On the frontlines of Manchester’s booming music scene are places like Rebellion. We caught up with the venue’s own Eytan Wineapple, who talked to us about his other projects, Manchester Metal Collective and Noise Promotions, as well as his past and some advice for upcoming bands.
S] How did you get your start?
E] “It wasn’t really a career to begin with. It was a last-minute Halloween show in a squatted venue in 2006, where we were hosting an art exhibition/venue/café/workshop. We hadn’t booked anything in because we had anticipated getting evicted by then. We had nothing on, so I took the reins for that day when it came to programming because nobody wanted to listen to my metal stuff. It was a really good show. Some friends helped out. At the end of it, we were like let’s carry on doing this, let’s put squat parties on with metal bands because nobody else is. We had already been doing illegal parties, just not with heavy metal. We started and called it Scum Sound System. We got in a lot of trouble. We had equipment seized by police. We were chased all over the country doing illegal parties, but we were linking up with more established people who were attracting hundreds of thousands of people to events. There was a big riot in January 2007. Not long after we started, we linked up with seven other crews in Manchester. We had a cinema, a fairground, burger vans. We went all out to throw the biggest party Manchester had ever seen. The police turned up with dogs and batted a lot of us and tried to seize equipment, but we fought for the equipment and got it back. After things got difficult and we were losing lots of money doing these things, we started a front organisation and called it Manchester Metal Collective. Now we don’t do all the naughty parties, but Manchester Metal Collective is in its ninth year.”
S] How have you changed and kept the momentum going for nine years and what have been some of your biggest challenges.
E] “I didn’t care about the money. I cared about losing loads of money. If we wanted to make money, we wouldn’t have been doing squat parties for free. We ran little bars and used to sell drugs and all that. That was pretty much how I used to underwrite any loss or risk. I carried on in that style for years, just not giving a shit about money at all, but I only used to have one gig in front of me at a time. They were always fairly big events. We didn’t do one smaller than two stages. We ended up growing into four stages over two days, that was Halloween weekend, 2010. One of the biggest challenges was my drug addiction. I was trying to organise these things with a raging ketamine habit. As soon as I got rid of it, I juggled a few things in my life. I joined a band for a little bit. When I came back to doing gigs, I left MMC as an online resource and wasn’t doing events with it. I thought I would give putting on gigs another go and take it more seriously, not just this real crushed punk attitude to doing these DIY shows like I had done. I started up a thing called Noise Promotions, which handles the stuff I was listening to at the time. I started that and it kicked off in a big way, quicker and bigger than I thought it was going to. We have bands coming from overseas.”
S] It must feel good nine years down the road, having gone from free squat parties to having a venue.
E] “It’s awesome, and I appreciate it. When I first got the keys to the venue, it was the best thing in the world. Being able to go to town to go to work. They hired me full time, so I can go to town on a bus, open the doors to the club, start work. If it’s a nice day, I go in the beer garden, open the door so the music comes out, turn the sound system up to club level and sit there having a smoke and a drink, with a laptop, working, see people passing by and invite them to come in while I’m doing work. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”
S] Has it been your goal to turn Rebellion into the metal hub that it’s become? How do you feel about the venue in terms of Manchester’s alternative scene?
E] “My goals for the local scene have not changed in the slightest. My approach has changed. Not with MMC, I’m hammering it from other angles like with stuff like Noise Promotions, the Gallery Grim, the Burning Manc festival. The goal has always been the advancement of the local scene. The job’s not done until this place is recognised as the capital of UK metal. Our output’s amazing here. It’s been ignored for ages, now it’s not being ignored. When I quit drugs, it changed my life so I was able to work on lots of shows at once, instead of one at a time. I’m prolific, I’ve been back in the country for about a year and a half. As an independent, I think I’m averaging two or three gigs a month. It’s going amazingly. When they opened up Rebellion, I worked there briefly, helping with promotions. I wanted it to be the centre of Manchester metal then and they didn’t want it to turn into a metal bar. They were happy to have metal there, but they wanted it to be more diverse. I was saying, I know what I’m talking about. Head more toward metal and you’ll have a better club. They didn’t really take me that seriously. They thought I wanted to indulge my own tastes. I started putting on my own shows and they saw we were bringing loads more people than anyone else, then they were interested in hearing what I had to say about going the direction of metal. They did not want to re-brand as a metal bar, which is a misunderstanding between me and them, because they seem to think I want to turn it into a metal bar, which I would love, but it’s not my business and my dream and I respect that they’ve got it to this point. I don’t want to take it and run with it, I want to hold hands with it and skip through the meadow of metal. It’s just happened naturally. It has become Manchester’s metal capital venue. It has become that whether that was the intention of the owners or not. Rebellion is synonymous with metal now. There has been all sorts of music played there, when you say to someone, ‘Rebellion’ they think, ‘oh that metal bar.’ I tend to call it a rock and metal bar, whereas the signage used to say ‘Rebellion Rock and Blues Bar.’ Now it’s starting to lean more towards rock and metal.”
