Nick Herd: 'I put on Sleaford Mods and 16 people turned up – a year later they were playing to 50,000 at Wembley'
- David Pollock
- 27 September 2018
Independent Edinburgh promoter reflects on Braw Gigs' first decade
After returning home to Edinburgh from London, where he studied, promoter Nick Herd put his first gig on in the city twelve years ago and started his own company Braw Gigs a decade ago. Since then his shows have become renowned not just for the quality of the artists he books, but for the underground ethos of what he does; no-one else books bills as esoteric as Braw's in Edinburgh, and very few do so elsewhere in Scotland. Ahead of the birthday party, we asked him to reflect on Braw's first decade.
'In London, I was exposed to a very expansive underground music scene, but apart from the likes of the Cold Dead Hands collective, who booked lots of punk, hardcore and screamo, and the infamously noisy shows of Giant Tank, there wasn't much else in Edinburgh I had an interest in. I was working in crappy temp jobs, so I figured why not give it a shot and start off small, and if I lost money I'd just deal with it. So I put that money into my large moaning mouth. I started booking local DIY punk gigs twelve years ago, but officially as Braw for ten years.
'The first 'proper' gig I did was a Whitehouse show at the Hive back in 2008, when it was briefly a live venue. I blagged hard and got 150+ weirdos into a room with a massive PA system, and the promoter bug hasn't left since – like those parasitic worms in Cronenberg's Shivers. There have probably been somewhere between 150 and 175 shows since then, including collaborations, club nights and whatnot, but I have no idea, to be honest. My favourites have been Group Inerane in Glasgow, every time Richard Youngs or Guttersnipe have played, Aaron Dilloway, Jazzfinger, The Ex and the recent Godflesh gig. Perhaps one of the most memorable was Sleaford Mods at the Banshee, before they blew up, when about 16 people turned up. A year later they were playing at Wembley Stadium to 50,000 people, opening for the Stone Roses.
'In terms of venues, Summerhall have been incredible benefactors to Braw Gigs over the last few years, without question, and the Banshee has always been very good to me, in all it's silly goth glory. Although I personally think that people put way too much emphasis on the legacy of live venues in Edinburgh, when it comes to live music. What is a venue at the end of the day? A room with four walls, a ceiling and some kind of backline or PA. What happens in the space defines the venue, so I don't get nostalgic for the specific spaces as much, but more for what's going on inside and how supportive they can be to performers and bookers.
'The underground music scene in Edinburgh was in a pretty segregated state back in the early noughties, it's more interesting and varied now, but sadly some of the weirder niche scenes have maybe disintegrated a bit. I guess people grow up and move on, but new audiences always emerge, so c'est la vie. Promoting is easier when you're doing it regularly – a lot more tends to land in your lap if you have the work ethic for it, and it's harder to pick up where you left off if you take a too long a break from it, which fortunately I've not had to do. I don't hate any aspect of it, but I have less time for hiring, setting up and soundchecking drum kits and big stupid amps. Also, there are the completely unrealistic booking agencies who offer the dreaded Monday night Edinburgh gig, when Glasgow gets the weekend show. So tempting!
'It's been a decade of doing something from scratch for the fun of it and seeing it grow pleasantly, and I suppose that's worth celebrating because it's a rare experience. Fortunately I've got some of my favourite artists ever on the bill with new and old friends in tow, then the mighty Bong from Newcastle playing the following Sunday at the Banshee – then a well-deserved break in time for 2019.'
Braw Gigs' 10th Birthday Party with Wolf Eyes, Guttersnipe and Wheel of Eyes is at the Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh, Sat 29 Sep, with an afterparty the same night at the Cuckoo's Nest, Edinburgh. Braw Gigs and P.christ present Bong, Cultmaster and David Terry at the Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh, Sun 7 Oct.