A DIY hardcore / screamo festival is always a great subject to dive into. Presented by Art Failure, the fest has been organised for the 6th of September at the Green Door Store in Brighton, England. It is called “This is Your Last Chance to Dance” and these guys have been lucky enough to have CELESTE as their headliners, not to mention a bunch of other amazing bands, including WE CAME OUT LIKE TIGERS, MORT MORT MORT, WE NEVER LEARNED TO LIVE, TOTEM SKIN (all of which I have interviewed – click a band’s name to read an article). Featuring a vegan kitchen and distro stalls, this party has everything to become the Fluff Fest of the southern England ;) Get your tickets as soon as possible!
I caught up with TIYLCTD organizer, Darran Nolan, to talk about the festival, the reasons behind it and how DIY ethics play a key role in putting out such shows. Read the full interview below.
Featured photo by HCStiv.
The full line-up is as follows:
CHARLOTTE LIGHT & DARK
EMPLOYED TO SERVE
LET IT DIE
MORT MORT MORT
OBLIVIONIZED RENOUNCED SCREEN WIVES
WE CAME OUT LIKE TIGERS
WE NEVER LEARNED TO LIVE
Hi Darran! It’s so good to learn about another cool DIY undertaking out there. Please shoot us a brief introduction of who you are and what you have to offer :)
Introductions are so hard! I live in Brighton, England and I generally speaking I have assumed the identity of ‘Art Failure’ as a platform to put on shows and write about things in music that get me excited. It is my hope that my enthusiasm is at least a little contagious!
In terms of what I have to offer, that’s difficult to answer without sounding like a hard sell. The shows I put on are pretty eclectic and I am a firm supporter of the mixed bill- I believe they challenge the audience to be receptive! But beyond the general business of “oh, I put on this genre band or that genre band” I like to think I offer something close to a sense of community for people and bands who feel isolated from the various micro-scenes that exist. Art Failure shows could be boiled down to misfits playing shows for misfits- of course if the bands and people who come to my shows don’t mind!
Also I probably offer an example that if someone as disorganised as me can contribute to the local community then anyone can!
When did you start “Art Failure”? Also, how did you became involved with music overall?
Art Failure has only really officially existed since about a year ago, before that my activity, musically speaking (I have been heavily involved in the freestyle skateboarding scene for many years which is 100% DIY too) was a bit too sporadic to be worthy of it’s own push. I started it as a means to have something positive to hold on to while I worked through a period of depression and it really really helped.
As for getting involved, as a kid I was fascinated by the imagery of the old hardcore and metal bands. My cousin was a massive metalhead and his room was covered in many of the classic posters and when I visited him I would just stare at them constantly. But the first time I got involved was in high school as with many people, I wanted to emulate the feelings I got at the first shows I went to (mine was NAPALM DEATH). A bunch of us played in loud, fast and heavy bands so we would get together and put things on for us and our friends. No one else came to our shows except our crew but they always felt wonderful.
Speaking of the bands you’ve played in, do you mind sharing some names?
Well I currently play in a band called CHARLOTTE LIGHT AND DARK, but before that there have been quite a few strangely named bands (of various quality):
MANNEQUIN CAMPAIGN, DR HEARTSTRINGS, GRAFT VS HOST, CEPHALOPOD, FAECONAUT
What was the first festival you ever went to?
The very first festival I went to was called Uxfest, based in Uxbridge which is a suburb of London. It was very small all ages type thing which ran every year from 1997 until 2006. The first one I went to was in 2000 and MEDULLA NOCTE played. They were great.
Ok, so here you are, putting up your very own festival later this year. Where did the name for the fest come from? Did any other festivals influence you?
The name is a pretty lame inside joke about how at a lot of bigger hardcore shows there is always that one band who declares that it is your last chance to dance in an effort to stir up a bit of a frenzy in the pit. Perhaps it is just my poor sense of humor at work. I also hope it is a gentle reminder for people to come and have fun!
And of course I think it is hard to not be influenced by other festivals, going to things like Uxfest in the past and more recently Fluff Fest, Bleh Fest and Chimpy Fest it gives you a way to see what you do and don’t like about festival atmospheres and organisation and work from that. I’m also a big admirer of Cry Me a River, though I have yet to attend myself, the lineups are always fantastic and everyone I know who has been always comes back really happy and already looking forward to the next one!
True true. So what was your original intention with booking the festival?
Oh that one is easy, I just wanted to bring together my friends in bands and friends not in bands and then make some new ones. A lot of the bands on the lineup are guys I’ve either put on myself in the past or shared a stage with, I just wanted to bring a sense of that friendship and camaraderie to Brighton, which can be quite an apathetic place at times.
Haha. Isn’t the Brighton Beach associated with chillin’ out, warm sun, drinks and Fatboy Slim’s narcotic DJ set? ;)
It really is, Brighton has a pretty crazy party/club scene and when it is warm here there are lots of people on the beach slowly cooking in the sun. Lots of people travel here for nights out and sometimes it can be like something out of a zombie movie at night with all the groups lurking in the street. It’s a pretty funny sight really!
