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Interview with Ed Barnes of Furry LIVE!

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Interview with Ed Barnes of Furry LIVE!

If you’ve ever been out in Ipswich (and really, why would you be reading this if you hadn’t?) then the chances are that you will know or have heard of Ed Barnes, the mastermind behind the long-running Furry Indie Nights that have been a staple of Ipswich’s alternative nightlife for longer than we’ve been legally allowed to purchase a Red Stripe. Ed’s newest venture, Furry Live, is reinvigorating The Rep and attracting a buzz in a town that has been crying out for live music since the Premier Pool Club stopped putting on Rosalita and Charlie Brown (RIP) on a Friday night. We got together with Ed for a chat about his new project and what he’s got up his sleeve.

Hi Ed, how’s it going?
Everything’s going really well at the moment thanks.  We’re working hard at the Rep as I guess the cat is kind of out of the bag with regard to our intentions to get it restored to its former glory as a live venue.  It’s looking very good at the moment.

Furry Live seems to have become pretty popular in a relatively short time can you talk a little bit about how the idea came about?
We were asked to put on some gigs to prove to Greene King, the brewery that owns it, that it would work and it’s been a massive success. When I say live venue I don’t just specifically mean music. It could be an arts centre, with theatre or comedy or anything of that ilk, which is what this town desperately needs.

You started with Ipswich’s own James Severy, before securing a bit of a coup in the form of Mark Morriss, previously of seminal Britpop band The Bluetones, how did you manage that?
In a general sense you’ve got to sell it to them, just get on the phone and push it. Guaranteeing them the money beforehand certainly helps. I think if the artist knows that you’re going to work very hard for them and are genuine then they tend to get on board. With the Rep, we tend to paint the picture of playing in an old theatre to the acts, sending them photos, things like that.

It certainly seems to have breathed new life into the Rep, which, let’s be honest, wasn’t doing particularly well.
Yeah. We’ve given the Rep two of its most successful Friday nights in the last decade, which is obviously a pretty good achievement, and thankfully Greene King has backed us. If all goes well it’s looking like hopefully in the summer we’ll be able to get the place converted into a live venue with a 400 person capacity.

Are there more plans to incorporate acts with more of a national profile or are you more focused on putting on Suffolk-based acts currently?
That’s my vision. No disrespect, but in all honesty there are very few Suffolk-based acts that could fill a venue of this size on their own, other than obviously Ed Sheeran or someone of that sort of stature. The plan is to use the same sort of template the Colchester Arts Centre does in that you get a touring act, you put them on, and the support comes from an Ipswich or Suffolk-based group or artist. That way you’re giving local people the opportunity to support an act with a national profile. We’re still going to put on local bands from time to time but with a venue of this size you need to be aiming for more established names in order to justify it.

Sounds good. You’re a West Ham fan aren’t you? Can we look forward to a performance from Ray Winstone in the near future? Guest DJ set from Danny Dyer?
I am indeed a West Ham fan. If I can get Ray Winstone to play the Spoons then I’m all for it. I’m not going to lie; I’d love to get Chas & Dave down, even though they’re Spurs fans. I’d definitely be up for that.

Cool. We were kidding about the Danny Dyer thing. Please don’t do that. Can you tell us what’s next on the calendar?
The next Furry Live is on Friday 18th May with former Seahorses front man Chris Helmes who, along with John Squire, produced one of the best albums of the nineties. Other than that we’ve got things in the pipeline which we can’t really talk about just yet but keep your eyes on the Furry Facebook page and all will be revealed.

Intriguing. Anything else you’d like to add?
Yeah I just want to stress not to expect miracles early on. This is a great opportunity for Ipswich in general and if people stick with us while we build this thing up then hopefully we can give Ipswich the live music venue it deserves.

Don’t miss the next Furry LIVE, this Friday!

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Image: Wes of Indywood Promotions
Words: Benjamin Scarlett

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