‘Carl Maloney Presents’ at the Forefront of South Yorkshire’s New Music Scene

Visit www.carlmaloney.com for more details

Visit http://www.carlmaloney.com for more details

South Yorkshire has a fine reputation for it’s homegrown musical talent and the number of Sheffield based artists lining the hall of fame is certainly something to behold.

The Human League, ABC, Joe Cocker, Paul Carrack and more recently Pulp, The Crookes, Lucy Spraggan and the Arctic Monkeys are just a few.

For those in search of new music, you’ve got to look no further than your local pubs where you’ll find a whole host of interesting a varied music nights taking place throughout the city centre.

Agenda Magazine’s Editor, Charlie Barker talks to comedian, actor and musician, Carl Maloney about his passion for new local talent and how he’s making it accessible in venues near to you.

Charlie: Tell us a bit about yourself?

Carl: It all started back in May 1978 during the FA Cup final when I had a rather traumatic entrance into the world in Jessop’s Hospital. I took it in my stride though; got bigger, fell of a few bikes, went through school, couldn’t be bothered to work and picked up a guitar.

I’ve always loved guitar music, none of that dance rubbish. All my mates played so started a band called The Sound. The Arctic Monkeys supported us on their first ever gig at The Grapes pub in Sheffield, a story I’ve told a million times and never get bored of. We had a few cracking years and reinvented the band as Seven Hills, went on to play festivals and major support slots but that all fizzled out in 2005 when other members got all boring and had kids so couldn’t commit.

I was left with nothing to do. I never missed rehearsals but I did miss playing live and being on stage. So I tried to think of other things to do. I ended up on a few national TV adverts for the Halifax bank, then in 2013 I tried out stand up comedy.

I did over 65 gigs over about two years, had some shocking gigs and occasionally had some quality ones. I never really felt right in the comedy circuit, it’s full of a***holes. I can however say that there are loads of lovely folk too.

I’m really lucky, during a stand up gig in Sheffield I was spied by Joe, a film director and Sam who ran live music nights. I started to do more and more local compere ´jobs and fell into doing that. I’ve just finished a film called South of the River that comes out later this year.

Charlie: You’ve worked as a comedian and a musician, what got you into organising gigs?

Carl: I fell out with traveling as a stand up and the hosting work became few and far between so I had a moment one day about 4am, couldn’t sleep and I thought why not have a go at my own night, host it myself and call it ‘Carl Maloney Presents’? Next minute I had a meeting with Nic at the Frog & Parrot pub in Sheffield and here we are.

Charlie: Were there many people supporting you in this way when you were gigging?

Carl: Hard question, I feel like saying no not really. You are on your own at first anyway. It wasn’t till Sam from the Big Live Event company had the faith in me to make me host of Yorkshire Unplugged in 2012 and all his festivals at Weston Park, I picked up a lot of momentum from those days.

I owe that kid a lot. Now I’m working with loads of promoters and have met some cracking folk, it’s great.

Charlie: What can we expect from a Carl Maloney Presents night?

Carl: Something different. At every ‘Carl Maloney Presents’ gig each band/ act that plays for has their set filmed by Jonny and Rob my film and sound team and I do a live interview with them. I package it up and give it them to send out to the world via social media. The nights are lovely, we all have a good drink and a laugh. I want the acts to be comfortable and to have a good time.

Charlie: Tell us more about the venues you’re currently working with.

Carl: Massive respect to Nic at the Frog & Parrot. I’ve know him a while now and he is a massive advocate of local Sheffield bands and using his pub as a springboard for them to develop. I had a 20 minute chat with him one day and thought where better to host your gig than the home of Sheffield live music?

Then late last year I was nicely alight one night at the Washington and opened my mouth to the owners about my other music night and they were interested in bringing ‘Carl Maloney Presents’ over there as well. I love the Washington, I met my wife there. I’ve spent many a night cracking wise over a few beers and can’t wait to work with them. I’ve also done work at the Leadmill, Plug, Forum and others too.

Charlie: Do you personally choose the artists you work with and if so what has drawn you to them?

Carl: Oh yes, I’ve introduced loads of them over the years so had a few contacts. I have the odd out of town band on but its 95% acts I’ve seen live out and about in Sheffield. We are blessed in Sheffield at the minute, some cracking bands out there. I’m really into the guitar scene.

I’m loving the Velcro Teddybears, Two Skies, The Monday Club, Redfaces, Adelphi, The Starkins, Howarth, The Leathernecks, The Fontaines, Kid Conventional, The SSS and The Wired. I’ll basically book anyone with “the” before their name!

It’s going really well, perhaps a bit too well. But it’s a journey I’m enjoying and will continue to do so until something else pops up.

