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NTU Sustainability in Enterprise

The Maze's Gaz Peacham on Running an Independent Music Venue

22 January 12 interview: Kristi Genovese

"Yes, I meet absolute idols of mine now and then, but I also have to clean sick out of radiators"

How tough is it to run a small independent venue like this?
Very. Notts has so much going on all the time - so many clubs, pubs, theatres, cinemas etc – so you need to give people a reason to come out, especially now as it’s so cheap to drink at home. Most of the money made on tickets and the door goes straight to bands or on promotion. If we didn’t sell enough beer at gigs, we’d have to close.

When other small venues fail, where do they go wrong?
I think some venues get lazy. You have to stay on your toes; support your local scene, be
passionate, and enjoy what you do - and if things get stale, reinvent yourself. The trick is
cut costs wherever you can without dropping standards. You have to work really hard, be your own biggest critic and take risks.

What’s the biggest  misconception punters have of your job?
That it must be a cool job. Yes, I hang out with bands, press and cool people, meet  absolute idols of mine now and then and essentially get paid to put on and watch awesome music. But I also have to clean sick out of radiators, carry drunks out of
the venue at chucking-out time, and paint the whole venue top to bottom in 24 hours with no sleep. I’ll get calls from beer suppliers at 8am and calls from bands asking about gigs at 2am. If I get five hours sleep, it’s been a good day.

 

Genre-wise, there seems to be an ‘anything goes’ approach at The Maze.
We have a ‘try anything at least once’ policy, which I think that has stood us in good stead. You can’t let personal taste dictate too much, when there are so many styles and tastes out there. One of the best things about working here is that I have discovered some amazing bands that have opened up my mind and – I think – have made me a better musician too.

In our band survey, The Maze came out as the favourite place to play at – which is scary, seeing as it was a hair’s breadth away from being converted into more student flats a while back. 
We’ve helped a lot of local bands achieve their potential, and I’m really proud of our involvement.  When we did the cover shoot for this issue, Steph Kirkup and I looked round and worked out that roughly 90% of them had played The Maze before, and about 50% had played their first gigs here. That makes me so happy.

How do you link up with new promoters?
They come to us a lot of the time, but we’re very proactive and approach people too. In the last six weeks, there hasn’t been a night where I haven’t been working, been at a gig or playing a gig. If we go to a night and we like the way a promoter has run it, we may ask them if they want to work with us.

What do you think to the Notts scene circa 2011-2?
It’s in a great state. There’s a very diverse and real scene here; I like the fact the DIY ethic is strong. People are fairly open to music in Nottingham as well; there’s a lot of crossover in genres, which makes it very special.

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