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Inspirational: Martin Oldgoth

Inspirational: Martin Oldgoth

One of the most amazing things about the alternative scene is its people – those who inspire and give of themselves to bring about its beauty. I wanted to pay homage to those individuals who have not only inspired me but who are pillars of our delightful dark society – keeping it aloft and helping it thrive.

The second in this series is someone who is pretty much ubiquitous in the UK Goth scene, working tirelessly to promote the music that underpins it. From spending many years booking and managing the Whitby Goth Weekend bands, to DJing around the county (and world!), to being a tour manager, event promoter, and hosting his own podcast radio show. Along with Cruel Britannia he also devised and spearheaded World Goth Day – the large black “smiley” logo being indicative of the philosophy behind it. This is a man who can always get me on the dancefloor, and whose wife Brigitte makes a wonderful companion front of stage at gigs. It’s great to know two such lovely down-to-earth people who scoff at those who see goth as a “phase” and wholeheartedly embrace all it has to offer, while maintaining a light-hearted view of things.

Here is my homage to Martin Oldgoth:

How long have you been in the scene and tell me what first attracted you to it? Do you see yourself ever leaving it? Or how has it already changed for you over time?

I was second generation punk, and drifted into that scene in ’77 and stayed with it until things got a bit shouty, a bit generic and at that point followed a lot of what later would be referred to as early goth or post punk bands, to me the more ‘musical’ element, the ones with something to say beyond going to the pub and fighting! It was like punk grew up and I followed that path so I guess in a way I’ve been there from the beginning. Things took a more serious turn in 1985 when a group of friends took over the running of a club night that we’d go to each Wednesday and I started helping out on the door, and then with band booking and a spot of DJing.

Next year I hit my 30th anniversary and I can’t see me quitting any time soon, I’m currently planning another US tour for Spring 2016. Over the years I think the roots of the scene were forgotten almost, the Nineties saw an influx of styles that for me personally we could have done without, but we do seem to be returning to the beginning again, there are a lot of newer bands looking farther back than in recent years for their influences and ideas. ‘Goth’ has always adapted itself, sometimes more than necessary to survive, but I’m glad to see things returning to ‘normal’ again!

Describe yourself in one sentence:

A determined and faithful friend to the ‘scene’, a middle man that works behind the stage as well as on it.

And your main outlook/ethos in life:

To enjoy it, we only get one crack at it so to me it’s important to have fun, try to live it without causing too much upset to others and leave a memory that you’d be proud of, something good that people will remember you by. I believe you should never just coast through life, you should live it. Get out there while you can, those new curtains can wait, they’re not important.

What does Goth mean to you?

For me it will always be rooted in those early post punk years, with its almost tribal drumming, it’s swirling guitars and bass driven melodies. For me the music is the most important part of it, everything else is secondary to that, a kind of add on to the central core, the heart of what the scene is about.

Why have you chosen to be an active contributor to the scene?

As I mentioned earlier it was almost by default, I found after helping friends that I felt at home in ‘the scene’, it was like finding who you are after years of not being truly sure. Having the radio show means I’m able to promote bands and help them reach a wider audience. It’s a small scene here in the UK, and it has a wonderful group of people that work hard and help each other to keep the scene alive. The fact that I’m considered one of those people means a lot to me, it keeps me doing what I do.

What contribution are you most proud of?

Without doubt the single most proud moment for me is orchestrating the collection for a memorial bench to honour the life of Sophie Lancaster, the girl kicked to death for being who she was. Seeing ‘Sophie’s Bench’ in Whitby every time we go there, knowing people were untied after such a tragedy to help leave behind a lasting tribute is something I don’t think I will ever top. Seeing it covered in flowers each time we visit is a fantastic sight.

Who in the scene do you admire/respect?

It’s hard not to leave people out when thinking about this, but there are always those willing to go that little extra to make things happen, Jo Hampshire for keeping the Whitby Goth Weekend alive and Frank Flag, even though he tends to work with the more ‘electro’ styles is willing to take those chances too. Cavey Nik and Dave Exile as DJ’s that refuse to compromise, DJBen for having faith in me when trying to start a new night. Then overseas there’s Scary Lady Sarah, The Release the Bats crew, The Thyssen brothers (Thomas and Ralf) and Ian P Christ for always pushing boundaries and helping new bands. Of course I can’t leave my wife, Brigitte, off the list, she’s there when things aren’t going so great, encouraging me to carry on, or to aim higher.

Recommend some bands

Strap on Halo who I toured with in March of this year are definitely worth checking out, they have a wonderful take on that Xmal / Siouxsie sound that they’ve made their own. Theurgist and This Cold are worth the effort of looking up, both doing music that’s a little more interesting than the often tired ‘Gothic rock’ style that seems to all blend after a while. Astari Nite are another good band with an almost Cure / Chameleons feel to them at times. There is a lot of good music out there, and sometimes it’s worthwhile to just search Bandcamp tags, seeing what’s out there, you’d be surprised at how strong the scene is when you dig a little into the unknown.

Favourite quote

Joe Strummer – “You gotta be able to go out there and do it for yourself. No one’s gonna give it to you”.

I like to think that I’ve lived by that, it’s certainly the attitude that saw me land some of my bigger DJ gigs, the determination to just go for it.

Favourite word

‘Bollocks’, I know it’s not big or clever, but it’s my favourite one, I use it a lot.