Charlie: You’re very involved in supporting unsigned music in South Yorkshire, what are your plans for the future?

Carl: I plan to go out to more gigs this year and choose gigs with bands on that I haven’t heard before. I’m going to get amongst it and establish my nights at the Frog & Parrot and The Washington. There is something in the air at the minute around Sheffield and I love it.

Get down and support some of Sheffield’s up and coming musicians on the following nights at the Frog & Parrot, Division Street and The Washington, Fitzwilliam Street…

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In Conversation with The Levellers’ Jeremy Cunningham

2014 saw folk-rock legends, The Levellers set off on a world-wide tour, celebrating their success in the industry after over 25 years. Bassist, Jeremy Cunningham talks to Charlie Barker about the highs and lows of their career, politics and the beauty of being independent musicians.

Charlie: So you’ve had the best of 25 years in the business and you’re embarking on this latest European tour, how many different countries have you been to so far?

Jeremy: Well, we’ve been to Holland, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark… I think that’s it so far!

C: You’re on the UK leg of it now and it is all surrounding the Greatest Hits record you’re bringing out. So as a band, who has travelled the world playing your music going to so many places. What’s left to do?

J: We’ve done an awful lot. We’ve played in a lot of small clubs around the world, right up to big venues and small festivals to huge festivals. I don’t know. We just like playing.

We don’t really rehearse unless we’re changing and rearranging stuff, which we do quite frequently, but if we just sit around playing our old songs it’s quite boring. As soon as we set foot in front of an audience, it’s just like it’s the first time we’ve ever played them. We’re really conscious that we want to give the best. We’re more conscious now than we were when we were younger of giving the best show we could possibly do. We spend a lot of money, more than most people on our show: our lights and our sound and bringing in any other bits and pieces. We like people to think they’ve had a bit of a party and their money’s worth, so we have confetti cannons, lasers and stuff. We’re from the rave generation: old school!

C: Not once have I ever seen a quiet Levellers gig.

J: It doesn’t exist unless we’re doing an acoustic set.

C: After all this time on the road, what do you think keeps the fans coming back?

J: ‘Cause we’re f**king good! That’s it basically. What we were saying about having a good time, it’s absolutely true. We’re also talking about important issues in our lyrics, issues that people identify with; political issues and personal issues. We put that in music that you can dance to and basically forget about all your troubles and at the same time you know you’re connecting with the real world. It’s not just pure escapism. I think that’s what people like and because we f**king deliver!

C: Do you think you’re seeing more of a younger audience going down the generations?

J: Seems to luckily for us! We’ve still got the young kids at the front and the older guys at the back. It’s very important for us to have the younger kids at the front, ‘cause they’re the ones that jump around. They give us that reciprocal thing, between band and audience. That gives us our forward momentum that we have to have to really deliver. What we’ve found, as this is our 26th year and in a couple of months it will be our 27th year, we’re seeing the kids of our original followers who have been trawling through their Mum and Dad’s record collections and are now just about scraping old enough to come and see us.

That accounts for some of it I think and the rest is people discovering us as no other band really sounds like us. We’re quite unique, so we have that kind of position and because we’re not just a musical thing. If young kids are more inclined to want to know more about the world around them, then we fit quite nicely into that scene of talking about important things. But at the same time they can still go and drink Jagerbombs and jump up and down at the front of a gig.

We were all in a student union bar the older day feeling like the oldest people there. We were still drinking Jagerbombs for two quid each and misbehaving ourselves, we always do!

C: You’re playing along with some impressive names tonight; you’ve got The Selecter and newcomer, Laura Kidd (She Makes War). How did it come about and did you personally choose who to gig with?

J: Yeah we personally chose both of them. Our agent Dave saw Laura, sent me an email and a couple of clips on YouTube to check her out and I thought she was absolutely brilliant and I sent it around the rest of the band. When we realized she was available to do this, she was the first person we asked and she was up for it. Then The Selecter, we hadn’t really thought about them being: an independent, reasonable sized band in their own right. They were actually in New Zealand at the time, but our agent said they’d be up for it if we asked them. So, we asked them and here we are.

C: In terms of genre, you’re both very different but I think you’ve got a lot of shared values.

J: It’s dance music effectively. Musically it is different but values and the political ethos are very similar. It’s funny ‘cause we used to be into them when we were at school! It’s good to have a band that’s older than us!

C: It will be good to see how you and the two-tone genre come together on stage.

J: Well we do sing songs together. Pauline comes and sings a song with us and Laura comes up and sings. We use the horn section from The Selecter on a song as well.

C: Keeping on an independent theme. You’ve been with a major label in the past and you went away from that. There’s been a rise of independent artists recently; do you think this is the way forward for new artists these days?

