INTERVIEW | John Kata
Ready Eye Collective
Cover Photo: Unknown – hit us up!
Photo Credit: Roman Laris
The photos below are an amalgamation of Ready Eye Collective events
Please check out Roman’s photos HERE.
Super stoked to do this interview with UK promoter John Kata of Ready Eye Collective. Ready Eye Collective is a group of hardcore enthusiasts who’ve been putting on shows in London for a while now but will be putting on their very last show on August 5th (which yours truly has scored a ticket to attend!). Because of all their hard work and the fact that they’re wrapping it up (and to help become some sort of bridge between the UK and Asian scenes), we threw some questions John’s way. He was kind enough to send back some dope answers that provide a lot more context about Ready Eye and the current state of UKHC, which by all metrics is HUGE right now.
A quick background to Ready Eye Collective – the current, and final, makeup of the collective includes John, Louis, and Ferg. All three have been involved, as John puts it, “for more years than I’d like to count at this point”. The bands that these gentlemen hail from include Fort Vallance, Proven, Crippler LBU, Ironed Out, Last Orders HC, No Survivors, Warchrist, and Infraction.
UA: Yo John! Super stoked to see the Ready Eye Collective’s very last show which I’m sure is bittersweet for you and your crew! Before we talk about that particular show – can you talk about when and why you started booking shows under this name? Were you already booking shows prior and decided to join forces with others?
John: Yes bruv, appreciate that.
So, we started Ready Eye Collective towards the end of 2016, although our first show was in March 2017. The reason behind it was kinda two-fold. Back at the start of 2015, the legendary 12Bar had closed down. This had been the home of London hardcore for about a decade at that point, with Rucktion Records holding a monthly night there.
Rucktion had moved to a new venue, The Unicorn in Camden but, they were only running nights every two months.
The second part came from me seeing people coming into London to put shows on from outside. I couldn’t understand why that was happening when there were plenty of people in the London scene, we just needed to start doing more stuff for ourselves. At this point, I’d put on a couple of shows when I had lived outside of London. Louis was a part of putting on Rucktion’s shows. Ferg had done a few before moving to London and Rich had also been putting on shows here in London. I figured it made more sense for us to bring our experiences together.
UA: Totally! I assumed it was a collective of people who on their own had already been organizing shows – so bringing them all together under one roof, so to speak, is what probably made this a collective. Tell me more about people from outside London putting on shows in London – that’s super interesting. There are so many logistics to take care of, especially on the day of the show, how would they handle all that?
John: Honestly, I have no idea how they were doing it. But, with how “connected” everyone is these days, through social media, etc., it’s not hard to organize the bands and venues remotely and then just turn up on the day to run the show. As long as you’re organized and switched on, it’s possible.
UA: Prior to doing shows under Ready Eye – how did you get into booking shows? Do you remember the first show you put on and how it went?
John: I got into it when I moved out of London for a few years. I was living in Milton Keynes and there were a few kids there trying to get a scene started, so myself and a mate of mine decided we’d do an all-dayer up there to try and kickstart something. The show itself did okay, but it didn’t ignite things the way we’d hoped. Still, it was a fun day.
UA: Your first show was an all-dayer??? Damn go big or go home right?! And as that was your first show and now that you have many more years/experience under your belt – what would you have done differently? Who was on that bill?
John: Honestly, I’d probably still do it the same way, but without the expectation of launching a scene there. Who played??? Bun Dem Out, Tirade, Kartel, Dead Man’s Chest, Proven (my band at the time), Solemn Promise, Outta Luck and maybe a couple more I’m forgetting.
UA: The reason I asked about your first show is because I feel like when people first put on shows there are a lot of things they don’t think about like load-in times, water backstage, food for traveling bands, soundcheck times, etc. Was anyone helping you figure all this out on that all-dayer? Also, that lineup is mad! A few out-of-towners right?
John: Thankfully, we were both in bands so we based it off of the things we’d expect which, to be fair, wasn’t a lot. Most of the bands were coming up from London, which is only about 50 miles away (75km away). Other bands were from MK itself or nearby areas like Kettering.
UA: In the UK do bands bring their own backline or do venues already have stuff? Is the stuff that venues have decent usually?
John: Almost all venues here, at least the ones we’ve dealt with, have their own backline. As for the quality of the gear, that can vary wildly from one place to the next but, on the whole, it’s normally pretty solid stuff.
UA: And then this might be stuff you don’t want to share – but is it a door split with the venue or do you rent out the venue?
John: Generally, we rent.
UA: Nice – as we get closer to talking about your very last show – what has been a show under this collective that is really something you’ll never forget? Could’ve been due to the lineup or a whole bunch of issues that you all were able to overcome for the show to go ahead.
