22 July 2010

Community Service #12 - Pin Up Nights

I'm old, I don't go to nightclubs anymore. There I said it. Come eleven o'clock on a Friday I am usually in no state to be out on the tiles and the call of my bed or some form of really unhealthy deep fried food tells me it's time to call it a night. That being said, I did manage to stay out and make it to Pin Up Nights for the first time about three months ago. That might well have had something to do with the fact that they were daft enough to let me DJ at one of their nights. Having stumbled along after the first Peenko vs Ayetunes gig at the Captains Rest, I had possibly on of the best nights of my life. Not just because I got to inflict my tunes on others, but because I found myself in possibly the coolest indie disco I've ever been to. The vibe of the place struck me instantly, it was just nice and chilled, full of good folk and more importantly there were some top tunes being played (with the possible exception of my set). The question I found myself asking was "why wasn't there a club like this when I was a bit younger?". There probably was one, but it must have completely passed me by. I've never been any good with knowing where the good places to go where. Give me the safety of a sweaty gig any day of the week.
That I guess is where Pin Up Nights comes into it's own, as they also put on bands as well. They continue to pick up on quite an array of amazing up and coming acts, both locally and from these shores and sometimes even further afield.
They recently were the focus of a rather crude smear campaign from a not so nice band who's name isn't even worth mentioning. In response to this the online community got together and showed their support for what is an excellent night that does a lot of great things to support local bands. For that reason I thought it would be a good idea to get John D the founder of Pin Up Nights to do a bit of Community Service...

Would you care to introduce yourself and the rest of the Pin Up Nights team?

There’s myself, John D, who started the night way back in 2003, and I suppose I have formed a crack team of creative “Pin Ups Chaps” - Paul Smith, Iain OC. James “Butcher” Cassidy, Young Niall and Baillie. We all have varying levels of involvement depending on how busy we are with what I call “Terrifying Real Life” during any given month. For example, I did a fair amount of background work to set up the last two Pin Ups, but I had to miss both of the actual nights.

What was it that inspired you to start running your own club night?

I suppose it was the classic case of “I’m now in my early twenties, I’ve been going on nights out for years and nowhere in Glasgow is playing the mix of music I want to dance to”. My big brother Gerry has always had exceptional musical taste, and in the early noughties he was running successful soul events in Cardiff, promoting folk as renowned as Edwin Starr. I had been messing about in bands, the most "successful" of which was The Friday Night Motel (ha ha I am surprised the myspace still works!). I loved the National Pop League in Glasgow because the atmosphere was terrific, and although the playlist was very indie/C86-centric you still heard pretty unusual stuff like Wire, the Smiths, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr and Yo La Tengo. I would also go through to Edinburgh Art School ‘s Wee Red Bar on Saturday nights. The night was (and still is) called “The Egg”. The mix of music was fantastic. They played the Clash, Toots and the Maytals, New Order, the Specials, Pulp, Marvin Gaye, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Super Furry Animals, Northern Soul. So, come 2003 I decided I wanted to start a night in Glasgow that offered that sort of quality and variety. I also loved Vic and Bob’s “Big Night Out” and the idea of an “indie disco” with added hilarity. At Pin Ups the jokes were originally confined to articles in the fanzine which we give out to the first 100 through the door, but in recent years we’ve gradually become a bit bolder. There might be an odd “Guest DJ Jesus Christ” or “escaped gorilla” that slightly confuse folk, but by and large such fun has been very warmly received, so much so that folk have started to expect it every month. I call Pin Up Nights a mixture of “new music, chaos and hilarity”.

For you personally, what would you say has been the best thing to happen since you started the night?

Personally, Pin Ups has given me an outlet for whatever creativity I have. It has cemented some prized friendships, it has kept me interested in music, and in the words of fellow Pin Ups chap Paul Smith, “Pin Up Nights has kept us all young”!

Which band/night have you most enjoyed the most?

It really would be impossible to choose. We have met a load of famous musicians and have 101 daft anecdotes as a result. I caught Terry Hall trying to smoke a joint under the DJ decks. A slightly tipsy Florence (of Florence and the Machine) tried to snare a Pin Ups Chap for the evening by giving him her diary (the Chap in question was spoken for - he gallantly went home but returned the diary to her the next day). I got Gary Lightbody past the bouncers and into a sold-out Woodside Social Club (the night Editors DJ’d for us) by getting him to sing “that ‘Light Up’ song” to prove he was the guy who had just headlined Live 8. Justin Currie appeared as our "secret hunky treat" at the Ladies Night earlier this year. Rick Witter of Shed 7 joined the dancefloor during Disco Down. And so on. As far as nights go, our Circus themed one from last September was a bit special. I think people thought we were bluffing, but we had jugglers, magicians, coconut shys and clowns, and thankfully hundreds of people showed up to see it all come together. Bands-wise it was very pleasant to see Glasvegas break through a few years ago. Pin Ups was one of their first gigs. They were friendly and armed with very catchy songs, and I fought their corner on messageboards etc (this was before Scottish music blogs really existed) as they weren’t trendy or embraced by the Glasgow Art School fraternity. I’m actually a bit disappointed more bands we promoted haven’t gone on to bigger things. I was very into Findo Gask, for example. The Fridays have morphed into Astral Planes, which is great. The likes of the Plimptons and Popup won’t be defeated! And I currently have my fingers crossed for the likes of Nevada Base, Sonny Marvello and Mitchell Museum.

You have your very own indoor Festival planned for this months event, what can we expect to see/hear on the night? Am I cool to wear my wellies and my straw hat?