J: Yeah, we always signed to independents. We signed to Warner Bros. for one album but that was because our indie label was sold without our consent and we ended up there. They didn’t really want us, so they put out one album and then we bought our way out of the contract.

Pretty much since then we’ve had our own record label because now technology allows that and that it didn’t used to back in the day, it was too expensive with big recording studios and tape. Now you can record an album in a room smaller than this [dressing room] as long as you can get a drum kit in it and a few people. We like to record live so if you can do a drum kit and room for us to stand about and a couple of computers, then we can record onto that. With social media now and the Internet, which never existed when we were first around and probably at our biggest, you can put out your own records and do your own publicity. You can have a pretty reasonable amount of success doing that.

We do hire publicists and pluggers when we bring out albums just to give it that extra kick, but when we haven’t actually got an album we are selling what we have through our website and we just have our normal crew of people who work for us and that has worked for us. It’s quite minimal like a little cottage industry. I think it is the way forward, I think it always has been the way forward it’s just that the means haven’t been there so much in the past.

C: The new album features some great collaborations on your hits over the years; people like Frank Turner, Imelda May, Bellowhead and Billy Bragg. If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive in music history who would it be

J: It’s pretty easy. We’d all say Neil Young. Bob Marley would be pretty cool, maybe Jimi Hendrix, but we’d all say Neil Young. We have supported him quite a lot back in the day.

C: Your music has always featured strong political, social and poigniant comment. It’s easier now for artists in the age of social media to take a stance and get their message across. Back in the day when you were starting out surely that would have been a hard road to take?

J: It’s never the easiest path if we’re talking about anything political because then you’re going to be in opposition to someone. This is why most young bands today steer well clear of politics ‘cause they want to make a career out of music. We were never interested in making a career out of music, we wanted to do that but we were more interested in getting our point of view across.

I think it’s always hard but in the days when we started in the very late 80s and early 90s, it was just at the end of Thatcherism and the country was more receptive to people who were saying political things because they were so disillusioned with politicians.

It was obvious those were the songs we were going to write, we just hoped people would get it and they did. We were surprised how much they got it and how massive we got. Then we got a bit disillusioned because we got “we’re so huge, we should be seeing some sort of change” as that’s what we’d always encourage and we didn’t. So we had to re-evaluate what we were doing and we put a lot of money into putting alternative political groups together (before social media) so they could network together but then all they did was argue! So then we decided “Oh f**k it, let’s just be a rock band” and we’ll do benefits for the causes we agree with.

So now we do a combination of the whole lot but with social media it’s a lot easier and these days because we’re so known as a band with a political ethos we don’t really have to explain ourselves like we used to. People just either get it or they don’t and that’s it.

I think now, starting out as a political band it would be harder. Things are just grey and insidious now, when we were starting out things were really black and white between Tories being bad, the Labour Party probably still bad but better! When the Tories were in, they’d been in for so long; our lifetimes basically.

We don’t really trust any politicians, which is why we have to say our own thing.

C: I know Frank Turner, has never been shy of saying political things even in the early days.

J: He’s a nice guy and he’s done very well out of it as well, which is good I think that he is because it shows it can be done. Whereas a lot of the young bands we meet are just really scared of saying anything, if they’re even interested in the first place if they want to make a career out of it, which is the first mistake I think. You shouldn’t go into music trying to make a career out of it because that’s very unlikely to happen. You should go into it because you love doing what you’re doing, you have something to say and you’re just driven to say it. Anything else is a bonus.

Coloquix at The Forum Sheffield, 29/12/14

The opening night of one of Sheffield’s favourite street artists, Coloquix took place just before we saw in the New Year at The Forum Bar & Café in the heart of the city’s Devonshire Quarter.

With it’s controversial overtones, street art essentially is art for everyone in a public place; commissioned or un-commissioned, versatile, ever-changing and unpredictable in it’s nature.

You can find a lot of Coloquix’s work in derelict buildings, hidden away for the small yet determined community of urban explorers to find whilst wandering the darker corners of our city.

Amongst many secret, hidden gems you’ll also see that his artwork has graced the walls of establishments like The Washington pub, brightening up their exteriors and also many private commissions in people’s gardens and houses.

by Andrew Warburton

by Andrew Warburton

It seems natural that his signature black and white, long-haired ladies and their feline friends should make the progression into a more mainstream arena.

Bright colours, adorn the walls of The Forum Bar & Café on the well-attended opening night of the exhibition with a total of 14 pieces painted onto board, all of which are for sale and will be there for a total of six weeks until early February 2015.

From the smaller head and shoulders portraits to the larger full length boards; if you want your own original piece of Coloquix street art this is the perfect place to view before you decide which article is for you.

Visit www.coloquix.net for more information.

View full set of live event images: click here.

– Charlie Barker