INTERVIEW: Bobiks | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Holy Now

Located in the newly renovated Punch Bowl Inn in Jesmond, Bobiks promises to be a welcoming place for musicians, creatives and punters alike. The bar has been taken over by Frank & Bird, who also own Gosforth’s Brandling Villa, and their trademark quirkiness will be what sets the Punch Bowl and Bobiks apart. With their event programming, Bobiks has proven to be eclectic to say the least, with highlights this month including live music from Melbourne indie act The Stroppies, local legends Nev Clay (Wednesday 17th) and Bridie Jackson (Wednesday 31st) and Copenhagen’s fuzzy popsters Holy Now (Friday 26th). The comedy line-up is equally as varied, with veteran locals including the likes of Seymour Mace (Friday 19th) and Lee Kyle (Thursday 25th) performing; plus there’s free film screenings (with local charity donations encouraged) including a Wes Anderson season (kicking off from Monday 15th with Isle of Dogs) and Rick & Morty marathon (Tuesday 30th).

EventS manager Russell Poad tells us why Bobiks is going to be come your new favourite venue…

Firstly, tell us a bit about the newly renovated Punch Bowl
The big attraction will be the Japanese toilets that give you a good wash and dry, whilst piping music (Vienna by Ultravox is under consideration); that’s probably where we will find most of our customers on day one. At least that’s an illustration of what to expect. We’ve taken a beautiful 150 year old building, restored its exterior and interior with great sympathy, whilst injecting a lot of fun, often via the use of modern technology. Those people who used to frequent the pub many years ago will still find it to be a familiar friend, but maybe one that’s grown up a little since you last saw her. 

What can customers expect from Bobiks?
I don’t want to give too much away here, I’d rather people come with very little preconception. In basic terms, it’s a beautiful long room, with a high ceiling. At one end we’ll have the cinema screen and stage area, and at the other a bar. The venue will have its own special character, and we’re focusing very much on making it a home for performers and punters alike. Gig lovers will want to know that we will have a top quality PA system in house. We’re paying close attention to lighting too, I don’t want photographers moaning at me because of too much red! We’ll have different arrangements for different types of event; bespoke seating for some, standing room for others. 

The events booked for Bobiks so far are really varied, what’s the ethos behind the bookings?
The ethos behind Frank & Bird generally is to go with our gut, taking the experiences that we ourselves have found interesting and enjoyable, and then offering those to our customers, in the hope that they share our interest and passion. This has proved to be a winning formula at The Brandling Villa. Now at The Punch Bowl we’ve a larger and more versatile space which will enable us to expand that offering, both in terms of the quantity of events, and the range. Of course, we fully expect some things to capture the imagination, whilst others may not. It’s a learning process and getting to know the customer on our doorstep will be informative and useful when determining how best to develop our offering. Beyond that, it’s about trying a variety of things, and having a good time into the bargain. I’ve always believed that if you enjoy what you do, and are passionate about it, that will come across and has the potential to be infectious. 

Given your proximity to the plethora of venues around the corner in the Ouseburn Valley, how do you feel Bobiks will fare on the local venue circuit, and what makes you stand out?   
We love The Cluny, The Cumberland Arms, and all of those wonderful Ouseburn haunts. Some of the events we put on at Bobiks will seem familiar to people who share our affection for those other venues, but we will be promoting gigs with bands and artists less familiar, from far flung places. Aside from gigs and comedy, we will also be offering a wide range of other entertainment, not least in our cinema, which will be free entry, with a request to donate and all monies raised going to charity partners (Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre, Newcastle being the first). We’ll have a regular poetry game show, some quiz nights with a difference, craft workshops, food and drink events, a political debate event…

Of course to an extent we are all in competition for people’s custom, but I wouldn’t consider the Ouseburn venues to be rivals at all. Increasing leisure provision and choice can increase interest and demand overall, so to an extent we can all help one another by encouraging active participation. I think our competition is the telly, the computer and the sofa. Of course, our immediate ‘customer base’ will be Jesmond and the local area. We’re determined to take an active and positive role in the community; we want the locals to think of us not only as their local, but as a focal point for many positive community endeavours. 

Do you have any personal recommendations for future shows?
Holy Now are a great new indie band from Copenhagen. Roseanne Reid is the daughter of one of The Proclaimers but for reasons that should be apparent, nobody is talking about that, they’re talking about her great debut album, Trails. Headclouds are our most underrated local bands and their gig with us will be their single launch. Rachael Jean Harris from Liverpool is a fascinating artist who reminds me of early Tori Amos, but better. Oh, and I have to mention a great hip-hop gig we have lined up, pairing Bristol’s innovative jazz/hip-hop quartet Binbag Wisdom, with our own local hip-hop rap star Kay Greyson, I’m excited about that one. 

Find gig listings on the Bobiks’ website and Facebook page


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