Fuelled by Caffeine: DIY Punk Collaboration in Action [Interview]

We learn how Sham City Roasters and Ride with Wolves have built DIY ethics into their businesses, and into their cool coffee-and-cycling collaboration.

Article by Sarah Williams.

As we edge ever closer to Christmas, it’s especially important to support small independent businesses. It is too easy to fall back on retail behemoths like Amazon and eBay for festive indulgences, especially when you’re rushing to shoehorn in shopping around work, gigging and all those awful work Christmas parties.

Instead of another banal gift box from Debenhams, why not check out Etsy or a small high-street retailer? Why not buy from a small record label, so you can share your favourite releases with your friends? Even gig tickets make an excellent gift. Choosing to spend your hard-earned cash with a grassroots business can support your local economy, your music scene, and it can enable someone to make a living out of what they love doing the most.

Collaboration and supporting one another is an essential part of the do-it-yourself ethic that makes the punk scene tick. As a result, I was excited to hear that two respected small businesses that thrive on a DIY approach had decided to team up on a new project. Hasting-based coffee aficionados Sham City Roasters and London-based reflective-clothing experts Ride with Wolves recently released a range called Fuelled by Caffeine, just in time for Christmas. Cycling and coffee might not seem like the most obvious bedfellows, but it’s a cool collaboration that really works.

“It’s so exciting to see other punks doing interesting things and starting businesses that aren’t necessarily music based. I think that this project pretty much came from a mutual appreciation.”

I spoke to Dave Cullern and Ester van Kempen, respective founders of Sham City Roasters and Ride with Wolves, to find out more about why they’ve decided to work together, and what DIY culture means to them.

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Dave, you run Sham City Roasters down in Hastings – we met because you absolutely saved me with a vegan grilled cheese when I was hanging after a gig! For those who don’t know about Sham City, tell us a bit about the business.

Dave: Probably one of the best things about running this cafe is that everything I serve is perfect for curing a hangover! I’m glad I could help you but I’m even gladder that I can help myself on a regular basis. Sham City Roasters is a small coffee roastery that I started in my spare room about 3 years ago. Initially I just sold online as a hobby but over time it grew and I started doing a lot of markets around London. After a few years I had a regular spot at The Truman Brewery on Brick Lane and it grew into a ‘real’ thing (whatever that means). Just over a year ago everything changed; I moved to Hastings and started a vegan café, and now Sham City Roasters is a lot of different things.

Ester, you’re the founder of Ride with Wolves, an ethical cycle-clothing company based in London. Tell us a bit more about Ride with Wolves! How long have you been going, and what sort of products do you offer?

Ester: Ride with Wolves has been trading for a bit over a year, but I’ve been experimenting with reflective ink for a long time. We make cycle inspired clothing, hand screen-printed with reflective ink on ethical clothing, like t-shirts, sweaters, bags, beanies, patches and bandanas.

How did you both get started in your respective businesses?

Ester: Before Ride with Wolves there was House of Astbury, which started five years ago in a punk house in South East London. Together with Monika Zamojska and Ren Aldridge [of Petrol Girls] I created reflective patches to sew on to your jackets or bags. We were sick of the awful looking builders-vest and the catcalling we experienced whilst riding our bike through the city and decided we could do something about that. Next to screen-printing reflective patches with smart puns we also made leggings, t-shirts, snoods and bags. After a couple of years we decided to go our separate ways, but I continued with our concept and grew it into Ride with Wolves.

Dave: For me, this business started initially just from a love of coffee and this all grew from there. I always had an idea that I wanted to be my own boss but never had the guts to really jump into anything, despite having loads of crazy ideas over the years. When I started really getting into, and understanding, the coffee world I became obsessed with it!

You’re both from DIY punk backgrounds. Can you tell me a bit about what you both do outside of work?

Dave: I’ve been into DIY punk since the late ‘90s. I thankfully discovered it at a very young age and it’s pretty much influenced my entire life since that time. I’ve played in a hundred terrible bands over the years since; I ran a record label a while ago, I’ve promoted gigs on and off for as long as I can remember and I wrote a zine for a while. Kinda dipped my feet into everything at some point. Currently I’m in a very inactive band called The Dead Anyways and have been putting on shows in Hastings since I moved down here.

