The interview: John Bramwell
John Bramwell of Mercury Prize-nominated I Am Kloot is keen to take the stage under Preston bridge
For most artists, tours work in a relatively linear way.
Dates are booked, the marketing machine kicks into action, tickets (hopefully) get sold, and gigs are played.
John Bramwell, best known as the main man in Mercury Prize-nominated outfit I Am Kloot, is about as far removed from ‘most artists’ as you could ask for.
Currently on the road in the UK ahead of shows in Europe next month, his approach to piecing together a gig calendar is somewhat unorthodox.
In 2014 he set out on a nomadic mission, armed with no more than a social media-savvy friend, four wheels and the desire to turn up in towns and play intimate sets of delicate, heartfelt acoustic guitar fare to interested ears.
Venues were confirmed on the fly as the miles clocked up, eventually taking him as far afield as Berlin, after being as close to his Crewe home as Hebden Bridge, Manchester and Preston.
Not that we should be surprised. After all nothing about this character is particularly orthodox.
“On the current tour I’m able to get home most Sundays, which is great,” said John, who plays Preston’s Continental in Broadgate on Friday October 30.
“Almost all the shows are on weekends. I think I have one off in two months, and I’m not working over Christmas.
Of course, I usually January in the Bahamas,” he laughs.
Bramwell’s appetite for live performance is undimmed.
“I’ve a load of songs I’ve written, including four new ones, and I just want to get out there and play them.
“Gigs have always been more important to me than recording. Now I’m doing what people would describe as more intimate venues it’s perfect. I don’t play the same set every night, and I have the chance for rapport with the audience, which is important.
“Last year I got a mate to represent me on Facebook, he travelled round with me.
“I had a Live At The Trades recording from Hebden Bridge, which we were selling at the shows, and just did it really off the cuff.
“It got to the point, though, where there were a lot of shows being organised, then someone got in touch and said ‘how about coming to Berlin?’
“So we thought, well, if we’re going to Berlin we might as well do a few more German cities, and suddenly we were touring Germany.”
With a huge back catalogue to call on, much unreleased, Bramwell’s live show does something increasingly rare in music today; a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the artist, and hear work they might not have the chance to hear otherwise.
The idea of focusing on fans goes further still, as Bramwell also gives the public a chance to have a say what goes into every night.
“I’ve got 150-odd songs, so the permutations on what songs go into what gigs are pretty wide.
“People can vote for ones they want to hear on individual nights through my website.
“The best thing about this show is that there are all these ways of tweaking it and adding or removing things to create a different experience.”
Anyone interested in having their say can find the poll taking place at www.johnbramwell.com
With the interview coming to a close we end with perhaps the most important question of them all.
With a date coming up at The Continental in Preston, what does Bramwell think about the city, and what can we expect at the show?
“I love the venue. About two and a half years back I played New Continental, The Trades and a place up in Oldham during one week, and that was pretty much the start of this whole journey really.
“A friend recommended it and I thought it was a fantastic venue, under the train bridge.
“In terms of what people can expect – explosions. Well, perhaps not. I have a few stories, we have a good crack with the audience, and do two sets with a drinks interval.
“The drinks interval is becoming quite popular.
“Really it’s just about creating a great atmosphere where we all feel involved.”