WE INTERVIEW LEE BIRCH FROM TIME TO SHINE PROMOTIONS, FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED
Hiya Lee for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
So introduce us to yourself and talk us through your musicial history?
My name is Lee although I tend to be known as ‘Birchy’ throughout the industry.
I am the founder and owner of ‘Time To Shine’ promotions.
I am making it my mission to help get new, good artists the exposure around the country, that they deserve.
More importantly, I want to make sure they are paid well for what they do, to help get singles / ep’s / albums professionally recorded.
With this venture, I also want to do things for a good cause and offer something that no other promoter does.
Therefore, I have announced that 10% of profit made from ticket sales to the gig’s I promote, will be donated to the ACORNS CHILDRENS HOSPICE.
I have also agreed to team up with MEN UNITE, MENS MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY.
The lad’s that run this charity are a breath of fresh air and deserve a lot of praise for what they do.
They will be making appearances at the gig’s, selling merchandise to help raise funds to run the charity but more importantly to make people aware of who they are and what they do, so please if you see them about go and have a chat with them (in between sets obviously.)
You can find them on Facebook or even visit their website, www.menunite.org/ to find out more information about what they do and have to offer 24/7.
I am a firm believer that every person attending a gig has a problem in some shape or form, no matter how big or small.
None of us know what that problem may be with the person we are standing next to at an event.
Attending live music is a release and an escape from these problems and everyday life, where we are allowed to maybe not forget but put aside for a few hours.
Music really does pull people together.
I have always loved music more than probably anything else in the world.
It helps me with getting on with my days.
Not a day passes where I have not got my earphones in or listening to music on platforms or even my vinyl collection spinning.
I am also always on the lookout for new artists, hense this whole idea in the first place.
My influences range quite a lot across all genre of music but indie / alternative music is my main go too.
Fleetwood Mac, Paul Weller and The Jam / Style Council are a biggie for me but then Ocean Colour Scene, Oasis, Inspiral Carpets, The Smiths and Johnny Marr are the kind of bands and artists I grew up around and really made me take notice of music.
I have links with some of the above and have been fortunate enough to be invited back stage and drink with them at several of their gigs over the years.
I also dj around the country and have recently joined ‘Indie Rocks UK’ radio station to further enhance my passion for music.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic? If so what?
The pandemic really hit me at the worst possible moment for personal reasons.
A marriage break up, loss of employment, death of sister are just some of the things I have had to deal with.
I was living alone and could not have visitors, so I brought a pool table to have a bit of fun with.
The thing that I did buy that helped me enormously was my vinyl player.
That also led to me starting a vinyl collection and as I have already stated, I listen to music everyday.
Something different on each given day, dependent on my mood at the time.
A couple of bands that helped me though my troubles were ‘THE TWANG’ and ‘INHALER’.
I listened to them everyday, without fail.
The Twang are just one of them bands I have a soft spot for and I believe they are very under-rated.
Their song writing for me just hits home and is about everyday stuff ie, work, girlfriends, people’s issues.
Whenever I attend their gig’s, there is always a connection between them and the audience and for me it’s a connection I have never witnessed personally with another band.
The complete week leading up to one their gig’s, I am just ‘on one’ and buzzing the the night to come around.
If nobody has been to one, I strongly recommend you get on one!
With Inhaler, they were a new band that had just hit the scene really and I connected with their very catchy guitar riff’s and Elijah’s vocal range. It just got my attention.
Obviously he is the son of Bono, so that is to be expected.
To be honest I never knew this for a little while and then when I found out I was like, ‘yes’ I can see this now.
Both his vocals, his looks just resemble his old man and the band’s press images also.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I am 38 years old (Joke!)
To be honest I don’t think I could say anything that would surprise anyone.
I am quite active across social media, maybe not so much on a personal level but things of interest, in general.
Therefore, people know how much I love music, how much I promote new bands, my football allegiances, dad jokes and all round banter about things.
I like to make people smile and just be happy in general so I am always jesting.
The world is a pretty rubbish place at the moment with everything that is going on and coming out the back end of the pandemic.
I just like to help people and pride myself on doing anything possible to help.
Who is inspiring you at the minute on the UK unsigned scene?
I would say anyone that is really trying if I am honest.
The past couple of years have been tough, if not the toughest for the industry at every level.
Venue closures, staff job losses across venues and artists not being able to get on the road and showcase their talent.
If I really had to choose though, 2 bands do come to mind are….
Firstly, THE CLAUSE, from Solihull in Birmingham.
They have recently finished a headline tour around the country and I was fortunate enough to get to a few of the dates and also work on one of the dates with them.
I must say and this is just my opinion but I am sure people who got to see them on the road will agree, they absolutely smashed it!
Pearce and the lads are very passionate about what they do are very particular in what they do ensuring their show’s run smoothly and everyone enjoys themselves.
Honestly, anyone reading this please check them out!
I think and hope they get to play bigger venues soon, I am that confident about them.
Their tracks are also very uplifting. Just what the world needs right now!
Funnily enough, the first time I discovered the lads they were supporting THE TWANG in a beer garden at a pub in Birmingham and a socially distanced gig.
They just caught got me right there, that night and ever since I have followed and supported them and became friends with Pearce.
The 2nd band in mind are THE CHASE, from Nottingham (my now hometown.)
These lads are just unreal and have a very unique sound. It’s kind of a mix between indie and ska.
The moment you hear a track by them, you instantly know it’s them!
Too think they are so young may surprise anyone that has heard their work. Mainly due to Tyler’s vocal.
