Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Interview :: Avalanche Party talk venues, villages and bands

Credit: Jason Ferdinando

" I think there’s obviously a difference between wearing your influences on your sleeve, and then just going out and and copying it. We’ve known plenty of bands that have done that, sold out the local venues - and then folded."

Shortly before ruining the frontman’s night by dropping the bombshell that since their last visit, they’ve halved the sugar content in Irn Bru and now his once loved drink now resembles little more than a can of fizzy orange disappointment; and perhaps more importantly, ahead of a memorable show in Edinburgh as part of Independent Venue Week, our writer Richard Cobb caught up with Jordan (vocals/guitar), Joe (bass) and Glen (keys) from the Yorkshire Moors' finest, Avalanche Party, for a good old chat.

With it being Independent Venue Week this week, can you sum up the what independent venues mean to you as a band?

Joe: Yeah, we were talking about this earlier on, all the bands we like, we’ve seen them in smaller venues or they all started out in smaller venues. In all of our previous bands we’d play in the social clubs and things round where we lived, and without that kind of small to medium platform before you get to bigger ones then you’d struggle.

Glen: Where we’re from, it’s in the middle of nowhere, we live in the North Yorkshire Moors, so our closest scene is like Middlesbrough and then there’s venues in York and they’ve all got, as Joe says, smaller platforms and without them it’s hard for any band to start.

Westgarth Social Club’s in Middlesbrough, right?

Joe: Yeah, it’s cracking. Bit like the Brudenell in Leeds.

Jordan: Yeah, it’s class, really good for the scene.

There’s a big drive to save local and grassroots venues where bands started just now, but do you think more could be done to save them or do you think everyone’s coming together and doing as much as they can at the moment?

Joe: I think maybe it’s getting better now, but there’s definitely a lot more protection for venues that could be made. Dunno who has a say in that, if it's councils, or the government or whatever, but there’s venues and pubs where we live that just put on cover bands on the weekends and stuff like that and then they get shut down because there’s a big new block of flats made round the corner and they move in next to a pub and complain about the noise.

James [the band's manager]: There’s been a new ruling against that recently. Sir Paul McCartney came out and essentially he added funding, which in London at the moment states that if a new build goes up they need to be respectful of the environment in terms of, if there’s an amplified sound venue close by they have to be respectful of it.

Joe: It is good that there’s a bit more focus on saving venues.

Jordan: It seems to be getting more and more recognised. Bigger bands seem to be getting involved too(to help) which is good.

You mentioned earlier starting off in North Yorkshire, to get to the point you’re at did you feel you were trying to do as many local venues as you could to build up a fan base before venturing further afield?

Jordan: Yeah, we did both of them and moved on…

Joe: It’s basically a tiny, tiny village where we live. There was like one pub that did open mics for a bit, maybe one pub at the road that did one gig every two months, and then you’d have to travel 40 minutes to Middlesbrough or an hour down to York or whatever to be in place with loads of venues where bands are.

Glen: You put gigs on didn’t you?

Joe: Yeah, after a while you start doing your own shit out there in bars and stuff, it was great. Wait - what was the question again?

Good point, something about cracking the local scene first, but obviously if you’ve hit those two bars, then there’s not much to add.

Jordan: We hit them hard, we hit them hard.

Joe: Because of that we had to tour elsewhere to play. We love touring all over, when we started touring you almost felt like you were touring already as we were used to getting out further to play shows.

I read another interview you did which mentioned bands coming out that are almost carbon copies of other bands. Do you think bands come out and shoot themselves in the foot trying to aim for a level of prestige by trying to replicate what others are doing and is that what lowers a lot of bands shelf life?

Jordan: There’s loads of those bands around, even just in the North East, like when Arctic Monkeys were first around there’s loads of bands playing that sort of stuff, same with The Courteeners. Like, these bands would play gigs and maybe a couple hundred people would come at first, then they’d maybe like the music because they like the bands they’re replicating, but it lasts maybe a year and then that’d be it, they’d all get proper jobs or go to Uni or something.

That’s the thing, with bands throwing in the towel, if you aim for the dying fades of music, unless you’re doing something that you properly believe in and that you can sustain then you’re just going to fall off the wagon and there’s not going to be an audience for it anymore.

Glen: It’s like you’re chasing something that’s already been done.

Jordan: To be fair, there’s still a lot of people that like The Courteeners. I mean The Sherlocks are doing alright now...

Joe: I think there’s obviously a difference between wearing your influences on your sleeve, and then just going out and and copying it. We’ve known plenty of bands that have done that, sold out the local venues - and then folded.

