Read an interview here by Caris Smith of
What was the thinking behind setting up Home Grown Rock?
I set this up because I wanted to see more local UK bands getting the promotion they deserved and I wanted to provide them with the best stage to perform on to help boost their career as musicians. A stage that usually they only get to play on if either they pay to play, or have a paid PR company or management team backing them. These local bands need someone to help them who can do it for free and so I thought have the time, energy and passion to do just that, so I made it my mission having been into rock music all my life.
How did it all begin?
One day listening to Planet Rock radio in my car, a band came on and I thought “wow who is this, this is new, this is amazing!” They then announced it to be ‘Slam Cartel’ the song being ’Wishing Eye’, so I contacted them that day on Twitter and asked them if they were from London, as in London UK – or in the USA, and if they had any gigs / plans to come over to the UK. They replied “we are from London, as in Landan Taaan UK and no we haven’t any gigs at the moment” so I exchanged numbers with Terry Warville (guitarist / songwriter) and we began setting up some gigs for the band. We used to joke about booking The 100 Club, and he even helped me with my first presentation I did to get a foot in the door. 3 weeks later I’d booked the venue and found a heap more amazing British rock bands to play there too in support of Slam Cartel and on other nights.
Why are you so passionate about promoting these bands and spreading the word?
Unless a band pays for a PR company or gets signed to a small independant record label with its own PR, they have no voice outside of their local circles. The bands I have found and booked to play at one of my events deserve to be noticed throughout the UK and I want to play a part in helping them get that recognition. The energy on Twitter, for example, is very powerful and it only takes a few shout outs about a local band to get other people listening to them and I have even gotten some bands airplay around the world, which makes it all worth while to me.
Do you think it is important for bands to be more independent and self promote?
Yes, it is very important. I am doing all of this for free and in some cases I am funding the venue hire upfront, so it is only fair that the bands I have chosen to play do their part in trying to sell some tickets to their own fans – afterall it is their band the fans want to hear and see, not the promoter. I have been on some bands social media sites and have seen that their events pages are not up to date, or their biographies are wrong. If a potential record label looked at this they could be put off by this as nowadays labels are looking for bands who are extremely proactive. The music industry is afterall a business and labels are investors. No one will invest money in something that won’t invest time and energy in itself.
What do you think to sites like Twitter/Facebook and the role they play in promoting unsigned bands?
Twitter deserves a medal for allowing bands and fans to join in global conversation. It has unified the music industry and has provided a free and powerful marketing tool for us all. I find, book and promote bands using Twitter which links to my Facebook for the fans that are not yet on Twitter.
The same goes for sites like Pledge Music that allow bands to gain funding to record etc, is this the way forward?
Studio time is expensive and so is making your own album if you are not signed to a huge label, so having the facility in place for fans to pledge to help bands with costs can only be a way forward. Since there is so much ‘free’ music out there for people to listen to or legally download, depending on bands settings on Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Spotify etc, labels are not making the money back like they used to, so even signed bands are using this to help fund themselves alongside the contribution the smaller labels give them toward making their album. I have pledged on many an album myself!
Finally, what are you hopes for HGR in the future?
I am planning a festival next year in association with ChildLine Rocks, an amazing organisation set up to help the charity ChildLine. I want the festival to be affordable and accessible for all fans of the bands who have played (or will have played) for Home Grown Rock and estimate a few thousand people attending from all over the UK. I will be donating towards ChildLine and using the remaining profit to launch my own record label (which actually exists already) so that I can start funding a few lucky bands with a full ‘Manufacture / Distribution / PR’ package that will launch them into the mainstream. I will also continue booking bands into venues across the UK.