Independent Venue Week Part Four – Manchester

With the independent flood-gates now well and truly open, it’s high-time for an update from Manchester’s Sways Records, and two acts from their overwhelmingly swell roster – Kult Country and Naked (On Drugs). Prepare for the surreal…

venue week

Although we wouldn’t dream of neglecting a mention for top shows happening around the rest of the country tomorrow, including the Southampton edition (where The Rising will be heading to the Joiners, details here), we’re particularly chuffed to have spent some time in the virtual company of their Manchester counterparts.

For this Sunday night, at the Soup Kitchen, self-proclaimed “Cultural Regenerators” Sways Records will be showing off their impeccable tastes with a specially curated selection of offerings from the source of one of the world’s most exciting musical hubs – with Kult Country, Naked (On Drugs), Francis Lung, Bernard + Edith and Aldous RH joining in communion (details here).

If anyone knows a thing or two about the spirit of independence, it’s these guys – forming a burgeoning reputation for glorious disorder and a jaw-droppingly talented musical community from their headquarters – an abandoned World War Two bunker in the dark depths of Salford. And they’re prepared to put up a fight. Here’s what they had to say about IVW, in a recent interview with Tusk Journal:

We were slightly sceptical when we were approached about Independent Venue Week but we liked the fact that (a) the organiser was called Dresden and (b) her vision was to bring together some of the city’s best new bands to celebrate what venues like Soup Kitchen mean for the city right now, rather than wheeling out some dinosaur to play an awful nostalgic set in a creaking, irrelevant venue to make a few quid for an old mate. It seemed like an important symbolic gesture and symbolic gestures are important when there’s a battle to be fought and won.

We caught up with the two acts leading Sunday’s charge to see what IVW means to them. First up, Kult Country:

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

Manchester has such a diverse range of venues that all serve different functions – venues such as Soup Kitchen, Soundcontrol and Roadhouse allow up-and-coming bands to support many touring bands within a more organised space, whilst venues such as The Bunker are a blank canvas for DIY behaviour to take place, where rules don’t exist. The city is a playground of opportunity and freedom.

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 independent venues, the band would not be able to grow. Enough said.

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

In relation to KULTCOUNTRY it’s of the upmost importance – we built everything upon our live shows, focusing on that aspect before recording. Last year we played all over the UK, meeting so many new people, that without all the promoters and venues whom allowed us to develop and be ourselves, we would never have met. So it’s a blessing to have been given so many opportunities to grow as live artists so quickly.

What difficulties do these venues face in your area? 

Noise complaints can be a hindrance, something that the venue Night & Day is experiencing currently. Whilst this is being counteracted through petitioning, I fear the more densely populated our inner cities become over the next decade, independent venues in residential areas may face further resistance. Lets hope the cities council take note and make sure the cultural integrity and importance of such establishments is upheld so they can remain open.

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? 


Even through they aren’t a venue, they fill them out so…. NOW WAVE get a huge amount of respect for all the artists they brought the the venues over the last 5 years, and all the support they give us, they changed it for everyone. Also a shout out to Soup Kitchen and their team Ciaran/Simon/Dan, plus all the KRAKK space/gallery family for letting us pay our practice space rent late constantly and make ridiculous levels of noise (we are sorry).

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?

Too many memories, some blurred, some bloody. Everyone’s naked again & Mum won’t put the drugs down.

Naked (On Drugs) didn’t quite respond in the format but we were expecting. But then again, they are called Naked (On Drugs), so what did we expect.

Without independent venues, we would be f*cked – we both lived in cities, namely Milton Keynes and Lyon, where such venues do not exist, or are systematically being closed down, and finding anywhere to play there is like trying to stick a pair of tights up a herring on a moonless night. People like us need places where they can pretend they know how to play their instrument and be given the benefit of the doubt by the audience. An attitude of undiscriminating acceptance brings both good and bad – people do, occasionally, need to a good kick in the buttocks – but it leaves room to experimentation, without which people would have been playing the same song since 1961, most likely “Exclusively Yours” by Mark Wynter. Places like the Islington Mill, where one is unlikely to hear anything written by Mark Wynter, go out of their way to put some on some crazy shit, thus providing a living, healthy canvas to emerging an established acts. And, finally, no one should be forced to chose between the local karaoke and Betfred on a Saturday night because they can’t afford to go and see the bloody Stone Roses in a mud field.

If that hasn’t persuaded you that the only place to be on Sunday night is Manchester’s Soup Kitchen, I don’t know what will. Head here for all info and tickets.


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