With the new cultural precinct at HOTA, Home of the Arts, playing a major role in Gold Coast’s thriving cultural evolution, we thought it’d be the perfect time to get to know more about the precinct’s new live music booker, Graham Ashton of Footstomp Music.
Footstomp Music and Asho, as he’s affectionately known, have been stalwarts on the local music scene for nearly ten years. But music has always run in his blood.
“Music is the air I breathe,” he states simply.
Originally from Brisbane, Asho left home young to play in punk bands, getting his first job on the sales deck at Polygram Records.
“I ended up working for a bunch of record labels over the years,” he explains. “I’ve done about every job you can imagine!”
Once music services company Footstomp was established in 2010, Asho quickly made a name for himself in Brisbane as the guy with his finger on the pulse, landing the bookings at popular venue The Triffid as soon as it opened, and managing the careers of many popular artists, including Busby Marou, Colin Lillie, Eden Mulholland and Tia Gostelow.
Then eight years ago, Graham and his wife found themselves unimpressed with the Brisbane school their first son was attending, and instead found one they really liked in the Tallebudgera Valley.
“I was away working in Europe,” he remembers, “and when I got back my wife had already found us a place to live on the Gold Coast,” he laughs. And it was definitely the right move. “I’ve never felt settled before in my life until I got here. And now I do.”
He quickly began taking on Gold Coast artists, with an eye for genuine talent. Cheap Fakes, Chelsea Rockwells, Lane-Harry x Ike Campbell and Round Mountain Girls have all felt the Asho touch at some point during the last eight years, and notably, he also worked with Amy Shark before she went stratospheric. He describes the feeling of discovering the local scene.
“It was a real pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t realise from afar how many passionate and talented people there were amongst the scene, but now I’ve been here for eight years I’ve got a better sense about it.”
It’s the combination of this sensibility and his passion which makes Asho a perfect choice to take over the live music bookings at HOTA. With four venues to look after within the precinct, it’s an excellent opportunity to showcase a range of artists, from the emerging to the established.
“The Basement takes about 100 people,” he explains. “We’re keen for that to be the real development room for a lot of local artists to build their careers on the Gold Coast.”
The theatre is a 1000 pax room that’s yet to be launched, but Graham’s vision is to have occasional touring artists in there who attract a seated crowd.
The Lakeside room, which takes 500, is all set to host an epic launch for new regular event Lakeside Sessions, featuring Australian rap legend Baker Boy, with Gold Coast’s own Ella Fence in support this Sunday 4 August.
“Lakeside Sessions is a really big one for me,” says Asho. “We’re pushing that to become every Sunday and be on the touring cycle, so we’ve got Busby Marou doing their album launch in there, and I’ve met with most of the agents and promoters nationally for getting on the touring cycle for any one band that can sell around the 500 ticket mark, just to make the most of that terrace, and get a great beer garden set up.”
Of course, the cultural precinct’s current pièce de résistance is its 3500 capacity Outdoor Stage.
“Well, that’s the big ambitious one, isn’t it,” Asho chuckles.
Jimmy Barnes, Jet and Thirsty Merc are currently booked for an October stop at the Outdoor Stage, and HOTA and Footstomp are on the verge of announcing a major coup, with a fiery hot international act set to play later in the year.
“They’ve just recently sold out a stadium of 50,000 in [their home country], so that’s huge,” Graham enthuses about the mystery act.
Finally, Asho muses on his vision for the cultural precinct and its live music offerings.
“Really I think it’s about having a music community that thrives, and for that you need to have an entertainment district where it can work. Already doors are being busted down by these great artists coming out of the Gold Coast, who knows what it will be like in another twenty?”
Watch this space.