Backstage Chats: Simon Eaton

We sat down with Simon Eaton who’s Head of Live here at Troxy to find out a little more about him…

Tell us a bit about your background and when you joined Troxy…

I’m not sure I could work in any other industry, or that any other industry would have me! I was fortunate enough to grow up with music always on in the house. My mum would say “you can play it as loud as you want as long as it’s good!”, which stuck with me. I’m a fan first and foremost and have been for as long as I can remember. For me, there was no other option than to pursue a career in music, I studied Record Production and Popular Music at university and toured in various bands, with varying degrees of success! After discovering I was better off the stage than on it I worked pretty much every job within the sector to get a foot in the door. This included with record labels both Major (EMI) and independent (Transgressive), artist management (FORT) as well as large scale venue and festival operators such as Academy Music Group/Live Nation & MAMA & Company. Although MAMA was still called Mean Fiddler when I joined which shows my age! Most of the venues I used to program during that period no longer exist sadly.

I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain perform their seminal ‘Psychocandy’ record at Troxy and fell in love with the beautiful, grade II listed art deco grandeur. When I was offered the opportunity to join the team early 2016 I jumped at the chance. Originally, I was appointed as ‘Music Business Development Manager’ as the venue wasn’t holding as many ‘mainstream’ concerts as they wanted to. It’s gone from strength to strength since then, far surpassing expectations. In the next couple of months alone we have shows from The Flaming Lips, Shame, Yard Act, Louis Cole, Diplo, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Le Tigre, The Mars Volta, Ocean Alley, Men I Trust, SWANS & Squid to name but a few.

Now, as Head of Live, my role is all-encompassing and incredibly varied. We work as a tight knit team of passionate individuals and music lovers that are determined to deliver the best customer experience.

What does your role entail?

Head of Live means I’m responsible for all live enquiries & bookings. Spanning concerts, clubnights, comedy, theatre, dance, cinema and everything in between. I’m the main point of contact for all artist and promoter liaison, responsible for budgeting and forecasting along with line managing a team. Its not rock n roll, its spreadsheets.

No two days or weeks are ever the same and I relish the variety it gives me. Especially working for such a proudly independent venue, we get to make our own rules and host such an eclectic mix of events.

Have there been any stand out shows for you so far?

As you can imagine, I have seen my fair share of shows at Troxy over the years, so it’s sometimes hard to pick a favourite! The really memorable ones that spring to mind are the unique ‘once in a lifetime’ moments. Seeing The Outlook Orchestra fronted by reggae legends Dawn Penn, Horace Andy & General Levy playing dub classics with a symphony orchestra. Local boy Kano launching his ‘Made in the Manor’ album spitting bars over a brass band (not something you see a lot in grime!). Mos Def performing jazz reworkings of his back catalogue accompanied by Robert Glasper on keys. Having the opportunity to work with the legendary Specials multiple times along with all the fantastic collaborations we’ve done over the years with the wonderful team at War Child. They are our official charity partner, it feels extra special to be part of something bigger than ourselves and to witness the impact it has. The partnership has seen names like Damon Allbarn, Elbow, Bastille, Rudimental, Corrine Bailey-Rae, Miles Kane, Ray BLK & Lola Young grace our stage along with multiple big names in comedy for a fantastic cause.

Its only March and we’ve already had shows from Editors, Viagra Boys, Dexta Daps, Black Veil Brides, Royksopp & King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. This year’s stand out so far though has to be Four Tet, Fred Again.. + Skrillex. We first got the call about this potential show just two weeks before it was meant to happen, generally speaking we work around six months ifnot more ahead! Short lead times don’t phase us though and it was amazing to see all the team come together to deliver a phenomenal experience. It really was a whole team effort to get that one over the line and one I will remember for a long time.

If your friends could describe you in three words, what would they say?

Depends who you ask! Handsome, articulate, funny….. maybe not. I’d expect most describe me as work hard/play hard, if I commit to something I don’t know an other option than to give it 100%.

I’ve a 3 year old and a 1 year old so trying to find that work/life balance while still being heavily involved in the venue is challenging. I’m lucky to have an extremely understanding wife – she gets the late nights and early mornings!

Tell us a fact about yourself….

Well as we’re on the topic of my wife and children I delivered the youngest one myself. We didn’t make it to hospital in time, I had to pull the car over and roll my sleeves up! We called him ‘Jack’ as he hit the road!

What’s next for you at Troxy?

In the short term we have an incredible roster of live events coming up in the next couple of months with some huge names, along with some even bigger very exciting ones I can’t talk about yet. It’s so rewarding to be able to deliver acts of this calibre and constantly diversify our listings. We aim to have a little bit of something for everyone over the year with a few wild cards thrown in for good measure.

In the longer term we’re getting closer to increasing venue capacity, were in talks with the council and pushing on with the next phase of the refurbishment. Increasing venue capacity will be so beneficial for us and push us closer to the size of Brixton and Hammersmith. We’re on a really positive trajectory, making big moves to level up our offering for fans whilst remaining fiercely independent through it all. Oh, and we’re celebrating our 90th this year too, a twelve month celebration of everything Troxy!