Ester: I’m a coordinator for the Good Night Out Campaign, a campaign that focuses on training bar staff on how to respond to someone disclosing sexual harassment. We also guide businesses and universities to create a better policy around this theme and, with that, create safer and more inclusive spaces. I also co-manage an independent venue in South East London called The Montague Arms. And I’ve been organising gigs for the last few years within collective, Sicknote Promotions.  These can be shows from people crowd-surfing in our kitchen to over-capacity, sold out shows at The Montague Arms.

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Have you both known each other for a while, or did you meet through your respective businesses?

Dave: We met through our respective businesses really. I think we must have been moving in similar circles for a while beforehand and we share quite a lot of friends. From the perspective of the collaboration, I think it came about from us enjoying (and supporting) what the other person was doing. I loved the stuff Ester was doing with House of Astbury and when she started Ride With Wolves was blown away by that. It’s so exciting to see other punks doing interesting things and starting businesses that aren’t necessarily music based. I think that this project pretty much came from a mutual appreciation.

 You’ve recently been working together to bring out a new range called Fuelled by Caffeine. What made you decide to start working together?

Ester: I think the seed was planted during one of my regular coffee dates with my friend Clara. We were talking about what made me happy and how I want Ride with Wolves to grow. Collaborations are great because they pump a new wave of energy into a business and by doing something with someone who doesn’t directly in your field you reach new audience. It just made a lot of sense to work with Dave; we work with a similar ethos and have products that complement each other.

Fuelled by Caffeine is a brilliant name for the project. Tell me a bit more about it – what’s included in the range?

Dave: Ester is the brains behind the name for sure, I can take zero credit for that.

Ester: Again, the name just made sense. We were trying to come up with smart puns, but some of them were just too far out there. Fuelled by Caffeine combines the collaboration beautifully. The range exists of a t-shirt with a front and back print (perfect for cycling), a mug, coffee and patches that you can sew on to a jacket or bag.

 Dave: I absolutely loved the name as soon as Ester suggested it. I think it perfectly encapsulates what we were aiming to put across with this project.

There is a big link between caffeine and cycling. Are you both addicted to both?

Ester: Defo! I think I’m the living proof of Fuelled by Caffeine! I cycle everywhere in London for my coffee dates. Although, a few months ago I decided I had to cut down on the coffee because I noticed the addiction was taking over a bit. I love it so much, but if you think you can’t function without it you know you have a problem.

Dave: I think I might have a serious problem then! I don’t really cycle that much anymore (partly because I’ve had nowhere to keep a bike since moving to Hastings) but I used to ride in London and will again I’m sure. My attraction to Ride with Wolves before we did this project was less about the cycling element and more about the message and style, and it being a punk business. I would have signed up to the brand even if I’d never sat on a bike seat!

You guys aren’t the only DIY-types involved in the project: your awesome artwork is by Lucinda Livingstone of Bloodflower Design. How did Lucinda get involved?

Ester: Lucinda is another one of those people that roams in the same circles. She plays in the band Kamikaze Girls and runs LadyFuzz magazine. I approached her at the start of Ride with Wolves; I always loved her work and wanted her to be involved. She designed the house style and logo for my brand and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more collaborations in the future with her.

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You’ve said that part of the aim of the project is to spread the word of DIY culture and collaboration. What does do-it-yourself culture mean to you?

Dave: That’s a huge question! DIY culture means pretty much everything to me. Punk has affected my life in every way since I discovered it as a young teenager and undoubtedly made me the person I am. All of that music and all of the zines that influenced my life in such a profound way were made by kids like all of us. That is DIY to me, people doing things off their own backs that positively influence others. A voice that kids can hear that isn’t their parents or their teachers or the ‘normal’ people that surround them, a little oasis of likeminded people that do what the fuck they want. If it weren’t for punk would I know anything about politics, feminism, veganism, art? Would I travel? Would I happily live on little money? Would I have started my own business? I doubt it very much.

Collaboration and supporting others is a huge part of the DIY world. Are there any other businesses, bands or people you’re working with?

Dave: In the past I’ve worked with Dan Allen, Mark Bell and Daniel Baker in relation to my art and branding stuff. I’ve been talking to a few bands about making them their own coffee blends but nothing’s happened yet. I think it’s about to though – not sure if I’m allowed to mention specific names at the moment, but I really hope I can do a few of those. Maybe it’s not ‘working with’ but there are so many people that have supported me and this business since I started it. I do think that there’s a part of collaboration which is just supporting others who are trying to do interesting and awesome things. I consider most of my friends to be collaborators because, unlike a lot of people, they didn’t say, “Dave, what the fuck are you doing? This is never gonna work,” when I started Sham City Roasters. That’s what I really needed and I’ll never forget the support that came my way from my punk family.

