For over a decade Some Weird Sin has been an integral part of London, England’s music community. It was started by Mauro Venegas (The Speedways) and Simon Drowner (Desperate Journalist). Prior putting on Some Weird Sin they had collaborated as bandmates in Jonny Cola & The A-grades. After years of witnessing a striking lack of untamed rock n’ roll club nights in London, they began working together to create an exciting alternative form of entertainment. Independently they both brought the name Some Weird Sin to the table. This inspiration was influenced by Iggy Pop’s song from the album Lust For Life. Much like the theme of Pop’s song, the new club night sought to blast away the stench of the ordinary and content. Thus breathing life into all things rock n’ roll for London’s rebels without a cause.
As Some Weird Sin kicked off it began attracting a strong following. Over the years acts like The Briefs, The Parkinsons, Giuda along with local groups like Atomic Suplex and Nervous Twitch made unforgettable appearances. Alongside these bands, Mauro and Simon invited fellow DJ’s brought forth their eclectic record collections to keep the music going during and after the acts. For both Mauro and Simon the blossoming Some Weird Sin nights delivered on its promise of establishing itself as London’s legendary high-octane rock n’ roll night.
In 2018 Mauro and Simon expanded this venture with the Pump It Up Powerpop Weekender. So far Pump It Up celebrated four strong festivals, with numerous power pop legends gracing it’s stages. These include Nikki Corvette, Duncan Read & The Big Heads, The Yum Yums, Protex, Baby Shakes and of course The Speedways.
However, while Some Weird Sin attracts regular attendance , as of 2023 Pump It Up is been facing logistical challenges of both bringing in local and touring acts, not to mention appealing for advance ticket sales. Rumor has it that this 2023 might even be the last Pump It Up. To learn more, I caught up with Mauro and Simon. They were kind enough to fill me in on the origins of Some Weird Sin, years of working with bands and DJ’s, the future of Pump It Up and Some Weird Sin and more!
NixBeat: How did you Mauro Venegas and Simon Drowner start working together?
Mauro: We were bandmates in Jonny Cola & the A-Grades from about 2011 till we went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2014. We’d previously met when Simon’s old band, the Drowners, shared a bill with us one night in Islington. We’d hung out backstage and I’d thought, “This guy seems all right”, haha! So he was my first choice to call on when the A-Grades needed a new bass player. Simon liked DJing and so did I, there was a lack of nights we were excited to go to in London at the time, it probably seemed inevitable that we’d end up starting one ourselves!
NixBeat: How did Some Weird Sin begin as London’s legendary high-octane rock n’ roll night?
Simon: I’d been massively into The Clash and Pistols etc since I was a teenager ,and wasn’t aware of any nights at the time where you could hear good punk music, beyond a few obvious hits at indie nights (Teenage Kicks / Ever Fallen In Love?) which seemed crazy to me, with London being the home of all these inspirational bands. My friend Julia gave me the contact for The Archway Tavern where we did the first couple of events. I had a shortlist of potential names which included Some Weird Sin (my favourite Iggy Pop song at the time), though I hadn’t mentioned that one to Mauro yet. I was touting “Deadbeat Club” then Mauro independently suggested Some Weird Sin ,and that was that.
Mauro: Yeah, the planning stage was great fun. We sent each other lists of songs and bands we would consider playing, trying to formulate our musical policy! I was probably keen to recreate some of the vibe from amazing nights I’d been to many years earlier, such as Kitsch Bitch, Smashing and so on. It was less about being a specific musical genre night and more of a particular atmosphere we were trying to create.
NixBeat: Some Weird Sin has featured many bands like The Briefs, Atomic Suplex, Continental Lovers, and Eel Men. What has been your favorite Some Weird Sin night so far?
Simon: Impossible to say. Sylvain Sylvain at The Buffalo Bar? The Ramones covers band with all the different guest singers?
