Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The dude from the Hideaway House

Dylan Haskins first popped up on my radar last year when there was a discussion here about the lack of all-ages venues in Dublin city-centre and some folks mentioned the Hideaway House gigs he was doing out in his house …

Fri, Jan 9, 2009, 09:59


Dylan Haskins first popped up on my radar last year when there was a discussion here about the lack of all-ages venues in Dublin city-centre and some folks mentioned the Hideaway House gigs he was doing out in his house in Deansgrange. Since then, I’ve come across Dylan via his excellent Roll Up Your Sleeves documentary on DIY culture and Hideaway Records, the label which stuck out that great album from Heathers amongst other releases. He’s also involved in a lot of other very interesting bits and pieces too, including the forthcoming Change? event.

A lot of people think very highly of him and quite rightly so. He’s someone who has already kicked off a load of interesting, fascinating projects which have encouraged others to get involved or try their hand at putting on gigs. And he could well be someone we will be hearing about for many years to come.

There’s an interview with him in today’s Ticket, but print issue space restrictions meant I couldn’t include everything we talked about so the full transcript is after the jump.

Be sure to check out Change? in the Project Arts Centre from January 26 to 31. It will feature lots of workshops, discussions, photo exhibitions and much more. There will also be ongoing screenings of Roll Up Your Sleeves every day from noon on the half-hour.

That’s the symbolic starting point for me. From getting into Blink 182, I got into punk and I found out about a lot of the local punk bands out in Kilcoole in Wicklow. Up to that point, all I knew was the other world of rock stars and it seemed completely inaccessible. Then I went to this all ages gig upstairs in the parish hall in Kilcoole and saw another side to punk completely. I’d never had that closeness to the action before, having the spit of the singer in your face kind of thing. That was my introduction to whole DIY punk scene and the ideas and ethos behind it.

Dublin had a DIY scene for a long time thanks to people like the Hope Collective but there are other small scenes around the place. It’s strange how it happens. It can spring up in a little town in the middle of nowhere because somebody finds out about some band and realises the whole idea about DIY culture and spreads this to all their friends.

As a result of what I saw in Kilcoole, I rang around different venues in town but couldn’t get anywhere. I rang the Project Arts Centre and City Arts Centre and started working with them. We were putting on all-ages shows in the City Arts Centre before they shut down.

If the money is not there for the venue owners, they don’t want to do an all-ages gig. A couple of pubs will let all-ages gigs in but they’ll charge you through the roof for the venue hire. But I also started to realise that those shows were a lot less fun because of the atmosphere and the stale smell of beer. It didn’t really feel like there was any sense of ownership in the space. The barman was there and he understandably had to make his money from the bar and we weren’t thinking along the same lines as him

We used any space we could get that wasn’t a pub. The old parochial hall in Greystones, Paddy’s Hall, had closed down to be turned into apartments but it was lying dormant for ages so we eventually got to use that space through the father of one of the girls who used to come to our gigs. We turned it into our own building for our collective, the Basta Youth Collective. We showed movies, put on loads of shows and built up a really good community of young people who were coming to the shows. The inevitable happened and we got a lot of trouble from the local gardai. They were a bit perlexed, I’m sure, by a group of 16 and 17 year olds with no-one in charge running things. They weren’t so sure how to deal with that so they didn’t deal with it too well. Anyway, the place was eventually redeveloped and we were left without a space.

The first Hideaway House gig was in October 2006 and it was a band called Defiance, Ohio from the US. Paddy’s Hall had closed the previous year and we had nowhere to put on shows in all that time. House shows are quite common in the US because I guess they have bigger houses and big basements so I always wanted to do that. My dad passed away in 2006 and I inherited his house and so I had a house to do something with. I thought it would be good to put it to a very productive use which would get a lot of life flowing through the place.

On average, the gigs happen roughly every two months and it depends on touring schedules and when US bands are over here.

