Late & Live Sessions -Breathing Life Into the Live Music Scene

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Late & Live Sessions, image from the official Facebook page

Last Saturday night was a miserable and rainy autumn one in Canterbury. The wind was howling and soggy leaves were strewn across the pavements. Dodging puddles became a necessity every few steps. It was the kind of night where you’d much rather stay in with a pizza and a Marvel film than go out.

However, for those of us who braved these bitter conditions, there was a treat in store at The Lounge Bar and Kitchen. This venue is the Student Union for one of the main universities in Canterbury and on this night in particular (Saturday 14th November) played host to Late & Live Sessions, a new live music event which prides itself on showcasing the best live music offerings from around the Canterbury and Whitstable area. Last week, the event had 4 sets from exciting artists such as Standard Lamps (who have opened for The Who), Hey Maggie (Late & Live veterans and crowd favourites), Noble Jacks (giving off splendid Mumford and Sons vibes) and solo artist Sam Brothers (the guy can play the harmonica and the guitar at the same time…need I say more?) Sounds exciting, right?

I arrived at the venue about an hour before kick-off and the room was thrumming with activity. Cases containing unidentifiable pieces of sound and lighting equipment were being brought in and hooked up; the stage was empty but for a few microphone stands and bundles of wires; the bar was being stocked and was emitting a tempting warm light. But I was not to be distracted, I was there to meet with Chris Monti who is, alongside his father Carlo, co-founder of Late & Live Sessions to talk about how this exciting project came about.

 

“We started the Late & Live Sessions with our launch event on July 5th 2015 based in a venue in Canterbury called Lifestyle Fitness, a 1000 capacity venue,” he says. “We launched it to showcase up-and-coming talent from the UK live music scene. We were really interested in Canterbury with the buskers, the small venue performers, anyone we’ve seen and wanted to give an opportunity to showcase their music. That was the initial strategy because we felt that in Canterbury, there is a big clubbing scene, a lot of house music and really great event companies, but there wasn’t as much offering within the live music scene, so it’s a sort of gap in the market and an opportunity to show that there’s a lot of talent out there and so we brought it all together.”

So that’s how it came about, you wanted to plug this gap? “Well no it actually came about because we often come through Canterbury high street and see a lot of buskers (like Hey Maggie) performing and we wanted to put on a big show where we could showcase their talent. And that was how it sparked the interest. It was something we’ve always planned to do, but we were looking for the right time and the right venue to do it. Lifestyle Fitness gave us the opportunity to do it and it’s sort of kicked off from there.”

How do you go about setting up an event like this? “In some of our venues, we will put the whole production on, so we work with local suppliers, in terms of the staging, equipment and sound systems and then work with local security teams like Akon Security. We actively go round to bars in the high street and meet the bands or solo performers face to face, speak to them and share what we’re trying to do, our vision, and get them on board. It’s a lot of background work trying to liaise with everyone to get it right. Each one of the performers who comes to our venue gets paid and then we’ll run all the marketing and promotion on our side, all the staging, the lighting and the venue. We do all of the logistical side, we just want to let them perform.”

What are there certain steps you’ve got to go through before you can put on such an event? “Yeah there’s a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes. Depending on what venue we’re using or the size capacity, it could be up to 3 months planning or a month. This one was quite a quick turnaround and because we’ve worked with suppliers on a frequent basis, we sort of understand the set up better now to when we initially started. Our first launch in July was about 3 months planning of trying to find the right suppliers who could work with us and be our partners and finding the right bands to do our launch event who were actively on board with what our vision was. From there, it’s just grown and we’ve actually got bands approaching us and saying they want to perform in our events, it’s great! We now work with 3 venues. Alongside Lifestyle Fitness, we’ve got the Umbrella Centre in Whitstable, now we’ve luckily got an opportunity to work here with The Lounge Bar and Kitchen.”

Who’s involved in your team to help set this all up? “My father obviously [Chris’ father Carlo Monti who is also co-founder of the Late & Live Sessions], and my brother who helps with all the designs, he’s a graphic designer which is very lucky [for us]. He does all the posters we’ve got, all the marketing material for us, and all the social media designs. I run the social media pages, plus do a lot of the logistical operations. My dad runs the business from the Kent side. We’ve got people who promote our events, we’ve got bands who work closely with us, we’ve got some suppliers we’ve worked with for an ongoing basis, and so once we’ve got that structure in place it’s easy to move our set-up to each venue. Hopefully we’ll be able to grow eventually to London.”

