Compound Productions’ Owner Grant Gilmore Talks About Bozeman’s Music Scene [INTERVIEW]
This last week I got together with owner and operator of Compound productions, Grant Gilmore, and we talked about his local music production agency that has provided music lovers in Bozeman with great shows at both the Emerson Theatre as well as the Filling Station. We shot some pics and talked the talk for a bit and this is what was discussed.
1.How long have you been managing compound productions in Bozeman?
I started helping produce shows back in 2002 when I was an Architecture student up at MSU. My friend was running ASMSU Concerts and he needed help designing posters and getting the word out. We did some cool shows that year with our biggest one being a sold out show at The Emerson with reggae legends Culture. A year or so later another friend contacted me for help with a large outdoor show near the Story Mill which I helped to promote. I made some contacts with various booking agents thru those events and they began contacting me over the next few years to do more shows. Slowly, I became more and more involved and word spread about me to other agencies, which ultimately led me to work with the largest international and national agencies out there.
2. Why did you found Compound Productions?
My father loves music and he raised me on a bunch of the classics such as The Beatles, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, and Willie Nelson. Growing up and seeing a thousand cassettes and tons of vinyl all over the house I began to explore other bands and songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, Blue Rodeo, and many others. In high school back in the early late 80’s and early 90’s I began to develop my own tastes in music. The Cure, The Smiths, Midnight Oil, Depeche Mode all began showing me other styles of music. Then I moved to the Northwest in 1990 and my world completely changed. A friend of mines Dad worked at Sub Pop and I got to hear albums such as Ten (Pearl Jam), Nevermind (Nirvana), Gish (Smashing Pumpkins), and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (Mudhoney) before they were even released. That exposure led me to get into bands such as Dead Moon, The Melvins, The Meatpuppets, Dead Kennedy’s and so many more ‘counter culture’ acts of that day. My passion for music led me almost naturally into starting compund productions because I knew I wanted to work in music, and a production company was my “in” on the scene.
3. Favorite part of operating a production company?
Honestly, the best part is when a person comes up to me after a show and simply says thank you for bringing bands to town. I have always enjoyed seeing some of my favorite bands play at The Filling Station or The Emerson. I remember sitting in a booth at The Filler with my girlfriend watching Sera Cahoone and holding her tight with a tear streaming down my face. That was probably the most beautiful concert I have ever seen. Seeing an act perform with integrity and pure passion to a crowd of 20 or several hundred is so rare. I mean you see the corporate Top 40 acts come into town and play Brick Breeden or festivals and it is just disgusting how little they seem to care about the experience or their fans. A couple years back at Targhee Music Festival there was one particular songwriter playing that just had no gleam in her eye, no spark in her voice…that was sad to see someone with such a gift playing with so little love for it.
4. Band you have been most excited to bring to Bozeman?
Honestly when I look back at it I would have to say Lucero. But then you start looking at all the other bands that have touched my life that I have had the opportunity to produce and ‘build’ in this small town and it is truly an impossible question. I have brought State Radio, Trampled by Turtles, Pert Near Sandstone (Wednesday Nov. 30th at the Filler), Black Joe Lewis (this Sunday at The Filler), Portland Cello Project, The Supersuckers, Cloud Cult, Jim Ward, Asleep at the Wheel, Band of Horses, The Samples, The Dodos, Blitzen Trapper, Langhorne Slim, Josh Ritter, Reckless Kelly, Typhoon, Star Anna, Aesop Rock, and so many other great bands that it is really hard to chose a favorite.
