For any music fan in Wollongong, the name Yours and Owls is synonymous with great bands, great atmosphere and great memories. Yesterday Yours and Owls officially was put on the market for sale (Check the listing here) priced at $40,000. Included in the offer is “a great location, full liquor licence, full bar set up, all sound equipment and a new lease” which is all council approved, and being sold “well under market value”. In light of the news, Bear Media sat down with co-owner of Yours and Owls; one of the live music kings of the Illawarra Ben Tillman.
BM: So lets get the big question out of the way nice and early. Is this sale the end of Yours and Owls? The Owls have done so much for the local music scene [ed. practically holding it up in our eyes]. My question is, has it all been worth it? The time you put into the shop is monumental, are you prepared to start again?
TILLMAN: The sale doesn’t include the name, we’ll be taking that with us… Wherever that may be.We don’t have to start again, as its already begun. I guess ts a question of whether to keep on going…?
BM: Sometimes I don’t think people fully understand the calibre of the bands you regularly host. Bands like Battleships, and Tigertown who are getting worldwide attention in a big way; and bands like The Rubens, are just some of the names to play the Owl Stage. How do you feel about the “nothing going on in the gong” mentality?
TILLMAN: It is a shame, i think sometimes Wollongong just isn’t quite as savvy as some other cities, and so when we tend to get the bands just as or before they’re starting to blow up, and unless they are on with good local supports they will often play to next to no-one. But, yeah…. We’ve had so much good stuff over the last 3 years. Its pretty cool. And we were stoked with how well Owls was received. Every bands (pretty much) has loved it, and i guess because its unique & a different experience for them – in terms of venues you play on a national touring level – and it will always stand out & be memorable for them.
BM: We’re hearing rumors that you’ll be operating in more of a cloud format; popping up at venues like Town Hall to do one off shows only. Is there any grounding in these rumors, or can we expect a brand new location from you sometime soon?
TILLMAN: We have lots of plans, a possible festival collaborating with some cool crews at the end of the year. More bigger shows here & there. And then….. Not certain yet. There is a lot to consider.
BM: No more early hints for us?
TILLMAN: Melbourne maybe??? Haha. Or go west?
BM: Two and a half years ago when you started this business, what did you envisage? Has this lived up to your expectations? Or has the whole crazy ride been nothing like what you had planned?
TILLMAN: We could have never imagined how it would have panned out. We started out selling coffees at 7am, and that’s what we thought it was. Then we got licensed and opened for dinners. Then for some reason we decided to throw one night with a band and boom… it was all over from then on.
BM: As you mentioned, the name “Yours and Owls” is not included in the sale, yet all the music equipment and the license is. What are you hoping for in the sale? Someone to come in under a new name, but still do live music?
TILLMAN: That would be dope. We’d love it to go to a good crew & be able to still have a good affiliation & friendship.
At this stage although the sale is official, the doors are still very much open. Business will continue as usual, and lovers of music can still get their fix in the Gallery and Bar five nights a week (Check the gig guide for more details on upcoming shows). No doubt about it, a hole will open in the Wollongong music scene when the sale finally does happen. The Ox, The Patch and now Yours and Owls. Still…we had some times, didn’t we.
Interview and report by Ben Abraham