All Roads Lead To Frome: How Xtra Mile Artists Inspires the All-Dayer
- 8 / 06 / 18 -
We interview Kieran Moore of music promoter Sheer Music and creator of All Roads Lead to Frome. He takes us on a merry trip down memory lane with stories about Million Dead and the night he brought Ben Marwood and Frank Turner together for the first time. He also tells us why he's bringing Marwood (and his band!), Non Canon and Rob Lynch to 2018's All Roads Lead To Frome. This spectacular all-dayer takes place on 22 June 2018 at Cheese and Grain, Frome in Somerset. Grab tickets here. Lineup poster is among the words if you want to see the full lineup, so get reading!
Let's condense your music industry history into three to five major highlights or facts - what have you done, why have you done it and when? Tell us a story of your music industry journey!
In 2004 I set up Sheer Music, and over 400 gigs later, we find ourselves here. We did it because no one else was. It was literally because 200 kids at our sixth form wanted it, and we gave it to them. What started in pub function rooms very quickly grew to an in-house promoter at Moles (I learned a lot from legendary London / Bath promoters and label Purr) before developing into event management, stage management and sound duties. I couldn’t play an instrument properly and didn’t have enough friends to form a band, but I NEEDED to do something, Sheer was it.
One of your first encounters with XMR was in bringing Frank Turner and Ben Marwood (before he was one of us) together for a show. What do you remember about that show and did you think something special was going to come of it?
Actually, my first encounter with Xtra Mile was seeing Million Dead at Level 3 in Swindon. I went to the show just because I wanted to hear 'Smiling at Strangers on Trains'. I believe this had been previously documented on XMR HUB, but yeah, that was special.
However the Marwood thing was beautiful. Ben and I met as internet friends over the Jetplane Landing message board. He sent me a demo and a hand written note (I still have them) and asked for a gig. He played full band in my very early days, and because he was from my hometown I wanted to support him. I really liked his lyrics and believed in him, so when Frank first agreed to play for me, I roped Ben in, on a Monday night as the 'local support' despite being 50 miles away. I’d argue that it all paid off, wouldn’t you?
Since then, you've seen XMR grow over the last decade and a bit. Give us three things that you consider most important that XMR has brought to you and / or the UK music scene in that time.
Xtra Mile believe in underground roots music. I’ve loved and bought into almost all the Xtra Mile acts, and seen some of these grow and break out (Ducking Punches, Frank Turner), but almost all have been important UK underground bands. What Xtra Mile do, more than any label I think, is foster a family element – we all feel part of the Xtra Mile family. I feel that as a fan as much as I do being a promoter doing Xtra Mile acts. It’s also something I’ve been able to cultivate into our identity too, where I’m now referred to as 'The Gig Father'. Xtra Mile for me do that better than anyone else.
All Roads Lead To Frome is an all-dayer that has grown along with the help of XMR bands in the last three years. How have these acts helped the festival?
First of all, they bring the quality, they bring the cool, they bring status and they bring the previously mentioned 'family'. Obviously we booked acts that have become our friends over time, not just musicians, and these are some of the most loved Xtra Mile acts like Chris T-T and Beans On Toast. Without a doubt, we wouldn’t be where we are now without the help of the Xtra Mile roster, it’s brought us integrity, which speaks volumes of the labels acts.
You've got three of ours – Non Canon, Rob Lynch and Ben Marwood – this year. What do you most admire about each of them and what do you think they will bring to the festival?
Ben Marwood is like a personal hero of mine. I don’t want to gush too much, but what a guy. I’m soooo happy Xtra Mile have allowed him to be himself, whilst at the same time giving him the opportunity to develop and grow. His last album was fantastic and his next will be even better! I admire Ben’s awkward lyrics and singing style and guitar playing and, just everything, he just has a way of making everyone feel relaxed and unguarded. I like the fact he got struck down and fought his way back. I wish I gave him more gigs, but every time we catch up, it’s like not a day has gone by. Much like Frank, time doesn’t matter, and we pick up where we left off.
Rob Lynch is one of those dudes who has previous pop-punk bands and history and then went it solo, wrote some absolute bangers and kept turning up in all the right places! We played his team at the Big Scary Monsters five-a-side football tournament, and I think we drew. Then I bumped into him at 2000trees and generally he’s great to see. He’s another act I wished I was able to give more gigs to, but our paths don’t always work out. Much like Ben and Frank though, you just pick up from where we left. It’s a reoccurring theme of good people. Rob brings the handsome charm.
Barry, aka Non Canon, fits square into the good person category again. He’s another one, along with Ben Marwood and the third being Jim Lockey from the three-way split that existed prior to all three being signed to Xtra Mile, that we were working with in their early days. Barry has stayed super lovely despite all his success. It’s really humbling to still work and deal with Barry, seeing him and helping him achieve what he wants. Much like me, I think Barry and I are some of the older ones in this scene. Fun fact: did you know Barry and I were born a day apart? And looking through his record collection, it seems we grew up buying, listening and watching the exact same bands.
All three were sought after in earnest for this years festival. Ben, because his full band shows are as rare as hens teeth; Barry because non-Canon hasn’t yet done the event; and Lynchy because of that handsome face and floppy hair OBVS.
