The One Stop DIY Shop – Interview with Sam Manville from ondryland


“We’re planning to grow into a completely self contained industry machine,” says Sam Manville co-founder of ondryland a Midlands based “one stop DIY band shop” that is home to a rabble of hardcore outfits including Shapes, The James Cleaver Quintet and Blakfish, for which he is the singer.

“I know it sounds like a monopoly but I think it is the way the music industry is headed anyway,” he continues. “We want to be in a position in three or four years time that we can offer bands a complete package deal, meaning we would be their management, booking agent, label, press officer and publish their music so that there is less percentages being taken by less parties, they would only ever have to deal with us, the only thing we couldn’t offer would be legal advice.”


As the implosion and explosion of different pockets of the old and new school music industry continues to leave many bewildered as to how they can make a living, many more infinitely interesting people are creating something progressive out of the fall out. Sam, who also keeps himself busy under the guise of Greatest Hits as well as being a proud step-dad, founded ondryland with friend Kirk Harrington, who manages Blakfish, due to their shared tastes and ideals of how a promotions and booking agency should be run.

“Both myself and Kirk had been putting shows on in the Midlands area for several years under different promotion company names. Blakfish have been putting shows on since we were all 13. When Kirk and myself got to know each other it became apparent pretty quickly that we shared very similar beliefs and taste when it came to bands and the music industry. We decided to pool our knowledge of promoting and ondryland was born.”

Shapes photographed by Adam Bennett

“After a while of just putting shows on we started contacting promoters in other cities so that Blakfish could play outside of the Midlands. Then when we had an EP and no label so it seemed sensible to put it out under the ondryland logo. It was all just out of necessity really and from doing it for nearly five years now we have a really great network of people and companies around us that are all working along the same principles as us.

“We help bands from all over the world in different ways, from booking shows to running press campaigns to producer management to being a booking agency, we pretty much do anything we can to help bands we like.

“Kirk is a multi-skilled music industry ninja who has his fingers in so many pies I’m surprised his mother hasn’t disowned him. There is also Mick Roe who is our Irish rep, he runs a great label called The Richter Collective that is based in Dublin as well as being the drummer in uber amazing Adebisi Shank. He’s like a more Irish version of Kirk really, but Mick can play the drums in time. There is also Mazz who people may know as the promoter of Rapturefest and also the vocalist of Betty Pariso. Mazz is mainly concerned with the booking agency side of ondryland.”

The James Cleaver Quarter photographed by Doc Foster

ondryland have scheduled a debut EP release for The James Cleaver Quintet in March entitled ‘The Ten Stages of a Make-Up’, the first to be issued since the ‘Gold’ EP by Blakfish in 2007 and although this will be only the second release on the label, Sam is confident of success.

“We work with and around releases all the time so we like to think we know what we’re doing… We decided to put ’10 Stages of a Make-Up’ out because none of our friends labels had room to and it’s such a fucking good EP that it would have been a crime if it didn’t get a semi decent press campaign. Also we knew that they were broke so it made sense for them to have a small amount of financial backing.

“Although smaller labels are happy with out-sourcing in the current climate it is only due to keeping immediate costs down as much as possible while still getting results, it makes far more long term economic sense for both labels and bands to have in-house press and agents and it is starting to happen more often. We want to take it to the next level, but it’s going to be a long time before we can.”

Sam and Kirk are clearly no strangers to hard work with Blakfish performing over 200 shows in 2009 – an ethic that is sure to see ondryland grow into the force it aims to be.

Blakfish and The James Cleaver Quintet play The Flapper, Birmingham on Monday 15th March 2010.

Andy Roberts

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