Fifteen Years of MTAT; Origins, by B.D. Kydd

Shilling records and talking about punk rock feels tone deaf right now, for so many reasons.

It’s been almost one year to the day since the lights went out and live music became something we reminisce about and look forward to again. If last March was “seconds before the floor drops out”, this year is definitely notes from dystopia. It’s been fifteen years to the day since we hosted our first collectively booked show. Today we have no idea when the next one will be. I’m grateful to Barry for taking the time to write this piece, the idea first discussed when throwing ideas around earlier this year. We used to know everyone who came to our shows, now there are no shows to go to at all. What a time to be alive.

MAKE YER ANE COMP VIII is still available with all proceeds being donated to Dundee Women’s Aid. Please take a moment to check out the accompanying PDF zine in the download. Alternatively, please check it online here. End violence against women, in the punk scene, in the music industry and everywhere on this planet.

Thank you to everyone for all the solidarity and support over the years. Music belongs to everyone and, sometimes, when we’ve got it, it’s still a place to go; “say you’ve got a hope, say you want an end to fear. An end to fear”.

I was reminded by Derrick, more informed as I had nae clue, that March 2021 marks 15 Years of the existence of Make That A Take in its earliest guise. All backwards pointing research has always reminded us that it wasn`t till we (the varying different DIY Punk promoters in Dundee) grouped together in efforts to host Glass and Ashes and I-Farm in Dundee, that we realised this was actually a far more sensible way to do things. We would often have gigs happening on the same nights, at different ends of the town, and with a punk scene small enough as it was, this was a situation where no one was winning. Neither party could afford to split a crowd that was all equally relied upon to even break even on guarantees and venue hire. So, when the opportunity to host two brain melting bands on the same bill, and promote it together, and organise it together, and do all the catering and accommodation stuff together, it made perfect sense to join forces. We all knew each other, were all pals, some were in the same bands, so putting our collective efforts, heads, contact lists and connections under the same banner was just logical evolution.  

I had been doing gigs under the moniker of “D4 Towers presents…..” with Ryan Destroy who was my flatmate (at D4 Towers, a rat-infested hovel of a place, our punk house if you will) and on occasion Kev Chin had input also. We had varying successes, such as hosting The Cut Ups‘ first trip north, and it was the perfect platform for our 2 bands to hop on every bill pretty much too. Ryan and Kev played in the Try Hards at the time with Derrick and Andy Chainsaw. I was occupied in 15 Minutes with Mike (Gain) Lindsay and our acoustic approach meant we could, and often did, play anywhere with any set up. There were countless line ups with both our bands opening, I probably have some flyers in a box somewhere, but I can’t really remember much about those years to name bands off the top of my head. It was great fun; it broke the monotony of a working week up and often gave us something to aim towards which in turn motivated creativity within the bands to keep writing and playing new songs. I think back on those times with huge fondness, but it was a very chaotic period in my personal life also, so in many ways this was my distraction and reason to keep going for a good number of years.  

Derrick was, as he still is, absolutely prolific and unrelenting in booking gigs. So many times I went in to book a venue and saw “DEEKER” scrawled in the diary on exact dates we needed. So in many ways it was also a relief that we would be working together. We tended to only put on gigs for bands we liked, and wanted to see. Derrick was always using his initiative and booking EVERYONE, within reason, that was offered, clearly with a view to racking up as many “favours” and gig swaps as possible with bands all over the UK and further afield. It worked, without question. Derrick and in turn MTAT grew into almost every bands “go to” crew for hitting up the east of Scotland. No mean feat. And to give him his dues, there was many times when he booked bands we`d never heard of but that turned out to be totally awesome. And so friendships and contacts grew far and wide on this premise of – we`ll scratch your back if you scratch ours when we hit your town on tour.  

The early days are extremely sketchy in my memory I must admit. I was a reasonable shambles of a human being at that time. Struggling on many fronts and refusing help. I had thrown myself into punk rock from my late teens and as some constants in my life disappeared, new ones found me and MTAT was definitely one of them. I was spiralling out of control with the booze and self-destructive lifestyle that I suppose I felt I had no choice but to live at the time. I lived in a punk house, we hosted punk bands most weekends who wanted to party and I loved it. I cannot deny that. But I hated the toll it took on me and went for a long time pretending I had it under control. Undoubtably the band, the music, the promoting, the gigs and the involvement in OUR scene was hugely significant in me wanting to stick around and remain a part of it. I see now how valuable that sense of belonging was to me.  

It always felt that way too, really like it was ours you know. No one else would be taking a chance on hosting these bands in Dundee but we always did. We knew we could promote the fuck out of it, book popular local acts to open and if the headline band were shit then so what, we would have covered what we needed to by stacking the bill. But VERY rarely did we host a shit band, in fact I do struggle to think of even one. We were making something that we could all be proud of, and it made me intensely happy when bands woke up on our floor the morning after a gig and said – “that was the best show of our tour by far”.

