John Reid: The Fly By Night Musicians Club

Flying By Night: The Fly By Night Musicians Club.

Established over 20 years ago, The Fly By Night Musicians Club has a rich history within the local music industry.

The Fly By Night was established in 1986 by a group of musicians and arts supporters who were looking for a venue in Fremantle.

They saw the Military Drill Hall was free and approached Fremantle Council with their idea to use it as a musicians club. They obtained an America’s Cup Grant, set up a committee and established the venue as the community not-for-profit member-based organisation which it still operates as today.

Current general manager John Reid says operating in this manner has been crucial to its survival.

“If it was set up as a profit making enterprise it would not be here today. I think the way the club’s set up – its constitution [and] its set up for local and community events to showcase what they do or to raise money for community events – in any other environment that wouldn’t be able to occur in my opinion.”

He continues: “We just balance the commercial activity that we do with the community activity and give more exposure to more community events.”

The venue supports the local music and creative arts industries in numerous ways.

“In regards to events that we put on at the club they get a quality or production and assistance from professionals that they wouldn’t get if they were just trying to set up a gig by themselves.”

He continues: “In regards to local bands and organisations, they use the Fly By Night because I don’t think, in my opinion, there is anywhere else in Perth or Fremantle, that you can actually put on a fundraiser or a CD launch where you’re going to get the space to fit the amount of people you need to have a successful event or the production quality – operators and the service – that you want if you want to raise the bar a bit.”

The venue provides rehearsal spaces and sound and lighting training to it’s musician members along with possibilities to open for touring national and international artists. The cost to community organisations and local musicians who are hosting community events and CD launches at the venue is subsidised by funding from Healthways.

“There’s just opportunities they’re just not gonna learn anywhere else,” John says.

The venue hosts a variety of different types of events and caters to almost all genres of music. The only genre that is not really catered for is heavy metal.

“We have a 100dB limit at our desk so if you’re a heavy metal band that’s only gonna pull 10 people, it’s gonna be 150dB and you don’t have people to soak up the sound. So we sort of restrict heavier acts playing at the Fly By Night because it is one giant tin shed.”

While the venue is only licensed until 12pm and generally only hosts events late week and on the weekends, it has been subject to problems with noise complaints.

For ten years, a resident who lived in the rental apartments next to the venue complained about the noise levels.

“It caused a lot of issues with the club and caused a lot of strategic meetings to be held between the City of Fremantle and the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor in regards to noise legislation and the City of Fremantle’s Noise Abatement Act. We’ve worked through that and we have policies in place in regards to sound and disturbance by our patrons,” John says.

The only battle the venue is locked in with now is with a population of white ants that could destroy the 110 year old heritage listed building. Renovations are currently underway to rectify the problem.

Recent changes to the venue’s layout have also been made to improve access and allow for a greater scope of events. Access ramps have been fitted at the entrance and the stage was moved to the southern end of the building earlier this year.

“That’s where it originally was but the layout of the club, the stage has been in every corner of the venue…We moved the stage to the southern end because it is now more functional,” John says.

In its 21 year history, the Fly By Night Musicians Club has played a part in helping the careers of some of Perth and Fremantle’s most well known musicians. The majority of the club’s members are musicians and the likes of Nathan Gaunt, Dave Mann, Eskimo Joe and John Butler have launched their CD’s or played some of their first big shows there.

The support provided by the venue is crucial in helping the local scene grow and develop. Local venues are essential in allowing musicians to hone their performance skills before heading out into the national and international live circuits.

“They’re essential to helping the local music industry and the West Australian music industry develop. Everyone knows the West Australian music industry is exceptional at this time – it always has been – but there’s more people saying it and writing about it these days, compared to the east coast and there’s just more people getting out there and supporting the local music industry.”

The Fly By Night Musicians Club on MySpace…

Copyright (C) 2008 Christina Ballico.

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