The Electric Palace Cinema is located right in the heart of Hastings Old Town, on the High Street and has developed an enviable suggestion for showing more interesting and thought-provoking films as well as putting on special events. In this vein, the inaugural Summer Music Season in 2013 was a great success and is returning this year, even bigger and better than before.
Juliet Harris caught up with one of its curators, noted music journalist and broadcaster David Quantick, to find out more.
(David Quantick has written for NME, Q and Word magazines, as well as contributing to many TV comedy shows, including ‘Smack The Pony’ and ‘The Thick of It’. He recently presented a show on the local Carnival FM radio station, playing a selection of music associated with the Summer Music Season)
Juliet Harris: How long have you lived in Hastings and what first brought you here?
David Quantick: I've lived here for four years. I wanted to leave London and I had friends who'd been living here for ten years and so I knew the town a little bit. And I liked it a lot.
JH: Did you know much about Hastings' cultural past and present and was that a factor in you moving here? If not, has the diversity of the local scene taken you by surprise? Do you think Hastings has changed in this way during your time here?
DQ: I knew about the immense variety of local bands, the pier's importance on the national music scene and also the Manic Street Preachers had told me, "Hastings is where all our roadies live"!
Hastings has changed on the surface - there's the Jerwood Gallery, the pop-up shops in the Old Town and some trendy pubs, as well as the rebirth of the Pier - but I think deep down it's always going to be a very individual town. People here are friendly and interesting, which is rare.
JH: The first Electric Palace Summer Music Season took place in 2013. Whose idea was it and how did you come to be involved?
DQ: It was theirs! I was lucky enough to be asked to help suggest some films and documentaries.
JH: Was there anything last year which has been changed/improved for this year?
DQ: It's been great both years but this year we were able to show more fiction among the documentaries.
JH: Last year, one of the centrepieces of the Season was ‘Snodgrass’, your (excellent) short film imagining John Lennon alive as a civil servant. Have you been involved in any of the films being screened this year? If not, what led you to choose ‘How We Used To Live’, ‘A Message To The World’, ‘Frank’ and ‘Stardust’?
DQ: I picked my favourite ever rock film, ‘Stardust’, and the rest was a mixture of suggestions. I know some of the people involved with ‘How We Used To Live’, which is a brilliant documentary made of old archive footage (music by St Etienne) and I was intrigued by ‘A Message To The World’, which is about Jesse Hector, one of rock's more obscure but also rocking figures. And ‘Frank’ just sounds so strange...
JH: Following on from this, were there any films that were considered but didn't fit the criteria? The films picked are interesting but a bit "off the beaten track" compared to archetypal "rock" films like ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ and ‘Performance’. When curating the season and making decisions as to what to include, were you deliberately trying to avoid the obvious’ or was this just something that happened by accident?
DQ: If we had time I would have liked to show ‘That'll Be The Day’, the film that ‘Stardust’ is the sequel to. Maybe they'll let me do a David Essex season... It's a mixture of what you want to see and what you can get. I'd like to show ‘Privilege’, the creepiest 1960s film about rock stardom as fascist control... ‘Catch Us If You Can’, where the Dave Clark Five go pop art... and whatever the next odd documentary is.
JH: There is no live performance this year, following on from Mat Motte's set last year. Was this a conscious decision or merely one of circumstance? Would you ever be interested in curating a short season of live performances at the Electric Palace, alongside/instead of the films?
DQ: We were offered Led Zeppelin, but they're rubbish... I think this year we aimed for films and films and films. A live season would be great.
JH: What are you looking forward to the most?
DQ: ‘Frank’, because it's very odd. A fictional story based on the true story of a man who didn't exist. With a papier mache head.
‘How We Used To Live and ‘A Message To The World’ are both showing on Saturday, 23rd August. They will be introduced by David Quantick and the evening also includes a Q&A session with St Etienne, who collaborated on ‘How We Used To Live’.
‘Frank’ is screened on 19th and 20th of September.
Find out more about the Electric Palace Cinema’s Summer Music Season and buy tickets, via their website at: electricpalacecinema.com