We caught up with Dave Brent and Matthew Otridge from Bristol-based Deadpunk Promotions. We spoke to the guys about their upcoming annual festival; Deadpunk Bank Holiday Special and their experiences throughout the years.
How did Deadpunk Promotions start?
Matt: I was in a band and were tired of playing shows at local venues where we were placed with bands we sounded nothing like and got paid a pound for each flyer someone handed in with our name on. I was at music college when I saw a note on the notice board advertising The Croft, I rang the number and the rest is history. I think the first show was May 2002, it might have been 2001. I’m not sure when Dave officially became a part of Deadpunk Promotions, infact I’m not sure if Dave officially became a part of Deadpunk Promotions…
Dave: I started putting on shows when I was 16 in a dingy nightclub in the neighbouring town to my parents. I grew up outside of Bristol, once I could drive I would be at pretty much any and all the punk shows at The Croft/The Junction, through this I met Matt but only as an acquaintance, I went off to university, when I finished and moved home I started to put on shows in Bristol and through chatting to Matt he suggested I use the Deadpunk banner to advertise them as I didn’t have a “promotion name” as it were. That was pretty much it, as Matt’s mentioned, I don’t think I ever officially became a part of things.
How do the first shows you were putting on compare to the ones you’re putting on now?
Matt: They were cheaper / easier to put on, that’s for sure. Mainly just local acts with one or two up and coming out of town bands. These days we tend to put on more international bands and less local bands.
Did you ever expect to be putting on something as popular as the Bank Holiday Special?
Dave: Expect it to be as popular? not really although it’s always a hope when you put any event on. We both had very mixed ideas as to what we wanted to do and how it should go, at this point I’d been over to Fest and seen how a multi venue event could work well with the kind of bands we were promoting/into, originally I think we just wanted to give people an alternative to spending a lot of money to see a limited number of bands where their entry fee was going to pay for some massive headliner they had no interest in.
The BHS is coming up to its 3rd year, and has grown in popularity pretty quickly. Did you expect this quick rise to power?
Dave: The events had some awesome feedback each year, last year really showed us how much we value UK bands and the people involved in the UK scene. This year we were stoked to sell so many tickets in advance of releasing any band names, to know there are people who trust your judgement to let go of their money is something that blows me away.
How much more work does something like that take than a normal gig?
Dave: I treat it like any other gig really, with the bonus of being able to book a lot more bands, I treat the event as an opportunity to get all the rad people I know in one space for the day, it can be really hard to provide shows all the time for all the bands touring; with the DBHS I can give a band I like a great show and also introduce them to a new crowd they may not of had on a normal gig.
What are some of the best shows you’ve put on?
Matt: Lagwagon, RX Bandits, Propagandhi. The most fun was Joey Cape / Tony Sly (RIP) / Jon Snodgrass.
Dave: Iron Chic at The Croft, RVIVR, Propagandhi, The King Blues. The first time Joey Cape came through, and H2O’s comeback tour show were both really special.
And how about worst experiences putting on shows?
Matt: It’s disheartening to lose a lot of money, but generally the worst experiences are generally with bands who used to be a lot more popular then they are now. I guess it’s hard to go from packing out big places and getting everything you want, to half filling smaller venues and having to cut back. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t happen every time, but generally when a band has a bad attitude and doesn’t really respect the fact that you’re meant to be working together to put on a good show.
Dave: When you just don’t get people through the door for a band who proceed to play the best set you’ve seen that year. I put on shows because I enjoy seeing bands play, and to see people enjoying the bands. When no one comes out, it can be really disheartening.
How do you think the Bristol DIY scene compares to other scenes around the country?
Dave: Different cities have different vibes, Bristol has a massive music scene in general, but not a massive “punk” scene so it can sometimes be really surprising how many people come out for one event compared with another. We’re really lucky here in that a DIY show can usually expect to have around 30/40 people through the door, all really keen to see the bands playing, regardless of the day of the week.
Who are some local bands you think people should be looking out for?
Dave: Grand-Pop & Personal Best are two of my favourites, Caves have a rad new record coming out soon, All We Have play some awesome songs and should play more shows, Nathan Detroit (although technically not Bristol their close enough), I’ve heard some awesome things about Milk Teeth but not managed to see them yet, and the band that’s making some serious waves are Svalbard who really do smash it!
The Croft shut down last year, and the Fleece is also under a lot of pressure at the moment, how much of an effect on local music do you think the closure of venues like this will have?
Matt: I should point out that five or six years after starting Deadpunk Promotions I bought The Croft and now own Exchange in Bristol. In terms of The Croft, I don’t think it’s a big deal because ultimately Exchange is a similar size (albeit a little bigger) so that has effectively replaced the back room of The Croft. In addition there are a lot more punk shows at Stag & Hounds which has effectively become what the front bar of The Croft was and what The Junction was before that – A small DIY venue for up and coming acts. In terms of The Fleece, it would be a massive issue if they were to close down but as we speak their situation looks promising. Having said that there was a time around the late 00s where The Fleece was a venue that mainly put on local gigs and covers bands, and the punk scene seemed to survive just fine. Whilst we ought to cherish the venues we have and fight hard to make sure that venues aren’t unnecessarily closed down because of noise complaints associated with unwarranted redevelopment, I think the main thing is that there are people wanting to be involved with the gig experience, whether that’s as a venue owner, a promoter or as a punter.
What plans do you have for the future of deadpunk?
Dave: Keep putting on shows, hopefully that people what to see.
Finally, what advice do you have to people who want to start putting on shows in their home cities?
Matt: Start small and build up. Seek advice from other promoters and from bands to get an idea of how they like to be treated and what makes a good gig for them. If you do it for the right reasons and treat people right then promoting can be a rewarding experience.
Dave: Don’t run before you can walk, talk to people, be honest, tell bands what to expect, always set out to have a fun night and give something back to the scene that you enjoy.
The Bank Holiday Special is on the 25th of august at the Exchange/Stag & Hounds Bristol.