It’s hard to believe it, but independent label Hello Thor Records has been a reet fun fixture of the Nottingham music scene for ten years now. Not content with just releasing records, they’ve put on a whole load of gigs and parties too, helping to share music from the likes of Fists, We Show Up On Radar, Cantaloupe, Anxieteam, Grey Hairs, Hot Horizons, ULTRAS, Inad and Moscow Youth Cult with our city, and the world.
After releasing an impressive 17 singles, 8 EPs and 7 albums, as well as putting on more than 60 events, Hello Thor has decided to call it a day on its 10th birthday, bowing out with two final mammoth parties at Metronome on 17 and 18 May.
We couldn’t let a local institution leave us quietly, so we caught up with label honchos Anders Morris Knight, Becky Morris Knight and Nick Lawford, and asked them to share their top ten memories from the last ten years they’ve been running – think vomit, fancy dress and a lot of DIY love…
Hello Gore's Halloween Dress Ups
Becky: Throughout Hello Thor’s history there has been a common thread of dressing up – led from the front by founder Tom Whalley who’s been seen over the years in various (usually rubbish) costumes including the Sun, a Baseball Fury and Henry the Hoover. Our Halloween parties saw Notts’ finest serving all kinds of looks – including the inaugural Hello Gore being attended by not one, but TWO Harold Shipmans… Our glorious and gruesome guests got more and more elaborate as time went on. We kept laying down the Gore Gauntlet and the good people of Nottingham responded. Particular shout outs and gold medals go to… the creature from Pan’s Labyrinth, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Pacman and his Ghosts (new band name!), Leatherface, head on a platter, Silent Singer (from Psychoville), the minotaur, squids and various undead wonders.
Nottingham X New York
Anders: When Fists were asked to join Obits on tour in the US we were overjoyed and when we joined them for the New York date things got next level. It was joyous to be in New York for a whole sunny spring week, with half of Nottingham sequestered in tiny Airbnb’s all over Williamsburg. We marauded round Brooklyn like it was Sherwood, ate massive salt beef sandwiches, drank vodka on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach and capped it off with an amazing Fists gig, described loudly by a New Yorker in a moment’s pause between songs as “FUCKING PHENOMENAL”.
Nick: 2009 was a special year. We’d been putting on gigs, giving away t-shirts and telling anyone who’d listen that we ran a record label since early 2008, but it wasn’t until April 2009 that we actually managed to release a record – Cockatoo b/w Skit by Fists. That led to a trip to Glastonbury; being chosen as Radio 1’s Label of the Week; releasing a single by We Show Up On Radar on pink vinyl and launching it with a really weird Saturday afternoon gig at Nottingham Central Library; our first Hockley Hustle stage; radio play, compilation appearances, and a lot of fun. For some, long forgotten reason, we decided to celebrate this all by putting on a Christmas party at The Chameleon where there was £1 off the ticket price if you were wearing a moustache: the Christmoustache Party. It never really caught on as an annual thing, but we did have a total blast, with sets by Fists, We Show Up On Radar and the first ever gig by the magical Hot Horizons.
Room above a pub? Nah, mate!
Anders: We’ve held parties in some pretty random places, from gigs in caves, art galleries and Victorian Courthouses to in-stores in tiny record shops and the infamous 70s shopping arcade set from Cantaloupe that got shut down by a disgruntled autograph seller. Oh, and when we were asked to put some bands on in the library we just HAD to have a silent disco of course.
It’s a Takeover
Nick: In the same year Hello Thor Records started, so did The Music Exchange – a brilliant, pioneering social enterprise and record shop which supported homeless and vulnerable people, and did amazing things for Nottingham before sadly closing in 2016. We were lucky enough to be invited to “takeover” The Music Exchange on a couple of occasions, including for our fifth birthday party in 2014. This very memorable day involved a lot of baking, the creation of Hello Thor Radio (including special jingles recorded by We Show Up On Radar) and incredible in-stores by CJ Mirra and Micah P Hinson.
Anders: One of the worst things about organising events is the inevitable aftermath. Clearing up a venue and lugging kit around after scores of people (including us) have had a blast the night before IS. NOT. FUN. Especially when you borrowed a PA from someone 40 miles away… in Uttoxeter. And it won’t fit in your car. And it has to go back that day... Cue a convoy of shaky, pasty promoters snaking their way across the Midlands, stopping occasionally for a lay-by chunder.
Nick’s Cloak Of Wine DJ set – Wall to Wall Wu Tang
Becky: Nothing beats the feeling of finishing off a packed-out gig in the bar at Broadway (where bands climbed on tables and it got career-threateningly rowdy) with a barnstorming DJ set, bringing out banger after banger and getting a bigger and bigger reaction from the crowd. Well, we assume nothing beats that feeling, because in reality, after that infamous gig, Nick (self-described as wearing a ‘cloak of wine’) insisted on getting on the decks and playing a nothing-but-Wu-Tang set to an empty bar as we cleaned up around him. All the lights were up. The bouncers wanted to go home. There were dance moves and rapping.
Nick: At the Gringo Records 15th Anniversary festival at Nottingham Contemporary in 2012, Grey Hairs kicked proceedings off with a characteristically face-melting, chaotic, explosively thrilling set. The climax of the band’s performance was a cover of Harry Nilsson’s epic, cathartic wig-out, Jump Into The Fire. This was an exciting thing for Anders and me – we love Grey Hairs and we love Nilsson. In fact when we were starting the label up Anders introduced me to Nilsson Schmilsson which became one of my very favourite records. So, when we discovered that Grey Hairs had recorded covers of Jump Into The Fire and Coconut, and that they planned to recreate the image on the sleeve of Harry Nilsson with James from the band, then it was a total no brainer to release the record, sticking it on clear yellow vinyl for good measure.
Non Proper Band Scene
Anders: NPBS for short. What? You’ve not heard of it? You’re missing out. Big time! Hello Thor has been very proud to bring the music of incredibly talented musicians into the lives of a lot of people. Alongside this, we also helped a bunch of inspired amateurs/charming chancers take to the stage to share their songs. It started with Tom and Nick from Hello Thor getting over-confident about their synth skills as The Tom Tomas Club and reached its zenith when Roger (the infamous Gig King of Nottingham) performed Elvis with Joey Chickenskin.
Collaboration is King
Nick: Nottingham’s DIY music and arts community is a friendly, creative, collaborative beast. There are all the brilliant bands we’ve worked with, of course, plus all the talented poster designers, photographers, video-makers, DJs…but special shouts must go to the labels we’ve collaborated with to bring out records – Gringo, I OWN YOU and Denizen. By sharing resources, skills and experience, we got far further than we’d ever have done on our own. The “Hello Gore” Halloween parties also grew well beyond their humble beginnings upstairs at Bunkers Hill, and that was only down to the amazing artists and collectives who made them happen – particularly fourbeatwalk, hand cuts hand (aka Martha Glazzard), Joey Chickenskin and Kneel Before Zod. Walking into The Space at Nottingham Contemporary to see 100+ salsa-dancing Mexicans at the Dia De Muertos party in 2013 is a memory that will stay with me forever.
Hello Thor Records is hosting two huge gigs for its 10th Anniversary Weekend at Metronome, on Friday 17 and Saturday 18th May.