Tuesday, February 17, 2009
(copied from alarmpress.com)
DIY Venue Spotlight: The Lollybot Collective
ALARM’s ongoing series exploring the best grassroots, non-traditional music venues
Name: The Lollybot Collective
Location: Detroit, MI. No permanent location as of yet — still fund raising.
Booking contact: Matthew Pritchard or Jeffrey Nolan, ThePritchard@gmail.com and TheRealJeffNolan@gmail.com
Q&A With: Co-founders and Directors Matthew Pritchard & Jeff Nolan
What type of bands do you book?
We try to match the music to the theme of the show and to the space we are using. Usually it’s an assortment of warehouse musicians that have sprung up since the garage-rock scene has started to fade here in Detroit. The music is always upbeat; we have no room for the melodramatic.
Why did you want to start a DIY collective?
We wanted to create a name that people would come to trust as a good (and free) time, guaranteed. We knew all these musicians and all these fabulous artists who were putting on their own shows with only mild success, so we slammed them together into one fabulous evening.
Is your collective grounded on any ideals?
The main philosophy when planning our shows is to make sure that everyone has the chance to participate. Audience participation is half the fun; thinking of different ways to get them involved beyond just dancing is key.
Also, a lot of galleries will have submission fees for the artists on top of commission, which is bullshit; everyone hates paying cover to get into shows. So there is no cover; Jeff and I pay for it all out of pocket. It is no easy task but we cross our fingers that we make our money back in donations and sales.
No one needs to profit from this; we just need to make enough to put on the next show.
What kind of crowd do you attract?
Those who have found themselves lost in their 20s, and Detroit has plenty of them.
How has the venue been an attribute to a community?
The amount of exposure that our artists have received is astounding. It’s a lot easier to attract a large crowd to a concert than to an art opening. By combining the two, having quality work and music to back it up, we’re getting people to go to art shows who wouldn’t otherwise and attend on a regular basis to boot.
Have you been met with any challenges running a DIY venue?
Hopping from space to space for every show comes with its own set of challenges. It is by no means easy, but the payoff is always well worth it. By working under the table to manage, we get away with a lot of things that larger venues don’t. We can make our own rules.
Aside from live music, do you host any other events or programs?
Music, painting, illustration, sculpture, video installation, performance, photography, poetry, and anything else that I haven’t listed. We look for quality work; we have yet to turn away something based on medium.
Are there any significant musical acts or artists that have drawn a crowd or have had a significant performance?
A.Squirrel and Elephantom played our last show to a great response from the crowd. We are really excited to have Lenny Stoofy playing at our next show.
We try to pick up-and-coming musicians and artists who can use our shows as a jumping-off point. Lauren Moyer, Ed Brown, Kristina Rafalski, and Ebenezer Kling are all young artists who are gaining in popularity.
Do you have a favorite anecdote regarding your collective?
Our first show had “accidents” as its theme. Curt Greene, one of our artists, created a sculpture of intricately balanced components and requested to have it installed in the center of all the activity. It was, by its very nature, an accident waiting to happen.
The sculpture would crumble as it was bumped into, but Curt was on hand to attempt to put it back together amidst the chaos.
After it became part of the fun to watch the intricate mess fall to pieces over and over, one fed-up patron, sick of hearing the crash, took one of the key components — a bowling ball — and threw it out the 4th-floor window into the parking lot below.
As far as I’m aware, the only damage done was to the bowling ball, but we certainly learned a lot about how to better integrate audience participation into future shows.
Do you plan on opening a venue in the future?
We would love to open up a permanent location, but we’re having trouble keeping ourselves afloat as it is. However, Detroit is a city full of opportunity if you know where to look, and we have keen eyes.
What advice could you give those who are interested in opening their own venue or starting a collective?
It isn’t going to happen overnight. Make sure that you have the energy for all the planning and preparation. To stay relevant, you’ll often end up planning multiple shows and exhibitions on top of each other.
What events do you have coming up?
Group Hug at the Garment District (unofficial show, Jan 25 - March 15), Thursday View at the 555 Gallery (unofficial show, Feb 12 - Feb 26), RESTRICTIONS on February 28 at Izzy’s Raw Art Gallery (official show, closes March 13).