We Never Learned To Live Discuss: The Boileroom & UK Live Music
With Guildford venue the Boileroom facing the possibility of closure, TMMP caught up with David of We Never Learned To Live to discuss the Boileroom and the state of the UK’s live music scene.
This interview is part of a larger TMMP feature which can be read in full here.
What is your general opinion of the Boileroom?
The Boileroom is an awesome venue, simple as that! We’ve played there a bunch of times in the last few years and always love it – one of the best on the circuit! We all grew up not far from Guildford so the Boileroom was always a real go-to venue for us growing up too.
How did you feel when you heard about the Boileroom’s current problems?
The first reaction was really just a case of ‘not another one’. Living in Brighton we have seen the same happen to local venues down here and have also had several emails about other venues up and down the country getting shut down or put in jeopardy in the last few months. So it seems to be a worrying trend.
What would happen if the Boileroom were to shut down? What impact would that event have?
The Boileroom is a venue that is really at the heart of the music scene in the area. Other cities have the luxury of having a bunch of different venues that can take anyone from small local acts through to medium size touring bands, so maybe the impact of losing a venue like this would be muted slightly in other areas. But Guildford, on the other hand, really relies on the Boileroom as the only venue of this sort of size in the area.
And it’s not just the size of the venue either, but its history and how long it’s been a part of the scene. Even bands that could probably fill out somewhere larger want to play there as it’s got such a history and been part of the circuit for so long.
I honestly think Guildford would struggle to host certain types of shows if this venue closes. I’ve lived in cities before where suddenly a venue has shut down, or stopped booking certain genres, and it’s surprising how quickly a scene can just completely flatline, in places much bigger than Guildford too. Agents need to fill tours quickly and will just move on to the next city in the area to get a show, which would be a shame.
There are other cool venues in the area but the loss of the Boileroom would leave a massive hole, and I honestly think it will really damage the music scene in the area if it goes, and Guildford would take a long time to recover.
What is your favourite Boileroom-related memory?
My favourite recent memory is watching a band called Flesh Trench put on what can only be described as 30 minutes of utter insanity at a Palm Reader show we were also playing. Think guitarist in a wrestling mask, bassist in drag firing supersoakers filled with booze from the stage while a clown wandered through the crowd giving out shots.
In less surreal circumstances I have also seen the likes of Jamie Lenman and Ed Sheeran play there and smash it. It’s also the venue we first saw and played with Svalbard, Pariso and Stallone all on one intense bill, and fell in love with each of them. So much good music comes through this venue at every level and so many great memories there.
How do you feel about the state of the UK’s live music scene right now? What could be done to improve things?
Despite the issues with the Boileroom and other similar venues, I actually think that on a national level, the UK’s live music scene is great at the moment. There are loads of great venues and promoters putting on shows, and a real feeling of community that really crosses genres too. It seems to be less and less a focus on a ‘hardcore’ scene, or rock scene etc. and just a really non-genre-defined music scene in the area that people are getting involved with. And really that comes down to promoters and venues with an awesome and varied music taste putting on a wide variety of bands and doing it well so people and bands come back. A vast majority of the people involved do this out of love of music, and that really shines through a lot with the people we meet.
I suppose the main thing to improve would be the amount of respect and funding the arts get in general from local and central government. Our first European tour earlier this year was a bit of an eye opener for that…so many promoters and venues on the mainland get a lot of support from their government in the form of grants, or tax breaks or help with venue improvements etc. Even when that’s not the case, local venues are respected and are seen as one of the important parts of the community and that is such a world away from where we are in this country right now where just one person can bring a venue with years of history to its knees.
So in general there are loads of great venues and promoters on this circuit doing an awesome job, but with more funding and support they could do a hell of a lot more.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just that we hope the Boileroom gets through this in one piece and continues to be a great Guildford venue! We won’t be hitting the road for a few months now with album writing well under way, and we sincerely hope that when we next tour it’s still there and we get to go back and play again and again!
Follow TMMP on Twitter for more interviews and awesome music! If you’re a regular reader, thanks for the support! Don’t stop, and keep going!