James Irvine has been a mainstay of the Denver independent music scene forever it seems like. While he’s most known for booking your band a drunken crazy raging night at the Larimer Lounge, he is part of a new collective here in Denver hoping to make it possible for bands to tour, get national exposure and make things happen outside of the square state.
AudioVore: We think the question on everyone’s mind is, can my band play the Larimer Lounge?
James Irvine: (laughs) Absolutely! We don’t discriminate.
AV: What type of things do you look for in an act if you’re booking?
JI: If it’s local, I usually look for a band’s history, if they’re going to bring people into the venue. There are numerous things I’m looking for, if they have a nice drinking crowd that’s always a good indication that they’ll be playing good shows at the Larimer.
AV: So what is your new project, Holy Underground?
JI: Well, it’s a new collective that I’ve started. It’s basically a Denver based music and lifestyle collective that represents a couple bands around town.
AV: Who all is involved in the collective?
JI: Well it’s myself, handling the management and booking, Alex Anderson from Mancub who is heading up HUG records which is the record label that we’ll be starting, Chip Herter who is going to be doing the PR for us and helping our bands get that national exposure, Brett Rowley is our event coordinator with a background from the music industry down in Austin, Ethan Converse from Flashlights will be handling our finances and the glue that holds us all together and Dillon Morton is our creative director.
AV: It sounds like something that Denver absolutely needs. Something in Denver that can help take them outside of Denver.
JI: Yeah, we have about six or seven bands that we’re trying to take to that next level and beyond booking and management, we can offer them the record label and then PR as well. Trying to get them not only that local exposure but also the national exposure that’s so needed.
AV: So when does Holy Underground launch?
JI: We won’t launch until September but we’ll be presenting shows and that kind of thing.
AV: What benefit or launch events will we be seeing for Holy Underground?
JI: Well we “soft launched” by presenting Tiger & Woods and Flashlights at the Larimer in mid April. Until we are live, I think we’ll just be trying to attach our name to shows that fit the vibe of Holy Underground and garner exposure for the business. The two shows we have scheduled to “present” at this time are Mancub’s Release Party May 25th, and Flashlights Release Party June 16th. Both are at Larimer Lounge.
AV: You mentioned that you had a roster of six or seven bands, who are they?
JI: Well we book 3 of the bands and manage 3 other bands. The ones we manage are Flashlights, Force Publique and School Nights. Basically I’m involved in every aspect of the band and trying to get them up onto the next level. We book Achille Lauro, Mombi and the almighty Sauna. Since we’re based in Colorado we try to start out regional but then definitely trying to get them on the road as well.
AV: How do you pick the bands that you work with, is it at all like your experience booking?
JI: First and foremost it’s bands that we like. It started with Achille Lauro asking me to manage them and they really got to a point where I couldn’t say no anymore. Other than that, yeah, history and bands that we believe are ready to go to the next level.
AV: What do you say the impact of a nice website or developed web presence is for a new band that’d want to work with you?
JI: The more that a band is put together and has all of those assets, the more we want to work with them. It goes for the Larimer Lounge as well; the more professional a band is the better. If a band looks janky and we’re afraid they might not show for their gig, we’re kind of afraid of booking them. (laughs)
AV: Well in that aspect, besides having great music and professionalism, what is the best advice to bands to get repeat gigs at a venue?
JI: Promote, promote, promote. First and foremost. I think that’s how you can kind of work the circuit too, because if you start on an off night and bring a nice crowd then you can move up to weekend shows or supporting a touring band. Every step of the way you need to promote as much as you can.
AV: What about the idea of emailing to try to get on the bill with a band that you like or want to play with?
JI: Absolutely, just being driven and wanting a show while being persistent and contacting the buyer over and over again is a good way of going about it.
AV: So, even though you’re working with a lot of Denver acts right now, who is your favorite band or musician in the city?
JI: Gauntlet Hair is probably my favorite band of the last 5 years.
AV: So what is your general view of the Denver music scene right now? What is it doing well, what is it doing poorly, what do you think would be a great improvement for bands and other business people in town to work on?
JI: I think we’re in a comfortable spot, but we really need to work hard to gain the national exposure that’s so imperative to band’s success. Tennis and Gauntlet Hair are the ones that I’m thinking of. Both bands did it the right way. They had the story, they had management, they had PR, record label etc. The structure was there for them to succeed. And they’re both fucking great. There are a number of bands in Denver that have been putting in work for years, doing well in town, that I would love to strike out on a national level. Personally, I think a band like Achille Lauro should be making waves on a national level. And I think there are a lot of fans in Denver who would agree with me.
AV: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that bands have of booking agents or talent buyers?
JI: From the booking side, bands think they’re entitled to play shows. They think they don’t have to put in their work or promote really. It’s a business too, you’ve got to keep it as a business so when personal friendships collide with the business sometimes, it’s unfortunate.
AV: Who are some of the other people in the Denver music business that you really admire?
JI: As for individual people making a difference in the scene, I really admire Sarah Slater, The Vinefield Agency crew, Bocumast Records, Scott Campbell, Kendall Smith, Ben DeSoto and all the great studios around town. Will Dupree is also one bad ass supporter of the local scene. Have to include him.
AV: Oh, and what are the names of those hot bartenders at the Larimer?
JI: (laughs) Stacey, Davey, Kaitlyn, Naomi, and Lauren. I think that’s all of them. Don’t let my girlfriend read that.
AV: We’ll try our best.