What principles of DIY culture have you applied to Sham City Roasters and Rides With Wolves? Apart from the cool business names, that is.

Dave: If I hadn’t discovered DIY culture and punk rock, Sham City Roasters wouldn’t exist. I spent most of my life thinking I was actively taking part in DIY culture but it’s really only been since I started this business that I’ve really started seeing what ‘doing it yourself’ really is. I guess the aspects of DIY culture that I’ve specifically applied to my business are mostly the ethics and politics. From my perspective, I operate within an amazingly dull bourgeois world. If you look at the mainstream coffee world you’ll see horrible corporate nonsense and lot of twats doing a lot of annoying things. I think coming from a punk (or DIY) perspective has allowed me to remove a lot of the annoying aspects of the world I operate within and ground it a bit more. I think Ester’s done that too: mainstream cycling culture and coffee culture are both fairly dull at times and it’s great to see these positive messages coming from the cycling world and the coffee world.

Ester: I guess the main principles of DIY culture in Ride with Wolves can be found in literally doing it yourself. Finding ways of creating something new without large amounts of funding. Another aspect within in my business would be the feminist and inclusive ethos. It makes sense to me that anyone can be part of the pack, no matter what gender or size you conform to.

The Fuelled by Caffeine set would be an undoubtedly great Christmas gift for any punks/caffeine addicts/cyclists. How can people get hold of it?

Ester: They can either go to one of our web shops, to Dave’s café in Hastings, or they can find me at one of the Christmas markets I’m doing in London.

You can shop for Fuelled by Caffeine at either of the RWW x SCR websites. There’s coffee, t-shirts, mugs and patches available. What more could you want?

 www.shamcityroasters.com

 www.ridewithwolves.com

Article by Sarah Williams.

Punk Rock Weddings Special: Claire & Craig [Part 3 of 3]

Part 3: Claire and Craig get hitched at Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas, then celebrate with some amazing bands!

Feature by Sarah Williams.

Welcome to Part Three of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender! In our final instalment, we talk to Claire Core and Craig McGarry, who got hitched at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. They’re huge punk enthusiasts and regulars at many of the big gigs around the country. Although they live only a few miles from Shout Louder HQ in Suffolk, I run into them more often at events like MPF, Wonkfest and Rebellion.

Craig’s originally from Rochdale, whereas Claire’s born and bred in Suffolk. They are one of the most heartwarmingly lovely couples you could possibly imagine; whenever I see then they’re utterly enamoured with one another. The story of how they got together is beautiful and, after meeting at a punk festival, it seems only fitting that they should get married at one too.

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Firstly, tell me a bit about yourselves. How did you first get into punk?

  • Claire: My sister and cousins got me into punk when I was 7 years old and it’s always been a big part of who I am.  I have a huge love for punk in all its forms and really enjoy discovering a new favourite band.  Current favourites include Pears, who never fail to exhilarate live, Pizzatramp, Direct Hit! and, of course, I’m a huge Wonker.
  • Craig: I got into punk and metal when I was in high school, hanging out with friends skating and going to the odd gig here and there. There was a punk night locally that we went to regularly as getting served was a cinch. Loved it all since then. I’m a huge Misfits fan and an unashamed AFI devotee. I’ve also got a bit of a thing for most psychobilly as well as with celtic or folk punk.

You guys have had a fairly speedy advance through this love stuff. That’s no bad thing! Talk us through how you met.

  • Claire:  It was at Manchester Punk Festival 2016 after the bands at the Zombie Shack.  Craig was bouncing around trying to make everyone have MORE FUN, as he is inclined to do, and I propositioned him.  I liked his dance moves and his big daft face.

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How did your relationship grow from there?

  • Craig: Well, after spending a blissful long MPF weekend together, we kept in contact and met up a few times over the following weeks. It soon became apparent that we were both head-over-heels for each other. The long distance thing wasn’t going to be good enough for too long. We both recognized that we were each in the right place for a proper lovely full-blown relationship and didn’t want to spend time away from each other if we didn’t have to. So I packed up and moved down to Suffolk.
  • Claire:  Yep, you can’t sustain long distance without complete openness about how you feel plus an end goal to close the distance.  We were originally expecting it to take longer for Craig to find a job locally but that happened really fast, and it just felt right.  He moved in between Wonkfest and Rebellion!

When did you get engaged?

