“This is my last chance” – Manchester’s unsigned musicians on breaking through.

WITH the closure of live music venues such as Sound control and Roadhouse in recent years, unsigned artists are struggling now more than ever to get discovered.

This week, music venue Antwerp Mansion have announced their impending closure, which causes an issue for new up and coming talent in Manchester, as it means that there are, yet again, less places for them to play.

However, Manchester holds a stellar reputation for bringing out iconic artists, with the likes of The Smiths, Elbow, and The Stone Roses to name a few that hail from the city.

Still holding a number of performance spaces willing to be a platform for those without record labels, Manchester’s unsigned scene has become one of the most respected in the country, as competition has brought out the best in a number of bands.

Cameron Meekums-Spence plays guitar in the Mossley based band Freeda.

He said:, ‘We’ve been at it for about a year now, so I suppose there is still time but the thing is with us, we don’t have a manager, we don’t have a record label or anyone like that to take the load off us either were spending most of our time outside of work trying to promote the band, putting a lot of effort in.

‘When you start off gigging you’re making a loss really aren’t you, for god knows how long, until you hit that break really. When you hit it, then the money starts coming in I guess but we’re still some way to getting to that point.

‘In the past when I’ve been with bands I’ve always loved it but never really known how to go about it. This for me is giving it a proper go.

‘I’m in my early twenties, I’d say this is my last chance. I work in a call centre, which is a little bit mundane but it gives me my weekends, so I can do the gigs and whatever else comes to us which I would have been able to do otherwise.’

Alex Walker, presenter of ‘Flip the disk’ on Forge Radio, is a former member of Manchester band Wilson.

He said: ‘It’s a saturated market, for every great band there’s about fifty decent bands that have fallen by the wayside.

‘It’s hard to try and stick out amongst the crowd and to get exposure and get people down to your gigs, especially with the decline in gig venues which is not exactly helping.

‘I think because there are so many great bands from Manchester it can be a blessing and a curse – if you’re a band from Liverpool you’ll be compared to The Beatles, its not like that here, but it is so hard.’

Freeda’s debut single is out now.

Manchester music venue Antwerp Mansion launches petition to be saved, after receiving marching orders from City Council

ANOTHER Manchester music venue is set to place on the ever-growing list of iconic venues that have closed in recent years.

Doomed nightclub Antwerp Mansion, in Rusholme have had a petition launched on change.org in attempt to stop the closure, after Manchester City Council Planning Department ordered it shutting down for good.

If the petition were to be successful, it would mean that the venue could stay open longer than it’s planned wrap up for next month.

News of the closure was confirmed in a statement posted to the nightclub’s official facebook page on monday.

It said: “Antwerp Mansion will be forced to close next month on the orders of Manchester City Council Planning Department. Unlike the scenarios we have recently seen in the media with clubs such as Fabric & the Rainbow venues, there has been no single incident that has led to this closure and our premises license remains fully intact.

“In September of last year Antwerp Mansion was served with an enforcement notice, after Manchester City Council (MCC) were informed of unclear planning permissions that dated back to the 1920’s.

“The Council’s view was that Antwerp Mansion only had permission to operate as a private member’s club, not as a nightclub despite the fact that it had successfully been run as one for approximately 7 years.

“We had no warning of this and no one from the Council made any attempt to speak to us. MCC served an enforcement notice in the summer (a period in which we are closed) that Antwerp Mansion must revert back to this use within 28 days with a closing time of 11pm.

“Antwerp Mansion had the right to appeal this notice, which then triggered a legal battle that we have been fighting for the past 7 months. We did not make public the threat of closure or this enforcement notice during the appeal process.”


Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Skills responded to the closure, as well as the statement made by the venue.

She said: “This will be good news for local residents who have put up with significant noise, violence and other anti-social behaviour brought to their neighbourhood because of the Antwerp Mansion venue.