Any cool picutres to attatch here? ;)
Ok man, now please tell me, what role do you think a punk fest in your hometown has in relation to the day-to day-local scene? What role do you see it serving in the current Brighton area or ever wider DIY culture?
Oh it really wouldn’t be fair to take advantage… you should come and visit and see for yourself, it is the best way for sure!
As for how a fest can relate to the local scene I think it gives a sense of occasion and hopefully excitement and inspiration. If on any small level people make meaningful positive connections or come away wanting to do something positive for the Brighton scene or their own then it is a success in my opinion.
In terms of a wider role I didn’t start with any grand designs to be honest except wanting to have a great time with great people, However on a level that reflects my own personal values I hope it shows that we as a community can create meaningful things without outside interference, influences (agencies and so on) or by pandering to current trends. We can just exist self sufficiently which while not ignored is sometimes forgotten in Brighton and the UK as a whole.
Yup, but there must be someone helping you out a bit. Who else is involved? Also, please talk about the Green Door Store. What kind of venue is that?
Well first of all I am a terrible, terrible cook so Food Rules Vegan kitchen is preparing a lot of lovely treats for the bands and audience to eat between sets! That is through John from SKY:LARK who are also playing (and are super good too). The poster was designed by Billy Mather and really the main thing is all the bands being really nice and easy to communicate with which makes staying organised really easy. And of course my wife who reminds me to do things like put the correct times on tickets and generally supports me through my crazy projects.
The Green Door Store is a small venue but is pretty unique, it is under the main railway station for Brighton and it has a cobbled floor. It used to be a work/engineering space I think. It has hosted some really great shows over the years (mostly put on by Dog Knights Productions). Some of the best shows I have been to there include SADDEST LANDSCAPE, RAEIN and TODOS CAERAN. So it made perfect sense to host it in a place that holds such pleasant musical memories for me and others!
Any other cool local venues worth mentioning here?
There’s a lot of venues in Brighton, it is a very musical city! My favourites include:
The Haunt: a bit bigger but it used to be a cinema so when they get the sound right it is amazing
Sticky Mikes Frog Bar: a very strange name but there are loads of good shows here and I think it is probably the main venue for hardcore/heavy shows in Brighton
Cowley Club: This one is a co-op run club that has a focus on grass roots social activism but also arranges frequent, good quality shows, often as benefits for various charities.
Fitzherberts: very small but it is great for DIY shows and there is always a great atmosphere.
Ok Darran, back to YOUR fest. The details of TIYLCTD are floating around the web for some time now, right? What was the motive for announcing details that early? What are your “marketing and promotion” goals? How do you try to push it?
Yeah, the info has been around for a while! part of that has been to avoid clashes with other shows in Brighton which can sometimes happen. Part of that is also just reflecting my own excitement but really I was quite keen to have it exist as an entity with drama or fanfare. Sometimes I find it frustrating how things can be drawn out over a long time with announcements and stuff so it seemed like a pleasant change to cut the bullshit. We’ll only know if it worked in September :P
The marketing and promotion goals are to try and make the process a little more interactive. A lot of promotional work seems to rely solely on the idea that “like and share” on social media generates more than just clicks and numbers, which as anyone who promotes shows will tell you rarely translates to actual attendees.
What I like to do is try and make things a little more interactive. For example: I held a competition a little while ago for a free ticket where the entrants had to write a haiku about a band on the lineup. It was fun to see what people would come up with and there were some really good entries. It is my hope that doing things that encourage interaction and engagement will create a more meaningful connection with people, break through the illusion of connection and actually create a small dialogue.
There will be more things in that style as the event gets closer and also of course I am able to promote it through my own shows and the valuable efforts of all the bands on the lineup too! Of course I can’t forget this lovely interview will be great promotion too!!!
Hopefully! :) Ok, so you do feel the concept of DIY is adapting well to this new age of digital era, technology and instant communication?
I think it has adapted as well as it has to. It certainly makes organising certain things easier and increased the reach of each scene/community so that everything feels more interlinked. For example MORT MORT MORT who are playing the fest, I got in contact with them after reading your interview which had their email address in it. You played a very important part in getting one of my favourite bands to come and play my hometown- Thank you!!
Of course it has its downsides as well, the way in which the DIY scene has grown very quickly, at least as an online presence, has led some people to fear the ethics and sense of community will be diluted. In my mind as long as the core values remain the same it can’t fail!
No way! Amazing! I love these guys. AUSSITOT MORT have put out so many outstanding records! So, it’s not a secret that your line-up is really interesting. Sludge, scream, post metal, post hardcore, blackened – these are probably a few of the sexiest words ever, haha. What was the selection process like? How are the artist for this festival chosen? Are there more bands to be announced?
Yeah, it’s my first time seeing them too so double thanks!
There was no special process with choosing to be honest, I love all of the bands and have been lucky enough to play shows with some of them or put shows on for them in the past. MORT MORT MORT & CELESTE it was more a case of sending off an email and crossing my fingers. Lucky for me they both said yes! It was different with TOTEM SKIN, they were initially on my “ideal list” but I didn’t ask them because I wasn’t sure it would be workable but Darren Harvey (Dogknights) told me they were looking to come over around the same time so it worked out perfectly!
