Due to current events we’ve had to move around our weekly music news, however we will still be here every Tuesday with a Leicester music update for you in partnership with PPL PRS Ltd.
Bank Holiday Britpop Party
Don’t miss this weekend’s Britpop filled Bank Holiday Monday as 2Funky Street Kitchen hosts an afternoon of Britpop Lives Forever. Running from 1pm – 6pm enjoy your favourite anthems from Oasis, Blur, Pulp and many more. Tables are available to book and include a drinks package. TICKETS.
Live music weekend at Belvoir Castle
Enjoy concerts at the Castle this weekend as live music takes over Belvoir Castle. They are bringing their summer concerts back to the castle but with a twist of social distancing! The same beautiful lakeside setting, incredible music, and delicious food and drink will bring a bit of excitement back to your summer plans. Enjoy some of your favourite tribute acts, including Queen, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and more! TICKETS.
INTERVIEW: Tom Carnell
As venue manager at The Shed, Tom Carnell sees a lot of action as part of Leicester’s music scene. Not only that but he also plays in 3 bands and has recently set up a new portal to highlight new breakthrough acts. We caught up with him to chat about the local scene in lockdown, breaking into the industry and looking ahead to the future.
Tell us a little about your background in music in Leicester?
I spent a lot of my earlier years studying music, playing in bands and working towards working in the music industry. I came out of college, studying music performance and I spent a few years singing in a band called Stereotypical Blues Train we released an album, played some really cool shows and made some fantastic memories. Whilst doing this I was working an office job full time and unfortunately once the band had broken up, I spent a bit of time out of the music industry.
I can’t remember exactly how it happened but I know that one day I decided I’d had enough and wanted to pursue a full time career in the music industry. I had no contacts where I was living and absolutely no idea on where to even start. So I decided to go to university and applied successfully to De Montfort University to study Music, Technology and Performance. Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of my time studying on the course but instead made a decision to try to make myself known in the Leicester music scene. I started off doing this straight away by joining the DMU Music Society, who I knew had a significant presence on the scene and I knew instantly that it would get me in the direction I wanted to head. Through this and my course I met Tim Baker (who I later formed the band Timmas with amongst many other projects), Ryan Taylor, Matt Rogerson and Greg Beesley (who I formed The Surrealists with).
I also spent some time getting to know people in the industry such as Elisabeth Carley-Leonard (from The Shed), Nik Sharpe (from The Cookie) and Matt Kirk (from Firebug) who I met throughout my time in Music Society, particularly in my third year when I was on the committee for them. In particular, I formed a very good relationship with Elisabeth which led to mr (once I had graduated from University) asking her if I could be a part of the team at The Shed, originally working freelance putting on shows. This was not a particular career path I had seen myself going down up until that point but looking back that was a defining moment that really changed my life quite significantly.
Nowadays, I am still working at The Shed as the venue manager, playing drums in three bands (We Give In, The Surrealists and Homeless Shakespeare & The Pigeon Theatre) and trying to get out and catch as many shows as I physically can.
How has life been for the bands you play In during lockdown and what plans do you have for getting back out gigging again?
Honestly, it’s not been an amazing time for any of the bands I am a part of. Fortunately before the lockdown I had been in the studio with them all and each one is sitting on quite a few new singles, we are just picking the right time to get them out into the world.
With We Give In we had to find new ways of recording in lockdown. Luckily, we all had some form of access to being able to record from home. We have four new singles ready to go, which are currently being mixed by Joey Whelan (Leicester’s finest) and I am pretty proud of them to say the least. Not only is it the best music we’ve written yet, we managed to get them all recorded without even seeing each other face to face. It was a much longer process than usual but it was very much worth it.
Homeless Shakespeare are currently finishing off our second EP and The Surrealists are currently in the process of getting our album mixed, mastered and finalised ready for release. There is so much going on from all three bands, we are all just itching to getting back to playing live shows together.
Have you found it hard to stay creative during recent months?
Super hard. It’s been a real struggle. The beginning of lockdown was fine because creative juices were still flowing and all the bands I am a part of had plans that we could still continue but with a few limitations. As time has gone on it’s become increasingly difficult to stay motivated, especially whilst we’ve not been able to see each other properly. I’ve tried other creative outlets, I was creating and posting drum covers with an electric drum kit from my flat, which unfortunately created instant complaints from neighbours and that had to stop very quickly. All I’ve been trying to do is keeping focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s starting to feel like we are getting a bit closer to it.
You also help to promote new acts through to online platform The Flipside, can you tell us a little more about that?
The Flipside is something I put together and decided to launch completely on my own during lockdown. It’s honestly something I have wanted to do for a very long time and I took advantage of the free time I’ve been given during the pandemic to get it set up and launched. It’s been going for around a month now and the response to it has been incredible, so much better than I imagined.
The aim of it is, to give a platform to bands and artists who are unheard of. Musicians are given smaller platforms and opportunities to work their way up in terms of grassroots music venues and smaller independent radio stations. However, a lot of artists aspire to be featured on platforms such as Kerrang! & NME etc. and there seems to be very few opportunities to get featured in something smaller and work your way up to those fantastic outlets. The Flipside aims to bridge the gap between smaller bands and huge bands featuring not only music reviews but interviews and our own introducing section too.
