Eyes Wide Open celebrate their fifth birthday

Eyes Wide Open celebrate their fifth birthday


David Pollock talks to Eyes Wide Open about their garage and psyche rock playlist as they celebrate their fifth birthday

It’s been five years since Holly Calder and Sarah Quinn started Eyes Wide Open, although the first three years of the club’s existence were lived out under the wing of a late Glasgow institution. ‘We were friends with the guys who ran Funhouse at the Barfly,’ remembers Calder. ‘It was them who suggested to us we should try DJing, but I was terrified by the prospect. We gave it a shot during their sets, though, and I loved being able to play songs that I really wanted to hear. After that they let us play in the upstairs room once a month, and that was the start of Eyes Wide Open.’

Although Funhouse – the creation of Radio 1’s Vic Galloway, Alasdair ‘Alf’ Mitchell and Paul Needles – is long since over following the closure of the Barfly, its spirit lives on in Eyes Wide Open. Having first gone solo in the Twisted Wheel two years ago and then moved to Blackfriars’ basement following the Wheel’s closure earlier this year, Calder and Quinn serve up a playlist comprised exclusively of psychedelic and garage rock. Where their Funhouse dates were soundtracked by groups like White Stripes, The Dirtbombs and Soledad Brothers, the pair have since moved away from these more popular groups and towards the music which influenced them. This means ‘fifty per cent ‘60s garage bands like The Sonics and 13th Floor Elevators, and fifty per cent psychedelic rock groups who released one song and were never heard of again.’

They are, Calder believes, the only club in Glasgow offering just this sound and nothing more: ‘There are nights like [Blackfriars’] Friday Street and [the Glasgow School of Art’s] Divine that play what we play, but then they also include soul music, funk, jazz. I quite like a lot of soul music, but garage rock is what we both love. We’ve been to great nights in London and around the world which play nothing but garage, and we saw a gap in the Glasgow scene for a night like that, so we filled it ourselves.’ Among the biggest influences on EWO as a night have been Rob Bailey’s enduring Mousetrap club in London and Gothenburg’s Radio London.

An essential part of EWO is either a live band or a guest DJ from an international club most months, although the boat has been pushed out for this fifth anniversary. ‘We’ve got three bands playing,’ says Calder. ‘The Hidden Masters [featuring Funhouse’s Mitchell] and The Fast Camels are from Glasgow, and they’re excellent garage bands, as good as any I’ve seen anywhere else in the world.’ The other act will be Gothenburg’s Teaspoon, while Chris Geddes from Belle & Sebastian will be DJing alongside a selection of friends from around Glasgow.

Whereas the turn of this decade saw an explosion of White Stripes-inspired garage rock bands, the style has become a more underground concern of late. ‘I guess what we do is quite niche,’ says Calder. ‘It’s like punk music, which is an acquired taste and doesn’t necessarily have a broad appeal, but people who love it really love it. So we’re never going to make money from Eyes Wide Open, but then that’s not why we do it, we just want to put on a great night that we would want to go to.’

Eyes Wide Open is at Blackfriars, Glasgow, Fri 4 Dec.

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