  • Claire:  Valentines 2017. Awwww, I know, right? My birthday is the day after, so I was nicely surprised that Craig treated me to a night away but I wasn’t at all suspicious.  In fact a proposal couldn’t have been further from my mind. We had both admitted neither of us had any interest in marriage and I was all ‘marriage is slavery, antiquated nonsense…’ But then in a Gin Bar he was down on one knee with this diamond ring with little skulls on, trying to propose above the sound of me going, “What’s going on? What are you doing? Is this for real?” Then I said yes and started to cry and we got free prosecco with gin in it.  Tasted rank but hey, free booze.
  • Craig: This after months of me insisting “No, I never want to get married” and “No, I am never going to propose”. I really had to work to keep it a surprise. For the longest time it was the case that marriage wasn’t for me. But then I met Claire.

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When and where was your wedding?

  • Craig:  28 May 2017, Little Neon Chapel, Downtown Las Vegas.
  • Claire:  It was day two of the Punk Rock Bowling festival. The chapel was over the road from the festival and one block up from our hotel, in a skeezy little shopping area.

You’d planned to go to Punk Rock Bowling before you got engaged, right? When did you decide that you wanted to get married out there?

  • Claire:  Yeah, I’ve been to Punk Rock Bowling the previous two years and we booked this in the October, intending to celebrate Craig’s birthday.  Following the surprise proposal we considered a few options but a Vegas wedding was always my preferred option, both because it was unbeatably cheap and so simple.  I wanted to be married to Craig but I’d never wanted a wedding, if you see the difference.  One day I was listening to The Lippies’ song Hot Air Balloon and they were singing ‘we’ll fly away’ and ‘fuck everything’ and it all became clear: Vegas was the only option.

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Who else did you have there?

  • Craig: We invited some folks Claire already knew who were out there for the festival, awesome Canadians Nat and Maria. We also invited a couple we met the day before while having a few beers and a mooch around Vegas; who we got on with famously: Candice and Devlin (also PRB attendees).
  • Claire:  Nat and Maria took me under their wing on my first trip out there as I was on my own and didn’t know a soul, so it meant a lot that they attended. Candice and Devlin are very much our kind of people; good hearted, fun and up for attending the wedding of people they only just met!  Over the course of the festival we became firm friends

Talk me through the whole day – how did it happen?

  • Craig:  I was watching infomercials and strange TV in our hotel room, trying to ignore the knots in my stomach and waiting for Claire to get ready.
  • Claire:  Curling my hair took ages, and I’d kept the dress a secret from Craig so he’d be surprised.  Craig had been a tiny bit pukey the night before so I expect he was hungover.
  • Craig: After being blown away by how gorgeous she looked, we had a big cuddle and a mad dash down to the chapel. Whilst nervously waiting, we posted a cryptic message on Facebook about how people might want to check out the chapel’s page in the next few minutes.  They were livestreaming our ceremony and most people didn’t know we were getting married.

If you want to see it for yourselves, you can still watch it here (they get started about 1 minute in): https://www.facebook.com/TheLittleNeonChapel/videos/1903353146610755/

  • Claire: After the ceremony we had photos taken, then went with Candice and Devlin to a bar at The Golden Nugget, where we had mimosas and shorts to toast our wedding.  I think we must have gone to the festival right after that.  After the festival we returned to a different bar at the Golden Nugget where we had many drinks, including a mix of Rum Chata and Fireball whiskey that make Craig excuse himself for a quick vomit. Then we drank tequila until I felt my brain start to burn.

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What did you both wear?

  • Craig: Claire had hinted that there may be green involved and I may want to dress myself accordingly, but assured me that whatever I wanted to wear was fine. So I opted to stick to the brief and went for a lairy green tropical shirt – you know, cause of the weather – and a pair of 501’s. Claire had also given me a splendid silver pin with a bee on it as a present that morning, which I donned with pride.
  • Claire:  I was in a green satin and black lace tea dress from Lindy Bop, Irregular Choice shoes from Ebay, a vintage bracelet and a very cheap and cheerful silver choker.  The whole lot came in at under £100, of which I am very proud!  The shoes hurt like fuck though, so I changed into my cheap generic trainers after a few photos.

Did you have any of your own music / entertainment or did the music festival cover that for you?

