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

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When you weigh up its significance to the local scene, the place it holds in so many hearts and the sheer volume of memories etched into its hole-ridden walls, the fact Little Buildings opened its doors a mere decade back may register as something of a surprise. “We still have the first receipt of payment in the office – it reads Friday 21st March 2014,” confirms Allan Scorer, who along with father Allan Sr. is the current custodian of Newcastle’s smallest, sweatiest regular live music space. “We’ve hosted everything: mad indie gigs, heavy shows, Queer nights… Just seeing people cut loose and having a good time is my bread and butter.”

First established by Cole Gilroy (now co-founder of nearby venue The Grove), the Scorers took on Little Buildings’ original premises on Ouseburn’s Ford Street in 2017, owing, says Allan, to “massively under-diagnosed neurodivergence and impulsivity.”

“I was in Trillians after being paid off from my previous job when I heard the place was for sale, so I pinged off a message at 1:30am and it all started from there!” He recalls. “It’s my dad that’s responsible for everything really. He’d been working in Groningen and going to a punk bar called Crowbar. He started saying ‘We need our own venue!’ and when I told him I’d found one his first words were ‘Your Mam’s gonna kill us!’”

Just seeing people cut loose and having a good time is my bread and butter

Insufficient due diligence, petty noise complaints and the small matter of a global pandemic are just some of the challenges the pair have subsequently overcome, in a period that’s witnessed Little Buildings’ transformation from a BYOB rehearsal and occasional gig space to a fully licensed and – whisper it – professionalised local staple. “BYOB and DIY are beautiful and romantic as fuck,” Allan admits, “but if you want to build a scene that provides opportunities and jobs – not just for artists, but for promoters, photographers, graphic designers or sound engineers – it’s just not sustainable.” The biggest change of all was the protracted move to Little Buildings’ current home on Stepney Bank, yet through it all the venue’s core ethos – that of a welcoming, rough-around-the-edges space where anything goes – remains largely intact. “We get people who come as metalheads and leave as indie kids, who start with hip-hop and leave playing the violin; that’s the kind of ecosystem that’s bubbled up,” Allan reflects.

“I only recently discovered this is the second time the Stepney Bank property’s been in the family,” he enthuses. “Many years ago, Holmes printing service was run by my Dad’s uncle. That side of the family’s been in the Valley for nearly 300 years, so it’s nice to know we have roots here.”

Going forwards, Allan plans further renovations and the continuation of a partnership with Anarchy Brew Co., whose 450-capacity space (around eight times that of Little Buildings) has allowed them to promote shows and raise funds which wouldn’t be possible at Stepney Bank. Among them is this month’s all-dayer to mark Little Buildings’ 10th birthday, with St Buryan, MXYM, Kkett, Club Paradise and Badger among the acts performing across two stages on Saturday 23rd March, with more still to be announced.

“They’re some of my favourite bands and some of my favourite people,” Allan gushes. “A lot of them were cutting their teeth with us back in the early days at Ford Street, and it’s brilliant to see how they’ve all grown. We couldn’t ignore the 10th anniversary – it feels like we alone have had the place for about 20!”

LittleMania: 10 Years of Little Buildings takes place on Saturday 23rd March at Anarchy Brew Co., Newcastle.

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