James Mckeown – One Inch Badge

Tell me about your background pre-One Inch Badge.
I started promoting concerts & club-nights independently at 16 years old. During this early period I also started promoting online & regionally for an established Brighton promoter. This led to me promoting independently within Brighton and eventually being asked to work in-house at Concorde2 as a booker and programmer. For over 5 years I worked closely with the (then) new owner redeveloping the venue, ensuring that not only the programming was progressive, but also that the business was healthy and enough time & love was being put back into the venue. I’m glad to see that hard work is all paying off now and that the venue is thriving. In 2014 One Inch Badge will have promoted 28 shows at the venue.
 
Tell me about your musical background.
I picked up a bass guitar at 14 and studied A Level music. I play Piano, Guitar and have toured in/with bands etc. It was fun and I learnt a lot about events, production and the live sector as a whole whenever I was on the ‘other side’ of the fence.
 
What are your roles and responsibilities? Is it full-time, Do you have other work?
I book & promote concerts/tours around the UK as part of the team at One Inch Badge. We also programme 3 concert venues within Brighton and handle regional marketing for several national promoters and UK festivals. It is most definitely full time.
 
Can you give me a little potted history of OIB?
OIB started life as a hobby/independent record label for Alex (the other promoter here at One Inch Badge). He began promoting a few small shows and ended up co-owning (with some other great local guys) The Freebutt (RIP) which is where we met. After my time at Concorde2 had reached an end, we joined forces and OIB grew from there. We now have a small but strong team of like-minded individuals delivering over 500 concerts in Brighton and around the UK per annum.
 
What does OIB do per average gig? How does the involvement of a local promoter help with the running and success of gigs?
Absolutely everything from start to finish. Booking the talent, promoting the event, handling all production & advancing, running the event on-day, post show accountancy feedback and liaisons with management/agent/promoter/venue as well as supporting those relationships onto the next event. Independent promoters do a very very important job. Some promoters are specific to particular genres/demographics, some are more general, but all know their local markets and audience, and are a direct channel for an artist to reach their desired audience. There is alot more that goes into that relationship than people realise. Promoters don’t just ‘put on gigs’.
 
I see you do the odd show outside Brighton, such as in Bristol. Is that something OIB would like to do more of, and become a national promoter?
Around 15-20% of all our events are now outside of Brighton. Promoting nationally is not necessarily something that Myself and Alex have actively seeked or particularly intend to pursue, but we are being asked more regularly to address other regions for Artists & Agents for a variety of reasons and it is something that we enjoy doing. As an example we have delivered regional shows for artists as broad as The Kooks, Wu-Tang Clan, Rodriguez, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and 2manyDJ’s.
And I see October and November looks insanely busy for you guys – is this always the busiest time of year for you, with the students back in place?
 
It is. As we speak we have 102 One Inch Badge shows over the next 61 days, and that isn’t including events at the venues we manage. Students do play a part, but it is a new campaign season for artists post summer & festivals, meaning new records and new tours to promote. Lots to do.
 
Any particular highlights for you, gig wise (in the past, not future!)?
This year… Foo Fighters at Concorde2, Architects at Reading Festival. Neither of which we promoted. They were just breathtaking performances.
 
Give me some up coming OIB highlights
Jungle @ Corn Exchange 02/03/14 // Morcheeba @ Concorde2 17/10/14 // Jagaara @ The Hope 10/10/14 // The Horrors @ Worthing Pavilion Theatre 03/10/14 // Asking Alexandria 09/12/14… and of course DRILL : FESTIVAL (see below)
 
How do you view the live scene here in Brighton? Thriving?
We are lucky to be in a position to know how Brighton performs as a city for Live Events vs The Rest Of The UK and it consistently out-performs others in excess of twice its size. Perhaps that’s because it has so many great promoters though!

And the overall music scene here?
Good I think. There is always a lot of new music emerging from Brighton and there are some strong internationally recognised companies based in the city too. I think the combination of the two aspects make for a healthy environment.
 
Do we have enough venues? What are we lacking?
NO!! Brighton desperately needs a 1500 / 1800 capacity room outside of The Dome… If anyone has ideas please call me!!!
 
Tell me about the Drill Festival, is this a new venture for OIB?
Drill is a festival we are working on in collaboration with legendary 70’s punk band WIRE. The concepts behind DRILL : FESTIVAL are simple: to challenge preconceptions of Wire. To show-case their impact on and relationship with groups and artists from younger generations, to connect with both new and established artists whose work they find inspiring and feel that they have a kinship with. This then opens up opportunities for one-off collaborations – DRILL : BRIGHTON for example will see Wire team up with rock titans SWANS to perform an extended version of the always-mutating Wire track ‘Drill’, as well as the return of the historic ‘Pinkflag Guitar Orchestra’, which sees? Wire joined onstage by members of bands who are involved over the course of the festival, along with local friends, allies and past collaborators, the guitarists then play an extended, improvised version of Wire’s ‘Pink Flag’ at high volume.
 
If you wanted to see a gig now, who would be at the top of your list?
David Bowie
 
Any plans for 2015 and beyond?
Yes lots in the pipeline already 😉