  • Craig: We were going to have Silly Voices by Wonk Unit for the ceremony (after weeks of consideration) but we didn’t plan it at all well, and forgot up until we were asked what we wanted.  We instead had a few stock Elvis songs provided by the chapel, which were fitting enough.
  • Claire:  Having the Elvis playlist actually was really good because, well, Vegas equals Elvis. Craig had selfishly vetoed my request for the wedding package where the ceremony is performed by a small-statured Mexican Elvis. The rest of the day’s music is somewhat of a blur, but I remember The Real McKenzies, Dickies, Bouncing Souls, Choking Victim and Fidlar.  The night was rounded off by Bad Religion. Seeing them for the first time on our wedding day in Vegas was ticking off a punk-rock bucket list item in the best possible way.

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What traditional elements of the wedding did you keep?

  • Craig: Vows, rings, ummmmmm, we didn’t do much that was traditional
  • Claire: Traditional Vegas Elvis songs.  Being madly in love is quite traditional I guess?

How was Punk Rock Bowling itself? Who did you see?

  • Craig:  Punk Rock Bowling was very fun, very hot and Bad Religion were a highlight.  The Club Shows (indoor shows at various bars after the festival each night) were a blessing and a real laugh. The show of the weekend was Tartar Control’s set. They were out of this world.
  • Claire:  It always interests me to see how super excited our transatlantic punk rock cousins get about bands like The Adicts and Cocksparrer.  Iggy Pop played, I guess that’s worth a mention.  But Tartar Control were so funny, fast and fucked-up, they were a highlight.  And I loved seeing Pears and Direct Hit! albeit in a frankly terrifying biker bar staffed by the most sexually aggressive female bartenders you’re likely to encounter.  Pears are so intense in a smaller venue, and Direct Hit! made me sing and dance their entire set.

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What was the reaction of the people at Punk Rock Bowling to the fact you’d just got married?

  • Craig:  We had lots of congratulations and friendly smiles but people were not phased because it’s Vegas. There were lots of other newly-weds knocking about even at the festival.
  • Claire:  Disappointingly few free drinks, damnit!

Is there anything you would change or do differently?

  • Craig: Absolutely nothing. It was a perfect day.
  • Claire:  Shoes.  I’d get shoes I could walk in.  And I hadn’t written my own vows because I assumed Craig hadn’t. It turned out he had, and I felt like a bit of a dick when it was my turn and I just kinda went, “Oh. Yes. Very well done.”

What advice do you have for anyone else looking to incorporate a punk/DIY aspect into their wedding?

  • Craig: Do it on your own terms. Think about yourselves first and foremost and make it as fun as possible.
  • Claire:  Elope.  Seriously.  Buy a package that covers the whole shebang.  Time it to coincide with a festival and you have a built in reception and a whole heap of drunk new best friends to share it with.

What was the best thing about the whole day (apart from your betrothal!)?

  • Craig: Spending a special and manic day with the woman I love.
  • Claire:  I was gonna say seeing Bad Religion but now I seem like a dick.

If you enjoyed this interview, why not check out Part One: Will & Felicia and Part Two: Kaz & Big Hands.

Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]

Part 2: Kaz & Big Hands celebrate with two massive gigs and plenty of help from their friends.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!

Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.

Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.

I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.

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How did you both meet?

  • Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
  • Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
  • Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
  • Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
  • Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!

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Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.

  • Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
  • Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
  • Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
  • Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!

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When and where did you get married?

  • Big Hands: June 10th this year at a place called Victoria Warehouse in Salford, right next to Old Trafford. We spent ages trying to find somewhere cheap but not rubbish that would let us take our own catering in, as we wanted it to be completely vegan.
  • Kaz: Victoria Warehouse was the perfect venue really. We were one of the first couples to book a wedding there, as they had not long had their licence. When we first viewed it they were still refurbishing, so we had to use our imagination as to what the finished product would be.
  • Big Hands: Although it was still being done up, it looked like exactly what we were after: basically somewhere that looked better than a shitty venue but still had that rough look.
  • Kaz: Looking around the rest of the warehouse, we got a good idea of what they would be going for. The rest of the building is just incredible. It’s totally full of random, quirky things. I knew as soon as we walked in that was going to be the place!

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What made your wedding less traditional and more special?

  • Big Hands: I think we kept describing ours as a ‘posh gig’. We didn’t really aim for a non-traditional wedding, we just picked out the best bits of weddings and gigs and mixed them together.
  • Kaz: We just did exactly what we wanted to do instead of worrying about what we ‘should’ do or what others would expect from a wedding. We talked about other weddings we had been to and discussed what we did/didn’t enjoy. I was keen to reduce the waiting around time as much as possible. I feel some weddings are very stop start; you’re waiting for food, or for the bar to open, or for the music to start… We just wanted the whole day to flow nicely from start to finish without any lulls. We decided to just do it for us and do what we enjoy.
  • Big Hands: We basically asked for the shortest possible ceremony and made sure that the bar was open all the time. Throw into that four amazing bands and there’s not really a lot more you could want.

