Sounds From The Other City is now in its 11th year of showcasing and celebrating Salford best new art and music. With 2015 bringing new venues, acts, promoters and ideas to the table all across the board we caught up with Ben Pitman from Bad Uncle. Their ‘Inception’ stage is the one of the most hotly anticipated at this year’s festival (following in the footsteps of the quasi-legendary SFTOC Social that Bad Uncle ran last year). A festival-within-a-festival, it keeps the fine Sounds traditions of high-concepts matched with inimitable line-ups – all within the previously unused space of the New Bailey Arch. Read more about the stage here, and read the full interview below
Who is Bad Uncle?
Who ISN’T Bad Uncle more like?
I’ve been selfishly putting some on the best (arguably) musical events in Manchester since May 2007.
I only book artists I like and I don’t see any problem with that.
Cool name, although I hope there’s no hidden truth behind it?
(video submitted, no further comment)
Any connection to Manc’s other cool kids Dutch Uncles?
Funny you should ask as there’s an interesting story behind that. Back in 2008 the Dutch Uncles actually approached us after they wanted to be called the Bad Uncles but as we had been around for a year or so before, we weren’t having any of it. Eventually after a lot of back and forth via Myspace messages things got a little heated and we had to settle the disagreement in the only way we knew. CAGE MATCH. No one who was present that night has ever mentioned the events that they witnessed. Needless to say I had the last laugh.
Anyway, we’re here to talk about Sounds From The Other City, how long have you been working at SFTOC?
Working would imply I get paid to do Sounds. I do not take a fee, it is done for the love of Mark and Riv and the excellent artists I bring in every year. I first got involved in the festival back in 2009 where the stage featured people producing original live soundtracks and included Sounds alumni GNOD and Liz Green. I always saw the offer of being part of it as an opportunity to do something different and I think that has been reflected in the stages I’ve had over the years.
Have you got a particular favourite year or memory?
As a punter back in 2008 at The Kings Arms watching Cats in Paris and Howlin’ Rain which I think was Lamb and Wolf’s (RIP) stage. As a promoter each year has been amazing and I’ve got to work with a load of great people but 2012 was one that sticks in my mind. We did the soundtracking idea again and had some incredible performances with an exhibition of artwork created for the day to accompany each band/film. Teeth of the Sea ripped the United Reform Church a new hole that evening. A really really good day that was. But in general Sounds is always an amazing day, stressful, and long, but ultimately one of the most satisfying experiences of the year and I am honoured that they keep asking me back.
This is the first year SFTOC are using The Arches as a “venue” and you’re taking one as your own? Is it exciting or daunting to be using such a space?
Exciting for sure. I am going to turn the audience into trolls for the day and lead them in a chorus of the Red Hot Chili Peppers classic ‘Under the Bridge’. But seriously it’s going to be great and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to once again bring new things to the festival.
Your stage is ‘Inception’ – what’s the concept?
There were a couple of idea’s flying around for my stage this year’s festival both from my side and from Riv and Mark. When they asked me to go meet them I presented this first and no more discussion was needed. In a bid to bring in some fresh meat I suggested that I’d throw my own version of SFTOC within my stage. Much like Mark and Riv approach Manchester promoters and labels to come and sort out a stage, I would in turn add an extra layer to it and ask my own batch of Manchester music kings and queens. I looked to the people whose output interested me and I wanted to work with and got two labels, a club night and a prolific promoter involved. Each would pick three acts to play during the day and of course I’d bring my own Bad Uncle vibes to the proceedings.
Tombed Visions Records is former Fat Out promoter David McLean’s independent label with an eclectic output of ambient, noise, experimental, and improvisational music which he will be showcasing via a number of exclusive collaborations. The Beauty Witch is a relatively new promotional outfit in Manchester headed up by Sammy Powell. I’ve observed Sammy working tirelessly to put on things that, much like Bad Uncle, no one else would go near and decided that he really should be involved in something like SFTOC.
Super Smash Hit Records again are a fairly new operation, putting out records, filming live sessions for bands, and even organising their own events around Manchester. These guys are lovely and they are putting out things I like and that’s why they’re here. Finally one of my favourite nights out is put on by the Violent Femmes ladies. They DJ 80’s and 90’s alternative and pop bangers which always makes for an incredible dance party, recently having smashed the Cornerhouse closing party to pieces. I’m really happy with what everyone is bringing to the stage and couldn’t have asked for a better line up. It’s going to be hectic but it’ll work.
There’s a huge variety of acts, local alt bands such as Hot Shorts, cover bands playing The Lemonheads and a massive mix of electronica. How are you planning to organise the day coherently?
The day will be split into sections per promoter. I have worked it so there is mix of styles that will flow nicely on the day and I would suggest that for the full INCEPTION experience you catch everyone on the stage from start till finish.
What are you most excited about?
I’m selfishly excited for the three acts I’ve chosen to play. Doctrines, Baby Brave and Fists as I love each of them dearly. But truthfully I’m excited for everyone. It’s going to be a great day and as I’ve already said I’m really pleased with what everyone has picked. I’m also SUPER excited to see what Paul ‘himHallows’ Hallows does with the space. Last year Yiiikes collective turned my stage in the gallery space into an incredible upside down living room and always one to want to involve as many people as possible I’ve asked Paul to go wild. He’s promised to bring his nebula crab back to life after last year’s Volkov Commander’s parade, and is going to transport the festival goers to a new world.
I’m also SUPER excited to see what Paul ‘himHallows’ Hallows does with the space. Last year Yiiikes collective turned my stage in the gallery space into an incredible upside down living room and always one to want to involve as many people as possible I’ve asked Paul to go wild. He’s promised to bring his nebula crab back to life after last year’s Volkov Commander’s parade, and is going to transport the festival goers to a new world.
Will you be leaving New Bailey Arch 1 at any point to see some other acts around Salford?
Although I respect the hard work all the other promoters and bands will be putting in on the day there really is no question about where the best place to be is on Sunday May 3rd. Bad Uncle’s INCEPTION @ New Bailey Arch 1. Be there or be disappointed.
Any other shows coming up for Bad Uncle after STFOC?
There’s always something on the horizon. I think the main thing to look out for is the latest instalment in the Box Social series which is a co-promoted all day event held in Levenshulme. Simon Catling (Grey Lantern) and myself put two all dayers on in 2014 and have Saturday 1st August earmarked for the next one which we will be announcing the initial line up in the weeks following SFTOC.
Interview by Elli Brazzill
SFTOC Tickets are available priced at £20 from Skiddle here: https://bitly.com/1AOTJ9a as well as in person from Piccadilly Records, and booking fee free from North Tea Power, Font Bars Manchester and the Kings Arm.