There are no official slots for the fest to be announced but there is a pretty long standby list!! I am hoping to do a free show the night before as well, make it a little party and hopefully persuade the guys in LET IT DIE to come down!
If logistics and finance were not an issue, what bands would you love to see play the fest?
Well it is easy to list off loads of dream bands that I would love to have come and play but the first that comes to mind is KADDISH. They’re from Dundee (Scotland) and are easily one of the best emo/screamo bands ever. We were hoping to arrange them coming down for the fest but as with a lot of thins real life and logistics reared their ugly heads so it wasn’t to be. Also I wish I could have tied the dates around OLD SOUL‘s visit to the UK, they’re incredible.
No METALLICA?!? Haha, hrhrhrhrrrr… :)
Ok mate. What else? Are there any special events that you plan to hold at the fest? Some cool attractions, screenings, letting go soap bubbles, or somethin’? :)
Maybe MEGADETH ;)
As for special events- we’re gonna have a little competition that will be announced just before to win free entry to all the shows I put on for a whole year, it will hopefully be a lot of fun! But what it is will be a secret for now :P
Do you plan to extend the festival? Do you want to take it further? Will you be forcing the second edition next year?
I would love to hold another one next year, but before that there will be a similar but perhaps slightly smaller version in the winter which is already being planned. Winter in Brighton is super depressing so it is nice to have something to look forward to!
As for extending it, I think for the time being it is happy as it is, I won’t be looking for camp friendly sites just yet ;)
Fair enough :)
One more, Darran. Have you travelled a lot? Apart from other spots in the UK, what places have you visited?
Oh I like to get around! I’ve been to lots and lots of places and truth be told I haven’t yet been to a place I didn’t like. Travelling and experiencing the world and the different people within it is a really wonderful thing. But rather than write a long list of where I have been, I will just say that my next trip is next week to the Stockholm Hardcore Fest and I’m really looking forward to seeing TOTEM SKIN, FULL OF HELL and SHIROKUMA! If anyone sees a guy in a THIN PRIVILLEGE shirt that is probably me!
Your first trip to Scandinavia?
Actually it is! I hope to see more of it soon. I really want to explore Norway- perhaps see a Black Metal show in its spiritual home. Does that count as doing ‘tourist crap’, like going to America and seeing Graceland? :P
Dude, Norway is really amazing. Check out my old photo-blog with some nice pics from the land of the midnight sun – www.norge.fotolog.pl. You have to go there!
Wow! I especially like the ones from the tops of the hills from hiking. It seems so tranquil. I hope to get there in the summer and spend a couple of weeks camping. You’ve given me a real taste for it!
Yup, I just sort of daydreamed, too :)
So, do you have anything else coming up that we should be sure to mention here?
Well I have lots of shows coming up and all of them are special in their own way! But I think at the moment I am really looking forward to seeing OLD SOUL on their UK tour. I am doing the Brighton date with Dogknights Productions on the 30th of June and then I will be going to the London show on the 7th of July as an audience member. They’re an incredible band and even if I wasn’t involved with a show I’d be shouting about them.
Besides punk and DIY music, what other genres and artists do you listen to that we wouldn’t suspect you of enjoying? :)
I think everyone listens to so many different things these days that it is hard to be surprising ;) I do however have a real soft spot for MOTOWN – the golden age stuff is so good. It’s like perfect little packages of music.
Yeah man, great stuff! :) Alright, enough bugging you. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we say goodbye?
It’s never bugging! Just the usual stuff really, just to say thanks to my wife for putting up with my crap and helping at shows when she could be watching bands. Also want to say thanks to Darren and Jill for their support and friendship. And obviously I’m so grateful to all the bands that have agreed to share some time with us in Brighton. Hopefully there will be many more chances to make new friends in the future.
Maybe you can join us at the fest too? We’ll pretend you have a press pass or something :P
Haha! It would be sooo nice to take some time off and finally visit the UK with my wife and my little daughter, but I guess it’s a bit too early for the little one (she’ll be 9 months old by then).
By the way the press, are there any photographers and/or videpgraphers involved? Can we expect a proper documentation of the first edition of the soon-to-be-legendary festival? ;)
Well if you can find the time you are more than welcome, though obviously family comes first! As for documentation – there should be something, nothing official yet but I want to capture at least some of the day, especially as I will be running around making sure it is running smoothly so I might miss some things!
Can’t wait to see the DVD ;)
Ok buddy, we made it. Thanks a lot for your time and very informative answers. Let’s keep in touch and shoot our readers a nice recap of the fest later around Fall! Have a good one! Cheers!
“This is Your Last Chance to Dance” Facebook Event
“This is Your Last Chance to Dance” Terrorizer article
“This is Your Last Chance to Dance” Last.fm Event
Art Failure Facebook
Art Failure Tumblr
Art Failure Bigcartel