In between New Cross, Peckham and Nunhead lies The Rising Sun, a disused pub that has been transformed into a music studio, gig, rehearsal and living space.
The Rising Sun is not just an alternative cheap practice space for musicians, it also hosts a range of gigs and club nights, and lends its name to the creatives who occupy the space, The Rising Sun Collective.
In the midst of the clear up of one of their bi-monthly gigs, one of the original founders of the collective and sound engineer at the popular Peckham club Bussey Building, Sam Hatchwell, showed ELL around the versatile space.
The collective first formed when they were offered the pub a few years ago after playing a gig at the now-defunct Peckham pub, The Montague Arms.
“A bunch of people who hadn’t known each other were dislocated without having anywhere to live” discussed with some older, more experienced musicians their problems with finding a place to live – to which they offered the pub as an option,” said Hatchwell.
“The moment we saw the basement it was pretty much a done deal. There’s a lot of musicians in this place, a lot of the core people are still here. If you do anything music related, anything to do with running events or anything like that- to see that kind of basement and then not do anything would be a very stupid idea.”
Since moving into the pub a few years ago The Rising Sun Collective has continued to grow. The creatives have not only established themselves as a creative community but also as a tour de force in promotion, events planning, production and filming.
By providing a platform for budding musicians, The Rising Sun is part of South London’s growing ‘DIY’ music scene – a mix of grassroots venues and underground promoters as well as an abundance of free parties, gigs and raves which for many young people is a refreshing alternative to a costly Saturday night out in Central London.
Hatchwell explained just exactly how pricey a good night out in London has become over recent years, and why places like The Rising Sun are culturally important.
He said: “A lot of us have been in London for five or more years and when I first arrived in London it was a fiver in the door to stroll into Soul Train [Peckham’s popular weekend soul night] you zoom ahead a few years and it’s 20 pounds on the door – sold out every time. Things have switched, gentrification plays a huge part and I think DIY nightlife is something that has always been here in South London [with] free parties, raves, ect. which has always made use of space you wouldn’t expect to make use of.”
Peckham and nearby Deptford have recently been dubbed the new gentrification centres of London, but despite council efforts to change these areas, their foundations remain deeply rooted in free party traditions.
“There’s a lot of sound system culture, so it’s always been here. I think there is a new generation of young people who are doing exactly this, throwing parties outside of the standardised club culture. It works”.
The Rising Sun is not the only South London space to adopt a DIY approach to nightlife.
“Places like DIY Space For London [another alternative gig venue], there’s a lot of places that do these kinds of things, we are just a small stepping stone,” said Hatchwell.
Other venues, such as Peckham’s Tasty Bakery, a club situated on Rye Lane inside a working bakery, are also channelling a more ‘in-house’ living room style approach to nightlife. People are actively seeking an alternative to the mainstream.
Throwing parties outside of the norm is exactly the goal of the Rising Sun Collective, who promoted their first gig over two years ago as a low key in-house EP launch.
Since then the pub has “hosted a range of events” including world-renowned Boileroom DJ sets and have attracted the attention of publications such as Vice and Loud and Quiet.
Within the industry, it is easy to get swept along with music politics and unforgiving megalomaniacs but Hatchwell emphasised that “staying genuine”, through championing smaller artists and keeping the space free, has been the route of the Rising Sun’s hidden successes so far.