What is your vision for L&L? Would a move to London be part of that? “The vision is to build our brand in the Kent area. To carry on introducing amazing bands. What really stood out to me after our first event was that we had Hey Maggie performing at our first event and they’ve come back to us again now. The amount of feedback I’ve had from people who have said “Hey, I’ve never heard of this band before, they’re amazing” is amazing and we’ve got people coming this evening just to see this band again that they hadn’t previously heard about. So that’s what we try and do. We try and get a whole mix of different genres and different live music from the scene, so people who might actually watch rock or go to rock nights or go to house music events see a different genre and absolutely love it.”

What are some of the drawbacks or difficulties of trying to start an event like this? “There’s a number of things that happen behind the scenes: it could be bands pulling out at the last minute, it could be trying to get the right mix of music in the venues sorted. Some of the events aren’t always commercially viable but we want to put on an event that we’re proud of and that people really want to come to. I’d rather spend money and give a really good show than spend less money and have a poor quality show that people don’t want to come back to.”

Who are some of your favourite acts that you’ve had perform at Late & Live? “Everyone!”

You must have a favourite though? “It’s hard to choose because I like all music. I like the clubbing scene, I like going to live music, and there’s some [we’ve had perform] that I wouldn’t actively put on my Spotify playlist or listen to on YouTube, but it’s a completely different atmosphere when you see them live. And there’s some that I’d listen to on a playlist on the tube and then if I go to their show, the performance they put on is outstanding and that’s the most important thing about live music – it’s about really giving the energy, the atmosphere, and everyone getting together. That’s what live music is about.”

Before we met tonight you were out promoting the event, who are the L&L Sessions aimed at? “Canterbury is a student area, there’s 2 big universities, so obviously there’s a student demographic and we’re here [tonight] at a student lounge. But not necessarily just students, we sometimes have families attend our events, especially in Whitstable a lot of families come because they love what we’re doing. There’s a lot of clubbing here, but there’s not so much for all age groups: you could go to the Marlow Theatre, but in terms of just purely live music, there’s nothing really on offer. Really we’re looking at every opportunity to really grow the live scene here and make sure it’s around.”

What do you hope that L&L can achieve in the future? “Next year, I want to do an outdoor, 4 stages, full live production. Time will tell if we can do that next year or the following year. We also want to branch, to London and hit that scene as well. I live in London and the live music scene is fantastic and there’s a lot of amazing bands and logistically it’s a lot harder to bring them down to Kent and make it commercially viable, but if we can branch to London, we could bring Kent bands to London and that would be a fantastic opportunity for everyone.”

What’s coming up next? “December 12th should be our next event and then following that, in the New Year, we plan on going big, but plans are still pending!”

Can we expect more of the same in December as you’ve provided tonight? “December will have 3 sets, and a completely different mix of genres, but we’re going to hold that back until next week!”

Haha fine! So people need to keep an eye on social media to wait for these announcements then. “Yes, the best way for people to find out about our new events is through our website lateandlivesessions.com. We’ve got a Facebook page (Late & Live Sessions), and we are actively trying to push our Instagram page (Late & Live) which shows images from the events. But probably the best one is our Facebook page which features our venues that we’re working with, where we’re going to be next, what the bands are and what we actually want to do is promote the bands themselves, so you can check out their latest videos and click on their pages. It’s not just about Late & Live the brand, we want to share the live music scene too.”

 

In a world where the words ‘selling out’ and ‘just in it for the money’ are  frequently heard, Late & Live is a refreshing break from that and signals that there is life for UK music outside of the commercial, label-backed offerings currently circling the airwaves. They care about putting on a great show for people who love live music. Simple as that. Their vision is infectious and Chris’s enthusiasm for what he and his father are putting together is amazing. For them, the music and the experience of the night trumps all else. They deserve all the support they can get for championing live music – get on their Facebook page, smash that ‘Like’ button and get to the next event. You won’t regret it. Pinkie promise.

Now playing: Marmozets – Cry

HOOVERGATE

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mad as a Hatter.”

‘Mad as a Hatter’ was the writing prompt for today and this incident immediately sprung to my mind. It’s something of a legend in our friendship group. Allow me to share it with you. But be warned, Lizzie + rage = swearing, if you’re overly sensitive to that kind of stuff maybe this post isn’t for you!

Now, if you know me even a little, you will know that I’m not an angry person – you can find me in the easy-going, ditheringly cheerful category. The sort that needs supervision in the kitchen when handling knives; on my second ever day at university I sliced my thumb on a tin of beans. Blood everywhere. No beans for Lizzie that day :(

There’s some background to why rage is particularly out of character for me, now to the event.

