Not in a particular order…
WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS/IVO
Like many, I first got into punk through discovering Rancid’s “…And Out Come The Wolves” and getting into such bands as NoFX, Operation Ivy, Choking Victim etc. through personally and politically relating to the music but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I feel I properly discovered punk lifestyles and the DIY scene. Meeting Will Tun and the Wasters in a small pub in Reading when they supported Tyrannosaurus Alan (a band I discovered a year before, supporting Sonic Boom Six) was the first time I went to a small DIY punk show and I guess it opened my eyes to it. I ended up going to see Will Tun and the Wasters a lot that summer and becoming good friends with them, it helped me see how a DIY punk band worked and how bands can survive without having to be a “big” band on a label and getting on TV etc. If I never became friends with people such as Joe and Ivo from WTATW I definitely wouldn’t ever had started putting on shows or moving to Bristol and my life right now would probably be very different. I include Ivo as an influence under this bracket as well, he used to put on a lot of the DIY ska shows in Reading before me and I guess his mentality and way he organised shows was a direct influence on how I wanted to put together shows, i.e getting your mates together and having a good time! Importantly also a lot of these times the main aim of everything was just to have fun with your friends and that is certainly one of the most important things about life.
SHITTY JOBS AND BEING DEPRESSED
A lot of what drew me towards punk shows was basically just not having a good time in life and needing some more from life and something more alternative. Going to shows, either locally or to take the train out of town and the first one back in the morning, to hang with a bunch of mates and see some cool bands at a house show became my much needed escape from reality and a lot of the time was the only time I actually felt ok. When I first started putting on shows I was working a shitty job in a shop for minimum wage, getting shit every day for mundane things such as not stacking shelves fast enough. Getting involved with the punk community and putting on shows definitely gave me a place in the world and it was just what I needed at the time. How much I hated my job and my shit mood definitely spurred me on a lot to be proactive with organising shows and pushing that part of my life as much as I could.
The first time I ever put on a show it was mostly just intended as a 21st birthday party for myself, however I had been thinking about the idea of organising my own show for a bit but very much doubted my ability to. When it was leading up to it I was just about starting to flake out of the idea, and then Faintest Idea replied to my e-mail offering them to play – they were well up for it and just needed £100. Guess I was putting on a show then. There are many fond memories I hold with that night but one of the best things was my new friendship with Faintest Idea, the day after the show Dani text me saying something along the line of “if you can pull off a banging night like that you should just be a promoter”, this gave me a good bit of encouragement to do more shows so that text alone is an influence in itself. Also just generally getting to know Faintest Idea over the years and their mentality to running their band is a good influence. They are non-stop and hard-working, always up for touring, having new experiences and have a lot of fun along the way while being able to also push their political message.
CHEWING ON TINFOIL
If you’re reading this, and you know me, I certainly don’t have to explain just how deeply I love this band. I find Chewing on Tinfoil an inspiration on just how much they hate the actual music industry (ha). The first time I organised a show for them I hadn’t done that many shows, maybe 3. I was absolutely miffed why a band quite as good as them would let me sort them a show but however they are always happy to take a chance on people. One of the first things that really made me respect them was when organising the show they refused to take an actual “guarantee”, they said how much money they ideally needed but made it clear if the show bombed they certainly wouldn’t be demanding money out of me. Their general attitude has always been great, I had only ever put them on at one tiny show in Reading when I e-mailed them and offered them to come from Dublin to play Reading again for my second Fishstock. The fact that they replied and were totally up for it was so fucking cool and I still really respect the fact they did that. Chewy always look out for people and most importantly just want to play fun shows and write incredible music, this year when they came over to make their return to Fishstock (now much bigger and in Bristol) they literally just came over for the one show, basically just to hang out and have fun. It’s not about getting big and pushing their band, they make good, honest music, which is how it should be – no bullshit.
I can’t even remember how I got into the music of Jeff but I think it was mostly through Bomb The Music Industry. I definitely find the way Jeff does things a big influence, from the way he ran BTMI (spray paint t-shirts and all ages shows) to the way he supported bands he loved through Quote UnQuote Records, giving wide and easy access to a lot of bands that wouldn’t have got much recognition otherwise (I remember downloading the first Chewing on Tinfoil album from there!). Even now that he has started allowing himself to actually make a bit of money from music and releasing through bigger labels such as Polyvinyl, he still does things his way and doesn’t bow down to what is expected in the industry – such as his surprise release of most recent album ‘Post-‘ online for free at the start of this year. It’s also cool to see him doing bands such as Antarctigo Vespucci mostly just to have fun with friends. I love the note on their album – “Altogether this record cost roughly $300 to make. You should make a record too.” If people haven’t already seen it I very much recommend watching the documentary “Never Get Tired: The Bomb The Music Industry Story”, it’s the sort of film you watch and then immediately want to start a band.
