Interview by Graham Finney
10 questions with …. Richard Watson
How did the idea for #360RAW come about?
Ultimately from a lot of conversations between us both about new music, acts and the scene, and the difficulties those acts face trying to succeed in the industry and survive doing what they love doing. We both have a lot in common in terms of our passion for supporting new talent and music; Alan does a lot of work with mentoring and advising and so do I through the 360 Club, which is my regular unsigned live showcase event. We have always linked through that and our work. We both have a lot of industry experience and contacts in labels, management, publishing, events, festivals, media et al, that we’ve made over many years, it just seemed a no brainer to bring this together to champion new music and help the very talented people creating it, who often have no knowledge of the workings of the business, which they need to have to increase their chances of surviving.
How are preparations going for the opening night in a few weeks?
Everything is sorted in terms of the planning and production. It is always good to be well organised and work well in advance when promoting gigs, it then just leaves the promotion to focus on, which is what we are currently on with, as are the bands who are all very keen and have a great DIY ethos to push themselves.
You’ve got four local bands for the opening night; why did you pick those four bands?
They’re very good bands who write quality tunes and put on a great show, and could easily grace much bigger stages given the right breaks and a bit of luck. We also wanted to represent the harder rock end of the scene, as it doesn’t seem to get as much attention and support that the quality of some of the bands ought to get.
How can bands get involved in future nights?
We will either invite them or they can contact either one of us, then we can consider them for a future show.
You’ve been heavily involved in promoting up and coming bands for years; what is your advice for a band who are just starting out?
I could write pages on this; it is one of the areas I spend a lot of time advising artists on. The main ones I would say are:
Be as ready and as polished as you can be before you start gigging; first impressions count for a lot.
Write good tunes; good tunes and a good performance are the most important aspect and foundation for any act.
What I call the 3 Ps: Polite, Persistent, Pestering. You have to be very determined and tenacity is the key in this industry. A lot of people in the music business – promoters, press, labels etc – get so many emails they don’t have time to get through them all. I would recommend emailing more and pestering people as most lack of responses come from the large volume of mail people get and not having the time to physically get through it all. I get so much that within one day, emails can be 4/5 pages plus down the inbox and within a day or two they are well gone.
Who are the up and coming bands in Yorkshire you think we should be looking out for?
The ones we’re picking for #360RAW. Haha. I hate these questions; there are so many great acts it could be a long list, and I might forget someone I work with, which would be awful … and potentially awkward. And I say acts because there’s some serious talent coming out of Yorkshire that are not bands, such as some of the singer songwriters and duos. There is a lot of talent out there, people are often amazed at the high quality we have in our region; get out to see live shows and discover something new and exciting is my tip. Alt-J started out with me at 360 Club, and all big acts start in small venues so you just never know what you might find and love.
Across the country there are small venues closing to be replaced by even more apartment blocks. How damaging is this for the live music scene for bands like the ones playing #360RAW? And can anything be done to stop it?
It is terrible, and the damage cannot be under estimated; without small venues, there are no stages for new acts to start on, and no new acts = no scene, it is as simple as that. It would be nice to see some recognition of the cultural importance of our scene, by the government, and for them to give support, protection and funding like some other countries do. A lot of venues have closed due to noise complaints from new developments, which is barking mad when they’re in city centres where noise is normal, but now the ‘Agent of Change’ is happening this injustice ought to stop, and it will not be before time too; it has taken too many years, venues and jobs.
After the opening night, what are your plans for further nights going forward?
We have the next couple already planned and the bands booked. The next one is in April and it is also an album launch for an exciting local band; the line-up is immense and features some of our personal favourite bands. Beyond that we’ve yet to decide who we’d like to invite to play, so if anyone out there is interested, now is the time to get in touch. But for anyone wanting to discover new music, 360 Club is on every Friday with the normal showcase gigs.
Thanks for your time. We’re a few weeks into 2018; what would you like to achieve with #360RAW over the next 12 months?
Putting on great gigs and giving people a great night of new music with new discoveries. And have people come see acts and shows they may not have previously known.