We`d put our own experiences of touring right at the forefront of what we did and tried to create an experience for the bands the WE knew we would enjoy if it were us. Bands were so appreciative of the efforts we went to, and word spreads within a tight knit community like DIY Punk, which was great news for our future prospects.

Book Yer Ane Fest became our annual “punk rock Christmas”, something we worked towards and loved to do each year. It was a chance to bring pretty much every band who had passed through during the year back for a weekend carnival of carnage. It also gave us the opportunity to throw out speculative invites to “GOD TIER” bands to try and entice them to come headline and to raise a heap of cash for charity at the same time. We got lucky a heap of times (LEATHERFACE!!!!! – that was me btw, booking wizard here) and created many full weekends with a level of joy that was unknown to me at hometown gigs til then. The 1st one was in Perth at the Green Room, then our relationship with Kenny Gray and David Crowe, the management of Kage Nightclub in Dundee allowed us unparalleled access to their gaff and they pretty much let us do what we wanted. Which was insane, but probably necessary. Things just seemed to go from strength to strength and everyone mucked in to make sure it was a success. We all cooked everyday and brought fresh warm food for the touring bands, we had to divide up accommodation and give bands places to sleep, we relied heavily on gear being loaned or donated, we made all the banners and posters, Neil Quinney and I would typically DJ afterparty sets til 3am, it was as DIY as it gets. A real community effort. And again, hearing people tell us it was among their best festival experiences was just insane, but so pleasing.  

In amongst all of this we put on some of my favourite bands of all time, hosted my favourite ever gig in Dundee – DEAD TO ME @ KAGE, made friendships that will last lifetimes, brought bands over from all around the world, MTAT Records was born and has put our nearly 120 releases, we heard our reputation spread far and wide and built something to truly be proud of in our hometown. MTATs spiritual home is secured for hopefully a long time now with the introduction of RAD APPLES at Conroys and of course, Conroys Basement under it, where gigs will be in full flow again soon with some luck.  

Dead To Me in Kage, February 2012.

To summarise I guess it’s a fairly simple story; no one would book our bands so we did it ourselves, no one would release our bands recordings so we did it ourselves, no one was bringing bands to Dundee that we connected with so we did it ourselves, no one had created a true punk community so we did it ourselves, no one was running a full punk weekend rammy so we did it ourselves and finally – no one had a venue that wholly ascribed to our way of thinking, our morals, our ethical outlook and with a dedication to being a safe and inclusive space for everyone that wanted to use it, so we found one and made it ourselves.

I`ve stepped WAY back from my involvement in the collective and made that move a few years ago now. I had a newfound commitment to family life and not wanting to give a false impression to the crew that I could still be of use and be called upon to help, I made that choice. I have continued to support, watch and admire from a punters perspective and don’t suppose that will ever change. MTAT was/is/will be a big part of my life. I`m delighted to have been involved in some small part, and to have some recorded material that bears the now famous logo is a constant source of pride.  

Its fair to say, my experiences of DIY music in Dundee would have been nothing if not for MTAT. We lived, loved, learned and indeed lost together as a collective but there was always an eye on what’s next, and I don’t think that fire will go out for a long long time. It makes a huge difference when people truly care, and really give a shit about what they do and who they do it for. That’s always what has made MTAT stand out and be appealing to bands/promoters/punters alike. The same kind of people, wanting the same common goal – an environment to be expressive without fear of judgement or reprimand. On record, on stages, in person, in print and media; MTAT delivers that. Always has and always will.

DIY or DIE.  

Barry Kydd, March 2021.

Our first ever pre-press vinyl pre-order is for the incredible “LEGACIES” LP from the mighty STONETHROWER. Be the first to get your hands on a copy, get YOUR NAME in the “thanks” list, the satisfaction of helping us get this record to press, and a whole slab of COOL FREE SHIT. You’ll get an instant digital download of the album too. 50% of digital-only purchases are continuing to be donated to CRER Scotland. All the support is appreciated. Pre-order here through Bandcamp or here to be fee-less!

The current 119-release MTAT discography digital download is currently available with 90% off, for £3.90, or pay whatever you want. We’ve had over a quarter of a million streams on our page since its creation, pretty wild numbers for such a small and localised operation. There are some rare old gems in there, if I do say so myself. As always, much love to those who have entrusted me with their music over the years.

There are 400+ live videos from over the years to be found on Cowpunk TV.

There are HUGE piles of vinyl, CDs, zines, shirts (well, a couple) and heap of other swag here. All quality, all reasonably priced.

All MTAT history/links/propaganda can be found here.

If you have joy, spread it.

Peace, xdkrx.