Promoter Interview: Derby DIY Collective

Derby DIY Collective is made up of Dean Wheeler and Rob Fisher. Based in Derby, the promoters put on a wealth of amazing shows, from local DIY bands to huge touring acts. We had a chat with Dean about his experiences.

How did you get into the DIY scene?
There used to be a collective in derby that ran under the name Ponce in the early 00s. Headed by Jodie and Laura from when they were in their mid teens to early twenties, they brought DIY alive for me, and made me want, and need, to be part of it. They ran weekly events to fund raise for an open air festival, Ponce in the Park, and several other large events through the year. They had so many people who fell in love with their spirit and energy; every week you’d have a huge community of like-minded people rock up to various venues, (or just any building with floorspace for a drum kit) across Derby to see some amazing touring and local acts, DJs and all night parties. Such a huge group of friends – you could write a book on them alone. I’d love it if social media was as strong back then, just to see the photos…. maybe.

How did you get into promoting?
I was living and working in derby and a few friends moved here to study. We all had a love for the same bands and music scene. They started a collective called We Get Lively in 2005 (I think) and I joined them for their/our second show. We had a really decent go at it and put on some of our favourite bands such as Latterman, Grabass Charlestons, the Jesus Years and half the No Idea Records roster at the time, but as people finished their courses and moved away we decided to call it quits. I carried on for a few years on my own (Planes Mistaken for Stars, Mates of State, Peter Bjorn and Fucking John – long story) but I lost my love for it a little (after those clowns Peter Bjorn and John – long story) and in 2009 I met Rob in a nightclub in Drby. Derby DIY was soon born and we’ve been having a rad time of it since!

How did you establish yourselves as well known promoters?
Drinking a lot and being around people! With me having a bit of history of being around the scene for a while and me being 50 years older than rob we kind of bring two age groups together. I had a few contacts at agencies, and venues from my previous attempts at building a scene in Derby, and Rob has awesome design skills and knows a lot of the new bands on the scene – as well as us also having a large bunch of supportive friends. I’ll book Leatherface whilst he’s sorting a deal for The Menzingers. It just clicks and on the night we somehow manage to pull things together. It’s been great meeting so many of our favourite people and bands from Laura Stevenson & Into It Over It, to Off With Their Heads, Grown Ups, and Bomb The Music Industry, etc [full list on]. It’s been a lot easier since we found a permanent home at The Victoria Inn in Derby. They’re very supportive and putting on shows in a known venue has its perks with getting the word out and set up. I think it’s helped us to become a known “brand” if you want to call us that and make us sick.

What was your first show?
We got together in 2009, and our first show was 2010 with Franz Nicolay, Cynics (I think it was Giles’ first show out of london and before they became a full band), and Joe Slater. It was in a small coffee shop and we just got drunk, scrounged for equipment from locals and a venue down the road, and somehow made it sound passable for a show. It was pretty much a donation based gig and we had a great time. I think we gave Franz too much red wine though. It went well enough for us to still be doing this today!

How is the Derby scene at the moment?
Theres a really good cross-over of bands and promotors. Our good selves, Buttonpusher, and Holy Smokes! (as well as others) are all getting good turnouts and putting on a really great range of events and bands across the genres in the city. We all know each other (mainly from the Ponce days) and it’s a really strong community. Derby DIY had a break for a couple of years to concentrate on other things but since we’ve been back its been ridiculous how much support the shows are getting. Turnouts are great and with that we keep getting offered bigger and bigger bands and events to promote, and making more locals happy with show announcements.

What’s it like working so close to a big city like Nottingham which gets a lot of larger touring bands? Is it a help or a hinderance?
Nottingham is a great city, but the bigger venues are in a bit of a rut in my opinion. Rob and I joked that they should employ us to do this full time over there! But seriously, there are some great DIY spaces such as JT Soar popping up as the demand for DIY style of show over there grows. I mean, its in a fruit and veg warehouse! How much cooler is that over playing one of the bigger venues?! If it’s us or them putting on shows, who cares really? We are careful not to book a show that’s happening half an hour down the road on the same tour, but at the end of the day a show is a show. We only do this to bring great bands to those who want them, we don’t take a penny. If it’s them & not us doing the show then we can relax a bit and just enjoy the beers down the road. Although, we aren’t happy they’ve got Lawrence Arms over us (dream show)!

Shows Derby DIY has coming up:

17th September – Modern Baseball, Spraynard, Losing Sleep
26th September – Superheaven, Nai Harvest, Concave, Bluebird
14th October – Balance & Composure, Seahaven, Milk Teeth

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Max Qayyum

Max Qayyum

Seeing Your Scene / DIY promoter / Cutting Room / Taco Hell

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