Black Metal, True Metal, Hardcore Punk – three Birmingham gig promoters talk shop.

What’s it like being a gig promoter in the hardcore punk, true metal and black metal scenes these days? Maybe you fancy the job yourself? Or perhaps you are a new band on the scene, looking for a stage? Or maybe you’d just like to go along to a gig and enjoy yourself, like people used to in the old days? Oldmansmettle.com goes into the darkest, dingiest corners of Birmingham, Home Of Metal, to find out what it’s really like promoting small to medium sized gigs on the noisy pub and club circuit.

NECROW EVENTS – BLACK METAL

NeCrow have put on some great gigs in the last couple of years in the UK Black Metal niche. We catch up with Rebecca – no stranger to music promotion and journalism – and seek advice on your lowly behalves….

Who are you, how did you get into promoting, and how long have you been doing it?

I’m Rebecca from NeCrow Events and I’ve been promoting for a couple of years now. My business partner, Jaff was already running NeCrow when we met, at one of his shows – I was there as a music journalist to review the gig. He saw some potential in me and eventually asked if I’d be interested in managing his black metal band, Shadowflag. I agreed and eventually persuaded him to also let me help promote NeCrow shows. We’ve since also set up a record label together, Clobber Records. We’re great friends and work very well as a team – we have the same vision of a life that free from the trappings of a mundane existence. 

What’s the name about, and do you have any kind of mission statement?

The name NeCrow Events came to Jaff in a dream whilst he was holidaying in the Canadian wilderness. It was delivered on the wings of a vast and terrifying three-eyed pelican which has haunted him to this day. Our mission statement is simple, to keep this pelican off our backs for as long as possible, drink plenty of fluids and to fill rooms full of grotty people who love blastbeats.

What qualities do you need to be a promoter?

Frustration. Never being satisfied with anything presented to you or achieved. Be proactive and make things happen, even if they seem difficult or impossible. Never allow yourself to give up. Be good at basic arithmetic (or own a calculator) and be proficient at using Facebook.

Are there any types of music you don’t deal with?

We deal exclusively in extreme metal – predominantly black metal but we dabble in death metal and other associated genres.

Photo – Paul Thrupp.

Are you at the point where bands ask for a rider? Do you have to take all the brown M and M’s out of the bags yet?

Sure – bands usually just want beer and water though. I was once asked for a fish bap.

Best moment in promoting?

Fetching that fish bap. In all seriousness, the best moment would have been our first Call of the Crow event last year. Six of the best black metal bands in the country on the same line up. It felt like the start of something very special for NeCrow.

Worst moment in promoting?

A booking we’d spent a lot of time on and set our hopes on falling through.

What advice would you give someone with their eye on your job?

Please do. I want to be able to attend more gigs! Do it with passion – promote shows that you want to attend. 

Do you have any advice for bands starting out?

UK black metal is a tight knit scene – network, support other bands and don’t piss people off. We mostly book bands we’ve already seen, know or come highly recommended by the people we trust. 

Photo – Paul Thrupp.

Are you a musician yourself?

I’m the manager of the band Shadowflag and Jaff is the frontman. Understanding the band’s point of view is certainly an advantage.

What is the worst thing a band has done to you (as a promoter that is)?

One band brought their own sound engineer to the show. The guy didn’t know what he was doing and rewired the entire sound desk so it became completely unusable. The in-house engineer eventually sorted out the mess but it delayed the show massively.

What’s coming up in 2020 that we should know about?

We’ve got a whole load of exciting gigs coming up in 2020 in both Birmingham and Bristol. We also have our second Call of the Crow ‘all-dayer’ which will be unmissable for anyone with even a passing interest in black metal. This is as yet unannounced so keep an eye on our Facebook page: 

www.facebook.com/necrowevents

https://shadowflag.bandcamp.com/

MR BLADE PROMOTIONS – TRUE METAL.

Adrian has been promoting for quite a while and has an enormous network of contacts in the underground heavy metal and hard rock scene. We talk to him about ‘Mr Blade Promotions’.

Who are you, how did you get into promoting, and how long have you been doing it?

My name Mr Blade comes from being in bands, playing drums. I started promoting in 2011 in Tamworth then moved to promoting in Birmingham in 2012. I did it to promote true metal bands in the style of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio that were not getting the chances at the time. Second reason was to push female fronted for the same reason, and third reason to sometimes add my band onto a bill.

Do you have any kind of mission statement?

