INTERVIEW: Inverted Grim-Mill | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Jonas Halsall – the crab-inclined man behind shadowy promotional cabal  – seems as surprised as anyone to be putting on a fifth anniversary show this month.

“I am pretty amazed at how long this running joke has continued, the rather silly idea of how an upside down windmill would look a bit like an inverted crucifix.” Halsall admits. “But it seems to have gone beyond a joke as it were, and it now just seemingly accepted as being a proper thing. Weird…”

Inverted Grim-Mill isn’t where his promoting started – that was back in his former home of Sunderland in 2010 with Flies Are Spies From Hell (“It was a a bit of shambles on my part, but I enjoyed doing something vaguely useful for the band, and music in general”). There were a few more shows in Sunderland – “leaning towards ‘heavier’ sounds – Manatees, Khuda and Gnod at one, and then Burial, Crabsu and Gary Marchant later in the year.” And it was from a spray painted mini CD-R for grindcore band Gary Marchant that the distinctive Inverted Grim-Mill logo emerged. “The first ‘official’ Inverted Grim-Mill show was Of Spire & Throne at The Northumberland Arms in 2012, the only show I ran that year. Things have picked up a bit over the last five years…”

Everyone is friendly and inviting, it’s just like being down the pub with all your mates except there’s a powerful racket of some kind going on

Anyone who’s tried their hand at promoting will tell you it’s a struggle at times, perhaps more so if your gigs are comparatively niche. “There’s no real pattern to determine how well attended anything will be and there’s obviously a lot of choice for things to do in the north-east. I guess I keep going because no one else would book the bands who ask me, and generally I’d like to see them and share the experience with as many other like-minded people as possible. The shows often end up being a gathering of the regulars and various folks they know, giving it a bit of a community feel, especially when working with other promoters on a show. Everyone is friendly and inviting, it’s just like being down the pub with all your mates except there’s a powerful racket of some kind going on, and maybe a bit too much Buckfast.”

It’s always unfair to ask promoters to pick any gigs they’re proudest of, but Halsall opts for some of the international acts he’s managed to bring to Newcastle. “Being asked to book the likes of Primitive Man, Legion of Andromeda, Beehoover, Mare, Dopethrone, Samothrace, Mr Marcaille and Negura Bunget (RIP Gabriel ‘Negru’ Mafa) is an honour in one way or another. Of course, the sillier shows headlined by Bad Guys one year and Super Luxury / Petrol Bastard the next were great fun… and who could forget Sly & The Family Drone at The Northumberland Arms?”

Whilst a lot of the bands Halsall promotes fit into a vague doom / noise scene category, he’s actually responsible for a broader array of acts than you might imagine, like glorious Irish outfit Woven Skull. “I generally just get asked to do things, so the shows might not fit any particular style. They all stem from people I know, at least in a roundabout way. The fact that I like all sorts of underground weirdo music helps to keep things interesting I guess. I don’t really view any of the shows as being wildly different from the overall ‘aesthetic’ though; sure there’s grindcore one week and psychedelic folk the next, but there’s also been people on who do both at the same time…”

Any promoter will tell you times are tough, with pressure both in terms of getting the audiences and finding appropriate venues. This hit IGM especially hard when its regular haunt The Northumberland Arms was turned into another generic city centre hellhole earlier this year. Halsall remains typically pragmatic about it all.  “I’d say things are always changing, and you have to adapt as best you can. But it is becoming harder to do weird shows in small venues affordably. I’ve certainly had to consider things more carefully in recent months. Newcastle also seems to have a problem with some promoters and venues shooting each other down, which I try to stay out of. If I can use different venues for different things, collaborate with other promoters and music enthusiasts, then why not? I like to think the bands are the most important thing, not some petty argument between whoever. But I guess you can’t please everyone. Thankfully most of the promoters I’ve encountered have been enthusiastic about working together or acknowledge some level of mutual respect despite doing completely different things.”

Plans for the fifth anniversary gig grew out of a proposed all-dayed at the Star & Shadow Cinema , but since that’s not going to be ready in time (“Go and volunteer if you can!”, Halsall advises), IGM decided to do it anyway, both to acknowledge the anniversary and to promote some Inverted Grim-Mill releases. “I do actually have things coming out on the label, which is the main focus of the day – to celebrate the local acts I’ve enjoyed enough to try and work with.” The bill includes Kylver, Lump Hammer, Geist, Wrest, Lovely Wife, Geomancer and Neolithic. “Maybe Iron Skull too, if they agree to play their second and final show.” With the Star & Shadow Cinema unfinished, the gig will be at Newcastle University Culture Lab. “Everyone loves a BYOB arrangement, and I’ve made entry price a fiver so more people can pop in, even if only for a bit – seeing a couple of acts will be worth the entry fee. There’s going to be plenty of releases and merch on sale and some extra special sets… Should be a decent birthday all round!”

The Inverted Grim-Mill All Dayer is at Newcastle University Culture Lab on Saturday 24th June, from 3pm till midnight. Other forthcoming shows include Ommadon and Bismuth at the Cluny on Friday 16th June and Woven Skull and $un $keletons at Gateshead Old Police House on Friday 21st July.

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