What’s also really lovely is that further people on the bill such as Laura Kidd aka She Makes War are also wider scene friends, and St Pierre Snake Invasion, also part of the Bristol scene that features prominently this year (Barry and Laura are Bristol based).
What else is going on this year at ...Frome and what do you offer that other all-dayers may not?
Big Bristol contingent, from She Makes War, Non-Canon, TSPSI, Blueneck and Deafhorse. It’s a cross-section of the UK underground, multi-genre and some exclusives. Blueneck will perform their major-label debut 'The Fallen Host' in its entirety and the first 50 people through the doors will get a copy.
Is Ben playing full band on the #MainStage! At 2000trees? If not, then we have the exclusive full-band festival show too! Beat that. All set in an amazing venue in the middle of Somerset. Oooh and Lillies Farm are supplying the alcohol too, famous for their mango cider. Pretty sure you can’t get that in many places. So come get (responsibly) drunk on the sweetest cider and listen to the sweetest music.
As a promoter, are you punter-focused first or are you keen to get in bands you enjoy the most?
This is a really good question and if I’m honest, when I started out, I simply booked the bands I wanted to see. I was just lucky that everyone else wanted to see them too. I don’t book any bands I don’t want to work with. I mean, I have a passion for this, and I hope that comes across, but I couldn’t be passionate about music I didn’t like, and wouldn’t expect you to part with your cash for something I didn’t think was anything other than great. That said, there’s always a balance, and we have to appeal to that broad scene, so this year you get a bit of pop punk rubbing shoulders with some post-rock, we have some stadium rock in there too and some hardcore, along with acoustic, folk and gloom-pop. So, it’s all good music we’re dead passionate about, but also something really challenging that we think you’ll dig. No one was picked for the sake of it or attempting to hit certain factors – all were asked because they are good first (and usually available second! Haha!).
What are your ambitions for ...Frome in the next few years?
Well, obviously we want to grow the event, but pinning it down to a fixed date would be good – the venue is so busy and so well considered that we literally get the one weekend left usually. But perhaps having two stages and an outside stage would be a great development, weather permitting, so we could bring more music to the day and obviously trying to hit that really special headliner that no one else has, exclusive style, would be really something. But all in all, I just want good people to come and have a good time with some good music, and I think we've achieved that each time. Always involving more people too – I’d like to see some independent stalls selling unique beers and food and really bring an identity to our event – so still loads to play for, as we get more experienced at doing it!
Have you got any great XMR-related stories?
Loads... but let’s go with the one where Frank headlined Bath Pavilion, on the last date of the tour. I had met with Barry earlier that day and gone for a cheeky Nandos. We tipped up at the Pavilion and delved straight into the signature Frank Turner beer. I don’t drink beer, so that *should* have been a warning, but I was already drunk and having a whale of a time.
Anyway, the gig was exceptional, and I began hitting the aftershow party really hard. There was loads of beer left from the tour, and I was being encouraged by everyone to have a good time. I distinctly remember singing to Mark from Pitchshifter his own lyrics, I was really that drunk.
Anyway, I blacked out shortly after that, and apparently was carried to my car. I don’t remember much after that, but because I don’t normally drink (I’m either running an event or doing tech) I can honestly say that was the most drunk I’ve ever been. I was told afterwards that the security had to carry me to my car, and my poor wife had to drive me home. Sorry wifey!
I’ve been roped in at short notice a gazillion times by various Xtra Mile bands, like selling Retrospective Soundtrack Players merch at their Monarch gigs, or looking after Bobby Banjo and Jay’s gear as they went off to busk in the streets of Portsmouth after a Guildhall Turner support..and a myriad of other things.
Funnily enough it took nearly ten years of Xtra Mile relations before I finally met and spoke to (Xtra Mile owner) Charlie. He was lovely. We spoke on the phone and met at 2000trees. We haven’t spoke since.
Probably lastly that’s of even the remotest of interest..I was at the first Turner solo show! Frank played the Small Town America charity all-dayer in 2005. I stepped off the tube and bumped into Frank, and asked the route to 93 Feet East (I was young and naïve) and he suggested I should walk with him as he was playing. I was DJing the afterparty, so it seemed to make sense. I remember loving those STA all-dayers (me too - Brad), and kinda hope mine have a similar feel to them (in which case, everybody get the fuck there on 23 June! STA all-dayers were such a good time). Anyway, we hung out a little that day, but I was still taking in the awe of Brick Lane and the aubergine burgers to remember hanging with him too much. Plus, I had to prepare for the afterparty. It was only a few months later Frank played his first show for me and met Ben Marwood.
Finally, if you could book your ideal bill (including some - or all! - XMR acts) what would it be?
Actually I managed to see my perfect festival bill at a festival in Reading called 'Buck & Skit' (although I’m probably merging two years of line ups into one here). It featured Jetplane Landing, Million Dead, Oceansize, Biffy Clyro, Reuben and many more. The festival is a bastard to find online now though, so it’s nigh on impossible for me to check. But I remember it was the perfect festival, until 2000trees arrived.
My dream line up though?
Latter Million Dead line up, Jetplane Landing (with Cahir!), Seafood (with Cahir!), Fighting With Wire (with Cahir!), yourcodenameis: milo, Oceansize, Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun (playing the Death album), LostAlone, Fickle Public.... actually mainly just bands that have split up. ☹((((((((((((((((((((((((((