In contrast to that, there’s almost like a Northern scene at the moment with the likes of Baby Strange, The Blinders, The Van T’s, And Yet It Moves and yourselves. so it seems like there’s a good core of bands coming out and I think it helps if you’re part of something like that, that’s come about from a passion for music that’s causing a big drive.

Joe: Yeah, for sure, all those bands that you’ve mentioned, we know some of them more than others, but we’ve known them for a lot of years. There’s a band from Hull that we really like called LIFE, they’re of a similar ethos. Particularly from the North we’ve noticed there’s a really solid scene and without being cliché, everyone does support each other.

Jordan: We knew The Blinders before they moved over to Manchester, when they lived in Doncaster.

Yeah, I first heard about you guys last year when The Blinders mentioned you in an interview in Glasgow, as I think you were playing the same venue a few weeks later.
I mentioned And Yet It Moves too because I saw on your website that you supported The Amazing Snakeheads (AYIM frontman's former band) when they were still going?

Joe: Yeah, we first saw The Snakeheads at a festival in Stockton a few years ago: I think it was the first big festival that Avalanche Party played. We’d heard of them and a few people told us to go and check them out. Dale, the singer, just came out and absolutely blitzed it...

Glen: Bearing in mind there was families present.

Joe: ...and from there we ended up supporting them on a couple of dates.

Jordan: They had a big gig at The Art School in Glasgow and I really wanted to go to see what they were like on front of a hometown crowd. So I did that, fucking amazing gig, great night in Glasgow. Then I missed my train on the way back home so had to sit in a toilet for three hours avoiding the conductor before we played with them in York. I told Dale at the gig that I’d been at the Glasgow show the night before and we’ve basically been friends ever since.

Joe: And Yet it Moves stayed with us for a couple nights actually. The three of us live together in a small village and we’re the youngest people that live in this little cul de sac and they had two of these black Mercedes Sprinter vans parked up outside for a few days which confused the neighbours.

Glen: Dale actually ended up fixing one of the neighbour's doors.

Joe: It was great seeing the locals reacting to these out of towners staying. Cool guys.

The reason I mentioned them was because they were getting a lot of plaudits for their ferocious live shows, there was something real about it - similar to the credit you guys have been getting recently for your shows. Has it been a conscious effort to aim for that level of performance with your live shows?

Jordan: It’s not a conscious thing, but we’ve always gravitated to bands like that and bands with a presence like Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. When we were younger we’d always be into the bands that put on a great show live, like The Chapman Family were really good.

I saw The Chapman Family just round the corner about seven or eight years ago actually and there was only about four people there.  was gutted for them but it was still a great show.

Joe: For me, The Snakeheads were and still are one of the most important British bands for some time I’d say, in every sense and every performance. Similar to Fat White Family.

So you’ve got this seven date tour coming up with (promoters) This Feeling in March/April. [scroll down for dates] Are you a fan of what Mike Jonns and his team they’re doing at the moment?

Joe: Yeah, It’s nice having an organisation like that who are a platform for new and emerging bands, putting them out on tour and organising stuff for bands who maybe aren’t as self-sufficient. So it’s good they give them that platform for gigs and bigger festival shows. Shows like that without an agent are hard to get hold of. It’s a nice vibe as well, we’ve become pally with a couple of the bands that we’ve played these shows with.

You’ve released a single with indie label Clue Records, have you got plans to release more with them in the future?

Jordan: Clue put out our last single ‘I’m So Wet’ and they’re doing our next one, ‘Porcelain’, too which comes out in March. We brought out a single - 'Solid Gold' - recently too on the Amazing Record Co. label, who are from Newcastle.

With that, it was the end of an insightful interview. My original last question initially centred on the band's thoughts on streaming - and ended up with me furiously denying that I was a fan of Mary J Blige and proceeding to delete that part of the recording after likening it to the Watergate scandal with more at stake. But I did have one final thing to put to the band - and if you're a fan, this involves you, dear reader...

Lastly, I am sure lots of folks will be wanting to catch you on the spring tour, so we are going to offer one lucky person a pair of tickets to one of the shows. But what we would like you to do, is set a question for entrants to answer. On for it?

Joe: Sure. Here you go. Our last single 'I’m So Wet' was released on what label: Clue Records, Not A Clue Records or Gissa Clue and some money for Chips Records?

To enter, answer the set question above, and send with your name and which of the shows below you would like to attend by email to littleindieblogs@gmail.com before closing date, February 20.

Avalanche Party This Feeling Tour

16 BIRMINGHAM Sunflower Lounge
17 LEICESTER The Cookie

06 BRISTOL Mothers Ruin
07 LONDON The Water Rats
14 LEEDS The Lending Room
27 GLASGOW Broadcast

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