Give bands exposure and give people a good positive show. There are so many bands out there and so much talent and passion for music. I want to play a small part in helping.

What qualities do you need to be a promoter?

Being proactive is a good to have. You need to be mindful of the time as shows need to start on time and finish on time. I have been to some shows and there are delays starting, and also bands playing late to hardly anyone, the graveyard slot people call it. Better a show finishes 10.50pm rather than 11.15pm as many people use public transport to attend shows and need to catch the last train or bus home. Being hands on, helping bands carry drums and amps into the venue. Some band members can dawdle so need to little gentle pushing. Multi-tasking is course another useful quality to have. You will get numerous band members asking questions, so good to have the answers ready.

How did you get bands then, versus how you get them now?

As I was already in a band and knew various musicians and bands so never had trouble getting bands to play, and the more shows I promoted the more bands message me asking for shows. So I am in the lucky position of being able to choose what bands suite what show. Unfortunately I can’t book all bands that ask for shows or I would be doing a show every week. Some bands I can’t book I suggest them promoting their own show, which many have done so.

Have there been any major changes in the way the music scene has changed that has affected you?

The more that bands use social media the more information I can read about the bands. The positive is that most bands are well rehearsed, professional and have good image. The downside is there is a lot less fun and rock n roll debauchery as when I first started playing in metal bands in the 90s. One reason is that you do anything crazy and it is straight on social media, which is a shame in some ways. A big downside is the cost. Hiring a venue is very expensive, and parking in a city is very expensive too. Charge too much entrance and a lot of people won’t attend.

Are there any types of music you don’t deal with?

I have booked heavier bands and some alternative bands but my main aim is to book bands that have melody. I have never been a fan of alternative Nirvana, Stereophonics or elitist music.

Are you at the point where bands ask for a rider? Do you have to take all the brown M and M’s out of the bags yet?

Ha Ha! No M and M’s just in case of peanut allergies. I supply plenty of bottles of water for bands, mostly for the vocalist, and for the person who does the hardest work in a band, the drummer. For the travelling bands, especially those from abroad I supply sandwiches, crisps, cookies. A band from Belgium stayed at my house in October and I offered to cook them all an English breakfast with sausages, eggs, bacon, but they left early and missed out,

Best moment in promoting?

I have had so many great moments, but one show that I and I know a lot of people look back on fondly is a show in Evesham back in September 2018. I booked four bands for a Night of the Valkyries show but two bands pulled out on the day of the show. I managed to get Lauren Marie to come down from Birmingham to start the show with some acoustic covers. Gallows High travelled from Leicester and played an immense show. The Loved and Lost delivered with a jaw dropping amazing show. The venue was packed with people travelling from different towns, many staying over in hotels.

Worst moment in promoting?

I have had some bad moments but I use a football analogy. One week your team loses, but next week they win. I had a show when no band on the bill had a bass drum so I supplied my own one. Walked half hour to train station, transported on a packed out train, another 20 minute walk to venue carrying the bass drum. At end of night I found a band had ripped the bass skin. Cost me £20 for a new one. I supplied a snare stand too and that had cracked in half.

Witnessed any good band arguments?

I have not really witnessed band arguments but sometimes you can tell just by the body language that the band are going to split or a member will leave after the show. The argument can happen before the show. One time a singer left a band on the day of the gig leaving the band no option but to cancel.

What advice would you give someone with their eye on your job?

I am happy to give advice to anyone who wants to get into promoting. Make sure you have a good poster. Make sure you have permission to use band photos before using them on posters. Put a running order on the wall at the venue so bands and audience can see, also give this to the sound person. Make sure you have plenty of pound coins in the kitty in case people give you a twenty pound for one ticket.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make when starting out do you think?

Sometimes you need to speculate to accumulate but be careful with costs. Don’t promise bands too much unless you know you can achieve. Don’t put yourself into debt. I have seen some people lose big amounts on a show sometime £500.

Would you have done anything differently?

You can’t dwell on mistakes just learn from them, compartmentalise and move one. There are around a dozen bands in almost 10 years I wished I hadn’t booked. Won’t mention them here.

Do you have any advice for bands starting out? What kind of info can a band provide that really helps you?

I have had some bands contact me for a show that have really poor Facebook band pages. I grew up with Iron Maiden and they always had a great logo, amazing artwork and super live shots. Pro-active bands are the best to work with, I call that a win/win.

Are you a musician yourself?

