Red Bull Revolutions In Sound (The EDF London Eye) Q&A with……. ‘Sub Club’
Promoters take note, always been searching for that unique spin to give your budding club night that unique twist, well Red Bull Revolutions in Sound have taken it to a whole new level by hiring the iconic ‘London Eye’ and hosting 30 simultaneous club nights, each with their own pod. Admittedly hiring the London Eye might be a stretch for most promoters, however this event is celebrating those innovators who have stepped out against the flow and forcible changed the course of electronic music and clubbing . Over the next few weeks we will be delving a little deeper into the philosophy, passions and motivations of clubbings game changers. So far we’ve had ‘London Warehouse Events‘, ‘Jah Shaka Sound‘, ‘Metalheadz‘ and ‘Cream‘ under the spot light. Next up Glasgows 25 years established Sub Club discuss DJing in the 80’s, Ferrari dealerships, and bringing back the Hacienda.
The basement club on Jamaica Street has become an unequivocal Scottish institution since it opened in April 1987. It was an early home to Glasgow techno duo Slam and has housed Harri and Domenic’s Subculture party since 1994. But it’s perhaps most famous for JG Wilkes and JD Twitch’s genre-trashing Sunday nighter, Optimo, which ran every week from 1997 until 2010, and still swings back in for the odd session. Today, the venue attracts the cream of Glasgow’s underground crop and international DJs
BBB: What was it that inspired you to enter the unpredictable world of putting on parties, and why do you think ‘Sub Club’ became such an iconic clubbing brand?
I started DJing and promoting nights back in the mid 80s as a direct result of being disillusioned with the very stale and predictable music policies of ‘alternative’ music venues at that time. Initially taking pre recorded compilation (but not mixed) tapes along to house parties, myself and my partner in crime Jim Rennie were encouraged to start a night in a local club where we played a mixture of all forms of ‘black’ music from hip hop to soul to go-go to jazz to early house tracks and all points in-between.
Moving to Glasgow from Aberdeen in the early 90s, and taking over the running of the Sub Club, I already had a number of years under my belt, promoting and operating my own club ‘Fever’ which was a bit of a legend in it’s own lunchtime as a pioneering house club during the late 80s and early 90s. So I had already been through the wars with authority and economic survival and the proliferation of commercial house music and the advent of raves, so I suppose I understood more about how to push the boundaries without losing our collective shirts. The principles we applied then are still the same now, in so far as we never deviate from our core ideology of musical innovation, a strong door policy, employing good people and always remembering that customers are out for a good time when all is said and done. Excellent sound quality is also key. The Sub Club has also been blessed by having fantastic djs like Harri & Domenic, Optimo and Slam at our disposal locally over the years too.
BBB Many nights fail as quickly as they start; what do you believe are the biggest challenges for a night to become and remain successful (changing trends, competitors, an ageing audience etc.)?
Any good club night has to move with the times and evolve otherwise it will have a limited shelf life. This is down to the vision, determination, commitment and hard work of the promoters and djs. As with many things in life, the moment you think you have made it you are on your way down!
BBB If your party hadn’t been successful what do you think you would have done instead? Personally party organizing got me away from a career in insurance underwriting…
I was in the motor trade when I started as the manager of a small Ferrari dealership selling high performance cars, so I suppose I would have continued on that career path. In 1987 the garage I worked for was closing down and I was offered a promotion which involved a move to a bigger garage in a different city. By that time my club night was booming and I was enjoying the party too much to leave it, so I chucked the job and went full time on the club. I’ve never been so well off again as I was then but I wouldn’t swap the experience.
BBB Clubbing & electronic music in general is very much in transition, with MP3’s, streaming, the global credit crunch and EDM all impacting the way we consume music both in a live and personal context. Traditionally clubbing and club music was an underground movement, a liberating escape for many, however it is fast becoming an exploitable global commodity. What would you like to see change in club culture (if anything), and how would you like to see it evolve over the next few decades?
For us it still is underground but it has constantly evolved over the years and has been exploited by the big club brands since the early nineties. There is always room for an alternative to the mainstream and there is always someone who is looking for the crossover to cash in on the hard work the underground puts in. That seems to me to be the nature of it all and I suppose if I was naturally inclined towards that crossover mentality I would have done it many years ago. There is nothing wrong with making money but it should never be at the expense of musical integrity. I think there is a line to be drawn between creativity and commercialism. The Sub Club ethic is to push as far toward that line creatively as possible whilst remaining viable.
BBB If you could raise from the dead one piece of clubbing nostalgia, what would it be? For us it would be a late 80’s/early 90’s rave, as it was before our time
I’m not big on looking backwards but I suppose for me the excitement of the 1st pure Acid House nights would be the thing I remember with real joy. I dj’d and promoted a night called Acid Jaxx in 1987 where we played absolutely nothing except acid and it was totally mental. I also travelled to some of the big acid parties over the next couple of years such as Paul Oakenfold’s Spectrum night. Apart from that I was privileged to be at the Hacienda a good few times in it’s hey day and experience the incredible atmosphere there. So let’s resurrect the Hacienda in all it’s glory!
Words by Mike Grieve (Manager Sub Club)
Thanks for your time,
Jon E Cassell (Blah Blah Blah)