Newcastle-based trio Last Waltz join us for another ReviveHER next week playing in the upstairs bar. With an upcoming release on Bristol label Futureboogie, previous outings on Andy Blake’s vinyl-only label World Unknown, and their own label Object Of Distraction and running successful underground dance party Dada; these boys are on the up. Comprised of Geoff Leopard, Mick Rolfe and El.Dee (Lee); they’re not only musicians, DJs and promoters but also staunch advocators of the North East. We caught up with them to find out more…
How did the three of you meet?
Lee: Brought together by mutual hatred.
Mick: Newcastle’s more underground music scene is relatively small and pretty much centered around a handful of places so you tend to see a lot of the same faces regularly and everyone’s a mate of at least one of your mate.
I’d often see Lee DJing or just out and about and we’d generally give each other a nod. It wasn’t long until we were introduced properly and that was that really… Geoff just seemed to appear one day! I remember seeing him one Sunday in one of our regular haunts with a few lads I know… They clearly hadn’t been to bed yet and I must have been feeling a little worse for wear and remember taking exception to the mouthy berk at the next table… Fast forward a few weeks and the mouthy berk became a mouthy berk mate!
Via randomly DJing together over the next few years and by having various mutual friends the three of us gradually ended up putting nights on together… It was quite a natural progression that just seemed to happen rather than having any big game plan (we’ve still not learned our lesson!)
Geoff: We all ended playing as the residents of the same night around about 5 years ago and from enjoying playing together, to winding up at the same after-parties, we just kind of bonded and became close friends. Although I’d still say some of the mutual hatred still lingers.
What’s the weirdest derelict venue in Newcastle you ever had your party Dada in?
Lee: The Jazz Cafe hands down for me, not just for the way it looks and feels but for the crazy, genius who owns/runs the place…. He’s called Keith and he’s a lovely, miserable, old bugger who’s been on Newcastle’s alternative/jazz/ club scene since year dot. He’s always at every party we’ve put on there and makes a point of telling us how shit our music is, he adds something extra to the party just by being at this, truly, bizarre venue.
Geoff: The Jazz Cafe is mad; it looks like the set from Allo Allo and had a giant pagoda in the middle with bunting from the coronation and a neon sign saying “Lola’s Bar”. The Old Music Hall is definitely the most breathtaking though. The combination of the huge vaulted Victorian ceilings, along with the fact it’s entirely derelict, make you feel like you’re partying in the remains of some bombed out building during the Blitz.
Mick: They’ve all had their own level of weirdness and are all completely different to each other and to anywhere else, but I reckon we’d probably all agree that the Jazz Cafe is certainly the most surreal…
In terms of layout and just completely looking the part though, the Music Hall is just fucking perfect!
Why did you decide to make your label, Object Of Distraction, a vinyl only project?
Lee: I love vinyl and I’m shit with new technology.
Geoff: Mick and Lee play vinyl exclusively, so it always had to be a vinyl label. For me, although I play digital music on CD, I still feel as though the lack of any physical media is robbing music of having any real tangible existence. The record has gone from being a necessity to all DJs, to becoming a fetish item for an ever reducing few DJs.
We thought that making Object Of Distraction vinyl-only would go a small way to redressing the balance. While I’m certain that it won’t really help the exposure of the records in the long term, at least we know that for the most part the people who have our records have taken the time to find them, listen to them, and then purchase them. It’s nice to know your music is going to the right people I guess.
Is this how you came to release on fellow vinyl only label World Unknown?
Geoff: Actually no. We’re all big fans of [World Unknown co-founder] Andy Blake from way back when and we love the stuff him and Joe Hart have been doing with WU. A mutual friend of ours, a nutcase called Craig Borthwick, put us in touch regarding something else and at the time we had a track we really thought fit their sound. After we sent it we found out that they had already made plans to release a track by our friend Emil Strunz, who is a regular at Dada. It was just one of those right time right place things and they signed our track.
Has all this vinyl releasing led to you preferring to play out on vinyl?
Geoff: Like I say, Mick and Lee have and always will be exclusively vinyl. I, on the other hand, play mostly off CD’s now, but that’s allowed me to spend more money on records I want for my collection, rather than spending all my money on lots of releases I may only play once.
We have decided however that we wont release on a label that wont press our tunes to wax. We’ve released one digital only remix to date, on a brilliant local label called Audio Parallax, but I don’t think we’re likely to do digital only again.
You guys are DJs, producers and musicians. How many instrument combined can you all play and what are they?
Geoff: I can play most instruments with keys badly, the guitar really badly, and the cello even worse, but I’m more of a songwriter if I’m honest.
Mick: I’ve written songs and sang in bands for a number of years so I’m first and foremost a singer but I have a (very) basic grasp of guitar, keys, bass and drums… Though I’d love to play the cello and didn’t know that about you Geoff!
What are your favourite nights out in your hometown of Newcastle?
Mick: For me personally, Endless Race and Signals are usually definites in my diary as their booking policy clicks with me, also some good friends have been running a party called Suono for the last eight years and their bookings are generally right up my street and I’ve had some fantastic times there. But there are also a wealth of other great nights in Newcastle of various persuasions, which are on a similar scale to us such as Oscillations, Ctrl, Dragnet, That Old Chestnut and Motion, that you’ll often find us at, and likewise the guys that run those parties.
It feels like a lot of people are willing each other to do well in the region at the moment and long may it continue… It’s also brilliant to see nights run by people we know, such as Wax:On and Jaunt doing so well and taking things to a whole other level!
Geoff: Yeah, I agree with Mick and I’d probably add Ape-X to that list, we played for them recently alongside Deetron and Joy Orbison. I also really like the Beer Ping Pong nights at the Cumberland Arms. We also played there recently. It’s quite surreal DJing to people walking round a ping-pong table.
Lee: I’m actually from Sunderland but live in Newcastle (if this goes to print and hadn’t stated this my life may not be worth living come the beginning of the new footy season) but the same as the other two, Suono, Endless Race, etc.
And who are your local heroes?
Geoff: Mark Knopfler (see what I did there?), Sting (sorry, but it’s true), Bryan Ferry and controversially T Dan Smith because of the Sky Ways dotted around the city. Also, Len and Betty White.
Mick: Jimmy Nail as Oz from Auf Weidersehen Pet (only the first two series though) and my Nana…
Lee: Sunderland AFC.
Your new track Trinket is due out at the end of the month on Futureboogie. Will you be playing it at Superstore and are you more likely to play the original or the Bad Passion remix?
Mick: It depends if my copy turns up by then.
Lee: I’d probably play ours early on and then their’s when the party’s at its campest peak.
How does the Last Waltz sound fit in with the other acts playing at ReviveHER at Dalston Superstore?
Mick: In the way that it’s music that you can dance to…
Last Waltz play ReviveHER at Dalston Superstore on Friday 27th July from 9pm – 3am.