Who is 331arts and how did it start?
TYLER: We're just 3 guys that are in bands and it was just a way of being more creative and an outlet for doing more stuff and help other bands really. I think I'm talking because I started it, that's the way that I remember it! At first it was just like, well I bought a camera because Pie In The Sky, our (Cole & Tyler) band, these guys came and made a music video of us and it just looked like the kind of thing that we could do ourselves.. so I looked up cameras and they're expensive but reasonably priced.. affordable.. so we figured we could get a camera and make our own music videos... that's all I thought at the time. But those cameras are not easy to use!! I realized that I really needed to understand how to be a photographer before we would really be able to start using them, so I just went out and took lots of pictures of bands until they started turning out pretty good. Then I figured I needed a blog to put them up on, and I called it 331arts because the house we're in right now, that Cole and I live in, is #331. I didn't want to limit it to music either, I wanted to do a bunch of art stuff and just have a blog about that. And then right when that started we were recording Mike's band, their full length, and he just saw that like, if I could do video stuff and some photography and we can even record bands here then maybe there was something..
MIKE: Yeah! When I got involved we had just started recording Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkillers album in February 2013 and I see the set up these guys had was not particularly complicated or expensive and like, Cole had a bunch of school for this but Tyler hadn't and he just decided this was something he wanted to do and learned how to do it.. and then when the album was about to come out they did our video and Tyler and I sat down and had a conversation about what this could be and what we wanted to do.. I think originally we had envisioned a little bit more recording, Cole has been doing more of that lately with his new band Partners In Health and there's maybe some more stuff lined up. But anyway yeah we quickly realized that there was a gap in London, there's really nobody making videos... well some people, but mostly nobody. And I think a lot of this scene revolves around nostalgia, people who are between 25 and 35'ish.. who grew up more or less in the 90's scene and they're now at a point in their life where things are relatively stable and they have a bit of money so they can kind of relive that. And part of that for me, I really loved shows like The Wedge on MuchMusic, and there's not a lot of people doing that now, except like Southern Souls, using video as an avenue for marketing music and things like video interviews. I used to love to watch The Wedge and find out about new indie bands.. I still remember the first time I heard about Thrush Hermit who are still one of my favourite bands of all time, and I've been following Joel Plaskett since I was a kid and that's how I found out about him, one of those types of shows.. So yeah we saw there was a niche for it and we did a couple and it was like holy fuck all of a sudden it became something that we didn't really expect, a lot of people were asking us for interviews and to film their shows..
TYLER: Tons of bands wanted it!
MIKE: So since April we have like 40 videos on our channel, and that's not counting a couple we shot for Pie In The Sky's channel before we realized 331arts should have its own channel... so we've essentially done like 45 videos. It's gained a lot of momentum and now in a very short time we've been able to capitalize - not monetarily - just kind of positioned ourselves...
TYLER: She's still gotta type this out Mike!!
MIKE: haha, I know I know! I was just going to say it's not so much because of us but its the perfect storm of need in this market, bands want it to happen and need somebody willing to do it, and it's really pushed us to a place that we didn't think we would be. I remember we made a 6 month plan to do 6 interviews, a couple music videos and record one album..
COLE: And here we are with 45 videos...
So what's next, where do you want to go with this?
TYLER: Well we want to do more of the same but..
COLE: More music videos!
TYLER: Yeah and just get more creative really. We want these bands to get more creative too, do some cool music videos or live session videos. Something we have lined up for the future is talking to people who work in recording studios because they have clients coming to them constantly to record... so we've got that lined up with one studio in particular already, we're going to go in and do live video of the recording sessions.
COLE: And we want to expand to visual arts and artist too, anything art that's happening in the city that's cool we want to start to showcase.
MIKE: There's also a new venue opening up so we're working on getting a monthly showcase there where we will offer our video services to the bands who want to play. Ask not what your music scene can do for you, but what you can do for your music scene!
TYLER: I think our ultimate goal is to offer professional video services and make bands look like pros and we want it to be affordable and readily available. We don't even have a formal price structure, usually we end up negotiating down to whatever the band can afford to pay if it's something that's going to cost us money, and all the time we do stuff for nothing at all.
How do you find the time to do any of this stuff, you're all in bands, Mike you're doing your PHD, you guys all work too..
COLE: Well you know what, in the time it takes to watch a movie or a baseball game we could just make a video... it's finding time and doing something productive as opposed to just watching TV and doing nothing.
TYLER: Yeah I see people around me that go to work every day then they go home watch TV all night until they go to bed, or they go have a drink or something, that's their life, and I just can't imagine going to work just to get home and watch TV.
COLE: That's another thing, instead of just going out to the bar and getting wasted we spend it getting creative, or shooting shows.
TYLER: We really spend all our free time doing it, and we like it that way!
COLE: Yeah and we want to go to the shows anyway so going and capturing it isn't that much work, and the editing is fun to work collaboratively to put that together and come out with something people are happy with.. so yeah it does take up a lot of time and sometimes it requires some creative scheduling to manage all these aspects of your life, playing in multiple bands and having a girlfriend and family and school and work and whatever, but I don't know, we don't have a TV, there's a lot of things we don't do.
What's the coolest thing you guys have done so far?
TYLER: I think the Dude Rancho video that we just released. I like it the most because it's so raw, we shot that in May and I usually hate watching the stuff that we shot when we were just getting started because, well we weren't that good yet, and that was shot around that time so it is pretty raw because of that but it's also raw because it was shot in a fucking basement and there's no light down there, it was a really tough shooting situation
COLE: And it was crammed! People hanging from the rafters..
TYLER: I think we procrastinated editing it and putting it together because we're like oh can we really make this good, but when we started doing it I started noticing that this is the kind of thing I would have been totally into when I was a teenager because I was always into basketball and would watch the N1 mixtapes that were just guys holding handheld cameras, same with skateboarding videos and stuff, so when we started cutting it I thought this was the kind of thing I would have been so into it as a kid, it's totally underground looking. I'm really proud of it!
MIKE: I think for me the From Terrible To Tolerable project with Hearts and Lungs, even though it fell apart, was a really cool concept and something that very quickly, it was one of the first things we worked on, it kind of confirmed to us that we were able to take some of these ideas and materialize them. The idea was to do about 5 episodes and we made it to 2 and the band kind of stopped playing, but I think that was one of the first things that kind of signaled to us that people want us to do something.. and if you tell us, we can figure out how to do it, how to make it work.
You mentioned the doc about the Dude Ranch which is closed now... but even without such a legendary punk venue like that it seems like the punk scene in London is still thriving and growing, what do you think that's attributed to?
TYLER: Sometimes I feel like the Dude Ranch couldn't exist right now because too many people would go. Really!
COLE: The cops would be there constantly!
TYLER: It'd get shut down because like 600 people would show up, and that's what's so different about right now and when that scene was happening, and a guy like Dustin Andrews is like a big part of it... not just him I mean there were other guys who lived in that house... but when nothing was going on they made something happen. And now there's guys like Jimi James with London Indie Underground, and us following suit and everybody just seems to be trying to help out now and give that push.
MIKE: And I think like on the legitimate side of the music industry, London Music Hall just did a huge renovation, and there are more bars that are coming in to a place where they aren't just bringing in cover bands, and there's the APK, Call The Office, The Blackshire is going to be one of those places, they're all staples in keeping this shit going. I think the Dude Ranch inspired a lot of people in London too. I mean they definitely weren't the first people to do house shows here but they did it the best and there's just a half dozen places like that happening right now, there's something going on all the time.
331arts YouTube Channel