I play drums and also write music and songs. Over the years I have played around 500 shows including some in Europe. Never wanted it to be a career, when it gets to serious and fun goes is when it gets serious

What is the worst thing a band has done to you (as a promoter that is)?

I’ve had a few bands pull out of a gig on the day of the gig. Especially tricky when they are supplying amps and drums. You can often tell when they are going to do this as they stop promoting and mentioning the show on FB. I also have various people giving me the heads up.

What’s coming up in 2020 that we should know about?

Hyperia!

I have some super shows coming up. On May 23rd I am trying a new venue, Muther’s Studio Birmingham for a show with melodic metallers Countless Skies with Canadian Thrash band Hyperia. On 5th June I have The Guardian coming over from Belgium for a show at Route 44. I love that venue as the people there are so helpful. On 7th June I have The Guardian again, but this time at The Dolphin, Tamworth along with Symmetry of Souls and Devil’s Dice.

https://www.facebook.com/AdeTheBlade/

https://www.facebook.com/SymmetryofSouls/

punksalive – HARDCORE PUNK.

If you go to any gigs on the punk and noisy metal scene in Birmingham you will no doubt know Adam ‘Waddy’ Ward as he will have swooped towards you at some point thrusting an inkjet printed flyer for a DISCHARGE gig into your hand. With no Facebook page and an old school approach of always being at every gig, how does he like the job? Let’s be brief and get straight to the point…

What qualities do you need to be a live gig promoter? Would you recommend it?

to be a good person and beleave in what ur doing !

Have you ever been in a band?

yes the goonie birds covers band

Being in a gigging band is a pain in arse. Once you get more than two band members, everything gets exponentially worse. Witnessed any good band arguments?

loads x not nice x

Anything you’d recommend bands do / or don’t do if they want to get on one of your gigs?

yes just be a good fun band to be with x

Best moment in promoting?

cant think of any x

Worst moment in promoting?

loseing money is not good thing x

Do you choose who you work with, or does work come to you these days?

i choose because i work away alot theses days with bands x

One of Waddy’s famous punk all-dayers

Do people hassle you for free tickets? Do you get offers of drugs or sexual favours?

yes and yes and yes x

At one gig, I noticed you hadn’t given someone a flyer, and jokingly asked you why, and you shouted loud enough so he could hear, and right at him, ‘Because he’s a cunt!’. Are customer relations important in gig promoting?

of course x by the way i was jokeing as well x the cunt bit xx i try to get on with every one as im a peace loveing person as you know x

English Punk rock – pulling spazzy faces, sticking fingers up your nose for photo shoots and sitting on the pavement swigging from cans of cider? Do you think punk rockers pretend to be more stupid than they actually are?

totally x lots of really intelligent people in punk rock x

Have you met a real life punk rock casualty yet?

loads im one me self x

I suspect you like a wide range of music – you are at lots of gigs….

all sorts i like x

How about the metal side of things? How far can you go before it’s just too metal? Can you cope with falsetto vocals and fretboard tapping?

love alotta metal motorhead of course but there rock n roll really with i love saxon girlschool iron maiden etc

Do you get to travel abroad for festivals? ‘Obscene Extreme’ in Cz?

ive been very lucky there i have done lotta festivals inc obscence love that festival im back there this year x

Porno-scat-grind, simply the most uplifting music ever?

What do you listen to at home? Any new bands you are excited about?

i listen to anything at the moment lot of Graveyard what a band x

What is the absolute worst music you can think of? Something that always makes you switch it off?

nothing i love all sorts from jazz blues folk black metal crust indie house muisc i love it all x im a muisc fan x

How is middle age treating you?

best ive been for years going to even more shows than ever !!

Two fan questions for you – maybe you can work out who asked them.

i know who there from x

Mystery friend one: You used to be a skinny runt like me back in the 90s and early 00s, and now you look like a blacksmith from Witcher 3, what happened?

I became old x it happends to us all x most of my punk heros and metal heros are fat and bald now x its life x

Mystery friend two: Are you into butch men in orange boiler suits?

Yes big time x

What’s coming up in 2020 that we should know about?

the noise not music festival ” its a one off festival 23/24/25 april 2020 all yer favs on discharge/varukers/icons of flith/axegrinder/extreme noise terror/cress/ we got them all adv tickets from adamward66@btinternet.com

Waddy, as a positive role model for the Midlands hardcore punk and metal youth, perhaps you have a message for them?

yes dont get involved with bands it will destroy your life x

http://www.punksalive.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/events/356815348327887/

facebook.com/oldmansmettle

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