Sub Club & Nautilus Rising, All The Way The Surface
It’s only taken 28 years, one pretty serious fire, an unforeseen three year hiatus, and the tragic passing of the previous owner, but Sub Club caused ripples after finally announcing overdue plans to release music on their own record label. Nautilus Rising.
With any and all nautical puns floating to the surface at the moment merely coincidental, Sub Club has been the flagship for Glasgow’s underground musical armada for decades. Easily recognised as being one of the most prominent and well respected clubs across the entire industry. Sub Club has regularly seen itself being voted as not only a top ten fan favourite, but also a top ten DJ favourite, throughout all the seven seas. (that last reference nearly broke us.)
With the first record primed for release on the 15th October it features fresh mixes from the likes of Neil “Lord Of The Isles” McDonald, Alex Smoke, Stephen Lopkin and Vince Watson.
It seems that the most shocking part of the recent announcement is less about the creation of Nautilus Rising and more regarding the fact it has taken them 27 years to announce it.
Mike Grieve, Sub Club’s long term Managing Director and Nautilus Rising Label Manager said “The label I would say is just a natural extension of what the (Sub) Club has been doing for all those years.”
Arguably Glasgow’s most well known and well respected nightclub, Sub Club or “The Subbie” as it’s affectionately known to its legion of fans, has in its 27 years amassed an unquestionable loyalty amongst club goers throughout the city and across the world.
While other clubs and club nights might have chased easy money and suffered cause and effect consequences, Sub Club has resolutely stuck to its musical ethos. Building the brand from the foundations up, however, in the beginning, it wasn’t always plain sailing (sorry) for the Jamaica Street club.
Mike Grieve explained, “everybody remembers Sub Club as being a success, imagining we had it easy from the beginning, but clubs don’t start off that way. In the early nineties there was definite difficult times. When I first started we weren’t even open every Friday. We knew that we wanted to persevere, but we were aware that in order to be creative, we first had to balance the books.”
“I didn’t own the club at that time”, said Mike reminiscent, “but I knew my first challenge was to create a strong business model. A challenge in itself as the previous owners, the MacCrimmon family, had a difficult time of it. I think, to be honest, most of the clubs in Glasgow at the time were suffering.”
Times have certainly changed for the iconic club, with club night Sensu nearing a decade, Subculture DJ’s Harri and Domenic responsible for the longest weekly house residency on the planet and other nights such as the weekly Sub Rosa, Optimo, occasional Boiler Room live performances etc, the level of quality is spectacularly undoubtable.
“The label will reflect the quality of music we’ve guaranteed at Sub Club.” said Mike passionately “but we wanted to avoid pigeon holing our DJ’s into creating their idea of the “Sub Club” sound. That’s where Nautilus Rising comes into it, without wanting to sound too metaphorical, Nautilus is the fabled submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and it’s as if the Sub Club adventure is rising to the surface.”
On the ethos of the record label “we didn’t want to look as if we were trading off the integrity of the Sub Club brand, by calling it something like Sub Club Records. We believe that the music should stand on its own merit, music contributors shouldn’t lapse into complacency either, relying on the brand, rather than the quality of their own music.”
Glasgow’s late night culture has received a bit of a mauling in the last couple of years, with the Tunnel moving premises, and now bunk-bedding with Play2. Whilst in the same timeline The Arches was systematically closed and dismantled. Failing multiple health and safety issues. It was revealed shortly after closing its doors that The Arches was nearly £500,000 in debt.
Mike spoke about comparisons between the Arches and Sub Club. “People at first were like yeah that’ll be good for Sub Club, but not really, I wouldn’t say something like that is good for any of the clubs in Glasgow, it means less people heading into the city, less money in the night time economy and ultimately less jobs for creative people.
He continued, “but crowd-wise we never really had that much of a crossover with the Arches anyway. I mean obviously they had Pressure, but most of the nights didn’t have that much in common with our core audience. It took a lot of people to fill the Arches. With it costing so much to put a night on there, promoters had to bring in really big name DJ’s to fill the club irrespective of the quality of the musical output. Luckily at Sub Club we’ve never really had to do that, we’ve always resisted the temptation to go down that route and sticking to our guns in terms of programming has held us in good stead.
Although Nautilus Rising are releasing their first record on vinyl on 15th October, Sub Club have still fully embraced the new online musical revolution. Reaching a larger audience than ever before, fans can look for old DJ sets on social media. Sites such as Soundcloud or Mixcloud are constantly being updated, whilst their online community is vibrant, not only in Scotland, but thanks to the respect given to Sub Club, worldwide.
Mike said of embracing the new technology. “We were one of the first clubs in the world to actually have a website, certainly the first in Scotland, it was very basic, but yeah, back in 1996, although it wasn’t easy to update content. So for years it was just one or two pages.”
With the music industry in a state of flux, it no longer makes logical business sense to rely solely on Sub Club itself, Mike explained. “We’ve invested heavily in updating our own website, making it more user friendly, our design side was always excellent, but it’s a better tool now, much more useful. It seems as if it’s almost as important now, for music fans to communicate with each other about the music, as it is about the music itself, there’s a real community of fans, who know their stuff, and that’s where social media comes into it.”
Glasgow has always had a passionate, music going audience, from legendary gigs at the Apollo, Barrowlands or King Tuts, to dance events at the Tunnel, Arches or Sub Club. Glasgow has always lived up to its reputation as a crowd unsurpassed for atmosphere, Mike is hoping this will be reflected in the label’s releases, “we’ve deliberately, not imposed any musical limits on the label, if we get interesting music, and we think its worth putting out, we wont hesitate to put it out.”
With the first release being unleashed on the 15th October, it seems, once again, like an exciting time for the Glasgow music scene.
Many thanks to everybody at Sub Club and Nautilus Rising especially Mike Grieve and Kieran Adie.