Yes, In My Back Yard: Interview with The Gate’s Joe Hardy

March 23rd 2011

Photo credit: Matt Davis

More exclusive than an underground club, more Aussie than the Sando, the backyard gig is an underrated wonder; Joe Hardy, yard-owner and founder of North Sydney venue The Gate, agrees. He and his wife founded a venue in their own backyard last year, after moving to Ryde from the inner city and finding themselves in a bit of a live-music wasteland. At only seven months old, The Gate has hosted such luminaries as Guineafowl, Step-Panther and Seekae (Hardy says he was “constantly pinching myself” over that one) to adoring crowds. The gig is expanding into other venues and concepts, with a show at Epping café Pablo’s next week and a new live music concept  called No Fixed Address happening on April 16th. Held in a mystery backyard, the address of which is only to be revealed to those who RSVP via The Gate’s website, the first No Fixed Address will feature live sets from Melbourne’s Naminé, Time Shield (aka Tim Shiel aka Faux Pas, also of Melbourne), and Sydney ambient-pop duo Albatross.
I had a quick chat to Joe ahead of the No Fixed Address Launch.

FBi: So, tell us about the new venture!

Joe Hardy: No Fixed Address was started because we knew we couldn't keep running regular shows in the same backyard forever, but people had really come to love the vibe that those shows had. So we've decided to add an element of mystery and excitement by moving the shows to a different backyard each gig. We're just hoping enough people like the idea and volunteer their backyard.
The first gig is being co-curated with Jarred from a blog called Life Aquatic. It's going to be a pretty incredible show of blissed-out ambient electronica. I'm really excited to see how it turns out.

2010 saw a lot of success for The Gate – what does this year hold?

My single, primary aim is to try and help encourage a musically-minded community to grow in Sydney's northern suburbs, by giving musicians a place to play and music fans a place to see them. Hopefully at some point the local music scene will grow legs of its own and there'll be all sorts of incredible stuff happening of its own accord, but in the shorter term I figure we just need a couple of people actively banging the drum to put music back on people's radar.

My main project for 2011 is to open as many spaces as I can, to accommodate different types of music. So, we've already now got The Gate @ Pablo's for experimental acts, and I'm hoping to focus on accommodating punk/screamo/post/math/whatever rock stuff before the end of the year. And No Fixed Address as well, of course! Depends on what happens with venues – we may yet find a perfect space that can host everything, and that'd be amazing.

What are the major issues facing the music scene at the moment?

I think if you focus on what is happening musically – the bands and artists that we have – then Sydney's incredible. Australia's incredible. I'm totally thrilled by what's happening in Australian music right now.
It feels like venue closures are something we hear about daily, and band rooms are often empty or close to it. But despite that, I feel like people can be a little too quick to blame the economy or fickle punters or a flagging music scene, whereas I feel like there's an element of sameness between many venues – maybe we need to have a cultur


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