This week, we find out more about Guildford's The Boileroom, on the lead up to this month's Independent Venue Week.
We spoke with head booker Duncan Smith, who tells us about their varied range of events, how the venue got its name, and Donald Trump pinatas...
- The Boileroom, 13 Stokefields, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4LS
- Established: 2006
- Capacity: 275
Tell us a little about the venue and your role there.
The Boileroom in Guildford, Surrey. The venue has a 275 capacity, and I am the Head Booker.
Has the venue gone through any major changes since it opened (location, renovation, style of music etc)?
We've increased our capacity and had a bit of an internal rearrangement in early 2010, but apart from that, we've been serving a wide variety of music in a lovely building.
How many gigs or club nights a week do you host?
As many as possible. It varies between certain times of the year, but probably an average of 5 a week.
Which band that's played your venue has gone on to be the best known?
Which band that played your venue deserved/deserves to be better known than they are?
Moddi, a Norwegian folky songwriter that played the best show I've ever seen at The Boileroom. There's way more to his music than his simple setup gives away.
Do you host events besides gigs and club nights?
Yes! We host comedy, theatre, cinema, yoga, non-religious Sunday service 'Sunday Assembly', occasional magic and plenty more.
If you could change one thing about the live music industry, what would it be?
I would get people to work together more. We could make progress so much faster if everyone, on all levels of the industry, just communicated better. In my experience it's rare to find someone who's in the industry other than for a love of music, but that can get lost via a lack of understanding or sheer bloody mindedness.
Has your venue ever been threatened with closure? If so, what could have been done to prevent it/support you?
Unfortunately so, a few years back. Better understanding of the cultural and community value of independent music venues, to avoid being treated like a late night bar or club. That and less one-sided discussion when it comes to residential dwellings near venues, as outlined by Music Venue Trust's exemplary Agent Of Change principle. Both would go a long way to making many great venues feel a lot more secure.
What's been your proudest moment working at your venue?
Putting together and delivering our 8,000 capacity outdoor music and arts festival, Always The Sun. With the initial year in 2016 a celebration of 10 years as a venue, it's now an annual event. Our hardest but most rewarding project yet.
What's the best show you've put on recently?
Well it's the quiet season at the moment so that would have to be our New Year's Eve, House Party themed show. We had tabletop and video games, a (Donald) Trump shaped pinata, air guitar competitions, sofas, embarrassing family photos, red cups and a Limp Bizkit tribute band counting in the new year.
Are there any interesting facts/stories about the venue that people might not know, but should?!
We are so called because of our address in 'Stoke' Fields, brainstorming led to 'things you can stoke' which led to 'boiler' and eventually 'boileroom'. Maybe a bit tenuous, but hopefully that answers one of our most frequently asked questions. Why just one 'r'? That's just one of the mysteries that keeps live music so interesting, I guess.