Mauro: Definitely those two… Plus the Briefs at the Lexington, Giuda at the Buffalo Bar, the Parkinsons wherever we’ve put them on, various of the all-dayers (maybe the one with Bad Nerves and the Scaners, but favourite all-dayer is a hard one to call!)
NixBeat Some Weird Sin has been hosted at many different venues in London. Has there been a preferred place where the night has been hosted?
Mauro: No disrespect to any of the many venues we’ve used, but the Buffalo Bar (back in the day, 2013-4 I think?) was the most legendary.
Simon: Agree. At the risk of romanticizing a tiny basement with plumbing issues, the place had a certain magic which is increasingly hard to find.
NixBeat: How would you say Some Weird Sin is different from other nights like Garageland or Weirdsville?
Simon: Those are both good nights. I’ve been to Garageland in particular, many times. I’d say our music policy is more mainstream but also more eclectic. From day one we were putting bands on with synths, glam, punk, indie, whatever we liked. DJ wise we don’t shy away from playing songs that your average punter will recognise. I remember one hilarious comment we received after our first night “too much poop Britpop” I think because I had dared to slip an Elastica song in there or something. Mauro went through a period of playing Frankie Goes To Hollywood. So honestly, anything goes!
Mauro: Haha, very well put! I love that Simon remembers that quote…! But yeah basically, in terms of the bands we put on as well, we’ve really had all sorts on over the years, we’ve particularly liked mixing it up at the annual summer all-dayers. It’s always been enjoyable seeing people getting exposed to bands they might not otherwise have come across and getting into ’em.
Simon: That quote lives rent-free in my head!
NixBeat: Some Weird Sin has had DJs keeping the party going during and after the bands sets. What do you look for in DJ’s who spin for Some Weird Sin?
Simon: The DJing/party has always been my favourite bit, so I’m happiest doing that. That said, sometimes it’s good to get different people involved. Perhaps someone who does have a cooler collection of rare 7 inch singles than me. Pablo Colorado or Paula Arriagada for example bring something to the table that I don’t.
Mauro: You weren’t bad yourself, NixBeat! We’ve shared decks with Saffiyah Khan very recently, she also liked to mix it up genre-wise, which made her very SWS-friendly!
NixBeat: What have been some of the struggles with running Some Weird Sin in London over the years?
Simon: The moment a small band gets a booking agent and suddenly booking them becomes about 10 times harder! Also keeping people out late after the bands can be a struggle. Pints are getting more expensive and people are getting older…
Mauro: We’ve been through a lot. It used to be a struggle competing against free entry nights in London – we resisted doing that for a while, for a lot of reasons, but have succumbed in recent years. We’ve outlasted a lot of nights, which is something to be proud of I guess!
NixBeat: How did the Covid 19 pandemic affected clubs nights like Some Weird Sin?
Simon: Well, we had to stop for quite a while. We didn’t fancy trying to do anything online, but we did try a reduced capacity seated gig when that was allowed, and outdoor DJing at Paper Dress (venue in Hackney). I think the whole industry is still recovering from this period unfortunately.
NixBeat: Pump It Up! started in 2018 and has been an almost yearly power pop festival in London. What prompted you to create the Pump It Up Powerpop Weekender?
Mauro: This is a good question actually! I’m having to think back… I think I may actually have been booking shows at the New Cross Inn at the time, and I was discussing getting Dirty Fences on. I’d also been in conversations about getting Baby Shakes over. Somehow or other the idea of getting the Barracudas on surfaced —we weren’t even sure how active they were- and next thing you know, it had escalated into too much for a one-day thing. So, we decided to go for it and book a weekender! Then I left the New Cross Inn and we decided this would work much better in North London anyway, haha! Enter the Finsbury, which worked perfectly as a venue that year.
NixBeat: Since 2018 the Pump It Up Powerpop Weekender has brought in numerous acts including Protex, Nikki Corvette, The Speedways, The Number Ones, Baby Shakes and more! What has been your favorite Pump It Up experience?