People are a bit puzzled but in a really good way. The intimacy of the shows is not something people experience all that often and they appreciate that. One of the important things for me is that it is not always an audience that I know. I like to have a mix of new faces and old faces. It’s not a party or a club or an elite. I do want to encourage new people to come in. A house is always seens as something very private and closed off from the world but I want to get people thinking about how a space can be used in all these different types of ways. They don’t have to be this set definition as we understand them. And it works – there are enough faces that I know to keep an eye on the faces that we don’t know that you feel safe

It’s quite organic with Heathers. The girls were also members of the Basta Youth Collective and they helped to organise shows so I’ve known them since about 2005. When they started playing music, everyone was shocked by how amazing their voices were. It’s quite reveaing that it I always the quietest, shyest ones, the ones not shouting their heads off, that you have to keep an eye on.

I suppose the label was a natural extension of all that. We’ve released a couple of Irish acts, like a seven-inch from Hooray For Humans from Cork. With Heathers, it was the obvious thing to do. All the bands we’ve done are friends. We don’t use contracts. Timo (from Umack) once told me that contracts were for people who wanted to go to court so I always quote that as my reason for not doing contracts. We work on trust and friendship and understanding. Bands send us demos but we don’t really work that way. I usually write back to them and say ‘look, you can easily release this record yourselves’.

Calvin Johnon, he was doing an Irish tour at the time. He doesn’t like to play in pubs and prefers house shows. He wanted to do an all-ages show and there really isn’t that many options in Dublin so he came to us. He didn’t play in the gig room which is where bands play normally because he decided, quite sponteously, to lead everyone in a line outside to the back of the garden, which is not a space anyone had used before. It was really surreal to have Calvin Johnson playing at the end of the garden under the ivy with lots of people sitting around. A lot of that audience hadn’t been to the house before and I think they all thought they were in fairyland.

One of the neighbours came out to complain for the first time ever. The neighbours are perfectly fine with the whole thing because they know about it in advance and it ends quite early. But one neighbour took exception to Calvin’s booming voice so she came around wondering what the strange voice was.

I’ve been interested in films and media since I was very young but I never thought about doing a film until Willie White in the Project Arts Centre suggested it to me. He said we were always showing films about other people when we did stuff there so why didn’t we make one about ourselves. That’s how the ball started rolling. We didn’t think there would be any point making one about ourselves so why don’t we make one about the idea and concept and add something to the discussion.

I also started to think it would be good to do a film because I realised that while it was great to have these gigs where people can learn about the ideas, gigs and punk music are not for everyone. I thought it would be good to use a big medium like film to get the idea out there. It was really about the ideas behind DIY culture and the fact that it’s universal rather than just the music that I wanted to get out there. DIY is a natural thing but I thought it would be exciting for people to become aware of the culture as a thing in itself and see how it could go in different directions.

The first thing we did with the Project was a DIY festival in 2004 which was similar enough to the thing you mentioned in the Food Co-Op with different info stalls and workshops and bands playing. After we lost Paddy’s Hall, we put a gig on their balcony as part of a protest in the city about the need for space. We’ve had a good relationship with them

With Change?, they offered us the space to do what we wanted to do for a week. The word change is getting thrown around so much in the media right now with all this stuff with Obama. Interestingly, it is considered as a thing in and of itself, rather than the fact that change can be anything. One person’s change can be another person’s nightmare. We’re using that as the starting point to get people thinking about what is change and how do you actually get change. The goal is to get people to come away thinking that they can do something in their town or city and can engage with the whole social and cultural environment in their own creative ways and don’t have to have other people doing it for them.

We’re working with photography students from DIT and a group of students from NCAD called Office of Public Works. We’ve also got transition year students from two schools and members of the public. We’re going to mix up all these people to get them to go out to use currently unused public spaces around the city. That’s going to be documented and shown at the Project all week

In the evening, we’re going to have various head to head discussions. We’re going to invite some people who were considered over the years to be mavericks in terms of their ideas to talk about society and change.

I’m aware that it could be quite awkward for some people to get to the house so something like Change? is a chance to do something in the city and remind people that everyone has a claim to the city, not just developers and builders. It’s quite opportunistic at the moment with the way things are going. People are becoming so aware of just how one-dimensional our culture has been up to now. That’s what I have been brought up with, that’s all I have known. I’m 21 so I’ve only experienced these good times. It has been so hard to penetrate into the city and to be able to access and use it. Any change to that is good.