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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

Interview: Will Robinson of I'm Not From London

7 December 11 interview: Jared Wilson
photos: Ralph Barklam

Riots, cagefighting, Hollywood actresses, ghost buses, Mexican wrestling and contracts signed in blood. It's all in a night's work for promoter Will Robinson and the three bands signed to his I'm Not From London Label...

Where does the name come from?
I moved from Watford to Mansfield when I was twenty-one and everybody assumed, because of my southern accent, that I was from London. I ended up spending a lot of my time telling them I wasn’t. It’s also a line from Withnail and I - “We’re not from London, you know.”
 
So how did you first get involved in the Nottingham music scene?
I left Mansfield and came to Nottingham after I took a serious kicking from some youths. Through my sister I was mates with Pete Dale; the drummer in Punish The Atom and Amusement Parks On Fire. I joined See Tickets and soon realised the entire music community worked there and I also went on tour with Punish The Atom and basically became their biggest non-sex groupie.

What was the first gig you promoted as INFL?
I sorted a guy out with some tickets for a sold out Arctic Monkeys gig in return for two dates at Blackpool’s The Beat Nightclub as all the local bands were desperate for gigs outside of Nottingham. I put on Amusement Parks on Fire, Plans & Apologies, Drive By Argument and The Sound Of The Superstring on the first night, and Punish The Atom, Curtis Eller and The Hellset Orchestra on the second. Both gigs did well. Then Anton Lockwood (who was Punish The Atom’s manager) offered me my first Nottingham gig in the Red Rooms.
 
Soon after that you had an interesting gig at Blueprint…
It was normally a dance venue, but the potential was there to hold a lot of people. Unfortunately the management double booked us with some dance promoters and
instead of cancelling we decided to make it a joint event. It was going well until the local estate gangsters turned up. Fights broke out in a mish-mash of tight jeans, knuckledusters, angular haircuts, gold chains and baseball bats. After that I quickly realised the importance of location when booking nights.

Your next location happened to be Templars bar…
They gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted. So I nailed chicken wire to the floor and ceiling, creating a cage in front of the stage and hired stickfighters to battle it out
with nunchucks and batons between the bands and the crowd. Then I teamed up with Andy Clydesdale of Audio Massage - it’s never dull working with him. We employed popcorn girls and showed Super 8 films while the bands played. For Friday 13th we nailed shoes to tables, hung black cats from the ceiling and stuck broken mirrors all over the walls. We also did a couple of years of late night cave parties in the Loggerheads, and to celebrate the last day of indoor smoking, we started up a new night at The Maze called Prohibition, where staff and punters wore 1920s style spats, dresses and headgear.

Prohibition was the night with the boxing ring - where did you get that from?
After going on a mission around Nottingham boxing clubs, gypsy sites and gyms, we found a ring and two fighters willing to stage an exhibition fight, in homage to Nottingham’s prizefighter Bendigo (who used to box at The Maze regularly). Unfortunately their car broke down on the way to the gig, so both Andy and I had to pull on the gloves instead.
 
You’ve used the iconic London red buses to take bands around Nottingham and to London...
We brought a proper London bus into town for a Halloween Ghost bus tour in 2009. It stopped by some bars for drinks and we had Captain Dangerous and Maniere Des Bohemiens playing live with vampire burlesque girls stripping. It got very messy. The buses to London were about getting exposure for bands by putting on a free gig in the fashionable east end with Royal Gala, Old Basford, The Eviltones, Pilgrim Fathers, Fists, Cuban Crimewave and many more. Sam Morton even came down, said a few words to the crew of our film and then stayed to party afterwards.
 
What’s the state of play with the INFL film?
We have filmed over forty live sets from Nottingham bands and have interviewed key characters of the Notts music scene in order to produce a movie about the DIY scene
whilst posing the question “Do Nottingham bands have to move to London to achieve national recognition?” The debate and film continues. The movie is currently in postproduction as we try to raise finishing costs.
And you’ve done all this whilst dealing with cystic fibrosis...
Yeah. I was diagnosed when I was three. There wasn’t as much known about it in the early eighties and sufferers had a very high mortality rate. The doctors said I’d be lucky to reach seven, then when I got to seven they said perhaps twelve, then when I reached twelve they
said mid-teens. By the time I was fifteen I had stopped listening, but I am always aware that a long life is not guaranteed.
 
How does it affect your day-to-day life?
I take about thirty-five tablets and eat 5,000 calories daily to get the same amount of nutrition as you would, which is almost impossible to do and the reason behind my svelte figure. I do get bloated after a few beers or if I forget my tablets when I eat, and I pretty much always have a cough. The good thing about it is that I can eat whatever I like; fast food, chocolates, full-fat milkshakes, steaks, cakes, curries. It actually lends itself very well to the rock and roll business; being proactive and not accepting what others tell you all the time is a DIY punk approach that I’ve adopted with most of my projects. I probably push myself too hard in terms of work and play, but I think making the most of your life is something everyone should do regardless. If more people were told that their days were numbered, they’d make more of the time they have.
 
What are your opinions on the state of our current music scene?
I think it’s gone from strength to strength in the last five years, largely due to much more collaboration between bands, labels and promoters. Bands and labels are stepping up their game in terms of doing things themselves and creating a real energy in the city. Just
look at the success of the Hockley Hustle and the support available from organisations like LeftLion, Nusic and Nottingham Live.
 
What advice would you give to young bands or promoters?
If you think you’ve got a career in music, then get out and start doing something. There will be a million people telling you that you can’t do it, but why would you want to listen to them? Work hard, make your own luck and take risks when you see an opportunity. Oh and never lend any money to James Waring.

Will Robinson (and Hannah Larham) run Kerblammo, which is happening at The Maze on Friday 9 December 2011.

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