Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War, John Robb was the first to write about bands such as Stones Roses and Nirvana. Not content with just writing about bands he also tours the world with punk-rock band The Membranes. 

What made you be involved as curator for OTR?

Ever since In The City ended there has been a big gap in the UK’s leading music city for an event like this. Ironically Manchester has more venues now and more media like the BBC than ever before, and the only thing it lacked was a music event of this nature. After asking everyone in town to come on board I finally found the right people to work with to underline the city’s musical future.

Manchester has recently been ranked as the ‘best city in the UK for live music’ – how do you think the music movement has changed in Manchester since the early 80’s? 

It’s actually insane now the number of venues in the city. I was talking to Mark Davyd from the Music Venue Trust about this – and whilst his great campaign, which I’m part of, to battle for venues across the UK is going well, it felt weird coming from Manchester where there was more and more venues opening all the time. This is the best legacy of its great musical history – a future. In the eighties there was a handful of venues like the Boardwalk, the Internationals and the Hacienda and the University – now there are over 40 venues in the Centre – the only problem now is deciding which gig to go to!

What do you think people can learn from the OTR conference?

Young bands can learn the basic stuff you need to know, older music heads can explain the problems they had and how they got round them, the mix of skills at the event from promoters to pledgers to social networkers to musicians etc can share their information and make the weird, cranky stuff you need to know to be a 21st century band readily available. Above all its a chance to meet other people – use the time we’ll speak to everyone in the room – we are all on the same side.

What advice would you give to bands starting out in the industry?

Get savvy, get smart. Write and rehearse then go home and hustle. Nothing will ever come to you. Also learn to share and work together and also have a great time.

What inspired you to get into the music industry? 

It was never an industry for me it was a total love of sound – I was tee’d up by glam rock and then fired like a cannonball by punk rock. That feeling of playing and communicating with music gets more thrilling every year.

How important is it that new bands are recognised? 

Vital – music should be for everyone – everyone should have an equal chance to be creative…we have a great music history and we demand a great music future. Also new band change the flow and create new sounds and I want to hear them

What is your favourite music venue in the UK? 

Brudenhell in Leeds has got to be up there!