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Viva City head to the US to play SXSW festival

THEY have been ricocheting around the North East’s music venues for some time.

THEY have been ricocheting around the North East’s music venues for some time. But Viva City – who are playing The Cluny at the Ouseburn tonight – are preparing to catapult their blend of electro-indie tunes across the pond.

The Newcastle band are starching their skinny jeans ready to embark on their first attack on the US next month.

The band will be jetting off to play at the hugely influential music conference South By South West – SXSW – on March 20 in Austin, Texas, before shooting a music video in LA and making a few multi-state stops-offs to play gigs.

Viva City was the brainchild of musician Ali Allerdyce, from Whitley Bay, who had a vision of creating music that slashes through a cross-section of genres.

He soon found three like-minded Tynesiders to join him on the mission: Bruce Tate on bass and keys, Trev Cairns on keys and vocals, and Chris Cairns on drums.

Four years down the line and they have been gigging themselves stupid and earning acclaim as one of the best live bands in the region.

Ali, 29, who leads the band with vocals and guitar, says: “We applied to play at SXSW and got backing from a friend in the industry who fought our corner, and we ended up getting a slot at the festival.

“It’s the most renowned music conference in the world and even being allowed to play it is a great nod from the industry.”

The annual event takes place over four days, with almost 100 stages dotted around the city, showcasing thousands of handpicked acts from all over the globe.

SXSW has acted as launch pad for a host of British bands in its 23-year history, including North East talents The Futureheads and Maximo Park.

Ali says: “The Chapman Family from Stockton are playing, but as far as we’re aware we are the only band from Newcastle heading over there.”

Newcastle music development agency Generator is also heading to SXSW to promote the abundance of talented North East artists waiting to be discovered.

Ali says: “Generator have been offering us free advice and support with our trip. They’re taking a sampler CD of North East artists to push while over there and we’re featured on it.”

Viva City intend to take full advantage of the music elite who scour all the showcases in Austin looking for the future stars of the charts.

Trev, of Jesmond, Newcastle, says: “Our main aim is to come back with a booking agent so we can get some of our own tours lined up later in the year.”

Not a band to do things by halves, Viva City have a suitcase-full of other plans for their three-week stint in the States.

Ali says: “Essentially your slot at SXSW is just one gig, but we ambitiously took a two-and-a-half- week chunk around that date and thought ‘lets try and fill it with gigs around America’.”

They are due to play two warm-up gigs in Denver. Then, following an 11-hour drive to Los Angeles, they will play the famous Roxy Theatre on Sunset Boulevard.

After SXSW they are due to head back to LA to shoot a video with Spanish-born director Chuchie Hill.

Ali says: “Chuchie discovered us through MySpace and loved our track Hex. She offered to do a video for us and, as she’s based in LA, we thought it made sense to tie it up with our SXSW trip.”

But Ali explains that the video wouldn’t have been possible without investment from Hexham-based Anga Management.

“We were really lucky that Anga were excited by the collaboration and wanted to support us in making the video.”

Angus Charlton, managing director of Anga Management, says: “Viva City are a current, energetic and exciting local band who have the potential to go far in the music industry, especially after SXSW.”

Viva City’s American foray will climax in a huge show at The Viper Room in LA, once owned by film star Johnny Depp.

The excitement is clear, as Ali explains: “We’re just really looking forward to playing to such a new audience and in so many amazing venues.

“It’s everything an up-and-coming band craves.”

With such a busy schedule ahead will they have time for their horde of fans at home?

Well, the fact they’ve slotted in a gig tonight at The Cluny is a pretty good indication. And, on their return, fans can catch up with them at Roxy, Offshore 44, in Newcastle, on April 7.

Trev, 28, says: “We’re playing this warm-up gig at The Cluny and we’re also aiming to do daily blogs so people can read about what we’re up to while we’re over there.”

For the more visual-thirsty fans they will be producing a regular video blog on the Viva City YouTube channel throughout the whole tour.

Viva City play The Cluny, Ouseburn, Newcastle, at 8pm tonight, with support from The Martini Sessions and Night Of Sevens. Doors open at 7pm. Entry is £3.

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