Honestly, their material is just amazing and I strongly recommend people check them out.
They are such a sound bunch of lad’s and I am good friends with them.
One thing I like about these is the support from their families!
This kind of support really hits home with me and it’s always a pleasure chatting and drinking with them at their gig’s.
The lad’s have just announced a headline tour starting in Nottingham next month and I advise people to get a ticket and go and see them.
They will not be disappointed
I am confident these boy’s will go onto bigger and better things.
Talking of family support to I would like to mention Mick (Kieron and Brandon’s father) from THE SHERLOCKS!
The family support they have is just a bond I only wish I had with my own parents.
Yet another fantastic young band, with uplifting music and a group of honest, hard working lads!
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
To take my time and not rush into this to fast!
The person that told me this, has got to know me quite well over the past year or so and knows how passionate I am about it and how professional I want it to be.
I know he will read this but I am reluctant to mention his name as I do not want to cause conflicts with other people that know us.
Seriously though, everything he has told me and advised me, I have sat back, took notice and actioned!
I love this guy and have so much time for him!
What made you start to get into gig promotions?
I have always wanted to work in music in some shape or form.
I have met a lot of people in the industry, made friends with them and feel now is the right time, with the right people behind me.
I cannot stress enough how much I want to help bands and artists, without them doing all the hard work and me reaping the rewards.
That is not what I am about!
I want to look after them, help get them further exposure around the country and most importantly, people to know who they are!
I do believe I have set up a niche promotions company here offering something no other promoter does.
To back this up, I have 2 charities involved.
This idea is not about me, yes I need to make a living out of it which I appreciate people will know but it is purely about the bands that wish to jump on board with me and helping them and also helping others as a result of my work.
I also believe, indie music is now taking off again as it did in the 90’s.
Now we are witnessing guitar music regularly in the top 10 album charts and even getting number 1’s which is massive.
Yes we no longer have the likes of X Factor winners and runners up filling the charts and this will play apart of current music and airplay but they are manufactured.
The music we are into, is full of hard working people that play all sorts of instruments and got to where they are now as a result of hard work and dedication, not tv talent shows and sob stories!
I say this a lot and stress the point, guitar music is back and I have chosen now to jump on this as I want to ‘strike whilst the iron is hot!’
I see your a radio host too, tell us all about that?
I have been a dj on a platform internet radio station for 12 months now but have recently switched to a more professional outfit based in Manchester ‘INDIE ROCKS UK’.
My shows consist of well recognised artist’s and tune’s but were I think I succeed, is I play and promote new talent in between your more recognised tracks.
This, I believe keeps the listening audience interested in my shows and gives new artists the chance to be heard through the airwaves.
After every show I get people messaging me asking who a certain artist I played, is?
Therefore I know I have gained the interest from someone about a specific artist and I love and take pride from that!
I know band’s are also appreciative of my work of which I am grateful to them for.
Lets face it, this is one tough industry and we are all in it together and for one reason only ‘our love of music.’
As a promoter too, it’s really tough out there at the min, with the steep increase in hire costs to book venues and the publics reluctance to buy tickets till last min due to covid is a new situation to manage, how do you protect yourself against financial losses?
I am that confident in what I do, I don’t feel I need the need for protection. Not just yet anyway!
As a promoter, it’s up to me to ensure I work hard and give my full focus and attention on what I do.
By this I mean, ensuring I get the right line-up’s for the right sized venue’s, the right towns and cities.
I do hours of research before reaching out to artist’s to see if they would like a piece of this action.
Following this, it then helps me determine an attractive ticket price to lure the public in to see these bands, as well as their own hardcore following.
I also look out for any other event’s that may be taking place in the area’s I want to work in such as sporting events, other music events including upcoming festivals taking place around the country.
I believe in my work that much that I will make this a success and I am determined to do so.
Whilst pondering with the idea of setting up ‘Time To Shine’ I explored idea’s of involving other’s and giving something back.
I have decided to donate 10% of profit I make from gig’s to ACORNS CHILDRENS HOSPICE.
I know there are a lot of ‘sharks’ in this industry and have even found it difficult getting bands on board due to booking agencies being tied up with them and wanting a cut.
I am fully independent and I see this charity as a gesture that further proves that this is not just a quick money making scheme for me.
I have chosen to work with ACORNS because children mean a lot to me.
Being a father of an 8 year old, music loving boy (Leighton) I know how much parent’s cherish their little bundles of joy and that is exactly what they are.
Nothing saddens me more than seeing a sick child, no matter how serious it may be.
Children touch many of our heart’s and I want to help these unfortunate little people and help to provide things to help them with treatment’s and gift’s to put smiles on their little faces.
I must stress, this comes out of my own profit I make and has no effect on what artist’s are paid.
So everyone involved in this project is playing a part in it.
People can buy their gig tickets to support new bands and take peace of mind that a percentage of the ticket fee is going to a very good cause.
It’s no secret to most that I am also a die hard Aston Villa fan and my club have a close affiliation with this charity also and they are based in my home town.
So what shows you got coming up?
I don’t wish to confirm line up’s yet as we have an upcoming press announcement planned but I will confirm we have the following cities booked….
Nottingham, Stoke-on-trent, Blackburn and Sheffield.
These shows will be taking place throughout June and July and I am already working on the next set of dates with bands planned for late Summer.
More information can be found through the correct sources and I advise everyone to keep their eye’s peeled and please, please purchase a ticket, come and support some great people who believe in what they do, as much as I believe in them hense approaching them in the first instance knowing that some of your hard earnt money will also be going to a good course.