“We want to encourage business in Manchester and we welcome multi-use and diverse venues in our neighbourhoods, but there has to be a balance so it works with the community, not against it. It is important that anyone opening a venue does contact the Council immediately to get planning advice before they open.
“Any suggestion by the club that this decision is about anything other than the fact that they were not operating appropriately is simply untrue.  Our decision has been scrutinised and upheld by an independent planning inspector appointed by the Government, who rejected Antwerp Mansion’s appeal.”
The Petition has so far gained over 14000 signatures, after just four days of being posted. They aim to reach 15000.

“If they’ve got great songs and refuse to give up they’ll make it. I believe that.” – Says Musicians about unsigned artists

ESTABLISHED musicians from Britain have been commenting on the unsigned music scene.

In the UK, acts from all genres have to make their way as unsigned artists, before finding a fan base and eventually signing to a record label that can provide them with the resources to help them succeed in the industry.

The road to the record label is known as being incredibly difficult, as competition from other performers and issues with funding can get in the way of success, leading to band break ups, as members go in search for steady work.

Former Kaiser Chiefs drummer, Nick Hodgson released his debut album ‘Tell Your Friends’ independently on his own label.

He said: “Doing things independently is total freedom for me. I love being able to make instant decisions about things without having to go through a dozen people.

“It’s a lot of hard work though. For unsigned bands it’s always been hard but now is a particularly tricky time to get signed.

“If they’ve got great songs and refuse to give up they’ll make it. I believe that.”

Folk musician, John Smith has been successfully recording albums on his own for years, as he opts to remain unsigned.

He Said: “I think the music industry has changed a lot. I’ve been a professional musician for twelve years and it’s changed a lot in that time. There’s so many more people who have access to an audience.

“Now, any numpty with a guitar can make a record and put it out there. Some of it is frighteningly good, but some of it is terrible, so the competition is so much bigger and so much more diverse.

“People send me stuff and it sounds amazing and these people would never have had a platform a few years ago, but making it in any arts industry is never going to be easy.”

Ex-Kaiser Chief Launches Debut album in home town || D&A interviews…


Former Kaiser Chief, Nick J.D Hodgson launched his Debut Album, ‘Tell Your Friends’ at Headrow House, Leeds last night.

The event was free to fans and attracted an enthusiastic crowd for the former drummer’s first solo outing. D & A’s Tom Rogers interviewed Nick prior to the launch..

T: Hi Nick, Can you tell us a bit more about the journey you went on making this album and what you wanted to achieve with it?

N: At first I thought I’d write a couple of songs and just put them out online but as I continued to write I started getting more excited about it. I imagined at first that the songs would be similar to the ones I’d sung on the Kaiser Chiefs albums, like Boxing Champ and If You Will Have Me, delicate and understated. But I started surprising myself with some actual bangers! After I wrote RSVP I thought, OK let’s see how far this can go. So the goalposts have changed and now I’m totally into the idea of being a solo musician, playing gigs and making more records.

T: Obviously Leeds is an important place for you, but how influential do you feel the city is in your career?

N: I think that without the song I Predict A Riot my musical career wouldn’t be the same. The song is specifically about Leeds city centre so I owe it a lot. As well as that, the city’s music scene was always really inspiring. There were so many bands around the late 90s early 00s and the friendly competition was important to me. Being a big band in Leeds was the first goal.

T: How was it for you after leaving Kaiser Chiefs? Did you find the journey from band member to solo artist hard? Was there a defining factor musically that fuelled your change?

N: I left 5 years ago and went straight into writing and producing for other artists. I don’t like repeating myself so this transition was perfect for me. I was writing about three songs a week with totally different artists and going home every night, it was the opposite of life in the band. Then one day in March last year I felt like I was bored of this life too so I decided to make a change. I don’t like repeating myself (that’s a joke). The defining factor was simply writing a song and thinking, how about I sing this? The song was Thank You which is on the album.

T: And finally, what’s next for you after the album launch?

