James Hodgson is one of the creative forces behind Preston’s Beats of Rage nights, run at the Coda nightclub. Known for bringing in some of the biggest and brightest names in dance music, Beats of Rage was recently selected by Mixmag magazine as one of the best club nights in the north of England.
Inevitable first question, then; how the devil are you?
I’m good. Just got up, and it’s midday. The life of a promoter is pretty sweet if you like lie-ins!
Being mentioned and so highly rated in Mixmag comes after a very long time working with Beats of Rage; just how steep an incline has it been from the start to now?
It’s been pretty crazy. I wouldn’t say we’ve been an overnight success, but I think we’ve been getting better and better as time’s passed. Everything’s been getting better, from the acts we put on, to the crowd. And now to get a bit of attention of national press for it is brilliant, proves we’re doing something right I hope!
What are your memories of the first BoR night; how did the expectations meet the reaility (if indeed you can actually remember the first night…)
It was at my mates house, above a florist, in the town centre. I convinced my mate to have a house party, and my band played. It was busy, actually, and the buzz in the air was incredible, even if my band was shite! We were kind of like the Klaxons/Hadouken!, but back in 2006. It was such a good atmosphere, that I knew I had to carry it on.
This kind of night would not work everywhere, why has Preston seemingly been so good to you?
Maybe because we’re the only people doing this kind of thing in Preston?!?! Haha, nah I’m not sure, but I think our transparency and attitude help a lot. It’s pretty easy to see that Beats of Rage is run by two chaps, who just want to have fun. I think people see that, and support us a lot more. It couldn’t be done without all the people at the front going mental.
The line-ups we’re getting are Manchester and London-worthy, in Preston. It’s insane.
Dance music, in general, and drug culture are often painted as walking hand-in-hand; is it possible to decouple the two at all? How serious a problem is it if Coda has a group of people bouncing off the walls?
I don’t do drugs, never have done, so drugs are a big issue with me. We operate a strict drugs policy at Coda, with searches and the full works. It’s not a problem unless you let it become one, and I think we do well to keep it out of our club.
I think the key problem is dealing in clubs, so people are taking all kinds of dodgy shit, and especially people who’ve never taken any before, but are a bit drunk and fancy it. That’s a recipe for disaster. It never happens in Coda, and we work ultra hard to keep it that way.
Did the younger you not just want to be a train driver or builder or something a little more predictable and ordinary?
I wanted to be a journalist! I did it at uni and everything. But I learnt the people are generally snakes who’ll kill their own mum to get a good story. Not into that at all.
Also, by the time I was in my 3rd year, I was doing BOR on the regular, and DJing on the radio, so by that time, I was just doing the work I had to, and having as much fun as I could. I fell into what I’m doing now though, just a series of fortunate events, and me being lucky enough to get given chances.
Actually, on that topic, can you put up shelves or fix plugs?
Haha, of course mate! I live with my girlfriend, so I’ve sorted everything out in our flat. When I put my bed together, I felt like such a man, it was pathetic. The boiler broke the other day too, and I found myself having a poke around the airing cupboard, seeing what was up. It was then I realised I’m basically my dad.
How far could Beats of Rage go; are any long-term plans set outside Preston?
Well we’re currently selling out and we’re booking some of our favourite acts from around the world, so I guess my hopes are that this continues! We’re getting some ridiculous acts on, and because we own the club, we literally spend all the door money on acts, meaning that the club is hosting acts that wouldn’t normally play in that size venue. It’s such an amazing situation we’re in, I think it’s incredible.
As for outside Preston, we DJ and stuff outside the city, but we don’t have any plans for expansion and stuff. No way man, Preston is my home. One lad couldn’t believe that we don’t have a night in Lancaster. Lancaster?!?! I’m from there, and it’s grim.
You’re known for your characteristic wardrobe, who are the names you prefer wearing?
Haha! I just wear what I like! My favourite brands, I reckon, are Bape, Stussy, Mishka, 10 Deep, Crooks & Castles, and most importantly, Kidrobot. I’m a Kidrobot freak mate. Their hoodies are done in batches of 256, so they’re a bit rare, but absolutely beautiful. They destroy my bank account though!
I wear hats, too. I love them. I have over 20 hats, so I think it’s a bit of an obsession.
Is the concept of a DJ being able to “read the mood” of a room total nonsense?
Not totally. I think it’s pretty easy to DJ these days. Loads of software to help, you don’t have to buy the latest vinyl and stuff. Everyone can get the records, and everyone can play them. I think the skill of DJ’ing more than ever lies in the tunes you play. I’ve heard some terrible DJ’s, who play the wrong tunes, at the wrong time. But I’ve heard warm-up sets where I haven’t recognised a single tune, but it was perfect for the time of evening.
All that DJ Rockstar stuff is bollocks, though. I play Xbox, and collect Vinyl Figures, and play Jackin‘ House. I don’t come off stage and take some smack off a hooker’s eye or whatever. I usually have a bit of a dance, and go to bed.
How many guilty pleasures are there in your CD collection?
Not many, actually. My girlfriend’s filled my iPod with all kind of incriminating material though. I’m a sucker for disco, And Soul. But I guess they’re kind of ‘cool’. But I hate ironic music. I don’t listen to my soul and disco records in public, because people start dancing to them ironically, and think I’m joking. I hate that.
Is there a frustrated song writer trapped inside you?
No, but there’s a crap producer! I was always rubbish at writing songs, but I like to produce and arrange songs with others. I haven’t got time these days, but me and [fellow DJ] Pish are trying to get producing again, make some delicious music.
Which band or DJ in Preston do you rate? Which Preston band should be making it this year?
No-one in Preston comes close to Joe. He plays everything, but last time I saw him he played Chicago House, which I’m a massive fan of. Lots of DJ’s are coming up at the moment, and it’s a bit easy to get into, so you have to separate the wheat from the naff. Bail, who plays Dubstep, is pretty dope, too.
It’s a night out, my round, what am I buying you?
What bar are we in? I hate it when people buy me drinks, because I don’t want to order something expensive and cost them a fortune! If we’re in Weatherpersons, I’d probably ask for a Magners, or some delicious gin.
If we’re in my club though, I’ll buy you one, because I’m nice. Sometimes. I’d suggest the Gin and Iron Brew. No doubt.
What be your plans for the next 12 months?
Get my nightclub to the standard and capacity where it’s the best club in the city, and carry on building on our nights.
Also, more realistically, witness Beats of Rage going mega, and having to build an extension on the back, to increase the capacity from 400 to 5000. And put on Daft Punk.
It’s been a pleasure, or hopefully it has. See you at Coda at some point…
[Questions and editing – Líam Pennington]
Interview conducted by way of emailed questions, edited for clarity and space. James Hodgson can be found at http://www.myspace.com/j2theh.
For up to date details on all nights out in Preston, go to http://www.prestone.co.uk