Search

Hackney Colliery Band: ‘Our first gig was in a Stokey snooker hall’

PUBLISHED: 11:04 03 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 May 2017

Hackney Colliery Band. Picture: Aidan Harris

Hackney Colliery Band. Picture: Aidan Harris

www.aidanharris.co.uk

Steve Pretty may refute the hipster label but he admits that “running a postmodern brass band is quite a hipsterish activity”

Steve Pretty may refute the label hipster but he admits that “running a postmodern brass band is quite a hipsterish activity”.

He named the Hackney Colliery Band after the neighbourhood where he lives, as a “tongue in cheek” homage to the UK’s brass band tradition.

“Musically what we do is very different – we don’t play the Hovis theme - but we imagined if a contemporary colliery band existed in Hackney what might it sound like?

“We played our first gigs above a snooker hall in Stoke Newington and rehearsed in a derelict pub next to Hackney Wick station. Americans get confused by the name but it acknowledges that we are British with a sense of location.”

Although some of his band mates have moved on, Pretty, who writes the music and arrangements, still lives in the borough.

“I live in a pretty hipsterish part of town but compared to my neighbours I’m not a hipster, I don’t have a beard, I’m not into fashion and I don’t wear silly little glasses but it’s all relative, when we tour around the country we would be labelled hipsters.”

The trumpeter co-founded the band back in 2008 inspired by all the “interesting brass music coming from all over the world, from America and the Balkans but there wasn’t much of that in the UK.”

Early efforts focused on covers, but they’ve since developed a set that’s largely original, and a performance style which includes moving through the audience while playing.

“Hackney’s a super vibrant, incredible musical borough with jazz, reggae and grime in its history. We’ve put our UK take on it,” he says by which he means fusing jazz, hip hop Balkan, soul and electronica.

The odd cover like Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box: “has to be a track that we can add something new,” he adds.

If the 2012 Olympics was the biggest crowd they’ve played to date, their upcoming gig at Koko is their largest headliner.

With two drummers, two sax, two trumpets, two trombones and a sousaphone, they’re certain to fill the venue.

“Brass bands are visceral, you don’t often see a large ensemble of musicians making this great noise. It’s quite raw but we’ve refined it – we see ourselves as a rock band but with brass instruments and there’s that energy behind it, we engage and connect with an audience. We’ve had times when the PA broke down but we could still go on.”

With a background in theatre and comedy, Pretty takes the mic to host the gigs with audiences ranging from students to older fans.

“People don’t always know what to expect, we’re hard to categorise, not jazz enough for the jazz scene or pop enough for the music industry. Jazz is a massive influence for us, the band is really a jazz project. It’s seen as an elitist music which can be frustating but we wanted to present music which is occasionally challenging and make it accessible.

“What sets us apart from other jazz projects is we engage an audience, have fun with the audience. People are usually partying by the end.”

Hackney Colliery Band launches a Live Album on May 12 and plays KoKo on May 26. Hackneycollieryband.co.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Friday, December 8, 2017

This is wholesome, traditional, uplifting, entertaining and highly recommended

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Homerton performer’s show is back for a week in December, with a modern and “ridiculous” retelling of the New Testament

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas can be a difficult time for care leavers, says Lemn Sissay. That’s why he decided to start organising Christmas dinners for them

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Expect a fun-filled, frothy, festive, feel-good, fab-time show at the Hackney Attic

PROMOTED CONTENT

“With teenagers there’s a lot of banter, and you can really establish a relationship. You have to trust teenagers to make their own decisions.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now