MATT JARRETT: FUELLED BY JEALOUS LOVERS | MUSIC INTERVIEW
Ben Woolhead talks to Matt Jarrett, one half of Cardiff promoters Fuelled By Jealous Lovers.
What sort of thing do you put on?
Matt: We joke that we put on anything in a plaid shirt but it’s almost true! Punk, college rock, folk and alt-country, math-/post-rock. We put on the same stuff that we listen to. I run a record shop for a living and Connor works in Musicbox so we’re both exposed to a lot of music on a daily basis.
How did you get started?
Matt: We’ve known each other for ages but the recent history is that after putting on gigs on and off for years, I was occasionally doing one-offs while designing posters for people under the name Fuelled By Spite. Connor was putting on gigs and running a label as Jealous Lovers Club and, in April 2014, he messaged me to see if I was interested in putting on a Laura Stevenson gig. That went pretty well and when Connor started getting offered a few more punky shows for the following spring, we decided to co-promote them. Eventually we got bored of putting “Jealous Lovers Club & Fuelled By Spite presents” on posters and merged the names!
What are the best and worst aspects of the job?
Matt: The best parts are seeing bands you love at close quarters and seeing other people loving it too. Although the worst part is when not many people show up and you lose money, some of my favourite shows or “Yeah, this is why you do this” moments have been at shows with 20 people in the audience. They tend to be the ones where people come up to you and thank you for bringing that artist to Wales and that makes it all worthwhile! It’s obviously great when we sell out gigs, but I take great pleasure in putting on someone I love and either introducing them to a new crowd or putting them on for people that love them as much as me!
How much work goes into arranging a gig? Talk us through the process.
Matt: Loads! Each gig starts with an email from an agent offering us a band. That triggers a WhatsApp conversation between us debating whether anyone will show up and how much money we should offer. If we decide to go for it, we email the venue to check if the dates are free and, if they are, get back to the agent with an offer. Sometimes there’s then a load of emails back and forth over a number of weeks. Usually, we then try to pick a suitable support act we like and have to get them approved. I’ll then get to work on a poster and Connor will set up all the ticket stuff so that all the sites we use go live at the agreed time. I’ll set up the Facebook event and schedule some posts, and Connor will sort out the Twitter.
Once the tickets go on sale, the challenge is to get people to buy them! Obviously we use social media and get posters up where we can, but there’s also little things like partnering up with Keep The Faith Social Club so that our customers can get 10% off haircuts and theirs can get 10% off gig tickets! We now sell tickets in Derricks in Swansea, Diverse in Newport and Bristol Ticket Shop as well as Spillers and Heads Above The Waves in Cardiff. The word is then spread via their mail outs in addition to the venue’s and our own.
In the days before the show, we buy the rider. The food and drink they want backstage can vary a fair bit, and they’ll usually want a hot meal too so we make sure they’re at the venue on time to load in and then soundcheck so they can go and eat and be back in time for doors. There’s also simple things like making sure they have the WiFi passwords, sorting them out with change for merch or letting them know where the nearest launderette is!! After the gig, we have to do the maths to see how much we’re paying the act, as there’s often a percentage deal. Then it’s packing up the equipment as quickly as possible so that either a club night can start or the venue staff can start cleaning and go home!
Above and beyond all that, we’re constantly pushing all the gigs, keeping the website up to date and trying to think of new and better ways of pushing shows. We’re also always on the lookout for new local acts or exchanging emails about new albums we like and checking who the agents of the acts are. It’s non-stop really, especially when we’ve usually got 10 or 12 shows to promote at any one time.
All that is incredibly boring to anyone that just buys a ticket and comes to a gig though!
What’s the best gig you’ve ever put on? And the biggest horror story (naming no names)?
Matt: The best is actually really hard. Pinegrove and Courtney Marie Andrews stand out for me and both blew up in popularity soon after. Selling out Idles upstairs [at Clwb Ifor Bach] was brilliant and Richmond Fontaine’s last ever Welsh gig was a bit special. Single Mothers were amazing too and we’ve got them back in November. The funny thing about promoting is that I had a great time at our biggest horror show! In terms of having a much smaller crowd that we thought, it was our Garrett Klahn gig. He used to be the singer in Texas Is The Reason, who were and still are one of my favourite bands. He was absolutely lovely, so grateful that people on the other side of the world had come out to see him years after that band split up. It meant a lot to me to put on that show and he signed my LP and we had our photo taken in the photo booth. The only time I’ve been a proper fan boy!
How important is it to you to promote things other than music?
Matt: It wasn’t something we set out to do when we started, but it became clear that we were in a position to try to change things. Heads Above The Waves were already doing amazing work and we were by no means the first to introduce all-gender toilets, but even if these things make a difference for only a handful of people then they’re worth doing. Mental health is a massive issue in society as a whole and teaming up with HATW to raise awareness and give our (often young) audiences a very visible point of contact seemed a no brainer. It’s been a pleasure to have them at all our shows. We’d talked about all-gender toilets for a while but then had a band member ask us if it was something we could do for their gig, and we decided (with the support of Clwb Ifor Bach) that it was something we’d continue with for all future shows at the venue. We’ve had nothing but support for doing it and that’s been great to see. We get the best audiences!
What would be your dream three-band bill?
Matt: I would’ve loved to have put on The Weakerthans, but they’ve split up. I’ve actually put on most of my favourite bands so this is pretty hard! Let’s go with The Get Up Kids, Tiny Moving Parts and Beachheads.