I just love music and hearing the incredible music a lot of people out there are making for the first time just ignites a spark for me every time. Meeting and chatting to the people creating it is not only interesting but inspiring too and hearing the stories behind the songs is simply wonderful.
And who are some of the best new bands to watch out for?
Honestly, there are so many it’s hard to keep count. The bands I am loving right now are All Ears Avow, Y!kes, Phoxjaw, Chapter & Verse, Delaire The Liar, Holding Absence, Yard Arms and Press To Meco. If you are keen to hear these artists and lots more, go and check out The Flipside Recommends playlist on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7726kvodoNeGCKlfMRlRzb?si=7qxR7Y6YS9uoyUty499rcw
You work at The Shed, one of Leicester’s leading live music venues, how has it been for venues and staff during these times?
I’m the venue manager at The Shed and it is honestly the best job in the world. Times have been tough for venues and staff right now from completely unclear guidelines to how and when we can re-open to the ludicrous restrictions that are potentially being put in place. The furlough scheme has helped us out massively but that is coming to an end in October and getting to the point in which we can re-open in time for this is taking a lot of planning. Hopefully, you will be seeing us all very soon.
What have been some of your favourite memories/best shows whilst working at The Shed?
My top memory, potentially of all time, is when my favourite band ever Enter Shikari came to The Shed for a DJ set to celebrate our one year anniversary. Anyone who was there would’ve seen me at the side of the stage with my mouth wide open the entire night in awe. I genuinely couldn’t believe this band I had been following for years were up on the stage in the venue that I work at. I had also not been working there for very long at this point so wasn’t quite used to seeing bigger artists in the venue. We got to hang out with them before and after the show and they are honestly some of the loveliest people I have ever met. They say “don’t meet your heroes” but I am super glad that I did.
One of my favourite memories of a local bands show was definitely the Monachopsis EP launch. I believe it was the first sold out show I had put on and it was in The Vault. Anyone that knows the band will find it easy to imagine pure chaos including our sound engineer, Jaz Hunt jumping from over the sound desk and crowd surfing. A show I will also always remember is the birthday party for the best regular ever, Ian Bedder. This included We Give In playing in only their underwear, Gallows High playing an incredible set and a cake being smushed in Ian’s face during a stellar Earls set.
Halloween is always a fun night/weekend at The Shed too. We’ve had a horror movie marathon, fancy dress gigs and one of my favourite shows ever RAWRXD Fest in which local bands paid homage to some of our favourite 00’s emo and pop-punk bands. This included We Give In playing a My Chemical Romance tribute set (one of the most fun sets I’ve ever played) Long Way Home paying tribute to All Time Low and Cuecliché playing Blink 182 songs.
I also run a festival every year called NotAFest which simply put is one of the most exhausting yet rewarding weekends of the year for me. I believe somewhere there is a photo of me fast asleep in the green room of The Shed during the afterparty. Hopefully this will be back on next year but we’ll have to wait and see.
Lastly is Independent Venue Week. A week where we, and many other grassroots music venues in the UK run shows every night of the week. The show I will always remember from this is when Conjurer and Pijn came to play two outstanding sets, including a live debut of their collaboration project Curse These Metal Hands. That show will always hold a place in my heart as I know it does for many other Leicester locals who were there.
What do you think of Leicester’s live music scene and who are some of your favourite local acts??
I love this city’s music scene so much, the people that are involved and the bands we all get to share it with. I can’t stress enough how much anyone who is reading this needs to check out Leicester’s bands and see them live in a small venue, once gigs are back up and running, before they hit the big ones. Keep an eye out on Next Year, Oceans Apart, Long Way Home, Ohana, The People Assembly, Switchdown, Gunk, Earls, Smack Jack, The Whiskey Rebellion, Siobhan Mazzei, One Still Standing and of course my own bands We Give In, The Surrealists, and Homeless Shakespeare and the Pigeon Theatre. There are so many more that I haven’t listed but if I listed them all, you’d be reading this for a very long time.
Just keep an eye out on shows (once we return back to normal) at The Shed, The Soundhouse, The Cookie and Firebug and go and see some of the amazing talent Leicester has to offer.
What advice would you give to any musicians or people in the industry who are struggling to stay creative?
This is only temporary! We don’t know how long for and when we will come out of it yet but we will. If you’re feeling rubbish about not doing anything for a while or your band going stale, try not to. We are all in this pandemic together and it’s a struggle for everyone. Waiting and biding your time is a good thing. There is a lot going on in the world right now and new music can just get lost in the state of it all. The means of recording, practicing and writing have a lot of limitations and it’s not possible for everyone to be able to do those things and that is ok! Let’s just do what we can and be proud of what we are all able to achieve during these times. Let’s share and relish ours and each others achievements together. If you’re unable to put music out and do anything but you’re friends and peers are, help them push it because promotion is a big struggle at the minute and we can all play our part and do as much as we can to keep independent music alive!
To anyone reading, if you can follow not just The Shed, The Flipside and my bands, but all the other amazing artists and venues I’ve mentioned in this interview on social media it really makes such a difference to everyone involved.
Enjoy this week’s best of Leicester playlist! This week we’ve packed it full of Tom’s suggestions of his local favourites.
Have a listen and get in touch to tell us which tracks you’re loving.