Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody is leading a host of other Irish stars throwing his weight behind a radical new music ‘hub’ in his native Northern Ireland.
Details have just been revealed of the Oh Yeah Building – set to open in the coming weeks. It is hoped it will help provide a base for the country’s nascent music industry. Lightbody has been joined by Ash’s Tim Wheeler, BBC Radio 1’s Colin Murray and DJ and producer/DJ David Holmes in supporting the plan.
The building, an old whiskey bonding building in the heart of Belfast’s resurgent Cathedral Quarter, will be home to rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, performance space, a café and office units to incubate new music businesses. The brainchild of former NME assistant editor Stuart Bailie, is it has been called ‘Ground Zero’ for Northern Irish music.
“What is needed is a nexus to focus musical energy into and to unite the Belfast music scene in a way that has been elusive until now,” said Lightbody. “What the Patrol would have given for the advice of professionals; the space to rehearse or cut demos; a place to hang out and listen to music and meet people that might one day change your life.”
When Snow Patrol were presented with a Meteor Award last week (Ireland’s BRIT Awards) for Best Album, Lightbody ripped off his shirt to reveal an Oh Yeah T-shirt.
“I think this is a fantastic, long-overdue idea for Belfast,” said Tim Wheeler. “The music scene in Belfast needs a hub like this. As a musician from Northern Ireland I remember how difficult it was starting out. Finding places to play and meet like-minded musicians was incredibly hard. We had no idea how to get the attention of record labels, our options seemed very limited in Northern Ireland at the time. Luckily for us we got a breakthrough, a contact in London and got a record deal over there.
“Cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow have all had celebrated music scenes, proving that London is not the only place you can go to make music in our corner of Europe. With the right conditions, Belfast could become known as a famous music city.”