Monday, 12 January 2015

DIY and Staying Punk in the 21st Century

Hey!  Algernon Doll are taking over Scottish Fiction for the week.  My name is Ewan and today we will be talking about DIY in Scotland and all the good people that inspire me and create the culture and scene I live in.

When you first pick up your instrument, camera, pencil or headphones you're innocent.  You have no care but to express yourself, enjoy it and embrace a new skill and I don't see why that ever needs to change.  I've spent my life playing in punk and hardcore bands.  The music that's always interested me the most has never been popular enough to convince me that there's a career in it or anything and I think that's a great thing!  The people I've met are no more driven than the laddy indie bands sucking up for a "lucrative" record deal but I'd say they're driven in a more honest and worth-while direction.

I grew up, for the most part, in Perth and Dundee.  Small towns in the East of Scotland.  There's not really a bunch of activities for kids and teenagers so most of my friends just hung about skating, throwing rocks at windows to get a chase and causing minor inconveniences to the general public for a buzz (lame, I know).  The positive of growing up in these places is that the sheer boredom
of our group of friends seems to have sprouted in extreme creativity.  We started making movies, forming bands, putting on our own shows, taking promos for our own bands, doing drawings for album covers. The shows that we had were better attended than any pay-to-play deal going and the money was reciprocating amongst our own community. Shows became fests and this led to us being able to book bigger bands and make enough money to finance our own records and contribute to charities we all hold close to our hearts.  Now would be a good time to mention Make-That-A-Take Records in Dundee who put on Book Yer Ane Fest every year and raise thousands for local water safety charities. 

Bands in Perth and Dundee often don't get much exposure.  Some of my favourite bands in Scotland are Dundonian (Kaddish, Bonehouse, Uniforms, Terrafraid, Little Anchors and many more). Knowing this, I moved to Glasgow to start this band I play in now.  Initially I felt sick as at first glance I saw bands being ripped off left, right and center for zero exposure.  Some of the 'best' venues offer NOTHING in regards of promotion and milk local bands on, essentially, pay-to-play deals to make themselves money claiming that there's no other way to run a venue.  That's so far from true!

After a few months of emailing and going to local shows that I enjoyed I met some really great people here.  DIY is alive and well in Glasgow.  Blogs like this one, Podcart, Ayetunes, Jock Rock, TYCI do a great job of listening to what you have and giving it exposure.  I had zero confidence in my new musical direction until a lovely response from Halina at Podcart a few years ago spurred me to keep doing what I was doing.  The fact that people still love hearing new music at the risk of being bombarded with emails gives me hope! Steven Hill (Struggletown Records), Boab (Punk Rock Rammy), Iain Gillon (Repeater) and Aileen and Hannah (Milk Glasgow) run 95% of the shows I go to.  These people are all doing this in a manner that's not only successful but beneficial to the bands.  They are the life-blood of the music scene!

The benefits of DIY outweigh the effort.  You will make good friends and contribute to something that helps others like yourself.  I use the word, "punk" pretty broadly...  To quote Derrick Johnston of MTAT Records, "Punk rock is not an image it's a life philosophy".  Don't wait for help from others, just go do what you want.  It doesn't matter what genre your music is.  It doesn't matter if you're a writer or a pet-shop owner just express yourself and do it ethically.

This is the part where I truly appreciate how difficult it is for bloggers to stay on track with these things so I'll leave you today with some suggested upcoming events and pages.  Ya'll be good to one another and #staypunk4eva.

Punk Rock Rammy Listings inc. Pianos Become the Teeth

MTAT Season Ticket. A year's worth of shows including Book Yer Ane Fest

Struggle 43 - Slowlight

Repeater #8 Algernon Doll - Sinking Feeling - Chartered Trips

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