Every great city has a great music scene supporting it, and every great music scene has essential figures toiling away in the background while the bands get adulation, money (maybe!) and features on BBC Introducing. In Brighton, one such man is Richard Ward. Owner of Brighton independent record label Overhead Wires Music, tireless gig promoter (especially for quirky ‘out there’ bands), fanzine writer (check out Pantograph- his monthly printed newsletter), Podcaster (Overhead Wireless), Festival Organiser (Twisted Frontier- a three day alternative Great Escape for local bands), and general all round Brighton ‘Rock’. So here, we catch up with the man himself n all his Northern charm, before he shoots off on another tour.
Firstly can you explain your ethos/attitude towards music in general?
Our Overhead Wires statement of intent sums up our stance in the scene – “Tired of the disinfected greed-driven genericism of the music industry we are an independent management, publishing and promotions label aiming to bring the DIY punk ethic back to the scene”. I reckon the world is in a state of homogenised disrepute, with a corporate whitewash not just the music scene, but everything. We want to bring back some of the magic of just standing up and doing things for yourself on your own terms. Music is passion. It’s that spark of magic that ignites upon a certain chord change or lyrical twist.
How did you get started as an indie label?
I just sorta… did it. One October afternoon many years ago with a mere several months before I finished my music production degree and no plan afterwards, combined with the disillusionment of the aforementioned, it was literally just a case of… “This sounds like an adventure”. And indeed it was. We started off as a record label by checking out bands, producing them and putting them out. As time went on we developed into more of an umbrella label, incorporating management, promotion and publishing with the releasing records element having to take a bit of a back seat.
Is running a label as exciting and glamorous at it sounds?
If by glamour you mean sitting in a tour van on the streets of Liverpool after sound check, drinking Lambrini with six of your closest mates then YES – DEFINITELY.
Any horror stories you’ve faced in your current line of work?
Perhaps Oh. Captain’s facial make up at their recent Halloween gig. It looked like Jamie (Guitarist of Oh. Captain!) had an orgy with an Ocean Spray factory. Other than that, bands cancelling at the last minute on gigs you are promoting grates like a paper-cut.
How do you feel about the current music scene, in particular Brighton?
There are a hell of a lot of positives that can be taken out of the music scene in Brighton at the moment. As we all know, creativity flows like cheap wine in these ends so people are always coming up with new and invigorating ideas both musically and promotionally on little to no budgets. For example, FemRock is a local group who promote charity gigs representing the LGBT scene.
Can you recommend any good local bands to our readers?
Stepping outside of my bias towards my current roster. I’m also a big fan of The Move-Ons (who were the first band I got into upon moving to Brighton), Dead Whisky, grasshopper, Echo & The Beats, Rotait, The Lanes, Fox In The City to name but a few.
What advice can you give to up-and-coming bands from your experience so far?
It should never be underestimated how far hard work goes – you reap what you sow. It is important to talk to people. Support other bands. Help out. Make yourself known. The sound man is your friend.
What have you got in the pipeline for Overhead Wires music in near future?
In the absolute immediate future I am going to finish this cup of tea. In the slightly longer term we have big, big ideas of what we want Overhead Wires to be. We want to be known for doing well by the bands we manage and publish, and putting on nights that crowds come away from wowed. In the even more longer future than that we want to build the funds to establish ourselves as a record label for the 21st century, set up our own studio, perhaps own our own venue. We’re completely self-funded and independent minded so want to bring people together and show that everything is possible given the right amount of determination.
For more info visit www.overheadwiresmusic.com
Words by JDF
Photo by Ian Greenland at greenlandphotography.com