Following his nationwide tour in late 2019, I spoke to Callum around the importance of local venues such as Little Buildings and The Cluny and what they mean to him and his home town of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
When playing venues in the last few years, are you conscious of the bands that have graced the stage before?
In terms of particular venues I’ve played, I would say there’s not too much celebrated about those who have played here before. But I would say for somewhere like Leeds Brudenell Social Club, that’s one that is acknowledged even up here.
In terms of the North East, there are bench marks, so all the bands that have come through and have been succesfull, they seem to follow the same route. You’d start out at somewhere called Little Buildings, then Think Tank, then onto the Cluny, then Riverside. Whenever I play any of those venues across the North East, I’m so aware of the bands that have played there and that I am on this track, in particularly the Cluny, which is where so many bands that I have loved, I have seen there before.
Who in particular has paved that way with you?
I look up to bands who were on the seen when I started, so i’d say The Pale White, Sam Fender. These symbolize climbing up the venues and establishing themselves to be successful.
If you were to choose one venue, either you have played or visited to be recognized, what would that be?
I would say The Cluny, because I think most bands from my region have really used this as a stepping stone and some of my earliest memories of gigs were here. I think it’s got massive cultural significance to the region. What makes it great is that it has two rooms, one at 180 capacity and another at 300 capacity, so it provides two stepping stones in itself to move up in their career.
I feel there is a couple of venues, like Little Buildings, that have their own audience no matter what the gig. There is a core audience that know each other who always check out new music. There is a massive inner circle to these sort of venues, when you get to the Cluny, it brings in a much wider audience who are equally as dedicated.
Do you feel music scenes are important for towns to remember and embrace? and how do you feel this has impacted your sound?
As an artist, you aspire to a high amount of individualism. Definitely you look up to other bands in your area and have formed that local sound and have become succesfull. Consciously or subconsciously you incorporate this music into yours. My sound would be slightly different, there is definitely an identity to bands that come from Newcastle, but probably because every city has different communities, different experiences and is molded by their surroundings.
Do you feel this is something that should be recognized and protected? or do scenes work better when they are fluid and in the moment?
I think each city or town’s musical culture should be protected, through having staple music venues in each city protected. That’s where I feel this project will be really important.
What do you feel symbolizes an intimate and grassroots venue of this nature?
I suppose buildings in their original state, that show signs of decay and have maintained signs of their wear. The way Little Buildings was, you could tell all the events that happened there. There was graffiti everywhere, a huge blackboard plaque outside where people would write their names on. Literally, in the backrooms there is writings on every wall, things which bands have left behind.
A band had taken a massive piece of metal fencing from a construction site and that was left permanently behind the stage.
That’s one of the most unique venues I’ve played, everywhere you look there’s memorabilia of bands who have played there.
From your last tour, do you feel these venues are a key life-line to reach out beyond your local area?
Absolutely, having venues that size across the country, formative venues where bands can come and go with minimal risk and you can easily get all around the country. Lets say you know you’ve got 20 fans in Birmingham, a venue with intimacy and a tiny capacity you can easily fill and spread your music. It’s essential for these venues to exist and build their community and get into other communities across the country.
What do you feel venues have provided to grow your fan base, and is there other channels which have helped to establish this further?
Definitely, building a digital community, replying to fans and building that connection. It’s what most artists strive to do these days. Alongside getting out in public you can build this connection nationwide much easier. They are a massive tool in gaining an audience in places it would take you a long time to get to outside of your community.
What do you feel would be the benefits of listing a venue, and how do you feel this would be responded to by the local community?
I’d say it would give a solid identity to the area, it would be something that as a resident you know is a stable part of the community and knowing that it would be secure for a long time. I personally see this as really strongly regarded in the music community, really progressive in the local area and people would really see the cultural significance as music is such a staple part of daily life.