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Miscellaneous - Interview with Robin Allport

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 21 / 1 / 2011

Miscellaneous - Interview with Robin Allport


Club AC30 is one of Britain's leading shoegazing record labels and club nights. Co-owner Robin Allport chats to Anthony Strutt about his label which has now put out over fifty albums and singles including releases by Exit Calm, Ringo Deathstarr, Air Formation and Model Morning

Club AC30 is, along with Sonic Cathedral, Britain's leading shoegazing and nugaze record label and club night. Formed in 2004 in London by brothers Robin and Nick Allport and their friend Duncan Jones, it has now put out over fifty albums and singles including releases by Exit Calm, Ringo Deathstarr, Air Formation, Spotlight Kid, Model Morning and Televise as well three albums in the 'Never Lose That Feeling' shoegazing compilation covers series. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Robin Allport at Reverence 3, a three night festival organised by Club AC30 at the London ICA which featured performances from the Primitives, Robin Guthrie, Daniel Land and the Modern Painters, Tripwires, Heligoland and Exit Calm PB: First of all why did you choose the name Club AC30? RA: If I remember rightly, we decided one weekend to do a club night and to maybe do a little label alongside it. We were trying to think of names and started looking back to the whole shoegazing scene of the early 90s. There was so many obvious choices like 'Loveless'and also some of the other early shoegaze album and song titles. Then Nick, my brother, suggested we name it after an amp, a Vox AC30 amp. Nick then also suggested Club AC30 after the Club 18-30 which we are nothing like, so we went for that for a bit and it stuck. PB: I have been with you guys since your first EP. I can't remember how long ago that was, five years maybe. RA: It's about six now. It would be 2004. I remember at our first or second gig there was a flyer for one of the Pennyblack music gigs. I went along and that's how I first saw Televise when they played at that and I ended up doing their album, 'Songs to Sing in A&E'. PB: You signed them at the Pennyblackmusic night, didn't you? RA: Yes, pretty much. Yes, that was our first contact. PB: Was the idea to do a club first? RA: Originally it was just a club. We were fed up going to clubs. The clubs were rubbish as were the DJs. I was with two friends at a club in Shoreditch and this DJ was DJ-ing my record collection, Belltower and Curve B sides, and at the time he was getting a lot of press and being seen as some super cool artist. I thought, "If this is super cool and he is playing all the old vinyl that I have got, there is something in this. Fuck it! We might as well do it ourselves." Then, after we started to play our first band nights, we thought we would get bands to put a track on a CDR and then it went from there to proper pressings. PB: At the time did you feel there was a gap and you had to fill it? RA: Yes there was. PB: Sonic Cathedral also came along at the same time as yourselves. RA: Yeah, it was funny. Nat (Cramp, owner of Sonic Cathedral-Ed) came along to our sixth or seventh show at the Water Rats and flyered it and I said to him, "What the fuck are you doing?" and after that we became friends. I have been to Nat's nights. He runs a good club. He is a good bloke. A lot of people think we are rivals, but that isn't the case. If it wasn't for Sonic Cathedral then Club AC30 wouldn't be here now. I wouldn't have anything to push up against and it is likewise for Nat. PB: Having said that is there people you wouldn't put on because of Nat? RA: Between promoters there is respect. There are bands that you do. That is the way promotion works. Agents offer you bands. For example, we did Crystal Stilts' first London shows. I wouldn't, however, try and book Neil Halstead because that would go against Nat who has put him on several times and similarly he wouldn't book Exit Calm. Sometimes we do book the same bands at the same time and on those occasions there have been phone calls between us, but then we both promote each other's gigs. It does happen, but there's a healthy respect between us. PB: You have put on gigs with bands that don't fit into the shoegaze/nugaze moniker such as Drugstore and the Primitives. How did you get them to play for you? RA: I was talking to their agent and she offered them. I don't really see Club AC30 as being just in the shoegaze/nugaze area. It is whatever we like. It was like, "Would you like them?" and it was like, "Yes". A no brainer really. PB: How do you choose venues? RA: I use venues with a good stage, a good PA and professional, good staff, who aren't wankers. The ICA is one of the best in London with an excellent sound, excellent PA and really famous. I do like my creature comforts, not somewhere miles from a tube or where someone is going to get stabbed. PB: How do you now sign bands? RA: We get so many demos and sent so many MySpace links that the way we work it is we get to hear about something from one, two, or three people we know, whom have good ears. Someone I trust might send me a note, telling me that I should check this out. They are fucking great. Then a few days later someone else might tell me that they think I might like this band. When that happens, those are usually the bands that I check out. Times have,however, changed. Now there are so few labels that when people talk about bands they would have previously been signed, but nowadays we do stand a chance. PB: Is there anyone that you would like to work with who you haven't? RA.Yeah, loads, Kitchens of Distinction are my number one at the moment. I would still love to do Ride. I offered their agent a six figure figure to do three nights at the Roundhouse. He put it to the band and nothing happened. PB: What are your future plans? RA: The Zephyrs have just released 'Fool of Regrets' which is a fantastic album. Exit Calm are also doing well. PB: Can you see any of your bands going to a major? RA: Yes, I think that will happen. We would never stand in the way. I would always advise them not too, because they would get fucked over. I would advise them if they got a better deal to go with a bigger indie and someone like Domino or Bella Union because they have more clout. PB: Creation was bought over in the end. If you got offered a deal like that would you consider it? RA: My first reaction would be to tell them to fuck off, but we al have lives and bills to pay. I think if a bigger label bought into us and didn't want any artistic control and was big enough to pick up bands from other territories, in the areas we couldn't do much in, then maybe. That would be something to talk about. To be bought out for a percentage though, then what's the point? Life is just too short, isn't it? PB : Are sales for the label healthy? RA.Yes, they could be better, like every label out there. We get a lot stolen by illegal downloads. Music is an open forum now. Noone really knows how to deal with it. People don't think that stealing songs is a problem. People will always tape music, tape gigs, whatever. That will always happen, The problem is Google need to get on the case and stop those upload sites. I could make a blog. Let's call it 'Alison' after the Slowdive song. I could put up a sleeve, tracklisting and upload it and give it 4 stars. That is illegal downloading. That is just some cunt putting it up and ripping off the band, the label and everyone involved and the whole creative process. You go to these guys and they say they are helping with promotion, that you should be thanking me. No, you are not. You are a fucking arsehole. You are stealing it and you are helping the band to split up, because a lot of bands make nothing out of it and just get broke. This is their job after all. If people ask me if they can do a review and put up a few tracks as samples I always say yes. If they want I can give them some low quality MP3s of the whole album because maybe if they love the album they will go out and buy it. The sad fact is much as they love it they won't buy it. That's the problem. PB: Is there anyone that you like to work with that has said no? RA: No, not a single one. On 'Never Lose That Feeling',(A 2005 compilation album of bands covering original shoegaze tracks) we had Ladytron do a cover of a House of Love song, but they never submitted it, which is a shame because that would have been great. Live all the time we have people that turn us down. PB: What are your future plans? RA: Ringo Deathstarr will be next. Their album, 'Colour Me Blind', is fucking brilliant. They will be massive and then it will be Tripwires. Their album will be out in early 2011. PB: Thank you.

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