INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: No Sleep Promotions
By: Dillon Collins
What do you do when you’re tired of shady promoters, shadier venues and are tired of navigating the pitfalls of a music scene that can breed fair-weather fans? Why, you start your own badass promotions crew to ensure that A: the talent is treated as such, B: everyone from the first patron to the last is given the quality concert experience they pay their good, hard-earned money on, and C: that the name attached to the masthead is an assurance of that attention to detail and quality across the board.
That is exactly what long-time punk fans and stalwarts to the scene Lucas Ellsworth, Ryan Marshall and Jeff O’Leary have done with their budding promotions crew, No Sleep Promotions.
All three are deeply immersed in the local music scene in St. John’s. Ellsworth is a mainstay in such bands as Rough Surf, Lefty and Jim Jones, O’Leary joins him in Lefty while also serving in Smoke Signals, Wild and Bannerman, while Marshall can be found slinging suds at local watering hole The Rose and Thistle, as well as helping revive what is now known as the 208 (formerly live music venue Factory).
Ellsworth sat down with Rock Eden ahead of the promotion's largest venture to date, a trio of gigs with Canadian punk legends Daggermouth on August 18-19.
“Jeff used to do shows long before he even knew me, it just didn’t have a name,” Ellsworth explains, diving into the genesis of No Sleep. “A few years ago, I wanted to start doing it and the first band I brought here was Elder Abuse from Winnipeg, whose drummer is Dan from Daggermouth. Eventually, we started talking about working together and we slapped a name on it so people would know it was us.
“We wanted to put together good shows at good bars with good bands. The whole idea of the little vampire logo and name is so we can put that on the posters, they’d know it was us and they’d say yeah, that’s going to be a good show."
In Daggermouth, No Sleep has locked down a band with a massive national cult following. A lengthy hiatus for the band to practice alternate endeavours ended this year with a featured slot at Pouzza Fest in Montreal, where Ellsworth claims the resurrected punk-hardcore hybrid stole the weekend.
“I went to Pouzza Fest in Montreal just to see them. Lagwagon played and Direct Hit, Dirty Nil, so many amazing bands,” he shares. “I went just to see Daggermouth and they put on a fucking amazing show. It’s almost an injustice to call them pop punk because they’re more hardcore. It’s more hardcore with pop punk undertones.”
Of course, the who’s who of the punk community in St. John’s are turning up for these shows. Over two days the band will perform three sets including an all-ages showcase. Local punkers Uneeda, Hard Ticket, Pockethands, Intern, Brainer, and Release The Hounds are just some of the 12 bands linked to perform alongside the Vancouver legends. It goes to show the strength of the local punk scene here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I like to think that the punk scene in the last year has been more tight knit than ever,” Ellsworth says. “I’ve been working with people I’ve hardly ever talked to before. Even Jeff, I had played with him in bands before but never in putting off shows. Now we’ve been working hand-in-hand with Ryan in putting off this.”
As for what’s next for the No Sleep crew, there are designs for keeping the momentum going after Daggermouth and locking down equally exciting punk acts. The guys are not necessarily throwing off high-quality performances with world class artists as a money venture, though they hope the passionate fans on the island will turn up in support to ensure this event is just the first of many.
“We’ll start with this show and hopefully it does well. We’re not in it to make money, but definitely not in it to lose money either. Breaking even would be great,” Ellsworth says with a laugh. “If this show goes well we’ll hopefully do it again halfway soon, depending on what bands want to play ball.
“I hope everyone comes to the Daggermouth show on August 18-19. It’s looking really good and all of the guys in the band are excited to come here. They are so good, and if you like fast, loud music you should come see it. They do not disappoint.”
Daggermouth performs August 18th at 208 with Hard Ticket, Pockethands, Uneeda and Smoke Signals, August 19th (all ages) at Valhalla Tavern with Bannerman, Intern, Brainer and Ethan Cretin & The Hidden Pistols with a 19+ event later that evening featuring Release The Hounds, Bannerman, Coward, Rough Surf and Yee Grlz. Tickets are available at Fred’s Records, Fogtown Barber and The Rose and Thistle. Visit No Sleep Promotions on Facebook for more!