I began my travels in London, one of the biggest music hubs in the world, where there was a plethora of topics to choose from for my first couple of posts. I could not have been more stoked to find out that while I was in town one of my former SXSW clients, Fluffer Records, were hosting one of their high-energy pit parties at a non-operating schoolhouse on the east side of town.
The label itself started in 2012 and has released albums from garage rock bands Love Buzzard and Virgin Kids, whose recent debut is also being distributed in the U.S. by the likeminded Burger Records. Hand in hand with their label, they’ve been throwing underground parties for roughly eight months with the goal of creating a more memorable and personalized experience between the bands and their audience. They do this by hosting gigs in unconventional venue spaces and, most importantly, nixing an ordinary stage setup in favor of a ground level, circular configuration in the middle of the room, giving attendees the opportunity to experience the show from a 360-degree viewpoint.
The pits have hosted past performances from Australia’s DZ Deathrays, psych-rockers The Wytches, and just last month long-standing punk darlings the Black Lips, their biggest get yet, which sold out in record time. Last Saturday’s show was the eighth installation and featured Brighton-based groups Demob Happy and Abattoir Blues, as well as Welsh post-punk bands TRAAMS, and People and Other Diseases.
I spoke with Fluffer founders, Al Brown and Mike Dawson, after the show and asked them to elaborate on their motivation behind choosing the bands they work with and what type of an impact they’re hoping to make on London’s music community.
“There’s a big scene in London, you get some great bands in the scene, it’s a wicked community. But it’s the time and effort we put into curating things and making sure the sound is right, the sound has enough energy in it, it’s intense, and we just pick bands who we think are going to fucking kill it live. That’s my view. Where we separate ourselves is we’re not going to just put bands on who’ve got a following, we’re not going to put bands on because they’re being talked about at the moment, we just put bands on who we think are genuinely different,” said Dawson.
Fluffer’s unique model has gained traction like lightning and, although it’s been beneficial for reputable music companies such as Orange Amps to jump on board in support of the shows, the guys are also facing the challenges of coattail riders and those that would like to make it more about the brands as opposed to the bands. They’ve made it clear, however, that they’ll be sticking to their guns and will continue to cultivate this project organically.
“[Since] the first one we did back in November, it’s been building a bit and thankfully people are into it, and hopefully they keep on supporting us, but we want to fucking grow it and we want to grow it in the right way and it’s always going to be, first and foremost, about the music. We’ve already been offered money from corporations and big sponsors and we’ve turned it all down. We’re not going to be a sell-out. Ever. We want to build this with true music fans and if that all fucks up, well then we gave it our best shot, but if it doesn’t, amazing! But again, that’s the way we’re going to do it,” Brown stated.
So what’s next for these guys? Expect to hear about new label signings in the near future, as well as the continuation of monthly pit parties; they’re currently in talks with a top-secret warehouse location that would be a major game changer, in addition to a carpark and an old cinema. Oh yes, and a proposed pit party tour on a double decker bus, in true British fashion.