THE BRISTOL PUNK SCENE
The first time I ever visited Bristol, I ended up being taken to see The Sporadics at The Red Lion and then Magnus Puto at The Attic Bar and both of those shows I was kind of overwhelmed by the crowd. I was deep into promoting in Reading at that point and, although most of my shows were well attended, I realised that if I put those bands on in Reading I would have less than a third of the crowd. Inevitably I ended up moving to Bristol. Although now I think I’ve done pretty well for the local scene, when I first moved it was very daunting organising shows with already so much going on and so many promoters – I didn’t want to tread on any toes. Fortunately the vast majority of people involved with stuff are very friendly and helpful, there isn’t much ego going around just people wanting to make cool shit happen. Even though there is sometimes an over-saturation of shows, active people are very supportive of each other and everyone tries their best to work together. It’s cool seeing stuff happen, from people setting up squat shows to seeing venues such as Exchange run in such a pro-music manner – everyone is doing it for their love of it!
MAINLAND EUROPE TOURS
If you have been lucky enough to tour around some of the mainland Europe countries then this is preaching to the choir. They really know how to do things over there, you can rock up to a random squat in a random Dutch town and they will give you a few crates of beer, have loads of delicious homemade food for you. The gig will be fun, everyone will be friendly and buy your merch, you’ll have a cool place to crash, you'll meet some amazing people and at the end of the night they will put a load of Euros in your hand. It’s so good. I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved with a few tours as well as booking some myself and it never ceases to amaze me just how well people get treated there and how incredible a lot of their spaces are. It’s a stark difference from touring the UK and every time I get home from one I’m a mixture of inspired to do cool stuff and depressed that I’m no longer on tour. It’s the best possible experience you can have and seeing the way some shows are run over there definitely makes me try and bring an influence of that with the shows that I put on.
I often think I can achieve more but then sometimes I also think I’m too young or too old and can achieve nothing. Someone who I find a big influence in being productive (even if it's what feels like 1 zillion years between album sometimes) is Tomas Kalnoky, for example how utterly brilliant is the song-writing of the album Keasbey Nights? That album came out when Kalnoky was a few months into being 18 I believe Which in the time it takes to record, produce and release an album, you can assume that pretty much all those songs he wrote before he was 18? How mad is that, some of those songs are absolute perfection and the fact that he can write an album that well at such a young age should be an inspiration to all. Along with this the powerful music of Streetlight Manifesto and the poetic lyrics Tomas writes have certainly helped me through some pretty hard times and for that I’ll always hold him up as someone I have upmost respect for. Also respect for anyone who flees a country to avoid military service and anyone who spends a large amount of years, money and energy to get away from a maniac big label who just fucks bands over constantly while coming out the otherside owning all the masters for your own music and keeping your band going independently!
OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE BY MICHAEL AZERRAD
This is the best book about music ever written. In great detail it takes you through 13 bands on the American indie underground scene between 1981 and 1991, including bands such as Black Flag, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Fugazi and a bunch more. All these bands were pre-Nirvana so didn’t get that chance for much wider appeal in the 90s. That means many of them were very much slogging it in small vans around the US, all these bands were doing it for how much they cared and were into the music and this book perfectly chronicles it. It shows the incredibly DIY and personal nature of these bands which is the interesting and influential part of this book. This is a must read for any band keen on going on tour and doing things their own way. A particular band I learnt a lot from in this book is The Minutemen, I very much appreciate their ‘We Jam Econo’ mentality, where they tried to survive on as little money as possible to push their band forward. In a day when your band can only get successful through paying for big PR campaigns and booking agents etc. I think that The Minutemen existed and said you don’t need loads of money or musical ability to write some interesting songs and go on tour and be a band – it is certainly inspiring. On the subject of The Minutemen, it’s definitely also worth watching the documentary on them called ‘We Jam Econo’.
I definitely don’t mean the TV show! I mean that my actual friends are the biggest influence on me. I’ve already talked about Will Tun and the Wasters, Faintest Idea and Chewing On Tinfoil so maybe I’m rinsing this a bit but, more so than anyone that I’ve grown up idolising, my friends are what really keep me going. Ever since my first show I’ve had lots of friends pat me on the back and give me encouragement to keep going but also bands I’m friends with keep making inspiring music and doing inspiring things that I can’t help but be influenced by these things myself. Seeing people such as Paul Smith smash out constant massive shows at New Cross Inn, Faintest Idea touring Japan, Captain Accident supporting Toots and the Maytals on tour, all my friends doing well either on a big or small scale is always good encouragement to keep going and making cool stuff happen. At Fishstock this year, part-way through Cistem Failure’s set, I was presented with a picture signed by many friends at the show and to see those nice messages from people saying to keep doing what I’m doing is so nice. I can get down and jaded a lot and it’s always bands that I’m friends with who help me through and pick me back up and the fun shows we have full of friends make me realise just how important this stuff is. On Friday night just passed, as I write this, a team of us had organised a show for Austeros’ last ever show and the actual night filled me with so much love from and for people that it really reminds me that I should keep going. Collaborating with friends is great, having a full venue where most people there are your friend, having a band like Austeros care about you enough that they’ll play the song they stopped playing over 3 years ago that you’ve been bugging them for ever since as their encore. It’s moments like that I live for and influence me to keep going – the night before I took the words ‘I’ve Got This’ from an Austeros song and had my friend stick-and-poke tattoo them onto my arm. Those words will live there forever as a reminder of how great this community is and how we should keep hold of it and keep going. Even when I feel hopeless, I will know that thanks to my friends, I’ve got this.
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