Leith Tonight guests Gorman are to be Scotland’s representatives at Japan Music Week. As this is such an momentous occasion we couldn’t let it go undocumented. We’ll be getting the inside scoop on all their activities in the run up and during this event from the band themselves in a series of special guest blogs.
Excerpts from http://www.gormanband.blogspot.com
Gorman are a dark indie rock band from Glasgow, and this year, they were invited to Japan Music Week, a showcase event in Tokyo held from the 8th-14th of November. With the state of the economy, and no real expectation of receiving any public or arts sector funding, the band decided to put the pessimism to one side, and come up with as many interesting, exciting, rewarding, and on occasion, stupid, ways of raising funds to enable them to go after all. Here’s their story so far….
The first stage of Gorman’s quest to raise the necessary funds (an endeavour they branded “The Road to Tokyo”) was the completion of their long-delayed website. With a fine new online presence courtesy of Rhymes With Purple, and a big red “Support” button that people can click to contribute, the band started planning their events. Frontman Chris even popped into the Leith Tonight show to let the cat out of the bag on the first one they had planned.
The first event they imagined would be a spectacular outdoor gig; after frontman Chris had conceived a startlingly bizarre plan to take their instruments somewhere pretty challenging, the event was dubbed “Riff Off A Cliff – an Extreme Busking Adventure up
Arthur’s Seat”. The band would hike up the Seat with their instruments on a hot weekend during the Edinburgh International Festival and play a gig at the summit. The guys decided they’d be filming as much of the Road to Tokyo as possible, and started here, with the assistance of Doug Clarke from Shootback Productions, a brave and fairly fit cameraman based in Glasgow. With the event details shared amongst the fans and the press, they set off on at 3pm on Sunday the 21st of August for the top of the hill, followed by a dedicated cadre of Gorman followers, and a fair few bemused onlookers who seemed curious enough to want to make sure they weren’t missing anything, and climbed with them. A bunch of new people signed up for the band mailing list, and contributed to the Japan Music Week fund, too – for everyone who has helped along the way, the band have sent an exclusive Japan Music Week mp3 called “My Pretty Tinderstick” to say thanks.
The next event was a bit nearer sea-level – back in Glasgow at The Vale in Dundas St. A cool wee venue on home turf for Gorman, it holds a lot of memories for the boys. This gig was called, simply, “The Road to Tokyo”, and support came from pals of the band, Revelry Thieves. The night was packed out, and had a brilliant family party feel. As part of the fundraising, the band decided to come up with some random and unorthodox schemes – a raffle (cheesy but hilarious) resulted in the bar manager walking away with a box of Maltesers and a highly prized Count Duckula DVD, bass-player Gerry’s dad snagging an MP3 player pre-loaded with their debut album “Kairos”, and one of the cliff-climbing clan, Emmanuelle, pledging £60 towards a song dedication from the stage in Tokyo. With a pledge-winning naked-but-for-a-guitar stage invasion by our pal Ben, and a crazy auction for a Dinner Party Gig where the band would come to your house, make you dinner, and play a gig in your living room, the Road to Tokyo was well underway.
The band shot a campaign video to raise some awareness of the Road to Tokyo, and to let people know what had been happening so far – you can view and share it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw_m9FkKFt0
With the auction proving so popular, we ended up doing TWO Dinner Party Gigs (although Chef Dave got the night off cooking at the second, since even his mighty skills were going to be taxed catering for 50+ folk….) and both were unbelievably rewarding and successful experiences. We decided to combine this into a Wired Weekend of Dinner Party Gigs, followed by the shoot for our new video “We’ll See”, and it ended up being quite a blast.
With our first Dinner Party Gig, auction winner Gillian invited us to her home in the Glasgow suburb of Torrance – this led to a logistical nightmare of gear moving, furniture shifting, and macaroni-cheese manufacture. We dismantled most of her living room to fit our equipment in, then proceeded to wreck her kitchen before soundcheck. As her friends arrived, we put the finishing touches to Dave’s Mac n Cheese, and kicked off an hour’s set, before retiring to the kitchen for a well earned beer and some leftovers, while Gerry piled into the dishes. Thanks to everyone who came out and made us feel welcome, and thanks to Gillian for giving up her living room for what we hope was a strange and unforgettable evening. And sorry to the cat, who was forcibly relocated upstairs for fear of feline bioshock during the rockier bits of the set.
The second Dinner Party Gig sent us down the Clyde to Greenock, home of the Pollock family, the immense and sprawling family tree that eventually spawned drummer Iain. The Pollocks had, in a bold maneuvre calculated to avoid any trouble with the neighbours, invited the entire street to the gig. This had necessitated the construction of a tarpaulin roof over their garden decking to form a makeshift outdoor stage so that there was room in the house and garden for everyone who came down. On top of that, Esther had held a food drive at her workplace earlier in the week in aid of the Japan Music Week campaign, and had made lunch for contributors. The set started at sundown, and went on long into the night, with the band eventually being allowed to down their instruments only after moving inside for a couple of songs after the midges got too carnivorous and their hands got too cold.
A fun afternoon was had the day afterwards with Stuart Breadner of Shootback Productions filming the new video “We’ll See” back home in Glasgow, and the experience capped an incredible weekend. The kindness of strangers, and the generosity of friends have been a constant surprise since we started our Japan Music Week campaign. One of the things we had always assumed was a hard and fast rule about our music, about the blood, sweat and tears we put into it, is that no-one will ever care about it as much as we do ourselves. But from the support we’ve received, that may no longer be so much a rule, as a general guideline. A big opportunity for us has been underwritten by the phenomenal gifts and pledges of our friends, families and fans, and even the odd complete stranger (there was an old lady on a bus…) maybe touched by the strangeness of our story, or the magnitude of the effort so far to get us to Japan to play in front of a new culture, a new audience, and with any luck, important people who can help the band progress.
With a couple more events planned before departure on the 5th of November there’s still lots to get involved in – “Big in Japan” is a cabaret fundraiser in Glasgow’s Art Club at 185 Bath St on Friday the 22nd of October – featuring the cream of Scotland’s cabaret and burlesque scene, and presented by Rhymes with Purple Productions, it’ll feature a solo performance from Chris as well as burlesque and variety entertainment. Tickets are available on the website at http://www.gormanband.com by clicking on the Big In Japan logo.
And the final event on the Road to Tokyo is another gig at the Vale in Dundas St, Glasgow on Thursday the 28th of October – where the band will play their debut album “Kairos” in it’s entirety for the first time ever. Support comes from the Starstruck Troubadour, and tickets are £6, available on the door first come, first served. There’ll be more raffles and auctions on the night, and it’s the last chance to see they guys before they go. Don’t forget, anyone who gets involved by coming down to one of the shows, or donating via the Support button on the front page of http://www.gormanband.com will receive the exclusive mp3 of “My Pretty Tinderstick” to say thanks.
You can join the mailing list by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org for more updates and giveaways, plus photos and footage from all the events, too.