Definitely! I had my wellies on at our first Festival last year. You can expect to hear 4 of Scotland’s best new bands – Sonny Marvello, Micthell Museum, Futuristic Retro Champions, and Campfires in Winter and a smashing selection of DJs – Scott Paterson (Sons and Daughters), Remember Remember (signed to Mogwai’s Rock Action label), the very handsome Craig Brothers, man about town Craig McGee and of course the Pin Ups Chaps. You can expect to see straw, inflatables, glowsticks, cider stands, festival stalls curated by Glasgow collective Made in the Shade, The Mystical Peeling Field and the Legendary Wham Tent! The Festival is an entire Festival experience packed into 6 hours and a lot of good things are going to happen. If we told you about all of them now it would ruin the surprises.

You were recently the ‘victim’ of an online slur campaign on your good name (linkage), did this ever make you start to think about giving the night up at all?

It was disappointing, but giving up never crossed my mind. You can’t let bullies like Un Cadavre win! I offered to meet them, in person, to talk about their grievances. But they refused, boasting about their “online campaign” and saying they were going to publish an article criticising Pin Ups in some magazine or other. So I felt my only means of replying was to write openly about the whole situation. I have thought long and hard about how to make the payment system for bands at Pin Ups as fair as possible. We have used the same system now for 2 and a half years and every month I invite bands to propose a better alternative, and nobody can think of one. I think that proves beyond doubt that it’s as fair as possible. Therefore I believed that Un Cadavre’s online slur campaign was unjust and that we had nothing to hide. I wanted to set out our position, set out the correspondence between Pin Ups and the band, and let people make up their own mind.

Were you surprised by how much support you received from the online music community?

I was incredibly surprised and very grateful. There’s a lot of cool, clever and creative people out there supporting the music scene and it was wonderful to get so much support. I didn’t realise there were so many people who actually knew about Pin Ups or appreciated it in any way. It gave me a real wee boost.

For all the folk out there that haven’t been to Pin Up Nights before, why should they come along?

A common comment I hear from people who finally make the effort to come along to Pin Up Nights is “how did I not know about this sooner?” or “I feel like I’ve really missed out”. If you make it along you will hear a lot of good music – indie, punk, soul, electropop, allsorts really - and you will definitely have fun in the process. Our venue The Flying Duck is really unusual and worth seeing. I also think it’s fair to say that we are consistently ahead of the curve. I see our artwork and ideas ripped off all over the place – imitation. flattery, etc! Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, who is currently getting a hefty push from Radio 1 and Annie Mac, played live for us last September. Wild Beasts, who were nominated for 2010's Mercury Music Prize earlier this week, played Pin Ups in February 2007 and in 2008 we booked MGMT for their first Scottish gig. Stretching back to 2004, we were interviewing and playing Arctic Monkeys, Editors and Kaiser Chiefs months before anybody else. I have video footage somewhere of loads of folk going mental on the dancefloor to “I predict a riot”. It would now probably make for excellent blackmail material!

Would you care to share any of the events that you have lined up for the rest of the year, or should we just learn to expect the unexpected?

Arr arr, if I told you I’d have to make you walk the plank, matey…pass the rum please!

Pin Up Nights

The Pin Up Nights Festival takes place on Friday(30th), once again they have a sterling line up in store for you all, with DJ-sets from Scott Paterson of Sons & Daughters, and Remember Remember (of Mogwai’s Rock Action label), The Fabulous Craig Brothers and the Pin Ups DJs. Plus live sets from Sonny Marvello, Mitchell Museum, Futuristic Retro Champions and Campfires in Winter. In addition to all of that (as if that wasn't enough for you all) they have The magnificent Wham Tent in which you can pay homage to all things Wham! (including wham bars). You can take time out to visit their mysterious, mystical and interactive Peeling Field which will have to be seen to be believed, browse a lovely selection of vintage stalls curated by Glasgow’s very own Made in The Shade. You can expect straw on the floor, folk with glowsticks, tacky inflatables and bunting (really? - there is no need for that kind of thing!). Tickets are only £5 or £4 if you buy them in advance (from their website or through Ticket Scotland). It promises to be a cracking evening, hopefully Mrs Peenko might let me out for the evening... actually who am I kidding I'm sure she'd be happy to get rid of me for the night.


  1. Anonymous22/7/10

    Naturally I'm working the night of the fest but it does sound like a great night and I'm keen to come along soon!

  2. definitely going to make it along to this one.

    I've just read the e-mail correspondence between PinUps and Un Cavadre, what a laugh!!

  3. AlanJameson866/8/10

    I think you should stop giving publicity to Un Cadavre- they're clearly behaved like a bunch of bawbags. I don't think your going to gain anything John, from publicising this thing any further.

    Let's be honest, Glasgow Scensters are a fickle bunch, and I know for a fact that a couple of them are pretty well known, and liked (although I don't know why) in those circles. I've already heard a lot of people talk about how they won't go to Pin-Up nights- and I would hate that to happen, because I really enjoy it.



  4. Tommy8/8/10

    I'm Gonnae side wi' the Un Cadavre chaps on this one. Had a listen tae their stuff, and its sounds no bad.

    I knew that John D, he put on Pin-Up nights at The Beat Club, when I worked there. He always acted like a pure dick to all the staff, and everybody hated him.

    He thought his night was the best thing ever, barely anybody came, and most a them were old, and no very cool.



  5. Anonymous15/10/10


    You sound like a v bitter man! John D is a great guy and The Beat Club was unsuited to Pinup Nights, for reasons beyond his control. As Pinups has gone on to greater things, while The Beat Club went out of business I think this point is beyond debate.
    Get over yourself, or if you think that you can do any better.... go on!