5. Why did you pick the Filling Station for your main venue location?
Honestly it is by far the best place to see music in town. The Emerson is good especially since I decided to do a full bar in the ballroom when Devil Makes Three and March Fourth were in town. It was nice for the 21 and over crowd to be able to grab a drink during the set breaks. If only we could convince The Emerson to allow drinks inside like The Wilma in Missoula I think we could start attracting bigger bands to town and more fans to that venue. It is all about numbers and if people don’t like seeing shows at a particular venue because they can’t dance or have an adult beverage then it becomes that much harder to convince the agencies that the show will sell out. Another thing about that venue is the lack of dance space. If we could take out the first 10 rows of seats for certain shows so people could actually dance, I think that would help immensely. The Zebra is a great venue for certain styles of music but it is awfully hard to see the bands. The reason I love The Filling Station is the tall ceilings and overall unique character. Most bands I work with say it is one of the coolest venues they play at. Now that we have fixed the roof from leaking and we don’t get the tobacco goop dripping down onto the crowd during packed shows that has made people much more into it. I got a lot of complaints about not being able to see Trampled by Turtles because it was so packed and they sit on folding chairs. I decided to build the stage up for their next show and much to my chagrin they had decided to stand when they played (laughing), but it worked out because now when it is sold out you can pretty much see everyone in the band. The main reason I love the Filling Station, is that the owners have done so much for all the local bands and promoters in this town. From doing benefit shows and donating their time and money to good causes, to doing remembrance shows for locals such as Tex Tucker and Ben Spangler (The Touchers), they are truly champions to the cause. Without the Frye family I shudder to think what would happen to the local scene as the Filler and The Haufbrau are so integral to the backbone of the music scene here in Bozeman.
6. Is there any mantra behind the flying horse?
Not too sure on that. I think they may have picked it up from the Sinclair Station down the road. Stop in for a beer and some peanuts or a homemade lunch and talk to the bartenders on that one.
7. Future plans for compound productions?
Besides getting an actual website up and running (hopefully that will happen someday soon), I still want to do an outdoor festival show sometime in the next year or two. Have some potential with some huge bands that I will have to keep secret for the time being. Also will be helping with Farmageddon Festival in July in West Yellowstone and possibly Festy hosted by The Infamous Stringdusters next summer sometime. I would also like to hire the right person to start aiding me on some aspects of the business so I can still devote time to my friends and family and my love for this wonderful area of the country. I haven’t played in a band for a couple years now and really miss the days of Bigsby Jones and Boot Whiskey, so if anyone is looking for a piano player let me know!
8. Upcoming shows/ plans for the winter and spring?
I am taking the month of December and first part of January off to do a bunch of snowboarding. Going to work on retooling the business model as well so I can ensure bands they won’t be playing to a handful of locals. On January 21st we are doing a huge benefit show for kids in Montana with cancer. This was conceived to help the Wood family as their little 4-year-old daughter Stella Blue was diagnosed with cancer a couple months back. There will be a dinner with silent auction in the Emerson Ballroom and a phenomenal lineup of local bands playing in the theatre featuring 10 Foot Tall and 80 Proof, Cure for the Common, The Tyler James Brigade, Mathias, Claudia of Montana Rose and many more to be confirmed in the coming weeks. All proceeds from the dinner and silent auction will go to the Wood family to help with the staggering medical costs being incurred to get Stella healthy. The proceeds from the concert will be going to a to be determined charity helping kids with cancer in the state. At the end of January I am super stoked to have The Infamous Stringdusters playing at The Filling Station Friday Jan. 27th and Saturday Jan. 28th.
I can’t express enough how grateful I am to all the fans that make the two-mile drive from downtown to see the wonderful acts that grace the stage at The Filler. I thank all the local bands for pouring their hearts out to open for bigger national touring acts. I want to thank the other promoters out there such as Blue Mood, Musik Lives Here, Chamberlin Productions, HATCH Fest, and Brett at The Zebra for all their help keeping the music community alive and well in Bozeman. It is rare for a community of this size to attract cutting edge music and without the support of KGLT, The Bozone, The Moose, Cactus Records, The Holiday Inn, Peach Street Studios, Classic Ink, and so many other business and fans I would not be able to keep doing it. Thank you Bozeman! I mean that from the bottom of my heart. See ya at the next show and remember keep your hearts beating to the rhythms of all the beautiful music out there!