Rocknrolla’s: Paisley’s 350+ capacity music venue
After persevering through lockdowns and setbacks, Paisley’s Rocknrolla’s is preparing for its next evolutionary phase.
Given its rich lineage of creativity, the arrival of a new outlet for expression and revelry is always welcomed with open arms in Paisley. Run by veteran DJ Boab Williamson, Rocknrolla’s is the town’s latest venue and for its owner and booker, it’s the culmination of a lifetime of passion for music.
“Years ago, I used to work in The Bungalow. So, when that came to a natural end, I was kinda lost,” Boab explained. “I was going to watch some gigs with my pals, but what I really love is putting them on and seeing people enjoying themselves.
“I owned a deli at the time and I said to someone that worked with me that I’d love to get my own venue. At that point, she said to me, ‘what about the old Myles Camping Centre?’
“As soon as I walked through the doors, I thought ‘this is it.’ It was nothing like how it is now, I didn’t even know that it had another floor downstairs at that point!
“We plodded on, had a few gigs and then Covid came didn’t it? It killed the momentum for a bit. Now, I’m working alongside Margaret Patterson from The Patter Bar and that’s been great. Getting her perspective on things has been really useful she actually reinvigorated my drive for the place and got me to focus on it. Everything happens for a reason and now it’s all fallen into place.”
Since its inception, Boab has been keen to make Rocknrolla’s into a venue that can coax esteemed bands away from Glasgow and into Renfrewshire. Now, courtesy of scheduled shows with the likes of renowned outfits such as Big Country, Sham 69 and Goodbye Mr Mckenzie, it appears that his goals are coming to fruition.
“We’re just constantly adding to it,” Boab proclaimed, “whether that’s booking big bands or even the best tribute acts available. It’s all about elevating it down to the artwork on the walls, our own PA, a new lighting rig, everything. It’s all coming together now.”
Eager to liaise with people and organisations from across the community in order to maximise the space’s potential, Boab’s philosophy is one that isn’t so much fixated on individual prosperity. Rather, he aims to positively contribute to the vibrancy of the town’s creative eco-system as a whole.
- Judge Jules, one of the world’s finest DJs talks to Mill Magazine
- Jo MacMonagle – Healdlox UK’s hair and beauty expert
- Shaun Moore – Tannahill Makar and spoken word artist
“I’m in competition with no-one, as there’s just no point in that. As far as I’m concerned, another venue just means that there’s more choice for people in the town. Of course I’m going to push my own place, but I push Paisley too. Keeping people here is the main reason for me, it’s a passion to get people to stay here rather than always heading to Glasgow. There’s food in the town, there’s gigs here, there’s even stuff for kids. Support your own town and Renfrewshire as a whole.
“This is now the biggest venue in the town that isn’t a council building, we can fit 400 people in here. Once we expand downstairs, that increases to 600.
“We’ve got big plans for that downstairs space actually,” he continues, “the plan is to make it a rustic café/bar with food and a performing area. It’ll be open seven days a week and we’ll build a wee stage for acoustic performances and duos. We’ve just taken over the car park next door as well, so we’re aiming to turn that into a beer garden. There’s nothing like it in Paisley and we’re intent on enhancing the place and pushing the boat out.”
With the venue beginning to emerge from the toll exacted by lockdown and things beginning to take shape as he’d intended, Boab believes that 2022 will serve as a signifier of big things to come for both Rocknrolla’s and the town at large.
“To see your vision to come together is great and Mags has the exact same attitude as me. The way I see it is that we’re getting to where we want to be, but there’s still a hell of a lot to do.
“To me, what it says is that the Paisley music scene is gelling like never before,” he says of the emphatic response to the venue and its recent run of capacity crowds. “Even if it’s an unspoken thing. I think this place is the missing link as you’ve got the smaller venues and the big council shows, so we essentially serve as level two. There’s a great crop of acts coming up in Paisley and our way of getting unsigned artists on here is that once they play CC’s [Callum’s Cavern on Old Sneddon Street], I’ll try and pick an event where they can perform here on the support bill. It’s almost like a feeder system. We just want to push everything to the next step. We’re even looking at putting on some festivals ourselves!”