unsigned but not unheard

page two

Cumming agrees: "I think if you sign to a major label or a major label affiliate, they have huge clout - a huge publicity machine to get them in everything, pay for advertising space in the NME and all the other music magazines, I’m not taking anything away from any of these bands, they’ve clearly got a fanbase, but to get the exposure, you have to tour and play to people and do it really slowly rather than just play your own gigs".

Pomphrett agrees: "Biffy Clyro are a good example of a band who did play and play and play, and just work their arses off, and now they’re playing big venues, they’re three albums in and they’ve got a huge fanbase from touring, and they’re a better band for it. The worrying thing for the bands like the Fratellis and the View are I hope for them is that they keep going, their second album is better and they’re happy. A good example is the Darkness, they were a bit of a comedy band anyway, but with the meteoric rise, and so much stuff got on top of them."

"Festivals have seen a changed approach to unsigned bands recently, and T in the Park has an annual competition to put unsigned bands on the bill"
"It’s like the whole thing with supermodels being thin and stuff, if someone comes along that’s a little thinner, they’re out, and it’s what it must be like for these bands, if the record company changes their idea on what’s cool, trip-jazz may come in! Some of these trip-jazz bands come along, and all of a sudden you’d find yourself dropped!"

Pomphrett has a very noble ambition if Piano Bar Fight were to make it big: "We’d use the leeway I had to expose some of the other bands we like, like No Kilter, Avast!, Juliet Kilo, Twin Atlantic, being inside the machine I guess and opening it up."

Festivals have seen a changed approach to unsigned bands recently, and T in the Park has an annual competition to put unsigned bands on the bill, but Pomphrett holds a little cynicism towards these competitions.

"I think it’s great for exposure but if you would love to play a festival, then go for it, but I don’t think there should be an agenda - if someone asked us to play one of these festivals, I’d be flattered. I really appreciate what the guys at DF do for unsigned bands, but I think sometimes it can be underhand with people trying to win their way there by selling x amounts of tickets."

Cummings agrees: "The idea of getting places for unsigned bands at festivals is fantastic, but sometimes they can be detrimental, it can be really funny, in the T-Break competition, there’s so much bitching, especially on messageboards, I’m of the opinion that I don’t want any of that sort of thing”.

“It’s like battle of the bands and pay-to-play gigs where it’s all about success and popularity and money where it goes wrong - I don’t think there should be any competition, everyone should be able to appreciate everyone else. It’s like music is in small letters and business is in big business.

Sadly, the likes of pay-to-play gigs are just one of the many barriers that unsigned bands face. However, gigs like the one that Piano Bar Fight were playing are now giving unsigned artists the chance to play to new crowds, and this can only be healthy for the current thriving underground music scene. With the DIY mentality that many bands hold nowadays, it seems that the line between unsigned and true success is becoming more blurred than ever before.

article by: Matthew Shaw

published: 30/01/2007 17:51