INTERVIEW: Deadbolt (10/02/2016)

When you think of the terms “rock club night” or “alt club night”, you’re probably thinking of a bar that rarely steps out of the comfort zone of classic rock a la Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, or AC/DC. Or, you’re probably thinking of a playlist that is definitely going to shove in some staple ‘Fat Lip’ and ‘Chop Suey!’… every… single… time. But what about ones that champion in fresher and more current bands?

Step in Deadbolt, who came to be back in 2011. Though maybe not the first to do it, they certainly set the trend in the Northern capital of Manchester. Here they are, still going 5 years later, after a location change and even starting to step into the festival market, and they’ve got a birthday celebration in their sights to mark the occassion. So, we spoke to founder and director Liam Connolly to take a look back at the past half decade, and also share what kind of party he has in store.

DP!: Yippee! It’s almost your 5th birthday! Have you got yourself a zimmer frame and a pension plan in the works?
Liam: Not quite! It’s weird to think that we’ve been around for so long, but they say time goes quickly when you’re having fun. I remember being the new night on the block and it only feels like a year or two ago if I’m honest. It’s pretty weird. I’ll have to pick up some blue rinse and a hearing aid the next time I’m out shopping.

DP!: With 5 years now more or less securely under your belts, did you ever think this day may come when Deadbolt first came to be?
L: I didn’t really have a game plan with it – none of us did. The night was born out of a maelstrom of ideas we had, and we weren’t being adults about it. We still aren’t to this day. It’s cool that we get to celebrate such milestones with bands and guests, and I must admit I like trying to top what we did last year every time we get the chance. If you don’t try to improve, you might as well give up.

DP!: Looking back, out of all the 1825 days (approximately) since its birth, what would you say have been the biggest highlights in Deadbolt’s history, whether that be in terms of the club night’s growth or general party antics?
L: Tough one! Starting our own festival was definitely up there, it’s all a learning curve with that one but that’s what I enjoy. The team made me proud on both occasions. We’ve managed to throw parties all over the country, so that has to be up there. Recently we held our first every Halloween special, which for me was a big deal. I always preferred Halloween to Christmas as a kid, and I was determined to have a Deadbolt special last year. It definitely didn’t disappoint me, so I’m looking forward to doing that again. Lastly, I’d say moving to Sound Control (in 2013) was a big deal. I saw that as a step up and it gave us the opportunity to have multi-room nights on special occasions, as well as better live band facilities.

DP!: How would you say that you differ from other alternative club nights, and what do you think has made you keep going from strength-to-strength each year?
L: My dad always taught me never to be complacent. Always wanting to better yourself is a good trait to have in this game, and it reflects in the night. We never want to be the stale last resort, so we will evolve whenever the time is right. For example, we introduced iLLmatic to the night – our hip-hop/R&B brand – and it definitely gave the overall experience a shot in the arm. There’s more to come in terms of reinvention, but for now my lips are sealed.

DP!: Enough looking in the past, and time to look forward. You’ve got a good birthday bash organised for March 4th in an event called DBV, including a headline slot from Shields. How did you go about sorting out the line-up and festivities?
L: It’s just connections and enjoying working with certain people I suppose. We have a nice little “family” of bands, guest DJs and brands (cheesy I know) that we like to work with, and we’re always adding to that. I like to showcase the coolest underground bands which can represent the night in some capacity, and the bands on this bill definitely do that. I love each and every band on DBV (our 5th birthday event).

DP!: There may be some people out there who haven’t listened to Shields, WSTR, or any other bands you’ve got on the bill. Why should they get involved?
L: Quite simply, bands like this are the future and people should always get behind bands who are killing it. They don’t have to be playing 1000 capacity venues to be taken seriously. These bands are all over the country, and people could discover new favourites by going to more shows. Bands like Shields and WSTR are already making waves nationwide which is so good to see, so we’re proud to have them on our birthday event.

DP!: For anyone who hasn’t been to a Deadbolt night before, how would you explain it and go about convincing them to pop their Deadbolt cherry?
L: Firstly, I always say it’s not a “rock” night. I hate that term. It conjures up a lot of old, outdated imagery. It’s a house party in a club over two floors. We like to go bigger than anyone else, and the key is being interactive. We like to make people take part in insane challenges in exchange for prizes, we like to engage with the crowd.

Both rooms have DJ teams that I’m very proud of, ranging from veterans of over a decade to fresh new faces determined to make the room go off. Alternative / Metal / Pop Punk / guilty pleasures etc upstairs in Deadbolt, and Hip Hop / R&B / house party anthems downstairs in iLLmatic, which truly does have its own vibe. I just say try it and hopefully you dig it.

DP!: Along with your birthday, word on the street is that there’s going to be a third Deadbolt Festival later this year. Any chance you can share some details about that with us?
L: We’re making some changes but we are in talks concerning the third Deadbolt Festival. It’s a long process, but I’m sure the end result will be worth it.

DP!: Other than what we’ve already covered, what else do you guys have planned for the year?
L: Everything that you’ve come to expect, but bigger and better. We have a lot of big guests planned… guests from some highly popular UK alternative nights, established Hip Hop and Drum & Bass DJs for downstairs, more live stuff than ever before and a few side-project and spin-off nights in the works. It’s a good time for us, and even better for our customers.

DP!: Any final words before we draw things to a close?
L: Massive thanks to anyone who has been to the night and shown support at any point over the last 5 years. It’s so good to see so many people come back week after week, and we can’t let them down. It’s also great to see new faces appearing and becoming familiar. We started out wanting to be different and give people something fresh, and it’s awesome that people liked it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are other nights for those people. We just care about our own.

Deadbolt‘s fifth birthday celebration, titled DBV, will take place on March 4th 2016 at Sound Control, Manchester. Tickets for the event, including after party access, can be purchased from the venue’s official website (here).

Club nights are held every other Friday night at Sound Control, Manchester. You can find more information about their upcoming events via their official Facebook page (here).

Interview by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)