Matt caught up with Dave McTague to discuss the past, the present and the future of Mellowtone and also the forthcoming birthday bash – with the possibility some birthday cake!
A very Happy 15th Birthday to Mellowtone! Does it feel like it’s been 15 years since the night was launched?
Thank you! Time flies when you’re having fun, as they say. Yeah, it seems like Mellowtone has been there for ever now, but still feels like we’re moving on, so I quite like it. When looking back, I can’t really believe it all started 15 years ago!
Before the label was set up, how long was it in the planning/project stage before it was secured?
The label had always been an idea, a pipe dream, something I quite fancied doing. When the ‘Ten Years’ compilation we did for Mellowtone’s 10th birthday was received so well, the label seemed like the next logical step, so we just rolled from there. It was great to work with the guys at the Viper Label too, and reissue Edgar Jones’ Soothing Music LP, and we had been planning on working with Nick so it’s just grown organically from there.
Did you have major hurdles to overcome and was there any doubts you would make it over the finishing line as such?
There are always hurdles, haha. Things like cash flow, test pressings, lead time on production, getting the word out, and of course in today’s world people don’t buy music in the same volumes as the 90s, for example, so we have to keep our records on limited edition runs.
Doubts – haha, always, but there’s not much point spending time worrying about those! I always think the best way is just to start something and crack on, so that’s what we did.
You have some amazing artists on the label. Do you have time reflect on the artists and think how far you have come from those planning days?
Thank you! I am biased, but of course agree. We don’t seem to reflect that much, but when we do it’s always lovely, inspiring and it can be quite humbling. We try and keep looking forwards.
Mellowtone for me has a wonderful heart and social conscience. Night events & gigs can be a plethora of help for local communities – this approach is applauded. Have you always worked closely with organisations across Liverpool?
Again, thank you. We’ve always tried to be open, and to collaborate with as many other people as possible, whether that be visual artists, DJs, festivals, other promoters, venues, artists, etc … we’ve worked with so many people over the years. And, we try to use the platform we’ve built to support good causes wherewe can. For example at our last big birthday party (10 Years), we raised money for CALM, and more recently we’ve been supporting the foodbanks at the Florrie and St Brides’ Church. For this celebration we’ll be donating money raised from sales of prints at our exhibition from to donate to local food banks.
What have been your favourite moments, gigs, releases etc?
To be honest, there have been too many favourites, which can only be a good thing I guess! Although one thing that does really stand out for the label was seeing Nick Ellis open for Michael Head at the Union Chapel. That was pretty special. For me, it was one of Nick’s best ever performances, in what I think is one of the country’s best venues.
What does the future hold for Mellowtone?
We’ll keep chipping away!
As well as the birthday events, we have a big show coming up next February, something a bit different for us. KREWE LIVERPOOL – The Mardi Gras Experience, which we’re co-producing with Laura Brownhill (Kazimier co-Founder). Think of an indoor Mardi Gras carnival and swing dancing, crossed with a surrealist masquerade ball, at the Palm House. If that makes sense!?
And then more shows, more releases … we’ll just keep on what we’ve been doing, and hopefully folks will be along for the ride.
And finally, tell us more about Mellowtone’s birthday bash ?
So, the main party is on the 6th November, at the Buyers Club. As well as a gathering of the tribes, we’ll be launching an exhibition of fifteen screen prints, featuring artwork from fifteen different artists and illustrators, work that has adorned our flyers and posters over the years. We’ll also display a lot of our old flyers, as well as some other artwork and ephemera. We also have our resident DJs playing, a wonderful jazz band called The Jubilee Stompers and also the launch of a commemorative beer that our friends at the Handyman have been brewing.
Aside from that night, we have a series of free entry shows at the Handyman later in the month, featuring all the acts on the label. That’s starting on Wednesday 20th November, with Seafoam Green, and runs until Sunday 24th. Plus, a pub quiz at Static Bar on the 14th November.
The exhibition will run until early December so if you can’t make it on the launch night, be sure to pop in to the Buyers Club!
And finally, is there a cake and will you save me some?
Haha, not as far as I’m aware… I’ve been up the wall! If there does happen to be a cake we’ll certainly save you slice! Thanks Matt!
I’ll keep you to that! thanks Dave, very best wishes for the future!!