Thursday, 3 January 2013

Daniel Callis / Housefires

Name: Daniel Callis

Band: Housefires (

Where: A town in Hampshire

ED: So, as finally promised, yours truly who runs WPE is submitting his own story. I'm actually leaving Housefires this month to pursue other things in life, so I thought I best get it up now so you people can check them out and (hopefully) support them beyond my departure.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve been in bands since I was 17 (I’m 25 now). In that time I have got more and more hectic in the live setting, to the point where I’m starting to worry how many years of cuts, bruises, aches and pains I have left in me. I seem to have a reputation for being a bit mental/fucking idiotic live (this isn’t me blowing my own horn, I get told this a lot by others). Yes, there’s been a few dropped microphones, PAs climbed and bars jumped on/off but that comes with the music I play. However, I’m also composed enough to know what I’m doing and be aware of my surroundings. Out of the 100s of shows I’ve played throughout the years I’ve only broken one microphone and ripped one XLR lead in half. My point is that I’ve never intentionally acted like a dick or aimed to break things or upset people, put it that way. Some venues are cool and “get it” I suppose you could say, other venues panic at the idea of a band even daring to step off the curbed floor they call a “stage”. It’s always been that way and I'm used to it.

I suppose you’re wondering why I started with a diclaimer now, aren’t you? Don’t worry, I’ll explain later…

So, to start the story. We got asked to play a show in a town about 50 miles over from us by some guy. He must have been in his early 20s, seemed enthusiastic about promoting and came across as one of the good guys in his emails. His track record showed he’d done a few Hampshire-band line ups too. Nothing to ring alarm bells, and in fairness if we were a tamer band playing Pop Punk or something like that, it could have stayed that way.

We got there on a Saturday night and the first thing we find out is the headline local band (IE. The heavy one whose fans might actually enjoy us) had pulled out because one member had already taken too much time off work for the band or some shit. Not only that but said band had done NO promotion of the show what so ever, leaving me to think they’d already decided not to play the show weeks ago and figured they’d leave it until the last minute to fuck everything up for everyone.

The other band, in fairness to them, were a group of lads and quite impressive for what they were doing at such a young age. However it was total Pop Rock and a complete mismatch. Not the most ‘far out’ line up I’ve played if it were still a three band bill, but together on our own it was a clash.

It gets to about 8pm and no one is there except for the support band’s relatives’ who drove them down.

The promoter, seeming quite nervy, came over and told us he was going to struggle to pay us. He asked if we would be okay to cut our fee, which was only £25 considering the show wasn't too far from home for us. He proposed he make the show free entry in the hope that a few people in the bar next door pop in to watch.

Being an ex-promoter who has had stuff fall apart in the last minute and feeling his pain, we decided to be good dudes about it and said don’t worry about paying us anything. It was about a fiver each between us as a band, and £5 lost between 5 is better than £25 lost between 1. After all, we only had to bring breakables and a bass cab so we fitted in two cars. We all agree to get on with the night, hope some people decide to come in from next door and crack on with it.

We played to around about 9 people (other band and two relatives included) in a room built for 100. 

Now here's where things turned interesting. Around about the third song in our set, I decided to climb on the bar (which, seeing how dead the gig was, the pub had decided to not open).

As soon as I’m up there the soundman starts mouthing over the PA for me to get down. I’ve had people  whisper in my ear or gesture at me to get down from things before, but to start shouting over the desk microphone during a song is a first. Considering all I was doing was standing on it for about 10 seconds and then I jumped off, a huge over reaction. Standing on an empty bar at the side of the room. Wow.

I thought nothing of it after we finished our set and started to load our breakables off stage. The first thing I noticed amiss was the aforementioned younger band had got their bass cab out their van and put it on the stage as we were loading off. Odd, as I thought they’d used ours in sound check.

The rest of the night become a bit of a “WTF is going on” moment from here and I struggle to recall how things unfolded as I was so angry, but I’ll try and explain…

Unbeknownst to the promoter and soundman, our then-bassist had bought his girlfriend along for the show. She informed him that whilst we were playing (after the bar “incident”) the promoter and soundman had spoke, concluding they were kicking us out as soon as we’d played and told the other band to go get their bass cab in.

However, when we finish the promoter and soundman decide they don’t really have the spine for it and back out, opting to say or do nothing instead (if I remember rightly the soundman even said “well played” to me as I walked outside for fresh air).

Of course, the most I’ve heard at this point is my guitarist tell  me the soundman moaned at him for spitting on the floor during our set. SPITTING. FUCKING SPITTING. Seeing as he has to sing I’d rather he spit than gargle a fucking harmony. You don’t see referees having a go at footballers for it after all.

It wasn’t until just before the other band started to play we actually pieced the whole thing above together. At this point I was livid, and even more so that someone would do/say such things and not even have the convictions to raise them with us (the promoter had simply avoided eye contact with us).

Our guitarist Joe decided to head over and clear the air (seeing as if I did it I’d have verbally torn his face off). The promoter said something along the lines of “your front man is a liability” and that "I’d completely disrespected the venue”. I bit my tongue for the sake of the band and I can’t entirely remember what Joe said in return, but the conversation ended with “YOU’LL NEVER GET INVITED BACK TO PLAY HERE AGAIN”.

Now, I know you could argue I did stand on the bar and it in some people’s view that could be considerer outrageous, so THIS IS THE REASON FOR THE DISCLAIMER AT THE BEGINNING.

I’ll be honest, if I saw someone do it in my local Wetherspoons on a quiet Sunday afternoon I’d whole-heartedly agree, but this was a heavy show in what I would still call a decent smaller and known UK venue. The posters on the wall of previous shows would make it clear that me standing on the bar wasn’t the rowdiest thing to ever happen there. If standing on a bar is too far in your eyes we clearly don’t hang around at the same shows or listen to the same music.

And not to mention the biggest kick in the teeth after all of this was that we gave the promoter the benefit of the doubt and let him off paying us. I know for a fact not many out of town bands would have done that and would have sooner marched the lad to a cash machine (and I don’t disagree with that, a guarantee is a guarantee). In return he acted like an arsehole and didn’t even have the spine to do it properly, which is what I found most insulting.

Oh and one last thing about the venue we were told we’d never play again…

About a month later we got invited back by another promoter. The show was rammed, it was a different sound man and no one said a word about me falling out the fire exit door and into the smoking area screaming half way through our set ;)

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