John: There are two things that spring to mind. The first one was having Strife at Ready Fest in 2019. One of my all-time favorite hardcore bands but, not only that, Igor Cavalera came through and played drums in a song for them. Sepultura was the band that got me into heavy music in the first place, so having him play with one of my favorite bands, at a show I was a part of putting on, was a personal high point.
The second one was UKHC Returns. Rich came up with the idea to do a big fest as soon as it was viable after COVID lockdown restrictions were lifted. So, during a time of no-shows, we were planning and putting together this three-day fest, purely UK bands as we had no idea when international bands would be able to come through. Every band we contacted during that time understood that we couldn’t set a date and things were gonna be a bit fluid, but thankfully most of the bands we’d asked were available on the eventual date.
The show turned out fantastically. Three completely sold-out days for all UK bands. Not only was it a great celebration of our scene, but it also proved the theory that we had enough bands and a strong enough scene to not need touring international bands to prop it up.
UA: Goddamn!!! Those are two unforgettable events for sure! I wasn’t even there and just sitting here in Hong Kong reading that over is getting me stoked! Did you fanboy out on Igor??? Dude I would’ve brought every Sepultura record and shirt out for him to sign hahahaha…I’d even look for my old Undersiege VHS to get him to sign!
John: I’ll be honest, we didn’t know he was gonna be there. He was on Strife’s guestlist, but we didn’t get that until the day of the show. And even then, I don’t think we thought he’d actually turn up, much less PLAY.
UA: And now let’s get into the very last show. Why have you decided to make this your last show? And why this specific lineup too?
John: In the six years we’ve been doing this together, we’ve all had things in our personal lives change. Individually, we’re all much busier in our day-to-day than we were when we founded Ready Eye. By the time this final show comes around, only one of us will be actually living and based in London. And whilst, as I said earlier, it is possible to organize remotely, I’m not sure it’s advisable as a long-term way of doing things.
UA: And for the lineup? Having Knuckledust headline seems like the most appropriate way to go out swinging.
John: When we had decided that this was the final show, the first thing we wanted to do was make sure we represented all sides of the UK scene, its history, and its future.
Knuckledust was the obvious starting point. We booked this show entirely around their availability. They’re the band that really ignited the scene here and, it’s safe to say that most of us wouldn’t be here without them.
Alongside them, we wanted to have both Ninebar and 50 Caliber. When I first got into the UK scene, these three bands were constantly playing shows together and I can’t remember the last time they all played the same bill so, for me, that HAD to happen again.
Then we have bands like Splitknuckle and Cruelty representing other regions, both bands are on top of their game right now and are influencing the next generation of kids coming through.
And then we have bands like False Reality, Mindless and Freeze. All new bands who are gonna be the future of our scene here. It’s these bands that will lead in new kids who, in turn, will form bands, book shows, etc.
UA: And as you see Ready Eye wrapping up it does seem like the UK scene (and the London scene specifically) is in good hands with tons of other promoters. You portably can’t mention every single one – but are there ones that specifically come to mind where you go “Yeah – they’re doing it right”?
John: There are a couple of people out there doing stuff. BN1 Collective in Brighton, Three Swords Promotions who are based in Essex but put most of their shows in London. Then there’s Real Life who are here in London and are putting on a lot of the bigger touring bands. There are a bunch of others doing shows all over the UK right now, so the scene will be in good hands. What’s most important to me is that these guys remember that it’s UKHC that they need to support. We’ve seen, with what happened during COVID, how quickly the international touring scene can be decimated in a blink of an eye, and if you don’t have a strong local scene, you may end up with no shows happening in your area.
UA: YES! First and foremost giving back to your scene to help build it up should be the most important thing. Even out here in Asia – the scenes that are most exciting for touring bands to hit are the ones that go all out for their local bands. And to wrap up – if anyone wants to get into this world of booking shows – what’s the best advice you could give them?
John: Don’t do it!!! Hahaha. But no, in all seriousness, three things I’d recommend. One, start small and local. Ready Eye was built on slow success. Originally, the four founders put £25 each in and put on a small show in a local venue. Secondly, put on bands that you actually like. You can chase hype all you want, but you’ll burn out quickly if you aren’t booking shows you genuinely care about. And finally, no matter how big your shows get, stay humble. You can only put on shows for as long as bands are willing to play for you and for as long as people are willing to pay their hard-earned money to attend. Without those, you don’t have a show to promote.
One last thing before I go. I wanna say a massive thank you to Louis Gino and Ferg Simonds for being a part of this for the last six years. Much love to my brothers.
Yo…MAD thank you to John for his time and for these thoughtful answers. If you’re around on August 5th then see you at New Cross Inn for Ready Eye’s very last hurrah!
More info here: https://www.instagram.com/readyeyecollective/