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Do you think your experience of organising/helping with gigs helped when it came to organising the wedding?

  • Kaz: The evening do was basically a gig, so previous experience and contacts came in handy with that. We are really lucky to have so many talented friends and family members, and so many of them who were so eager to step up and offer assistance.
  • Big Hands: Definitely, it was pretty much a complete DIY wedding. £1000 for a photographer? Nah, it’s alright – there’s about five coming anyway. Big thanks to Bev, who did amazing considering I only paid him with a Motorhead record. £500 for a cake? It’s alright, Kim can do a better one for a bottle of rum. I don’t want to know how much they normally charge for a PA and a standard sound engineer; we just paid Marios and got Francis from Stand out Riot, who’s amazing. There was no need for an expensive shit DJ when you’ve got Spotify and a 90’s dance playlist.
  • Kaz: I decided to make the invites and all the decorations with some help from my friends; we just had crafting days where we made things and drank wine. I started planning it pretty much a month after we got engaged and just did a little at a time over the 2 years.

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What musical entertainment did you have at the wedding?

  • Big Hands: We had quite a mix of music, and very little punk apart from the bands. We were lucky enough to book the mighty Wonk Unit before they became Rebellion main stagers! We also got Black Volvo for what I think ended up being their last UK gig before they split up. I hope that wasn’t our fault. We basically told Faintest Idea they had to play; they owed us that for always turning up at our house at all hours, expecting breakfast beds for the night. Stoj Snak even came over from Denmark for us.
  • Kaz: I think we were actually spot on with the music choices on the day. The bands even went down really well with family! I think my mum now secretly likes some punk. Our two nieces Emma (8) and Lily (5) got to experience the bands for the first time too and were absolutely loving it. They even got to take part in Stoj Snak’s set.
  • Big Hands: We decided not to bother with a DJ because of cost and not having full control over the music that was going to be played. Instead I did 12 months’ research with Andy and Matt, remembering and playing all the best 90’s indie and dance music in the van on the way to Revenge gigs. At the risk of sounding big headed, it was a fucking banging playlist.

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What songs did you have for your first dance / walking down the aisle?

  • Big Hands: We went for the traditional Jurassic Park theme tune for Kaz to walk down the aisle.
  • Kaz: I actually suggested the Jurassic Park theme for my entrance song as a joke originally, as there’s a bit of a thing with JP in our friendship group and I thought it would be hilarious. The more I listened to it though, the more I realised it’s actually a really nice piece of music.
  • Big Hands: We got Wonk Unit to play Nagging Wife for our first dance.
  • Kaz: I think we knew from the offset that Nagging Wife was going to be our first dance. We had asked Wonk Unit to play quite early on, and I can’t think of anything more awkward than just the two of us dancing together with everyone watching. We just asked Alex to start the set with Nagging Wife and had everyone dancing with us. Obviously there was a first dance crowd surf!

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What other entertainment did you have? Please tell me there’s a wedding-dress/human pyramid photo out there somewhere.

  • Big Hands: That was it for entertainment. We had to stop ourselves at booking four bands and that didn’t leave us with much spare time. I can’t remember if we managed a human pyramid? I know we’d been saying for ages that we needed to. Both our Mums went crowd-surfing.
  • Kaz: I’m pretty sure there was a pyramid or two. We definitely managed a decent rower, and I was getting whisked off my feet into the air every five minutes to crowd surf. As far as the wedding dress: I had an evening alternative that was better suited for the antics, which was lucky as I threw red wine down my actual dress during Stoj Snak.

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What traditional elements did you keep?

  • Big Hands: We gave each other rings and Kaz wore an amazing white dress… I think that was about it.
  • Kaz: Well, the dress was actually blush, but it was really subtle. I decided to go for a typical wedding dress, but I wanted one that had a bit of character still. When I went to the dress shop I didn’t actually pick a single dress myself; I let each person who came with me pick one for me to try. Fizzy actually chose the winning dress.

Did I see that you both got tattooed afterwards?

