Nick Barber AKA Barber Presents has been at the centre of Manchester’s alternative indie scene for years, working with bands like The Be Positives, Fainter, Locean, Springfield Elementary, Furrowed Brow, ALAN, Psyence, Humint, Patrick T Davies, Bitch Coin, Ethers, The Birthmarks and so so many more. Being a gig promoter can sometimes be really dirty work, but Nick talks about it with such enthusiasm and joy. As soon as you start talking to Nick you really get that feeling that anything is possible if you put work mind to it and have an open, positive mind set.
His story is one that shows that you truly can do it yourself! “Anything independent and DIY and Manchester based, you should follow them and show your support!”
You can watch, listen or read to our chat right here!
Let’s see how his story as a promoter really began and then of course what has been happening for him over the last year with no gigs at all.
“It all happened when I put on my first gig, which was just for my mates. Whoever was doing the poster design asked ‘What are you called?” and I was like yeah, obviously, it’s Barber, Nick Barber hahah. He just put down Barber Presents and it just stuck! On that bill was Grin And Bear It and another was called Dirty Jesus, some members of that band have now formed Fuzzy Sun, one of them are my mates so I always stick with the joke that I started the band.
I’ve always loved music, going to gigs and organising, I am always the organiser, it’s proper sad but I love it. I needed to raise money for charity and so put on a gig at the Blossoms pub in Stockport and just messaged my mates in bands and that’s that. And it’s gone down hill since then hahahahah, I’m joking. That was about 3 or 4 years ago and it snowballed since then.
I did a few gigs at Aatma and got talking to Dom and he really just let me do whatever I wanted, they always have Paul there, Paul is a legend- Paul Morrice AKA Cynthia’s Periscope, I can agree, is a legend- and it went from there.
My second gig I had two bands from Taiwan! I was so naive and didn’t know how stuff works, I still don’t really, so I saw they were playing at a festival in Wales and they had a gap on their schedule so just asked if they wanted to play Manchester. I don’t know how it worked or really how it happened, but it just did!
I didn’t know what shells were or what a backline was, I just did it, I had to google everything when I got there. When the Taiwanese bands played I had to buy some fancy adapter for them to play, it was huge and I had to carry it across town!.”
We know he’s put on loads of gigs, but which ones stick out?
“I think I’ve loved every gig I’ve done, not that others have, but I always put on bands I love and just love to work with people and see it all come together. You don’t need loads of people together in a room, just people having fun.
There is one I’ll pick up on specifically which was a late night gig from like 8:30 till about 01:00. We had one like 6 or 7 bands playing little half an hour slots and Patrick T Davies, a spoken word artist, did the introductions like a compare. We had Locean, Lotts, Femur, Springfield Elementary, The Be Positives and then a Glasgow band called Objectified, who are class, it was just a mad show. I was still figuring everything out and proper winging it, I just wanted loads of bands playing and Patrick brought it all together, just constant entertainment. Looking back I can’t believe it all worked, I don’t know if I’d be able to do that now, just me being naive and doing it.”
Of course the last year has been real different for everyone and especially the gig and entertainment sector, so anyone in that area really had to reinvent themselves and Nick did it!
“This year has been disappointing, at the start of the lockdown we were going to do the Locean album launch, which was going be another one of those late night shows with another compare who acts as a perfume salesman hahah!
So with nothing really going on I started reviewing new music through my Instagram and keep pushing people to listen to new music. After working with loads of bands across the city I knew they were releasing loads of stuff and it was a nice way to get them out there and give them some feedback and I just love meeting and helping people.
Another thing I started doing was an idea to do a radio show, but me and my housemate got our heads together and put together the podcast. We use that to interview small bands that we like, finding out stuff about them, what influences them and getting that kinda desert island disk sort of vibe. Then we could also play their music and talk about their journeys to today. The structure started off simple but then the conversations would just go on for like 2 or 3 hours and we would have to edit that right down.”
Guests on the show range from our personal highlights Gazelleband and William K.Z to Francis Lung, The Red Stains, XUP, Hazel’s Maze, Octopus and so many more. Work your way through all of them to get a beauty little insight into real underground Manchester bands and what’s going on.
A new part to the puzzle, which I personally think is great, is that Nick has become manager of The Be Positives. Like before, Nick jumped straight at that opportunity, but let’s see how he puts it!
“I’ve worked with those guys loads, I love their music and they’re great musicians, the gigs are always great, they’re just shit hot. Always got on well and they just mentioned they were looking for someone to give them promo and a boost and I said I’d never done it before, but I’ll give it a go. That is it, it’s a work in progress. Like before I just jump straight in.”
Over the years I have played shows with and for Nick, but towards the end of last year I saw that he had been involved with another project called Doc’N’Roll, a small independent film festival from London, what’s that all about then?
“I started with Doc’N’Roll volunteering. I was living in the centre of town putting on shows and I helped them out on the door with tickets and stuff and chatted with the director and we got friendly. They are a touring festival that put on little film festivals up and down Great Britain but they didn’t know Manchester that well so filled them in and give them some advice. Then they asked me to join the team and be the Manchester guy essentially, then end of last year I became an official producer. There is a festival every year but of course it got cancelled so they branched out to do one in Manchester, but of course it was on the day we went into Tier 3 and got cancelled too. It’s all available online though.
That particular one was looking specifically at films made about music subcultures and there were loads of great short films this year. Hopefully next year the festival can properly go ahead in the official home at HOME, but we hope to host the short film night of 6 to 8 short films. This year I was really excited because the films were so varied and amazing and of course it was going to be at Aatma, I have such an affinity with that place, they are just always up to do anything, Paul will sort us out. It was also going to be a fundraiser for Aatma because they are struggling at the moment like everyone, but doesn’t always get the attention it really needs.
What's amazing to see is how the fundraiser went because people donated these little fivers here and there, but that accumulated to them hitting the target of £10’000, which is amazing!”
I know the future is so uncertain but do you know what is to come in the future from Barber Presents?
“We’ve now taken the podcast forward and putting it out on Radio Alty, an independent radio station in Altrincham! It’s the same format but just longer, better and filled with more great content. It’s available on their website when it’s live and you can always go back and listen to all of them whenever.
Then when life returns I’ve got a few gigs planned, still looking to do the Locean launch, but I want to do less gigs and make the ones we put out quality but everything is very uncertain at the moment.”
As always we ask our guests to recommend us 3 things to look out for in Manchester, who will it be today?
“Obviously I’m going to have to say The Be Positives, their single came out a few months ago and they are just great people.
Someone I’ve been shopping with recently is Wine Boy, who has a stall in Altrincham Market, loads of nice wine and beers and good stuff! I got myself some lovely beers and wine last time I was there, I love wine, I actually have a qualification in wine!
And another podcast, which is Interbrew who did a show with The Be Positives actually, pushing DIY music all over Manchester, always looking for new people to talk to so contact her to get a show sorted!”
We hope to see Nick out there in the world showing us new fantastic Manchester bands in the very near future, who knows, maybe a collaboration, keep your eye peeled!
Also we will be working together on our STEAM Radio show where we will together show you some great brand new Manchester music!