S] What would your advice be to a young promoter? What do you want to see from them?
E] “They need to be sincere. They need to be ready to lose almost everything over a few go’s. Get a good lineup together and hammer the sh*t out of the promotion. Don’t be afraid to run up to strangers in the street and give them flyers. Make sure you have every aspect of your show tight, production-wise. Read up as much as you can. There are plenty of forums where people give good advice on how to run shows. Make sure you have your checklist when you arrive at your venue. You have to have a decent engineer who knows what they’re doing. If you don’t know your way around a stage or a mixing desk, you need someone who does, otherwise your show will be bad. Try to do some different things. People are getting bored of turning up at a venue; there’s your bar, there’s your stage, pay us, now watch your bands. There needs to be a vibe and other attractions. We’ve done barbeques, art exhibitions, inflatable shit. We’re getting a rodeo bull in at some point. We’ve had freak show stuff going on. Keep doing things differently. The first way to fuck yourself up is to look at what somebody else is doing and try to emulate it in the same place. Then you’re just stepping on toes and you’ll do it wrong. It can be cutthroat, so whoever it is you’re copying could wait until you make an announcement and book something on the same date. Just be friendly. I mostly only do all-dayers and weekenders and the events that other people don’t do. When I started doing it, nobody was doing the gigs I was doing. I wasn’t up against anyone else because I was doing something completely different. Try and do things nobody else is doing. We’re doing a Manchester Metal Awards show on January 7. There are going to be a bunch of awards, then a big party afterwards.”
S] Talk to us about Burning Manc Festival.
E] “I’ve been trying to get Melechesh for a while. I was hoping to catch them on tour, but it wasn’t happening so I thought I’d just fly them over. I spoke with Ashmedi, I met him when I was living in Jerusalem. I messaged him and he gave me a price, I accepted and there we are. I wanted to build a festival around it and I decided to call it Burning Manc because of the flame and fire link. We have some fire performers, stalls, food, mulled wine, all that wintery sh*t. One of the warm-up shows is next week. We’ve got DAMIM, Shrines, and Impavidus. Then we’ve got A Blaze in the Northwestern Sky, another all-dayer on September 3. Anaal Nathrakh are headlining that.
S] You went from independent promoting to managing a venue. How did that conversation go? How has it been?
E] “I’m friends with the owners. I see them as friends, as well as bosses. I was friends with them before I was hired. I turned up when they first opened up and asked for this very job. Two and a half years ago I asked for this job. They said let’s do some promo work together. I ended up doing it, it didn’t come to be and I went and lived in Israel for a little bit. I didn’t end up doing that job, then I came back from Israel and one of my ex-bandmates, who is a member of the Noise crew now, John Nicholson, put on a birthday show there. The place improved in the nine months I’d been away. I spoke with the owners and we agreed on a date for the first Noise all-dayer. There was a lot of f*cking about. There was another promotion company that went under, and it left a festival and an all-dayer without bands. The bands that were supposed to play asked if I would step in and replace the shows. The festival was with only two weeks to go. I did two shows, did the noise thing and then Rebellion became the hot place for metal. Every time I went to do another gig elsewhere, I’ve been f*cked about. Sometimes I want to do something smaller or bigger and can’t use Rebellion. I would mostly be working out of there out of my own choice. When I was doing all that, they offered the position again. They decided not to hire anyone after I first went for it. When I got back I asked for it again, but then they hired some other woman and she didn’t last too long. Then they hired another dude who didn’t last too long. As they were telling him that he had to go, my gigs were their peak for that time. So they offered me the job that time, I didn’t ask. As soon as I got in there I went crazy, booking sick bands. The first few bands I booked are already bigger than any other bands that had played there. My first show that I booked for them isn’t for another two months, we’re on the way to selling out.”
S] What do you want to see from a band coming in?
E] “Approach promoters with some degree of professionalism. There’s one thing I can’t stand and I get it every day. I get messages that read quite close to, ‘Hi mate, can I play your gig?’. When I have over forty gigs in my calendar and they haven’t told me what band they’re in or where they’re from. Am I supposed to milk the information out of them? I’m not desperate for bands to play. Approach promoters with every bit of information you need. If they see only the first line from your message it needs to say, ‘we’re a band that knows what we’re doing’. Have some things ready in a file somewhere. Have your specs for your gear. Show a bio, links to music and social media. The best thing you can do is put together an electronic press kit. In the header for your message write something like ‘booking request, EPK attached’ or ‘booking opportunity.’ A promoter will look at that and think what is this opportunity. There are a lot of messages I don’t even open. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. I might have gigs coming up where I know exactly what bands are on the bill, I’ve just not announced them. Everyone assumes because I’ve not announced bands, that I’ve got slots. Sometimes I announce a date with a full line up and only reveal one band to begin with.”