N: I’ve got some more live dates, then I’ll have a little break and do some more live dates. After all that I’ll go back to my studio and see what happens. I’d love to just make albums for the next ten years.

‘Tell Your Friends’ by Nick J.D Hodgson is out now & will be @ The Wardrobe, Leeds and Deaf Institute, Manchester in April. 

Grieving Andy Rourke ‘Deeply Saddened’ about false news of ‘Classically Smiths’ Concerts

AFTER just one day, it has been confirmed that the ‘classically Smiths’ concerts WILL NOT be happening.

Former members of The Smiths, drummer Mike Joyce, bass player Andy Rourke and second guitarist Craig Gannon announced yesterday that the trio were to reunite in the summer to put a new spin on the Manchester band’s iconic songs.

Today, Mike Joyce has set out to distance himself from the project, claiming that he wasn’t involved.

In a statement given to D&A, he said: “I am deeply saddened that during the week of the death of my dear friend Dolores O’Riordan, that false statements are made on my behalf. 

“At no time did I give my consent for anyone in connection with this Classically Smiths project to act on my behalf or my name and nothing was ever confirmed, approved or contracted by me or my team.”

After the response from Andy Rourke, ex-Smiths drummer Mike Joyce took to twitter to issue his own statement regarding the news

“It is with much regret that I have to announce that I will not be taking part in the show (s) Classically Smiths. I entered into agreement in good faith to perform these shows with the production company…

“and Craig Gannon. Andy was asked originally but I wasn’t informed that he had passed on this project. Unfortunately it became apparent that Andy would not be taking part and was never a part of this. I agreed with Andy that I would take part in the press conference and inform…

“people that he would not be taking part. Unfortunately on the morning of the press conference I was informed I would not be able to say this. I therefore agreed to take part in the press interviews but did so without discussing Andy’s participation in the venture at any point…

“during all tv, radio and print interviews. After much deliberation and soul searching I have decided that without Andy, an integral part of why I agreed to take part in the first place…

“I have come to this difficult decision. I still believe the shows and concept to be a fantastic idea and wish them all the success they deserve.”

Music ticket touting threatens to kill off the UK’s gig culture, campaigners claim

MASS SCALE Ticket touting is causing considerable harm to the British music scene, alongside causing concern to the gig culture community, according to a survey.

Commissioned by anti-touting campaigners, Fan Fair Alliance, the survey reported that 80% of Britons find that secondary ticketing is a ‘rip off’, and those who purchase them tend not to spend further on other live events as a result.

The survey also found that the majority of people asked supported the idea of precautionary measures being put in place to fight the issue.


Adam Webb, campaign manager for Fan Fair Alliance said: “It’s the scale of online ticket touting that’s the real issue, and the fact that it’s become endemic across live music. Each Friday we see the most high demand events targeted and high volumes of tickets moved straight into the secondary market by professional touts. It’s distorting the market and leaving music fans disaffected.

“If your core audience is disaffected and feels they’re being ripped off, then that’s potentially a nightmare for the long-term health of the business. On a more basic level, if a large segment of gig-goers are over spending on tickets then they’ll have less to spend on other shows, on recorded music and at venues.

“It’s undoubtedly damaging. It engenders a feeling of mistrust and of being ripped off. That’s no basis on which to build a music culture.

“Fan Fair wholeheartedly believes that fans should be able to resell a ticket – but at the price they paid for it, not as a means of making a quick buck and screwing over everyone else.”

eBay owned StubHub, is a ticket sales website allows users to buy and re-sell tickets online.

When asked about the survey, a spokesman told D&A: “Less than 1% of tickets for most events in the UK end up for resale on StubHub, and 40% of these tickets were sold at face value or below.

“The real problem is the lack of transparency in the primary market, with the distinct lack of tickets made available to the general public. We would like to see government bring forward rules where primary sellers have to list how many tickets they are actually listing for general public sale.”