedoes” on personal freedoms like this we are gonna be “Free Fallin”
        towards a complete societal “Breakdown”

        I really am sorry. I couldn’t help myself

  3. I agree with petty.

  4. I’d say this is a Petty news article.

  5. I would argue that describing Electric Daisy Carnival as “watching people play records,” is oversimplifying it. OWWWOOOOOOOOO!

  6. These people aren’t playing “records.” They are playing “playlists.”

  7. Rotella is just a suit afraid to show his teeth in photographs.

  8. Interesting that Rotella felt the need to answer Tom Petty. I mean, wouldn’t you just assume that a guy who has played pretty much the same style of boomer rock music for over 40 years is gonna be a bit of a rockist?

  9. Pasquale is who made the EDM scene into exactly what Petty described.

    someone who raved in the mid-90′s

  10. It would be really hard for to side with some douche in a suit over Tom Petty on pretty much anything. This is no exception.

  11. It’s hard to overstate how much love and respect I have for Tom Petty, but I stopped listening to his opinion on contemporary music when I saw an interview with him back in the early 90s where he told that lame joke about how “you can’t spell ‘crap’ without ‘rap’”.

    I ain’t mad at him, though. The world needs lovable curmudgeons.

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  13. I would say that not all music should be required to be played live or appreciated in the same way. I don’t care to see any EDM song played live with real instruments. I don’t give a flying fuck if someone is just hitting play; I accept the fact that they are “playing a playlist” of the music that they love for the people who love it. The point of EDM isn’t for someone to blow my mind via their talents with musical instruments. There are hundreds of other genres that exist for that exact purpose; EDM isn’t necessarily one of them, and it doesn’t have to be.

    But what do *I* know? I’m just another dumb millennial, and my generation sucks, and young people are always wrong, and “get off my lawn!”, etc. etc. It’s a little disappointing to hear this from one of my favorite rock artists, who probably at one point was another young person bucking against a preexisting system he felt was unfairly judging his music, too… but it’s not terribly surprising.

    • Agreed, and lets not forget that they still have to pick the songs, hope the crowd gets into them, put them in a good order to create nice flow to the set AND mix them in a skillful, interesting way. It’s not live music, but there’s much more to it than a lot of people realize. Even beyond the simple act of learning how to use the equipment. There are plenty of shitty DJs in world.

    • I totally get the celebratory vibe of EDM shows and, while it may not be my thing, tip my hat to the crowd that gets into it. I DO question, as I said below, if the majority of the audience would still be able to enjoy some of things without the use of drugs.

      • Don’t you think Tom Petty’s grandparents asked the same question about his generation of musicians? And weren’t they at least partially right as well?

        It’s not like Petty has been a vocal proponent of straight edge.

      • To answer your question, though, I am not a huge EDM fan but I have been to one underground rave and one huge house night in London, both sober, and loved them both. The slow-build-to-cathartic-release that a great DJ can create is an experience in itself.

        No idea if Aoki, Deadmaus, etc. provide the same type of feel as I’ve never really listened for more than a minute.

        • I’ve seen Aoki on shitloads of drugs and still found him unbearable. It was sad but really understandable when several people died via trampling trying to leave one his shows a few months later.

  14. That being said, Tom might have a point about this particular party/promoter.

  15. This feels an awful lot like a “kids these days!!!” moment. You youngsters make a mental note. If your ball goes over the fence he won’t give it back.

    • actually he will. i’ve heard stories from friends who live in gainesville (gators, that must be awful) that paint him as the kind of regular guy from the neighborhood who you’d find washing his car in the driveway

  16. As a guitar player, I have no problem also accepting that music people create with computers/electronics also falls under the category of art (which I don’t think is even the argument here so I have no idea why I typed that). As much as I love being slightly buzzed/drunk at many rock shows I go to, I find that (most of them) still have the possibility to be enjoyed sober. I am genuinely curious if there are people who go to the mainstream-type EDM concerts without being on some sort of drug and enjoy them. That’s not to say that electronic music can’t be enjoyable in a non-altered state but I’m speaking specifically do the “wub wub” popular style right now. Any takers on this? Any straight-edge Deadmau5 fans out there care to weigh in?

    • I’ve been to them sober. And it’s not that great. That being said I really think the gist of the thing is being missed here. “Traditional” shows are all about the show itself. Everybody has their eyes fixated on the band and it’s all about the music. My experience at these EDM shows is it’s all about “the scene”. It’s almost like a giant club with people standing around talking and such. It’s not always an all encompassing thing. It can be…..but it doesn’t HAVE to be.

      If you are trying to compare and contrast these kinds of shows to traditional shows you really are missing the point. I really don’t expect somebody like Tom Petty to get that. I’m 47 years old and long ago realized music constantly shifts in ways I don’t expect it to. There comes a point for many artists where they are absolutely done with major shifts in their musical vision. TP is awesome. He’s always been awesome. But his sound is his sound and although he changes a little from record to record the movements are slight.

      As much as I dig TP it’s important to note that he ways kinda thrown into the “new wave” grouping back in the day. I don’t think he really was new wave but he def. was different than the big arena rock that was around when Hard Promises, Damn The Torpedoes, etc came out. He was part of a movement away from that bloated excess style of rock. So for him to be so dismissive of others trying to move away from traditional shows kinda bums me out. But there’s always gonna be people that NEED that lead guitar in their music for it to somehow feel “complete”.

    • not straight edge by any means but ive actually been to a deadmau5 show completely sober before and loved the hell out of it, mind you this was some 5-6 years ago and probably wouldnt be the same now. but i genuinely enjoy electronic music (and have definitely moved beyond the main stream edm scope) but if you like the music, then why wouldnt you like it really fucking loud? there are only certain bands i go see to be wowed by musical prowess (radiohead looking at you) otherwise i just want to hear some music i like at decibels i normally dont hear them at. for whats it worth i saw tom petty at bonarroo in ’06 and left half way through because it was basically listening to a greatest hits collection and was booooring so to each their own…

  17. I love Tom Petty’s music, but I’m not sure what’s so “hard to believe” about his stance on EDM? A lot of these shows do seem like the promoters/staff/security turning blind eyes to the drug use in order to rake in the money while the cultural window of EDM’s popularity is still open. I do think there’s more to EDM shows than just “watching people playing records,” and I do like a lot of music that falls outside the traditional ‘rock’ sphere (not EDM though, for the most part) but I don’t think Tom’s point was wrong at all.

  18. What a surprise. The guy in the music business with the quaffed hair and expensive suit puts money before people’s lives. At least he’s pedaling high art music (insert roly-eyes emoticon here)

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