News & Features 04 May, 2014

Fan On The Ground: Nottingham

fan on the ground

Paul Klotschkow – LeftLion


Paul is Music Editor for , the independent monthly newspaper covering Nottingham culture. You can also find him doing LeftLion based twittering here:  and writing a blog that "no one reads" at 

How often would you say you go to gigs?

I probably go to see a show at least one a week, usually on a Friday or Saturday night. I'll go to a gig in the week if it's someone I really want to see, to support friends who might be playing, or if it's guaranteed to end at a reasonable time, which now as I get older, what I class as a reasonable time is getting earlier and earlier. As long as I'm home by 10.30pm in time for a cuppa before bed, then I'm happy. 

There suddenly seems to have been an explosion of Nottingham acts getting major attention (Jake Bugg, Indiana, Saint Raymond, Baby Godzilla, Amber Run, Sleaford Mods). What do you put this down to?

For all of those acts you have named it’s been a combination of luck, hard work, having money, talent, and knowing the right people. With differing levels for each of those factors depending on the act! It will come down to a combination of those factors whoever the next Nottingham act to gain national recognition is. There isn’t one easy answer; bands just don’t get plucked out of the air for nothing. It probably helps that London based record labels and media have finally learnt where Nottingham is on the map and don’t just think the north is made up of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. 

Grey Hairs

Why do you think it's taken so long for a city of Nottingham's size to suddenly produce these successful artists and to get this attention?

Bands such as Bob Tilton were getting raved about in the NME in the 90s; whilst ten years ago Damn You! started putting on exciting gigs and inviting bands from outside of the city to play, laying the foundations for the music scene that Nottingham has today. It also helps that big hitters such as DHP (who own and run Rock City, Rescue Rooms, The Bodega and Stealth) now give support slots to local acts and put local artists on at festivals such as Dot To Dot and Splendour. They also manage two of the most significant Nottingham acts to breakthrough in recent years, Dog Is Dead and Indiana.

Nottingham has always produced creative people, it's not that all of a sudden people in the city have started learning how to play an instrument and make music, they've always been here, but perhaps we just haven't shouted about it as loud as other towns and cities.

And because the national media always need an angle, part of me thinks that since they have exhausted what it can get musically from cities such a Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford, Brighton etc, they've finally decided to pick on us. It’s been a long time coming, but for the moment Nottingham appears to be flavour of the month. 

Who are the best up and coming band in Nottingham we might not have heard of yet?

It's hard to pick just one, but if I had to, it has to be Kagoule. When they headline Reading and Leeds Festival in 10 years time, I'll raise a cider to them from the comfort of my sofa. But the likes of Bluebird, Grey Hairs , Metaphi Metske, Kogumaza, Ff and Nadir have all made music recently that has melted my mind in a multitude of ways. All in a good way. 

Grey Hairs

Do you think there's a certain sound developing within Nottingham?

Thankfully not. It would be terrible if there was just one 'Nottingham' sound. Probably one of the reasons why the city has never broken through nationally until very recently is that it doesn't have one overreaching sound. There's all sorts of good stuff being produced in Hood Land: Hip Hop, Electronic, Punk, Pop, there's a little bit of it all here, which makes going to gigs and being LeftLion Music Editor really exciting. If every band just sounded like The Libertines it would be a depressing city to live in. 

What was first ever gig you saw in Nottingham and what was the best ever gig?

The first gig that I ever saw in Nottingham was probably something like the Radio Trent roadshow, but I can't really remember them. The first gig that I can actually remember making a conscious decision to go to was when I went with my Dad to see Whitesnake supported by Three Colours Red at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall in 1997. Everything about it was mind-blowing; the synchronised 'rocking out' by the band, the tight trousers, the stacks of amps, the ridiculous haircuts. David Coverdale even gave me the double thumbs-up-and-point coupled with a wink. That gig has never been bettered to be honest. 

For the uninformed, where's the best place to go for a drink in Nottingham?

It all depends what kind of vibe you are looking for, the city has it all, from bars and pubs rammed with stag and hen do's that have coached it down from Mansfield, through to expensive wine bars full of estate agents flinging money around like Hugh Hefner before they go home and cry themselves to sleep. Fortunately places such as The Bodega, Rescue Rooms and Spanky Van Dykes all have decent ales and craft lagers; the Orange Tree is a good place to meet friends and grab a bite to eat; and the Boiler Maker is also getting a tasty reputation for making banging, if very potent, cocktails. 

fan on the ground

Best venue?

I'm sure I'm supposed to say Rock City or Rescue Rooms, but for providing a space to let musicians and promoters use for very minimal outlay, and for being as eccentric as the owner, it has to be The Chameleon. It's hard to describe it to anyone who has never been, sometimes you can go there and there will be a buffet on and other times the toilets aren't working. 

Is there a venue that's been and gone that you particularly miss?

Although I have seen Hookworms, Fists and Dog Is Dead play there in recent years, The Boat Club gets used less and less than it used to. It used to be a mecca for bands in the 60s and 70s and it's in a lovely spot by the River Trent. 

Best merch you've ever bought at a gig?

I went to see Smashing Pumpkins at a few of their 'reunion' shows in 2007, and I really don't know what I was thinking, but at one of them I bought a Smashing Pumpkins 'Stars & Stripes' Flag. I had it on my wall for a little bit and I imagine that this wasn't very inviting to the opposite sex. I blame Billy Corgan for being single. I no longer have the flag if any of you were interested. As I tend to find myself at a lot what you would call DIY shows, I will try and buy a record from the band so I know they are getting some of my money. I think a lot of merch is overpriced, I’ve seen £50 hoodies and stuff, which is ridiculous. 

Have you ever met any of your idols whilst working at LeftLion?

It wasn't through doing anything with LeftLion, but I'm a massive REM fan and Peter Buck was playing at Rescue Rooms as part of Robyn Hitchock's band. I spotted Michael Stipe and Mike Mills at the bar before the show. Then when the gig was over I thought that I would never have the opportunity to be in the same room as them ever again, so I accosted them to get something signed. Then had a fun chat with Peter Buck for a few minutes. Top bloke. 

Do you have a most memorable interview with an artist?

They are always usually really embarrassing and awkward, and I want them over with as soon as they start. The memorable interviews are the ones where you feel that you’ve had a decent conversation with someone. Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie was a true gent and let me gibber on like a nerd; Gruff Rhys was fun and laidback; Tennessee Thomas gave me some chocolates and showed me what she was listening to on her iTunes; Michael Eavis (Glastonbury Festival) probably asked me more questions than I asked him; and James and Eva from Rolo Tomassi were pleasant, talkative and down-to-earth.   

Best thing about living in Nottingham?

All of my best buds are here, and fortunately many of them are in some of my favourite bands, run amazing record labels and make incredible things happen.  

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