The Zangwills

Sam Davies (left) and frontman Jake Vickers (right), The Zangwills. Image credit – Alyx Ashton

Some would argue that Salford has produced some of the most influential British artists of recent times, from Joy Division to The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, but these artists could not have excelled to stardom without a platform for their music and an audience to play to. We spoke to a member of The Zangwills to get a reaction from the industry.

The Deaf Institute, which is closing its doors after over a decade of serving Manchester’s music scene

Last week, it was announced by Mission Mars that its music venues Gorilla and The Deaf Institute would be closing for good following financial difficulties amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Zangwills

Local indie rock band The Zangwills have, since their formation in 2017, played sell-out shows at both venues, including a headline slot at the Deaf Institute. Since this time, they have garnered critical acclaim, with their debut single ‘New Heights’ boasting over 300,000 listens on Spotify alone.

Sam Davies, currently based in Salford and attending UCLAN’s Futureworks campus, is a guitarist in the four-piece band.

In an interview for Salford Now, Davies warned that the closure of these iconic venues could have disastrous, far-reaching consequences for budding artists across Greater Manchester and beyond.

The Zangwills at their headline gig at Manchester’s Academy 3.

Heavy Lifting:

Paying particular attention to the fact that these were two of the only small-medium sized venues which were able to host 14+ and 16+ shows, Davies explained: “When it comes to supporting up and coming bands, whether they be touring or local bands, young fans tend to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

“If fans aren’t able to go and support artists at the earlier points in their career, then the music scene in Manchester is definitely going to suffer.

Showing his concern for his fellow artists, he continued: “Without small grassroots venues there will be significantly less artists that will be able to breakthrough and play the bigger venues.

“This could also lead to artists being booked to play bigger academy sized venues before they’re ready, unfortunately not filling the room and losing a considerable amount of momentum as a result.”

A dismal forecast for Manchester’s small venues:

With a stern message for the Government in Westminster, he warned: “The UK arts sector is worth around £111bn per year, and without increased government spending more small grassroots venues will likely close their doors, resulting in a significant loss for the UK economy.

“This is undoubtably the only way that these venues will be able to stay afloat until it is safe for them to reopen.”

Davies then turned his attention to the UK’s recently announced Arts Rescue Fund, saying: “The closure of these venues makes it clear that the Government’s Arts Rescue Package isn’t being used to save grassroots venues, but instead being used to keep bigger, commercially owned venues open.

“This is undoubtably the only way that these venues will be able to stay afloat until it is safe for them to reopen.”

Hope for the Future:

Like many in Manchester’s bustling music scene, The Zangwills’ Davies isn’t so sure that this is the end for these venues.

“I’m still very confident that at least one of them will reopen within the next year. They’re too iconic for someone to not at least try and save them.”

“A Certain Character”

In a heartfelt final tribute to these much-loved venues, Davies said: “Both Gorilla and Deaf Institute had a certain character to them that you don’t find in many of the other venues in Manchester of a similar size.

“So many artists came through the ranks at these venues, headlining these venues was almost seen as a rite of passage for Manchester based artists that were on the rise.

“Bands such as The Blinders and Pale Waves played momentous headline shows at both venues before going on to play to thousands of people around the country.”

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