Six Questions With... Todd Wills of Bristol Colston Hall

Six Questions With... Todd Wills of Bristol Colston Hall

Welcome to the latest edition of Six Questions With..., a new, short and sharp interview with a live music figure. Email jhanley@nbmedia.com if you would like to take part or put someone forward for inclusion. 

This week's Q&A is with Todd Wills, head of programme at Bristol Colston Hall.

What was your first job in music?

Does a record shop when I was 16 count? I got paid in credit notes for the shop and gig tickets. Which was fine by me.

How long have you been in your current role?

I’ve been head of programme at Colston Hall for five years now but I still feel like the new boy. Given my predecessor was here for 30-odd years I guess that’s kinda true. The venue itself is 150 years old, something we are celebrating this year, so my time is a short spell compared to the overall history of the building.  When you realise The Beatles, the Stones, Bowie, The Clash, Miles Davis, Joy Division all played here it’s nice to feel part of a venue with an amazing legacy.

What is your favourite thing about working in the live music industry?

It has to be that I don’t know what opportunity is going to present itself on any given day, which keeps it pretty fresh. If you look through our programme for any given month there is a huge variety of acts and because we have two venues, the main hall and The Lantern for smaller events, we’ve got something different every night. 

What is the one thing you would like to change about the live business?

Sometimes people need to remember to mind their manners. We’re all extremely busy, so a little politeness goes a long way. Aside from that minor gripe, we’re about to close for a major redevelopment so having a state-of-the-art venue in Bristol is a big change that’s sorely needed, and thankfully I’m seeing it in action. 

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Book ending my career at Colston Hall so far with Africa Express in a big top in 2012 and then being one of the host venues for the 6 Music Festival in 2016 was pretty satisfying. Reopening with a world class venue and programme to match in 2020 is going to be a huge highlight.

What is the best gig you’ve ever been to?

It’s an impossible question really as there are so many factors that make every gig unique. Gun to my head I’d probably say Sonic Youth, Pavement and Huggy Bear (whatever happened to them?) on the same bill at Studios in Bristol or possibly My Bloody Valentine at the Anson Rooms, the latter being where I may be able to trace the origins of my hearing loss. Honourable mention should go to Sufjan Stevens and John Grant with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at Colston Hall; both very special shows.

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