We may live through hard times for the dreamers (as mighty Welshmen Trampolene observed) but we definitely need visionaries and cultural catalysts – perhaps now more than ever. Hard times call for movers, shakers and people who will push things forward when everyone is looking back at nostalgia.
Through our blog we tend not only to support new and upcoming artists but also those who tirelessly work behind the scenes in labels, music websites, venues and radio stations. Today`s entry is dedicated to a man who will be seen by future generations as Sheffield`s answer to Tony Wilson – Mr Rob Hirst.
Rob has dedicated years to build a network and to promote bands from across the country in conditions that would make others throw the towel in. His strength, persistence and vision are shining though and elevated artists to better things.
We had a real pleasure and privilege to speak to Rob about his label, music industry and his dream band.
Musician, label owner and a walking encyclopaedia of great new bands – please introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria.
Rob Hirst: Hi, I’m Rob the owner and founder of Fans for Bands and These Bloody Thieves Records! (laughs)
It`s been a year since you have founded These Bloody Thieves Records. In that time you worked with artists such as False Heads, The Howlers, C33`s among many others. That is a truly impressive accomplishment. Tell us where did the idea for a label come from and how did you manage to make this a reality?
Rob Hirst: I guess it was just a progression from all the other things I was doing. I was working with a lot of bands via Fans for Bands, discovering new bands via my Spotify playlists and I was scouting for others management and labels. When Ditto approached me about the label in the box within a few hours I had the branding, put a post on social media and Luke from False Heads was keen to work with me. It was up and running in 24 hours.
2020 started with a bang at the label. You just announced Singles Club – a very ambitious plan to release 24 singles this year. Can you give more information as we are sure many bands would love to get in touch.
Rob Hirst: Yeah, I wanted to do something different this year after a frustrating end to 2019. I was bored on Boxing day and the idea just popped into my head. I put a post out on social media and the submissions and support came flooding in. By end of Feb 2020 the label will have put out five singles already with artists all over the UK.
You are the man behind the Fans for Bands project. Please tell us more about it. What exactly is Fans for Bands and how does it work? How this platform can benefit unsigned artists?
Rob Hirst: The name itself kind of explains what it is. This is my freelance side to my career and the also the PR/marketing brand that supports the label. The idea is to have a budget marketing (PR/Spotify and Social Media Growth) that gets excellent results based on my passion, knowledge and contacts without ripping a massive hole in the artists pockets.
At the end of December 2019, These Bloody Thieves welcomed Matthew Stockman as head of A&R and Live Events. His presence will surely invigorate the label. We are very curious what live events are in the pipe line? Showcases or maybe even a festival?
Rob Hirst: Matt is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to discovering new bands and was an active figure on the London scene before moving to Sheffield and then joining the label. Matt will be looking to discover new artists and then give them a slot at our stages in Sheffield and looking to actively promote to new artists to a Sheffield crowd.
We know its maybe a cliché question but what are you looking for as a label? What qualities should an artist/band possess to grab your attention? And how prospective artists can approach you?
Rob Hirst: It’s all about the quality of the artist. Preferably discovered as early as possible and to help to support their releases. Obviously, we want to play our part on breaking a band. But the label has never been about making money. It’s about putting out and supporting great artists and to encourage people to listen to something other than Lewis Capaldi (laughs)
Music Business is not the easiest of industries – and we are sure that running a label is not a walk in the park. But it also offers some valuable lessons to us all. If you were to share some of your experiences with those who want to set up their own labels – what would you say to them?
Rob Hirst: Yeah of course. Success will definitely not come over night. Don’t sign too many artists at once and don’t invest too much money that you will not see back. I have no regrets about the levels on money invested and lost in the first year. It was all about been taken seriously and getting a reputation so that we could then attract the best artists in the UK – Which has definitely worked.
Last (in)famous question – imagine you can create a super group consisting of any musician from history. Who is in the band, what instruments do they plan and what`s their name?
Rob Hirst: Wow! Depends what mood I am in! I have to reform my old band and have a mid life crisis. Those musicians I played with played a huge part in my life and all led me to working in music full time. But off the top of my head!
Crispin Hunt (Longpigs) – Vocals/Rhythm Guitars
Nick McCabe (Verve) – Lead Guitars
John Entwhistle (The Who) – Bass
Reni (Stone Roses) – Drums
You can follow These Bloody Thieves on socials:
and Fans For Bands:
Rob Hirst is also the man behind Indie Radar – a mammoth play list for all things indie. If you want to know what is hip on the indie circuit – this is your place to start.
Big thank you to Rob for his assistance and patience. Please support your local scene during this time. We will emerge from it as better, stronger industry.