THE Independent Music Venue Week begins on January 27th and the official nights are hosted by venues in 18 major UK cities for unsigned music.
The week itself was born under the same celebratory spirit as Record Store Day and the Awards for Independent Music (AIM) which is hosted by the Association for Independent Music. It has taken significantly longer for the venues to get their respect though. Record Store Day began 6 years ago and AIM has been tipping their hat to independent artists since 1999.
Leeds Unsigned spoke to Richard Watson, a promoter with 20 years experience in the industry, who now runs the weekly 360 Club at The Library and was responsible for The Library’s selection to champion independent venues:
Leeds Unsigned: So how did the Library get the chance to champion Independent Venue Week in Leeds?
Richard Watson: Well there were us, the Brudenell Social Club and the Cockpit in the running but we were chosen because of our commitment to emerging talent really. It’s been recognised that we help bands starting out and offer a bit more in the way of guidance then most venues.
LU: How important is a week like this for unsigned music and the venues involved?
I think it’s brilliant. It’s drawn a lot of attention from the media, from bloggers to national press. It’s also raised awareness of the music scene in Leeds. It can be a bit of a struggle to get people out to see live, new music sometimes and something like this will always help to draw a crowd.
LU: Is this week a reaction to an increase in struggling venues?
RW: It doesn’t seem that way. It is hard though, often a lack of knowledge or experience will be the cause of a venue not doing well. That’s the thing, you have to be constantly working, it’s the same as any business. People like Nathan at the Brudenell, Simon at Belgrave and myself are constantly meeting bands, organising press coverage and promoting by filming gigs as well as the usual social media use. It’s not really enough to just set up a Facebook event I don’t think.
LU: In terms of new artists, what are their major challenges?
RW: Well, we help them to think about media use, how to promote themselves and we make sure everyone that plays gets something for their time. I don’t think it’s fair to say to bands, “you can play if you sell x amount of tickets”, obviously, they need to draw a crowd if they want to succeed and that’s very important to the venue, but we try and do an awful lot of promotion with press and posters and advertising and treat the bands fairly. I think one of the main challenges bands have is not being paid and not promoting properly, that’s often where they need help.
Leeds will be paying homage to a relentless and hardworking local scene at The Library, the eclectic venue on Hyde Park corner. Usually the upstairs events room is home to indie rockers and comedians but on Friday 31st January, Allusondrugs will headline a packed line up of local favourites.
Allusondrugs are an intense noise tsunami, mainly consisting of 90’s grunge, stoner rock and metal, all topped off with a vocal style which is pop infused and catchy enough for them to stay accessible.
Joining them on the bill are, Forever Cult; another local band. They inject chaos into indie, turning it into something closer to punk rock: Being both gritty and catchy.
Fizzler will be providing the garage punk for the evening, although straying into most punk genres along the way and Perfect Crimes provide screeching vocals and heavy riffs, courtesy of the 80’s heavy metal scene.