Interview: John Reid (Fly By Night Club)

‘A standard gig day – it’s 12 hours’
John Reid, General Manager
Fly By Night Club

John Reid (Fly By Night Club)
Interview by Leo Abbs
Set in Central Fremantle, the Fly By Night club is a unique venue, one that musicians should be fortunate they have. Besides holding excellent shows for touring acts such as George, The Whitlams, Pete Murray and many larger local acts, there are other aspects to the club that the average pub doesn’t have.

With the flyby being a non-profit organisation allows opportunities for musicians to become involved in the running of the club and also access to the facilities such as the rehearsal rooms, booking one of the small rooms, the transit lounge as a venue and also access to any information about how to get a start in the music industry. Membership from both bands and the general public is how the venue survives. We should be grateful it does.

Leo Abbs stopped by on a weekday and asked General Manager,John Reid some questions about the venue and how he became involved in working at the club. In between phone calls and other people dropping in, it was an interesting chat and certainly gave the impression there’s a hard working and committed person behind the scenes of the club who deserves a lot of credit.

‘How long have you been working at the flyby nightclub for?
‘I’ve been working at the fly by nightclub now three years. When I first joined the fly by night I was hired as the events manager and now I’m the general manager. Within three months I was doing more than just booking bands, I was running the whole business. Taking care of sponsorship and membership, running the bar and booking bands.’

Besides John, there’s two other staff at the venue. A marketing manager who helps promotes the events that are run by the venue and a book keeper. The staff numbers are low because that’s all the venue can afford.

Working in such an industry, it means you don’t work the standard 40 hours..
‘ I wish I had a 9 – 5 Job! Well I don’t wish I had a 9 –5 job, it would just be better than an every day and night sort of work. I have a young family, (so) it makes it hard when I need to be here all weekend.
‘No it’s not a 40 hour week, you’re looking at whenever the venue is hired, you’re working.

With long work hours and not amazing pay, it all boils down to passion for John.
‘I’ve been working my ass off for three years for the love of it. It’s just basically to get the flyby back on track.’

Describing what he does in a week, there’s definitely more to this job than just running a business as the venue is a non-profit venue. The fact that staff work extra hours for no reward is an indication of the passion they have for music and the ideals of the venue. While John described the hours it suggested it was just part of the job, a job which he loved despite the long hours.

“On a typical gig day,you are opening the venue up at one or two for the sound engineer to come in. Then being at the venue until one or two the next day, when we are kicking the band out saying
‘thank you very much. I need to go to bed now’.

‘A standard gig day – it’s 12 hours.”

In case readers were wondering how someone becomes a manager of a place like the Fly By Night – it’s often the case of a lot of unpaid work, plus slogging it out in the music industry.

“Before I became entrenched in the fly by night, I was working in the retail side of the music industry and also playing in bands. From the band side of things, travelling regionally and playing in venues and trying to get gigs, I found it very hard to deal with licencees and their perception of what they required from bands. Basically it was more about selling alcohol than actually supporting local artists.

So when this job came up, I believed in what the fly by was about, it was a musician’s club, for musicians. So it was right down my path.
‘Great there’s a venue for musicians!’
A community organisation could be able to do what they want to do without any sort of agenda from the venue. So that’s what interested me in this job. “

Playing in bands is not the only prior experience Reid has. He also took an interest in their management style of the arts and decided to study in the area.

‘From being in bands and being ripped off by venues and all that sort of thing, I went and studied arts management at Edith Cowan university. I did their Bachelor of Arts in arts management, which was very beneficial in regard to the finanicial side of things, (and) the law side of things.

I also did the contemporary music course at Leederville TAFE which made me very interested in management. Basically, that course got me more involved in bands and especially, Prickle that’s where I met Rachel Pernie and Paul Ottway (members of Prickle – John’s previous band). ‘

The venue relies on income from membership which is available in two ways – the general membership and band membership.There are some perks for people who join the flyby – such as being able to book tables a bigger shows and chances to win tickets.Being a musicians club, it makes sense that they would help musos so they are happy to offer advice to members.

Bands can also become members, by taking out a band memberships. While a higher cost, this also allows them to have access to a rehearsal room, which they able to use to for free, when available.

To contact the Fly By Night Club

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