“Believe it or not there was a time when every man and his entrepreneurial dog didn’t have their own club night, promoting the brave and bold of new music. Then Adventures Close To Home launched with The Futureheads playing the first of their Barfly soir√©es. Countless other ‘get togethers’ followed and London seemingly turned into a 24/7 live music assisted party. With those Barfly bashes continually relevant to the musical landscape today (ACTH has seen The Unicorns disband onstage, Karen O queue around the block with the rest of us plebs, searching for a night out, fuelled by “bands that make you want to move”, and Late Of The Pier fill a room having been booked 4 hours before their stage time) Adventures Close To Home are stepping into the world of releasing records on a label of the same name, taking the fanatical owners’ well read and trustworthy musical knowledge from the dance floor to the shop floor.
In the idiot’s guide to launching a record label it’s advised that signing a truck load of bands due to overexcitement is not a good idea. Test 1, ACTH pass. There are just two bands on this label’s roster (NYC’s and this L&Q’s Holy Hail and fellow Big Applers, Free Blood – a trio consisting of two !!!s who sound like TV On The Radio at their spookiest and grooviest) and that’s the way it’s staying‚” for now anyway. “We’re literally sticking with these two bands until they’re successful,” says Will, one third of ACTH. “Until then I don’t think we’ll be working with anyone else.”
And the fact that this trio cite Zee Recordings as an inspirational label (“They went from crazy avant-garde stuff to great pop records, like from Was (Not Was) to King Creole And The Coconuts,” enthuses Will) dispels the thought of them being nothing more than this month’s young hotshots, in it for the women and the glory. As true music fans, they sum up why they’re branching out with what must be the ACTH defined mantra – “It’s about getting people excited.”
What made you start Adventures Close To Home, the club night?
Will: “We thought it would be fun. Me and Alex had been DJing together for a couple of years before then.”
Alex: “And we’d all promoted things before then. But in those days – not that it was that long ago – there wasn’t that many clubs with live bands. Not like now. There was a couple of good ones.
David: “There was always Trash and Optimo.”
Will: “Optimo was definitely the kind of thing we were going for from the start. You know, forward
thinking playlists, great bands, bands that make you want to move. We’ve never had a music policy as such except for that if you play at our night, you have to make the crowd move.”
Is that ethos going to spread to the label?
David: “Kind of. We like party music a lot but we don’t want to limit ourselves to that. If there’s something down tempo that’s really good we might release that.”
Alex: “I don’t think we’ve really thought about it. We’ve just found two bands [Holy Hail and Free Blood] who we all absolutely love and who just happen to be bands that we could put on at our nights.”
David: “We’re not an electro label or a dance label or an indie label. It’s like with the club we’re always in listings as an indie night but we’re not an indie night. We’re just a night.”
Will: “When people ask me what our template is and what we aspire to as a label I always say that Zee Recordings was an amazing label because they went from crazy avant-garde stuff to great pop records, like from Was Not Was to King Creole And The Coconuts. We want to be a label that can be artistic and flourish and put forward great new artists and innovative stuff but certainly not a label that are afraid of selling records. It’s about getting people excited.”
How did the idea for the label acome about?
David: “We did a party for Sony PSP which Sole Williams played and downstairs we had Justice and from that we had a little bit of money in the bank and were waiting for something to do and then we heard Free Blood.”
Will: “It was really funny because we heard Free Blood and whoever it was sent out the link to the others and we heard this demo of ‘Never Hear Surf Music’, which is going to be the first release, and for all of us it was the first thing we hear in ages that we were all excited about. It was exactly what we’re about because it treads that line perfectly between pop music, the avant-garde and something a bit more edgy and experimental, but not to the point that it alienates.”
David: “It’s not trendy or anything and it’s not fashionable. It’s just fun.”
Is being considered a ‘trendy’ label something that you are keen to avoid?
Alex: “Well a lot of bands that we book at the club are probably seen as trendy but it’s just about doing it in the right way. We don’t want to have a night with 8 bands where anyone with a cow bell gets in. A lot of that are considered trendy we think are really good but a lot we think aren’t, like any genre of music.”
Will: “What we’ve always disliked is that multi-story clubbing approach where you have 17 DJs and 8,000 bands playing and you throw them all at the audience and home that some of them stick. I find that approach depressing. It’s more about cherry picking and being very careful about our lineups and it’s the same for the label. We literally concentrating on these two bands as the moment and until they start to become successful I can’t imagine we’ll be going with anyone else.”
Is there any newly signed bands that you wish you’d got?
Alex: “I think that’s a bit negative. Basically if anyone has asked me what bands I like withing the last year and a half I’ve said Holy Hail and Free Blood and thats been a long time before any contract was signed.”
Will: “There’s still some interesting stuff coming out of France. I’m more into producers and electronic music at the moment.”
David: “What I like about the two bands that we’ve got is that it wasn’t like there was loads of people going after them as we got lucky, we were the only people in the running. And they’re both from New York, which is a pain in the arse ‘cos it costs a fucking fortune and you can’t just do a tour whenever but‚””
Will: “We like the challenge. And it’s good to work with bands that aren’t part of the London scene and aren’t tied to other nights. There’s no expectation for either band because nobody knows who the fuck they are.”
So what next for the label?
Will: “We’re going to concentrate of Free Blood. We’ve got 3 EPs that we’re going to release – Beta Band Style – and then there’ll be a compilation at the end.”
David: “They’re all going to be limited edition vinyl.”
Will: “We’re just being realistic. If these bands happen, and hopefully they will, the doors are open for us.”
David: “We’d like to start a digital singles club too for the people that come over to do our nights. There are some really great bands around. So there might be some one offs on the way as well.””