Mauro: That first year was pretty insane. I remember kicking back and just getting really into the Dirty Fences set as they were rounding off the weekend. All the work had been done and it was time to party! It was great to welcome Baby Shakes back last year, it’s always plenty of fun with them. Some bands like Alvilda and the Melmacs (both of whom I think were playing London for the first time) were great at hanging out all weekend, catching all the other bands and just generally bringing good vibes. In a weird way, I personally loved the Speedways’ unintentional headline set in the Covid-ravaged 2021 edition (when about half the bands had to pull out). We’d been going through a bit of an intense time and it was uncertain when we’d play again. So, it was a really charged show, and everyone there was really up for it. Probably, in no small part, due to the fact that an event like the weekender was even happening again!
NixBeat: For the first Pump It Up, The Speedways formed with their current line up and have been mainstays since. What’s the story behind The Speedways first performance for 2018’s Pump It up?
Mauro: Well, we loved the Breakdowns (Matt Julian‘s previous band). We’d had brought them down to London a few times, so were sad when they called it a day. However, Matt and I stayed in touch and he let me know he had a new project on the go, and that if he could get a band together to play the songs he’d been recording (pretty much on his own), then could they have a slot at the inaugural weekender. Of course I said yes. Then as it approached and he sent me the recordings, they were way better than I’d even expected. Way better than the Breakdowns even. I was conveniently not attached to any band at the time, and suggested that I might like to be his guitarist, hehe! Anyway, we got the rest of the line up together fairly quickly, managed a couple of rehearsals ahead of the July 2018 debut show and bang, there you go! Here we still are five years later, haha!
NixBeat: 2023’s Pump It Up is going to be on July 22nd and 23rd. The weekender features a strong line up including Psychotic Youth, BBQT, Fast Cars and, Nervous Twitch. What can readers expect from this years Pump It Up Power Pop Weekender?
Mauro: I’m sure the bands will give their all, as ever! Some have never played London before (like Food Fight and Psychotic Youth), or only once or twice (like BBQT and Spearside). Some have played together before or are good chums with each other (like the Speedways and Marc Valentine and the Number Ones). It’ll be good to be doing it back where we started, at the Finsbury. I expect a good atmosphere and camaraderie between the bands!
NixBeat: Reading a post on Facebook from Simon on June 27, 2023 it seems that 2023 Pump It Up! may be the last one put on. What factors are contributing to this year’s Pump It Up! being the last one?
Mauro: It’s a lot of work for two people, basically. We do get some help from supportive friends (Adrian from the Speedways in particular), but yeah, bringing bands over from abroad, putting together and dealing with 12 (or 14!) band line ups, it’s full-on. We’ve said before “This will be the last one”, and when the weekend actually happens, we have a blast, and we change our minds. I think this time there was quite a lot of stress getting the line up in the first place. There’s not that many suitable UK acts (in our opinion anyway!) so we’re reliant on overseas bands, which obviously is a lot trickier to base a line up around, schedule-wise for one thing.
NixBeat: If possible, what would help bring back another Pump It Up next year?
Mauro: A great turnout might make a difference. And if a number of the bands who we couldn’t get on this year got in touch to say they really want a London show next summer around the same time, who knows?
Simon: If the right bands were available that would obviously help. Mostly though, people need to buy advance tickets if they want niche events like the powerpop weekender to continue.
NixBeat: What does the future hold for Some Weird Sin?
Mauro: It’s been over a decade now, which is a pretty long time to be doing this. God knows how many events we’ve put on, literally hundreds, but we do still enjoy it. How much we do or don’t do will probably come down to how busy we both are with our respective bands, and which bands are around who we’re especially keen to put on!
Simon: We have our summer all-day at Brixton Windmill coming up in August, and another event in the works. Hopefully more good times to come!
For more about Some Weird Sin click here!