On Friday 6th January, local gig venue The Talking Heads released a statement on their Facebook page that the weekend would be their last few days of trading. Since the recession the venue has struggled to generate enough business to stay afloat. Fans’ worst fears were confirmed as, after 20 years, one of Southampton’s musical institutions was forced to close its doors.
I managed to catch up the man heading the Save Our Heads campaign, Jodie Copeland. Jodie is a local music legend of sorts, and as well as being a huge supporter of local music he is also the founder and editor of the online music magazine mINtSOUTH. This is what he had to say:
First of all, why is it that The Talking Heads is closing?
I believe the current man in charge no longer has funds to keep it running. The recession is hitting hard: people aren’t spending, and the business is running at a loss. Even when the venue was packed, people still weren’t spending the kind of money they were two or three years ago.
How and why did you become involved in the Save Our Heads campaign?
On Friday I saw The Talking Heads issue a statement (via their Facebook page) saying the venue would no longer be open after the weekend. I immediately set up the campaign. It’s an important venue to the music scene on the south coast, and I wasn’t prepared to see it just vanish overnight.
Obviously the aim of the campaign is to keep The Talking Heads open, but how are you hoping to do that?
From what I understand the situation may not be as bad as was first feared. I’ve been told the landlord of the building wants to keep the venue on as it is, rather than turning it into flats. But they still need to find someone to come in and take it over. Personally I believe that person will need a bit of money, as it almost certainly needs a refurb of some kind. The toilets are a bit stinky for a start! But it’s not just about money — the new person will need to breathe fresh life into the place, have lots of ideas, and be able to attract people back to the venue.
So the campaign hopes to raise awareness of the situation and get people supporting the venue in the hope that it will entice a new owner?
Exactly. The whole campaign now is about awareness. We’re not asking for donations — it’s too late for that. We’re asking for people to spread the word in the hope that the right person will come along and invest in the venue. It’s still in danger, though — if that person does not come along the venue may not reopen. And, even if it does, if that person isn’t the right person we may be in this situation again in 12 months time.
So you’ve touched on this already, but the obvious question is what can we do to help?
At the moment it’s just about awareness. Spread the word, share the Facebook page, and get tweeting with #saveourheads, and in the meantime get out and support the other live music venues, as venues closing down could soon become the norm.
On Sunday night hundreds of people packed into the venue to say their farewells, a crowd that filled some with hope and optimism while leaving others asking “Why, if the Heads can get this kind of support, has it come to this?”. On Saturday rumours began circulating on Twitter that DJ Rob da Bank and Isle of Wight Festival boss John Giddings would jointly buy the venue. Though, to the disappointment of many, these turned out to be taken out of context as the pair were in fact referring to a local coffee shop. I for one pray this is is not the end for The Talking Heads, and am glad to see that local music fans won’t let it go down without a fight.