Independent Venue Week Part Two – Stoke-on-Trent

Round two of our coverage of this week’s knees-up to pay due respect to the mighty independent venue – today we’re off to Stoke to talk to Camp Stag!

camp stag

Yesterday, we kicked off our week-long series of interview to cover Independent Venue Week – with a little bit about why they’re so important to us as live music fans, and the work they’re doing to give the little guys the titanic respect they deserve. Check that, and our interview with Welsh-based Continents by heading here.

With the first shows kicking off tonight with a Domino-curated event in London, as well as shows in Glasgow and Norwich - we’re revving up for tomorrow’s gigs. The aforementioned Continents will be bringing the noise at Clwb Ifor Bach (details here), and Camp Stag will be heading up the bill at Stoke-on-Trent’s famous Sugarmill (details here), after turning heads with a run of shows last year, including a packed out slot at Glastonbury’s BBC Introducing tent. To find out a little bit more about them, and how important independent venues are to bands in their situation – we caught up with them for a little chat.

What role do local independent venues play in your local music scene/atmosphere?

Independent venues are the lifeblood of any local scene, none more so than Stoke, where the community is built around a handful of longstanding, supportive pubs and clubs.

How important are venues of this size and with an independent ethos to you as an up-and-coming band, both locally and nationally?

Without venues like The Sugarmill we would not be able to exist, it really is that simple. As a band we are fiercely independent and to have a venue just down the road that holds the same beliefs is a beautiful thing.

And how about the importance of playing live in the development of your band and your fanbase in the early part of your career?

When we were all starting out The Sugarmill gave us exposure to amazing live music and gave us the chance to play with artists who could provide inspiration and guidance. Live music can never be replaced by a free download or YouTube video, Without these atmospheric, intense rooms our music simply could not breathe.

What difficulties do these venues face in your area?

Unfortunately the suits in council offices round these parts have never really grasped the importance of a strong local music scene and the positive effect it can have on the city. Luckily Stoke musicians are a hardy bunch, so we manage to thrive despite their apathy.

Are there any specific independent venues that have been particularly important/influential for you and your band that you’d give a special shout out to?

Obviously we hold The Sugarmill extremely close to our hearts. It is where we learnt our trade and we have all witnessed life changing shows within its walls. The majority of us have all worked there at one point or another too. We have to give a shout out to The Exchange in Stoke too, a great little space that saw the first ever Camp Stag performance.

Beyond Stoke, Manchester is something of a second home to us with both The Ruby Lounge and The Castle being venues we would play every week if we could.

Do have have any special memories of shows you’ve seen or played in such a venue? Any loveable imperfections in your local indie that you wouldn’t find in a corporate sponsored cavern?

One of our first ever shows at The Sugarmill saw us supporting the brilliant Dry the River, which was a special night for us. Speaking personally, watching Elbow there was utterly beguiling. And to play our first ever Sugarmill headline show as part of Independent Venue Week is a wonderful thing. Imperfections? There are many, and I wouldn’t change a single one for the world.

Limited tickets are still available for the band’s headline show at the Sugarmill tomorrow, 29 January. Information and tickets can be found here.

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