Last year, I was living in university halls with my brand new and awesome friends aka, my Canterbury family (LOVE YOU GUYS!). Any of you jolly splendid people reading this who have ever lived in halls know that they’re not the most soundproof of places to stay. You have to be pretty tolerant when your neighbours make noise as chances are, a skype session with your family of what seems like a decent volume to you, could be torturously loud for the poor soul living next door. As a student, you are wary of your volume, so you turn down your music slightly, but not too much because your mate next door likes to play guitar at half 11 at night and you CAN HEAR ALL OF IT.

On the night of the incident in question, I was already tired, I had a couple of assignments due soon and so had been working on them all evening, so when it was a reasonable time to call it a night (so after the thought process of ‘is 9:30 too early to go to bed? …maybe. I’lll leave it a bit longer’) sleep came on stealthy wings and transported me to dreamland where I was perfectly happy and comfortable.

And then it happened.

3am rolled around. My flatmates got back from an evening ‘working’ in the library…they keep strange hours, I know. They made noise and a helluva lot of it. They ruthlessly dragged me back to reality with their jeering and it disrupted my snuggles. I was not a happy bunny. Not at all. Bitches don’t interrupt my sleep!

But this was fine, I’d certainly made my fair share of noise late at night after a couple of drinks and they hadn’t flown into a frenzy then.

A couple minutes passed and I thought the drama had subsided and was drifting back to the land of unicorns and Channing Tatums but oh no, this was premature.

A certain house mate of mine by the name of ‘Louis’ had been locked out of his room by our dear friends ‘Joe’ (from a couple of posts back, remember?) and ‘Carl’ and decided that the only thing he could do to remove them from his room was to TURN THE HOOVER ON.

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I know!! I don’t understand! Did he think he could use the suction of the machine to suck them out?! I have no idea! Clearly it was the stupidest idea that anyone has ever had, so needless to say I flew into a rage and exploded from my room like an arrow loosed from a bow and poor Louis was about to feel my wrath.

“What the FUCK are you doing?!?!” I screeched mercilessly in his poor unsuspecting face. “It’s 3 in the morning and you’ve TURNED THE HOOVER ON TO GET THEM OUT OF YOUR ROOM?? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!?!”

Needless to say, Louis shat himself and Joe and Carl emerged from his room looking pretty sheepish. They all mumbled apologies and left me to stalk back into my room in a fit of rage with a cartoon storm cloud above my head.

In the morning, Joe and Carl thought the whole fracas was hilarious and Louis appeared terrified of me for about a week afterwards. But it all turned out for the better and the four of us are thick as thieves now and they do the washing up whenever I ask them to, for fear of a repeat of Hoovergate.

So concludes my tale of anger and hoovers and lack of sleep. It may seem like an irrational thing to rage about, but anyone gets in the way of me and a good night’s sleep without good reason runs the risk of my own personal Hulk coming out and scaring you witless. You have been warned.

Now playing: Shinedown – Devour

A new year and Dry Januarys

So, we’re deep into the new year now and already I’m wondering who’s dipped out of their New Year’s Resolutions. Who has shelled out some of their hard-earned cash for that gym membership, pledging to go three times a week and so far has only been once. Which of you has been loading on carbs despite assuring your sceptical family that you were cutting them out for good. Has anyone kept inside those private thoughts? But your resolution for the New Year was to always say what you’re thinking, wasn’t it?

Why is there a pressure for everyone to make a change in the New Year? Surely if you know you need to change something about yourself that much, then you wouldn’t wait for the starting gun of Jan 1st? Ha, sorry for the pessimism!

However, I suppose it’s become a social norm now and I, along with everyone else, have adopted a resolution or two for this year.

You may have heard of the Dry January campaign in which for the whole of the month of January, not a drop of alcohol is touched. My parents decided that this would be a FANTASTIC idea for them, and swept me up in their tidal wave of sobriety. I too, am dry this January.

‘But Lizzie’, I hear you cry, ‘you’re a student! This will never work!’ Ha, you’re probably right! After all, according to the media, all young people do is drink. But this is not all we’re good for, thank you very much, sir.

For the first time ever, I had a sober night out.

This weekend just gone, I hit my Saturday night regular spots with a friend (who was drinking) and experienced the wonders that my hometown has to offer, without the aid of beer goggles. When I’m not at uni, I live in rural mid-Devon, in a small town where the people don’t change and said people are 99% white British. My friends at university like to make jokes on a semi-regular basis about everyone down here being inbred and they all get a kick out of it. I’m just setting the scene for you: it’s the kind where you don’t want to admit it but sometimes rumours are true. Everyone here knows everyone or is third cousins with Reg from the shop that used to be a bank and before that it was a pet shop next to the church. These kinds of stories are regular occurrences during my family gatherings and it always makes me chuckle.