S] A lot of bands communicate through Facebook. Is that the right way for a band to get in touch with you?
E] “No, they need to go through the proper channels, or I’ll generally ignore them. Get me on the email for whichever thing it is that you need. Don’t get in touch with me for Manchester Metal Collective gigs at all because when I announce a gig, I know who’s going on the gig. I don’t need anybody asking me to play. Noise gigs, the booking procedure goes through email. I have so many requests, I can’t get back to everyone. I will at some point when things are quieter. For Rebellion, it’s through email and there’s a booking form to use. I put it through the database and if something comes up that’s suitable, I’ll get in touch with the band. Bugging me, that makes it even less likely that I’ll ever book that band if they’re harassing me. I don’t owe these bands a slot. I’m putting these shows together, depending on what name I’m under, I’m doing it for different reasons. MMC is because I want to advance the local metal scene, noise is my own indulgence and Rebellion is my job. I won’t book them for MMC if it won’t advance the Manchester metal scene, I won’t book them for Noise if I don’t like the band and I won’t book them for Rebellion if it doesn’t make sense for the business. I want to keep my job. I had to turn messages off for the Nosie promotions Facebook. People just wanted to add all the promotions things. They type promotions in the search bar and copy and paste ‘hi can I play one of your gigs?’. If you spent two minutes looking at the Noise page, you would know what kind of music we deal with. If you’ve not taken the time to read my page, I don’t feel the need to reply. People think it’s rude and that’s fine, but I have to deal with a couple hundred people a day. Just get to the point. If the billing doesn’t make sense to me, I won’t put them on the bill. If they want to support that band so much, they can get in touch with a booking agent, book the band a show and put themselves on a support spot.”
S] How did you decide to move to Manchester? Tell us about your background outside of work.
E] “There’s no such thing as outside of work anymore. I wake up and work until I go to sleep, but I love my work so it’s good. I didn’t decide to come to Manchester, I got brought here at six-years-old from Israel. I was into guitar music from a young age and like most people, it got progressively heavier and more underground until a point where I could not get enough of going to gigs every night. The whole metal thing, I listen to a lot of types of music, but metal is my shit. I ended up homeless at fifteen, so I was out and about the city centre and doing loads of drugs. Because I was doing drugs and had a beard and was scruffy, I suppose bouncers thought I was old enough to be in places, so I was going into gigs all the time. I went around town stealing makeup from Boots and Superdrug and selling them in the brothels and taking that money and going to gigs and getting wasted and going to club nights afterwards. I was selling pills and speed. That is how I financed all my music stuff back then. At nineteen, I wanted to start putting something that became Manchester Metal Collective and scum Sound System together. I spoke with a few friends, but nobody actually did anything. After a while, I went and did it anyway.”
S] After everything you went through, you still managed to have this success. How did you do it?
E] “I had been smashing Ketamine for twelve years, doing it every day, and one day I thought I had enough of it and that was that. For a few years before that I was in a lot of trouble with it and thought about getting professional help and running away and living in a treehouse again, but the only places I knew where people lived in treehouses, they were all on ketamine and heroine anyway. I used to live on protest sights. I failed to quit for so long and I didn’t even go to get help. I resigned myself to being a lifelong ketamine junkie. One day I had enough, and that was it. That was two and a half years ago. I said that’s enough, threw away what I had and that was it. It was my own fault for getting into it. Nobody forced me to take drugs. I actually tried hard to get into it, that should be a warning sign that you’re going to give yourself a habit.”
S] What motivated and inspired you to build this life?
E] “My inspirations for the events was the fact that I did not like a lot of promoters and business practices. Back in the sixties, seventies and eighties, there was a huge cutthroat culture in the music industry. I used to work festivals every year. People like Vince Power used to run Mean Fiddler, which became Festival Republic and the people at Livenation, I was not a fan of that kind of sh*t. I was living in squat and listening to metal. It was a reaction to all these other things and the vibeless gigs happening in Manchester. The first thing I thought was, what can I do? We’ll invite the artists who design the covers and merch. That went down well, so I carried on looking for things to do to make it different.”
S] What are some of your favourite local bands?
E] “In the sludge stoner doom department, Pissed, Boss Keloid, Barbarian Hermit, Mower, Nomad. I’m probably missing a few out. There are tons of them. On the more extreme side of things, Foetal Juice have been kings for ten years. There are tons of bands doing really interesting stuff that isn’t metal. Voodoo Blood is one of the best bands in the country.”
S] How would you like to be remembered?
E] “Fucking relentless.”