  • Big Hands: Yes. We didn’t do normal speeches, Andy did one and our friend Em from Bomb Ibiza wanted to do one. She invited everyone to draw a tattoo design to put into a black voting box that she pulled out, which we then got to choose from.
  • Kaz: This was actually such a good idea. I think it was actually Em’s sister, Tilly, that came up with it. When I agreed to it I actually thought we had to pick one at random and have that tattooed, so I was pretty happy when I got to pick!
  • Big Hands: I’m glad we got to choose because if not, I wouldn’t of ended up with Lord Blobby Bucket Head. I’d probably have ended up with a tattoo of Miff from Chewed Up, as there must have been twenty pieces of paper with his name on in there.
  • Kaz: Pulling out the slips I was like ‘Miff’… ‘Miff’.. .’Miff’… There were actually some amazing suggestions! I couldn’t resist the one I got though, because let’s be honest: cats are better than Big Hands.Is there anything you would do differently?             
  • Kaz: I would hand my glass of red wine to Kim when she tried to take it off me, seconds before I spilt it on myself!
  • Big Hands: I honestly don’t think so. We both had so much fun. Actually, I got put on the spot just before the vows when the registrar asked me what names we wanted to be called during the ceremony, i.e., Chris & Kaz or Christopher & Karen. I said Chris & Kaz and only thought after that I should have gone with Big Hands & Kaz.

Kaz & Big Hands Tattoo

What advice do you have for anyone else looking to incorporate a punk/DIY aspect into their wedding?

  • Big Hands: Forget about overthinking it. Think about what you don’t like about traditional weddings and just change it. That and you can pretty much do everything for cheap or free if you have awesome friends.
  • Kaz: Yeah, exactly, just do it for yourselves. It’s ok to be a little selfish in that respect – don’t worry about pleasing everyone else, just do what you want to do.What was the best thing about the whole day (apart from your betrothal!)?
  • Big Hands: It’s harder for Kaz to get rid of me now.
  • Kaz: I actually loved seeing how much everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves too. It was amazing to see my mum, mum-in-law and my glamorous cousin, Tracie, crowd-surfing. I’ve got to say: I’ve never seen someone crowd-surf as flawlessly as Tray did!

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If you enjoyed this interview, why not check out Part One: Will & Felicia and Part Three: Claire & Craig.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

 

Punk Rock Weddings: Will & Felicia [Part 1 of 3]

Part 1 of our Wedding Special: Felicia tells us what it’s like to perform at your own wedding and how a DIY approach can make a difference.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Lisa Robjant.

Marriage is something that has never, ever appealed to me. In my view, weddings are an expensive social construct and the idea of religious nuptials is antiquated and reductive. You have to wear uncomfortable clothes, wait to pose for awkward photos and narrowly avoid drunkenly embarrassing yourself in front of someone’s new in-laws. The only upside is the occasional utterance of the magic words: open bar.

Or so I thought. In the last year I’ve heard of some brilliant wedding celebrations that have made me jealous, to say the least. Seeing some of my punk friends tie the knot is enough to make me re-evaluate the whole institution of marriage. Maybe it isn’t a complete farce after all?

I suppose organising a wedding is a lot like booking a gig: you’ve still got bands, beers and a heap of drunk mates to consider. Far from the notoriously shite cover bands and mobile discos that infest traditional weddings, we spoke to three very different couples who introduced their love of punk into their special days in an inspiring way.

Over these three articles, you’ll hear what it’s like to play a gig at your own reception, to have your first dance to Wonk Unit live, and to say “I do” just before watching Bad Religion headline.

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Photo by Smiles Photography.

First up are Will Spicer and Felicia Dahmen. Spicer’s known for having previously played in Luvdump, although he’s recently joined a new band, Cheap Heat. Felicia plays violin with Danny & The Moonlighters and the pair are on their way to forming their own hardcore band with some mates in Bury St Edmunds. Spicer’s a born and bred East Anglian, but Felicia’s all the way from Melbourne, Australia.

What made their wedding different was their DIY approach, and the fact that Felicia’s own band played at the reception. Spicer even had to leave his own wedding for half an hour to go and seek out an amplifier. I spoke to Felicia to find out a bit more. Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Will & Felicia [Part 1 of 3]”

Feature: The Lost Art of The Mix CD

In the world of Spotify and MP3s, the humble mix CD has taken a backstep. Take my advice and don’t forget them: they can be a gift, an education or a window into your own past.

There are few ways to reach my heart or mind like a mix CD. They can be the ultimate romantic gesture, a thoughtful gift for a friend, or way to share new bands you’ve discovered. A mix CD can also be a time-capsule, reminding you of your former-self; what better way to wrap up your memories?

