For those of you aware of the Notts gig calendar, you know the deal with DTD; a ton of upstart bands and artists concentrated on a cluster of venues smack in the middle of town, before going somewhere else (this year, Bristol and Manchester) and doing it all over again. Suffice to say, the highlights are manifold; The Drums and Pulled Apart By Horses have been anointed as this year’s co-headliners, Willy Mason is playing his first gigs in five years, San Diego’s Wavves bring their surf-tinged clatter back to these shores, Aussie racketeers Pond clash with winsome folk songstress Lucy Rose, New York’s Hooray For Earth will be in attendance, along with indieboy/girl duo Summer Camp. And loads of others. Loads.
It’s great to see Notts acts getting their foot in the door this year. Dog Is Dead will be back, The Petebox will giving us a taster of his new album, and as we went to press, Jake Bugg was also confirmed. Along with the regular venues – Rock City, the Rescue Rooms, the Bodega, and Stealth – Jongleurs will be pressed into action as an alt venue for the first time in ages, and it’s been nudged down the calendar a bit to take advantage of the Diamond Jubilee weekend. This is the sort of thing that Nottingham does better than most; if your musical tastes veer towards the spiky and angular, you mustn’t miss it.
Co-organiser Anton Lockwood on DTD, its relationship to HTD, and DHP’s management of DID…
This is the eighth incarnation of Dot To Dot. Does it ever get easier to manage?
A little bit. This year has been confused by the Jubilee, which means we’ve had to move it up a week, and the Olympic-related events are starting to happen, so we’ve had to fight to get acts. What’s made things easier is that our reputation has grown; Dot To Dot is now an established and very well-respected event. Every band in the country seems to want to play it now; I’ve heard many bands say that Dot To Dot is so much better organised than other festivals of its kind.
You’ve added Jongleurs as a venue this year…
I’ve got history with the place. When it was the Clinton Rooms, I used to put on gigs there when it was the Clinton Rooms – before it became Top Of O’Reilly’s, which became Obsessions. Which I’d like to forget. It’s not too different to what it was like back then, so if you ever saw Rocket From The Crypt or The Wedding Present or Stereolab there, you know what a great venue it is.
What’s the difference between Dot To Dot and Hit The Deck?
The concept is more or less the same – you buy a ticket, get a wristband – but Hit The Deck is more rock. I guess I’m not allowed to say ‘emo’ anymore - much more like what you’d find in Kerrang!, let’s say. A younger festival, if you will. It’s not Dot To Dot II - it’s more to do with us looking at Dot To Dot and saying; ‘OK, that works with this crowd – let’s transfer it to this crowd’.
It’s good to see Notts artists on the bill…
Yeah, big up to the Nusic lot and LeftLion for supporting the Nottingham scene, because the acts are coming through. Dog Is Dead, obviously. It’ll be great to see the Petebox there – we’ve been doing a lot of work with him recently, as he’s releasing his new album soon. It’ll be great seeing him playing Dot To Dot. And we’ve just confirmed Jake Bugg.
Has there a concerted effort to get more Notts artists on?
To be honest, no. In the past, there were very few Nottingham acts that were suitable. There weren’t enough there who were doing well, who had the right profile, and were good enough. Whereas now, there’s several. So instead of saying ‘Let’s get some local bands in’, we’re saying ‘OK, we’ve got bands on our doorstep who are good enough’. Which I think is the right way to do it.
How are Dog Is Dead keeping?
They’re good. I haven’t seen them since they went on a twenty-date tour. I think they enjoyed themselves. They’ll be off to record the album next.
Are DHP looking for any other bands to manage at the moment?
I wouldn’t say we wouldn’t manage anybody else, but we’ve realised that to do it properly takes a huge amount of effort. You’ve got to be involved in every meeting, every decision…everything that’s going on. And you’ve got to be completely committed to it. We’re working with people - we’ve been helping Petebox with his tour, we’ve been helping out Nina Smith - but to take on a management role is a huge commitment, and if you can’t do it properly, don’t bother. Once Dog Is Dead are playing the Arena, we can sit back and have a think.
When LeftLion started and we got to know the local scene, it became very apparent that the first rule for every new band was ‘attract Anton’s attention’. Is that still the case?
(laughs) Yes, to some extent.
Do you still get bands following you about while you’re trying to have a drink?
That doesn’t happen quite so much now, but yeah – I still get it from time to time, as does Dan. But there’s more of us now – there’s also Ben at the Rescue Rooms and Tim at the Bodega. But that’s good – I first heard of Kappa Gamma because Ben said “You’ve got to check this band out.”
Any other local bands tickling your fancy at the moment?
Kagoule are really good, and they’re all only sixteen or something. A guy called Josh Keough, whose starting to get a lot of attention. And there’s the people who have been around for a while – Kogumaza are a great band, Fists are currently touring the USA, and it sounds like the American underground are really taking to them.
Any final words?
We’re making a conscious effort to make ticket prices for Dot To Dot as cheap as possible. There’s gonna be loads of bands, there’s gonna be DJs, a big street party…as I always say when I’m asked about Dot To Dot; come and see your new favourite band in the afternoon, have a few beers, and then come back and see your current favourite band.
Dot To Dot, Rock City, the Rescue Rooms, Stealth, the Bodega and Jongleurs, Sunday 3 June. Tickets: £20
Dot To Dot website