This is what I experienced sober.

While under the influence of alcohol, the clubs don’t appear as dated, the prices seem reasonable and the people are friendly. But this changes when sober and the décor is quite hideous, a small glass of lemonade seems ridiculously priced and some of the people seem too old and creepy to be on a night out.

Funnily enough though, this doesn’t set the scene for a bad night out. I very much enjoyed supplying my friend with shots and watching his behaviour disintegrate rapidly from being completely in control of his body to whirling around the dancefloor in a frenzy of elbows and hip-rotations. On reflection, this seems a bit weird, but I can assure you it wasn’t and he had a good night too!

I also enjoyed having a bit of a dance too, but when you’re sober, you still have those inhibitions that no amount of cranberry juice can shake.

I wasn’t a particularly good sober person due to being exceptionally tired, but it wasn’t a bad effort and did the ‘mate, she’s looking at you, go for it!’ eyes at him every now and again, when his furious gyrating caught the attention of a female.

All in all, I had a good time and spend so much less than I would have if I had been partaking in the jagerbombs too. My Dry January is on track to last the month! Winning! We’ll see what happens when I’m out of the comfort and sanity of my family home and move back to Canterbury for my fifth term at university. Updates will come!

Now playing: Forever the Sickest Kids – We Found Love (Rihanna cover)

Live music, Harry Potter and question time with Our Theory – 13/2/14

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Upon entering the Lady Luck bar in Canterbury, I was initially struck by how this was MY kind of place and I have no idea why I haven’t been there before. If you’re a music fan, it will be your kind of place too. The dark walls boast framed images of rock icons from the ages ranging from Elvis to Slash. Contributing to this, they also sell frigging Haribo behind the bar!

It’s the kind of place where you know the bar staff are there for the live music as much as you are, which makes for a very welcoming atmosphere.

The live music I was there for on this particular night was the French post-hardcore band Our Theory, the third of the four acts that evening, who drew bigger audience than that of the headliners Under The Influence.

The five-piece (comprised of vocalist Bastien Berhault, guitarists Mehdi Major and Damien Bauthamy, bassist Yoann Andrieux and drummer Guillaume Cellarius), formed in 2011 in Paris; this is their first musical venture to the UK with friends Under The Influence and they do very well to stand out in a competitive British music scene with their blend of beautiful vocal melodies and churning breakdowns.

During their half hour set, their sound fills the tiny space and if you happened to walk in as they were playing, it would be like being hit by a wall of sound. They sound ferocious. Particularly during one song which we are warned beforehand by Mehdi is “fucking heavy”. He’s not wrong – the song is heavy enough to get the attention of anyone who had not already noticed them and to also make a blu-tacked safety warning fall off the wall.

The ferocity is nicely balanced with the tight musical melodies from the vocals of Bastien and Mehdi which are especially clear during the song ‘The Light’ which is where the musical talent and energy of the band are very obvious. The song is introduced by Mehdi as a “song about losing someone close to you”, showing that not only are they talented musicians, but also some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I would know this as after the show, I sat down and had a chat with them.

Firstly, the name, where did it come from?

Mehdi: Originally, we were trying to pick up names, we figured out that we wanted to share our vision of the youth, of today’s youth and everything that’s changed in the last 20 years. So we wanted to share that vision. We have no pretension of trying to change the world, we just wanted to share what we have to say.

What about the logo? I think it strikes many people as being very Harry Potter-esque.

M: Yeah, I know! Everyone, everyone, asks the question. So actually, we just liked the way that triangles looked, and you could put an ‘O’ and a ‘T’ in them and it makes sense, so there is no link with Harry Potter at all. Although, I LOVE Harry Potter, I’m such a big Harry Potter fan, I love it!

(At which point, there was a brief musical interlude due to a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ directed towards bassist Yoann).

How did you come to form the band?

M: I was in a band before, and we all met in the French scene in Paris. Damien played in a band called Borderline, he was the guitar player. And so, at some point, I wanted to do something else and Bastien wanted to form a new band, heavier than I was doing before. So he just hooked me up on Facebook and we started writing songs, then went to Damien, and Damien listened to the songs and wanted in.

Damien: When I stopped my old band, I met him [Bastien] and told him that if I was to do a new band, it would be only with this guy [gestures to Bastien]. And so they proposed to me to do a new band and I was like ‘Yeah, cool!’ (he laughs).

You mentioned the French music scene, what’s it like in terms of French bands?

M: The bands are very good. We have loads of friends in really good bands, like Chunk! No Captain Chunk! They took over the world, they’re kind of the French pride!

