Trof, Deaf Institute and Gorilla… names reknowned as reliable venues whether you’re just out looking for lunch or partying on the weekend.
With five different venues across the city, they define why musically and socially Manchester is such a diverse and alive hub, wherever in the city you may be.
And who would have thought that behind all the relentless promotion and unique marketing, there is one main man? Ladies and gentleman… meet Gareth Chubb.
Taught in his university days by the legendary Hacienda DJ and broadcaster Dave Haslam, Gareth was inevitably going to be causing a stir on Mancunian soil.
We caught up with the mastermind behind classic Mancunian nights like Micron and found out over a rum and coke how his days as an avid student raver in Manchester led to running some of the city’s top venues…
So Gorilla has just won ‘Bar of the year’ award most likely because it is such a bar of great diversity… What is it about Gorilla that sets it apart for you, and how do you find competing with more ‘niche’ and quirky vibes of venues like those in the Northern Quarter?
“Gorilla is a really great multi-purpose venue to be honest, it’s a great bar with a good selection of food and it doubles up as an underground club too for two really different types of crowd.
“I don’t think anywhere else can offer that! It’s also a really great venue for when we put DJs on because of the intimate layout of it and the fact that it’s under a bridge off a busy street in Manchester is pretty cool too! We see it as our own little Southern Quarter.”
What motivated you to do nights such as the Modeselektor screening that has just gone – is it important for you to keep a close relationship with your clients with social events like this?
“It definitely is, we had a really great turn out. Gorilla as a bar is really diverse, people might not realise it, but we do a lot of comedy screenings during the week and weekends, we’re definitely not restricted to just club nights and house music, it’s a venue that has a lot to offer for different tastes.”
Gorilla promotes some really great nights like Juicy which is mostly hip hop or RnB orientated, then Switch which is quite dubsteppy or DnB. How do you find attracting those big name DJs and the big brand promoters to come to Gorilla?
“It’s really important to keep an eclectic mix of genres of music for me! As for the bookings, I think it’s about building up a reputation through word of mouth that gets the big DJs here to be honest.
“We try our best to look after them as well as possible, then then they go back and talk to their DJ friends/managers/agents about us! I’ve been booking DJs for seven years now so have built up a good relationship with them and their agents over the years.”
We’re particularly interested in the promotion of the house/techno scene in Manchester at the moment, you’ve had nights like Solar with the big Cocoon DJ Robert Dietz, and Under that’s just gone with Fuse and Desolat DJs that are obviously huge in Ibiza. Do you see this being a genre of music that’s going to be able to stick around in Manchester and only get bigger? Do you think the UK can stay up there with attracting the big names?
“There is definitely enough people to supply the demand for this type of music- techno seems to have quite a bit of an older following and we’ve got brands on board like Drop the Mustard which is keeping that genre of music alive in the student community too.
“I think the UK is different in the sense that we don’t have to put on massive line-ups, but that’s a good thing in my eyes! I’d rather see one or two DJs play extended sets and really get into it, than loads playing short ones. Whereas Ibiza, to me, is about dancing in the sun.
“And we don’t get sun in Manchester. Ever. So it’s about getting war by dancing in cool intimate spaces with a great soundsystem and 700 other people.”
There’s obviously been a lot of bad press recently surrounding UK venues and there being a big drug problem, crime, violence etc all being associated with this particular type of music – is this a worry for you as a venue team and what measures do you go about to educate your customers?
“Yeah it’s definitely quite a current issue at the moment and all music clubs have really taken this quite seriously, we’re really quite conscious of it in all of our venues.
“It was essential to us even before the recent headlines really and we always have a team of medics on sight, every night. We like to think we have approachable staff who look out for you and members of security that aren’t out to get you, more to help if you’re in need.
“We promote being sensible and looking out for one another and although we definitely do not condone drugs 100%, there will always be someone on hand in the venue if someone needs water or a bit of fresh air.”
What about you personally and your role then, how do you find juggling Trof, Gorilla, Deaf Institute and Albert Hall? Do you have to get a different head on whilst you’re dealing with each? And what’s your favourite quality of each venue?
“Yeah I’d say they’re all pretty different in their own right, pulling in really different crowds- it tends to be quite cool, underground nights in Gorilla, incredible live performances in Deaf, where it can sometimes have quite an indie vibe, then you’ve got Trof which is quite a social, relaxed vibe in the student hub Northern Quarter.
“They’re all designed to be quite social environments though and the food range between them all is really cool too.”
What’s your future plans for each of the venues? And if people are looking to launch a night that’s innovative and different, what’s something that’s going to stand for you and the brands you represent?
“Albert Hall is still in the works for 2014 so there’s a lot going into that, as for new nights, I’d probably look out for a well written proposal, something really different where that person or brand is thinking out of the box, too many proposals land in my inbox for ‘deep house’ nights that aren’t really any different to the rest.
“Oh and a solid plan on how to market your brand and the financial side of things always looks professional too.”
Last but not least, sum up Manchester as a city for you in four words…
“Music, football, rain and fun!”
Actually the last question now but quite a crucial one in light of what you just answered- are you a red or a blue?
“Red – but not the Mancunian type… Liverpool!”