Keeping the Loop Loud – interview with Mick ‘Monsta’ Wood

We’re very aware of how hard it is for bands to make ends meet let alone break it big. But it’s just as important to remember the people behind the music driving it forward. The countless horror stories of bands getting the Pay To Play treatment, not being paid or even worse can make it very hard for an honest, hard working promoter who wants to start out. However, the saying ‘it’s a small world’ could never be truer in underground music and word does get around about those who have consistently given a band a good gig (attendance good or bad). One of those promoters is Mick Wood – aka Mick Monsta.

He’s been nominated for a Pure Rawk Award by fans and bands for the third consecutive year which must be a sign that he’s doing something right. Nix catches up with Mick to talk about the London circuit, promoters, bands, the Blood-Stock alliance, the future and clean socks.

N: You’ve been on the London circuit for some time so you’ve seen all the changes and experienced lots of different types of punter – how would you assess the music scene in London at the moment?

M: To be honest it’s dire – too many “venues” and “cottage promoters”. With the recession everyone has jumped on the “lets be a promoter” tip (and Facebook hasn’t helped). If they aren’t running pay2play they are simply clogging up the diaries for venues so the serious promoters (those who have had the privilege of losing money) can’t get the dates.

I know signed touring bands are feeling the pinch, audiences reduced and some countries in Europe not even being booked on tours as the fees just aint there. Sad thing is, more than ever the actual scene is producing some amazing artistes at the moment – but they just aren’t getting the breaks they deserve.

N: Metal in London. There are heaps of quality gigs popping up in the schedules.

M: And so there should be, London has a wealth of talent- but as i say, the labels don’t have money to even scout artistes never mind do deals so live is where its at, and its going through overkill, especially in metal

Laying the 'Smackdown' on King Lizard's Alice ... jokingly of course on their recent video 'Viva La Decadence'.

N: Tell us about your involvement in the Blood-Stock Metal 2 The Masses?

M: I provide the sacrificial lambs!. M2tM really does give unsigned metal bands a lift, even the heats are covered with a lot of media. BOA really does eat, sleep and shit metal so after doing the heats last year I was invited back. Of course I excepted.

We are running the London competition on Sundays at Nambucca – my new “home”, the vibe is great (as is the venue), and the metal heads are really getting behind it. Personally I wish every festival ran similar competitions to find the bands – look at how well Evile did.

N: You’ve done bookings at Bar Monsta, Nambucca, The Gaff, The Scala, The Underworld and more – all key names on the London circuit. You’ve also put together UK-wide tours. Favourite venue you’ve booked at?

M: Out of town Id have to say Yardbirds Grimsby, Mexborough Civic or Glasgow Classic Grand – All great venues, with good facilities run by good people. In London –despite its staircases and lack of bar / bog /smoking area, I would opt for The Scala – as a venue  its superb. Of course though I would also recommend Nambucca (I really miss Infinity).

N: Mentioning The Gaff. What’s your take on the amount of independent venues closing their doors?

M: Man it sucks, I lost Bar Monsta and it slaughtered me. I really feel for the Gaff, after the issues with the previous management the new management just started to get the formula and then along comes “Mr Big Bollocks” and pays a fortune to turn it into a cafe with sofas. But that’s how it goes; the flood of venues has diluted the paying punter so much that it’s hard to stay afloat.

N: You’re quite vocal on being anti-pay-to-play which is commendable. What effect has it had on the underground music scene? Can you give us a horror-story involving pay-to-play?

M: It’s vile – period! Some bands go down that route just to play better venues – but who to?, your mates who feel “pressured” into buying a ticket, or the other bands who spend the rest of the night in the bar with their mates. I’m not saying we make fortunes but promoters can find a way of making a profit without charging bands. My gripe is almost just as much with gig goers – if you like a band, pay to see them, don’t expect a guest list! Support the scene!

Again, pay2play dilutes audiences for “real” promoters; it was massive in the 80s and has reared its ugly head by nasty little fuckers who know jack about music and just cream money from hard working bands. Even though they are nicking half my punters I applaud venues doing free shows – that really piss the pay2play scum off.

I wont name one particular individual, but there’s one pay2play scumbag who promised bands if they do well they could  play a major festival. After lining her pockets the big day came and the bands arrived all set. Only then were they informed of the £250 fee they had to pay BEFORE they sound checked which left them MINUS on the day (the other option to not play and let your fans down). I heard she even got her heavies to frogmarch bands to the cash point!

Anyone out there gets harassed by a pay2play piranha is welcome to call me, I’m more than happy to “talk” to them on your behalf.

N: Back to the music itself. Give us the top five bands you’d tip for success this year?

M: Aw come on Nix, you know this is impossible with so much talent out there! Lets say the five bands I’d like to see make it : Pure Negative, Casino, Kopperhed, Horseman Shakesand the Draymen & Serillian. Jeez, this is hard (I’ve changed it 7 times). By the way, nice to see The Defiled, Saint Jude, Jim Stapley and King Lizard finally getting a bit of attention.

N: Impart your pearls of wisdom if you would, to any band who is just starting out and how they should go about getting gigs?

M: Harrass the shit out of everyone, show you’re keen! Invest in recording a CD (none of us enjoy sitting waiting for MySpace to download) and don’t over play (once a month in London is enough). Don’t do pay2play. And remember we’ve heard it all before so prove us wrong with a polite and professional attitude, great songs and lots of alcohol!…..and wear clean socks.

N: If you had a time machine, money no object – what would be your ultimate gig to promote?

M: Without a doubt, The Faces without Hucknal (Jim Stapley if R.S wouldn’t do it), if Dimes was still with us Pantera….at some tiny club, anything with Led Zep or Jedward so I could drop molten lava on the fucking retards during the encore and put the world out its misery.

N: Where do you see the future of ‘alternative music’ in the UK?

M: When plinky electronic bands consisting of a vocalist and 2 laptops /keyboards stop adding a live guitar and calling themselves “industrial metal” I’ll be a happy man. I reckon “alternative” music will always go round in circles but as long as it produces a good backlash to the mainstream pop pap and urban nonsense, in varying degrees, it will survive. And I’m sure it will stay healthy as people want it. Can I go up the pub now?

Find Monsta Ents at any of the events in this article or here: