When talking about music promotion and the art of booking good bands for good venues, the notion of human nature or rather humanity and it’s delicate details should not necessarily form the basis of an article. Here it does. Here, a profile of WINGWALKER PRESENTS, arguably Liverpool’s most important promotions company, there is nothing more important than basic human instinct, than being…nice.
Wingwalker is made up of three very nice people, three very nice people you’d probably better know as MeShuggy, Revo and Samizdat – three band-booking connoisseurs who through collective interest have formed what could feasibly be described as a fucking brilliant coalition, as opposed to another soul-destroying, heartbreaking coalition also in the public eye. This coalition has not been created though necessity, through power-hungry motives or the ahem, national interest, this coalition has been created with the view to bring better music to the masses, to credibly create and lead Liverpool’s ever growing underground scene. So, where better to meet the trio of ambassadors than the very hub of the creative arts in Liverpool’s Bold St Coffee!
In Bold St Coffee, which Andrew Ellis (Samizdat) gleefully coins “the office of Wingwalker” before explaining how he “came in for one drink and stayed for five hours once” the differences between the three are pretty clear. Ellis, with his lumberjack shirt and skater shoes looks pretty far away from the shirted, spectacle wearing Darren and Revo is an imposing figure of dry hilarity. They’ve a mixed bag of musical interests, across the oak table, names like Joanna Newsom are coined as frequently as Foals and The Tom Tom Club. It is this diverse spread of influence that makes Wingwalker so special. In favouring a triple threat to a solo ride, they have effectively made sure that every band that is chosen is chosen with care and dedication.
“There’s no point in just putting bands on every week for the sake of it. You need to pick bands that you love and that way the night is more special” This seems to form the basis of Wingwalker’s ethos, for them, everything has to be the right blend of personal and unique, polite and perfect; its this which has driven them to already oversee the creation of Wingwalker posters, something they wish to continue, creating a “theme” which would make the brand instantly recognisable. But aesthetics is not necessarily where they thrive, it’s the bands that have made Wingwalker such a success so far, and ultimately it will be the bands that propel them to greater heights.
Recent Wingwalker nights have showcased exactly what this project is about. First up in the current run were The Vaselines; the legendary lo-fi duo whose boy/girl sonnets of forbidden love and naive adventures are back, some 15 years after they went away, and it was Wingwalker who got them. Following that is Maps & Atlases, a band brutally tied to the creative radiator, never freed in the quest for yet more artistic math-rock. Add these to an already impressive list of Chrome Hoof, Health and Dan Sartain amongst others and the overwhelming impression is of a mutual bond between band and promoter that goes way beyond the usual boundaries.
“When promoters start to treat bands like people, that’s when things will go right” Ellis mumbles, perhaps unaware of it’s profound sentiment. The reason that they bagged The Vaselines, will bag more legendary artists and more exciting bands, the reason that they’ve attracted dear Bido Lito’s attention is because in a sea of “pay-to-play” propaganda and average rock nights, Wingwalker are committed to a cut-throat company message that says no to middle ground and grabs the industry by the scruff of the neck; dragging it with others in Liverpool, like Probe and Brickface, like the Kazimier and Mello Mello into a whole new zone of intrigue and design.
It’s here, in this hypnotic mystique and this parallel universe that Liverpool has become exciting again. A ‘new’ new wave has crashed against pisspoor preconceptions, against antique thoughts and mediocre missions and the wet, salty after-taste will linger long in the mouths of the city’s inhabitants. This place is changing. It’s beginning to grow into a city where thinkers think and painters paint, where music is made and people can dance again! Liverpool is switching from dystopia to utopia and there are three horseman at the front of the stampede, with tickets in their hand and smirks on their faces. Those horsemen are Wingwalker, the promotions company that are tiptoeing us towards a brand new day and a fun new night; one coffee at a time and one band after the other; both decisions taken carefully and ending up with the same perfect result.