D: Betraying the Martyrs…

M: Yeah, Betraying the Martyrs. So we have loads of friends in bands. It [the French music scene] used to be shit, but now, it’s getting better and better and people are signing to huge labels. We’ve got a door open.

How has the tour been so far for you?

M: It’s been good! We’ve been with Under The Influence and they’re really taking care of us, looking out for everything and they’re amazing. This is the fourth show now tonight because we did London (which as pretty good), we did Mansfield, then a show in Stockton but it was cancelled and yesterday was Swansea and it was very good although we couldn’t understand the accents at all!

What’s been the best night so far?

M: I would say maybe Canterbury actually! Even though the venue was small and the sound system was not very good, the crowd was really good, so probably tonight. London was a little bit better [in terms of venue], but it was the first show of the tour, so we had to get into it, but yeah we’ve had good venues, but it’s not about the show, it’s about the crowd.

How is touring in England different to touring in France?

M: It’s different in a way, the crowd is very different. In France you get a lot of people with arms folded and checking you out, waiting for you to make a mistake because everyone is so jealous.

Bastien: It’s very anxious for me because everyone is like “show me your talent” and wait for you to make a mistake.

M: But here it’s so different. At the end of every show, people will come to us and complement us on the set and we get a great response from British people. We get a great response from French people too, but it’s different. Here, people aren’t afraid to come to you and say “Yeah man, that was a great set, I like your band”.

B: We love to play in Paris, but in the beginning it was difficult, now it’s good because we have fans and we’ve grown a fan base. But in the beginning it was very difficult.

M: Also, something very important is that you guys have a great rock and roll culture, in France, it’s not really about rock and roll. You all come to shows and discover new bands, it’s not really the same in France.

B: In Paris, it’s 300 people maximum [at a show]. For Bring Me The Horizon, it’s 1000.

M: Actually going back to the question about the scene in France, you can have huge bands in the UK, like Bring Me The Horizon, they can play 1600 in France, but they can be playing arenas here. Rock and roll is smaller in France. The scene is smaller in France, there’s less people in France for this kind of music than in Britain.

Is there a song off the new album that you enjoy playing live the most?

M: Actually, there’s a song on the album which features Bert from Chunk! No Captain Chunk! called The Liars and I love it, it has great energy and it’s really good.

B: I think I’d say The Liars too, I think it’s really good.

What was the recording process like, particularly with the contributions from Bert from Chunk! No Captain Chunk! and Ed from Devil Sold His Soul?

M: Actually, Bastien had been in contact with Ed for a long time and we’re long-time friends of Devil Sold His Soul and he contacted him [Ed] on Facebook and explained that we had a track that would really fit his vocals. From the beginning we asked him if he would like to do a song with us, he said yes, we wrote the song, and we sent it to him for the vocals and he recorded it in his studio and sent it back to us. We wrote the lyrics and we wanted them to have their touch because they have special vocals.

Who is the chief song writer? And what’s it like writing in English?

M: With the album, I wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics

B: With my girlfriend because she’s American

M: His girlfriend is American so she was an enormous help to us.

What are your plans for the future for Our Theory?

M: Right now, we are writing a new EP, so maybe 4 or 5 songs. But heavier.

B: It’s going to be more metalcore, kind of like Issues [the band], so with more screaming.

M: I think it’s going to be very good, I’m very excited about it. We’ve demoed pretty much everything right now and we are very happy and can’t wait to have people listen to it. We’ll probably have Bert from Chunk! producing the album so it’s going to be really good, it’s going to add some of his style as he’s really good for that. I think we might be touring France a little bit in April with Under The Influence and just waiting for everything to be released to see what’ll happen.

When do you think you’ll be back in the UK again?

M: As soon as possible! (laughs) But we have nothing planned for the moment but as soon as we get the opportunity to come back, we will.

They are as lovely as their English is good – which is very good indeed. Afterwards they sign my album and we talk about Harry Potter some more and contrasting the stereotype of a typical ‘band dude’, they are all very down to earth and approachable. They are a band who are aware of the fact that their present success is due to their music and their fans and are good enough to remember that.

I think something needs to be said of the power of social networking, particularly with Our Theory. In a time before Facebook or Twitter, it would have been incredibly difficult for such a small band to even think about breaking into a different country. But now they can promote their new album ‘Collapse’ or an upcoming show all at the touch of a button. Hopefully, with their new EP coming soon and first appearance in the UK now under their collective belt, they’ll attract the notice of ‘important people’ from ‘important places’ which will really give them a leg-up in their journey to spread their theory and make them a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Watch this space!

Our Theory’s debut album ‘Collapse’ is out now and watch their new music video for ‘The Devil’ here.