Like many people in their late 20s/early 30s, I grew up with a very romanticised view of mixtapes and mix CDs. I am too young for mixtapes, really. My parents had a stereo with a tape deck in the kitchen, and I remember my Dad showing me how to record songs off the radio but CDs were already in vogue. The concept of the A and B sides and the meticulous effort that went into their recording wasn’t lost on me, though.

For me, what cemented the idea of the mixtape as the ultimate thoughtful gesture was High Fidelity. The opening scene of the film features protagonist Rob Gordon – flawed romantic and record-store owner – explaining the rules for compiling songs:

This stuck with me, and I abided by those arbitrary rules when making mixes throughout my teenage years.

Growing up, I made mix CDs for my friends. I wanted them to love music as much as I did, and to share all the exciting new bands I kept stumbling upon. I was over the moon when a friend would return the favour. My friend Jessie has the most beautiful handwriting, her words used to melt delicately across the CD covers. I still cherish a CD that a school pal, Jennie, made for me: without even looking, I remember the autumn leaves on the cover. Sleater Kinney was the first track. I listened to that on repeat for weeks because I was so chuffed that someone had gone to that amount of effort for me.

Nowadays I still exchange mix CDs with friends, but it’s a more practical affair. My friend Mark loves music but enjoys different genres to me, so we exchanged our favourite songs as an introduction. I’m listening to it right now; it’s different but I love it.

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I’ve made mix CDs for most of my past romantic conquests.  Just after we got together, an ex made me a mix that featured I’m The One by Descendents – a move which won my affections for years to come. I used to listen to that mix over and over again; it was like being wrapped in a giant warm blanket. Continue reading “Feature: The Lost Art of The Mix CD”

Why I Love Punk Rock: Guest Article from Colin Clark

Colin’s Punk Rock World is one of the best punk blogs out there. Colin and I are swapping posts, so he can shout about why he loves punk so much.

Hello! My name is Colin and I write for the punk rock blog Colin’s Punk Rock World (or CPRW for short). A few months ago I cyber bumped into Sarah from Shout Louder, this blog you’re currently reading. After initially trying to recruit her for CPRW we struck up a friendship and decided to do some blog swaps and some collaborations. The first of these blog swaps will be pieces on why we love punk rock so much. So why do I, Colin from Colin’s Punk Rock World (CPRW for short) love punk rock so much?

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Colin enjoying some punk rock pizza.

I feel like that before I really begin I should give a brief account of how I first discovered punk rock. I, like many of you reading this was a teenager who was slowly finding out who they were. It was 1998 and The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) was just released. I didn’t know The Offspring’s previous punk rock history or that this was even punk rock music but I was hooked and eventually got the album Americana that Christmas. Soon I discovered more punk bands such as Green Day and Blink 182 before digging slightly deeper and eventually discovering bands like Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory and Dropkick Murphys. I loved these bands but it wasn’t what really tipped me over the edge of becoming fully obsessed with punk rock. It was eventually discovering underground UK bands such as [Spunge], Lightyear, Capdown, Jesse James, King Prawn and 4ft Fingers. I discovered these bands and my life changed forever.

So why do I love punk rock so much? Well first of all it’s the music. That’s blatantly obvious. If you’re reading this post it’s probably because you love punk rock music as well, so you know that it’s the best type of music. It’s fast, it’s fun, you can sing-along, it makes you dance, you can relate, you can learn, it’s passionate, it’s energetic and most importantly it’s an escape. Everyone needs some escapism in their lives, something to take them away from all of the rubbish that goes on around them on a personal level as well as a global one. There’s no better feeling than putting on your favourite record and singing along to every word. As well as just being a whole lot of fun there’s a comforting feeling to it, like spending time with an old friend. I did tell a little lie there, there is one better feeling – hearing these songs played live, in a small sweaty basement or bar and screaming along to the songs with your new best friends. I’ll talk more about live music and the people a little further down the page because next I want to talk about learning from punk rock music. Continue reading “Why I Love Punk Rock: Guest Article from Colin Clark”

MPF2017: How to Survive the Post-Festival Blues

There is only one effective cure to Post-Festival Blues: make plans to do it all over again.

Are you a weak, bruised husk of your former self? Do you keep clambering onto stranger’s backs, trying to make a human pyramid? Do you have a sudden urge to eat salad? You may be suffering from Post-Festival Blues.

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Continue reading “MPF2017: How to Survive the Post-Festival Blues”