Friday 8 February 2013

A Short History of the Saloon Web

So this blog now has the url pointing to it. Which makes it the official Saloon website.
Despite the fact that we were five people, who were incredibly un-savvy in terms of computer use, the internet  (or at least the Saloon website and mailing list) was very important to us. It was the means by which we were able to communicate with our fan-base and operate pretty much autonomously without the need for a big record label. In many respects it was the ultimate punk rock tool; it was something that helped make us as a band and ultimately, its use probably contributed to our split.

We can thank my brother Gideon for our having a site in the first place. He was the person who had the idea, built the site and made us ‘early-adaptors’ of web technologies, whether we realised it or not. We had a website from early in 1998, pretty much as soon as we had done our first photo shoot. Bands at our level just didn’t have websites at the time; and this is years before Web 2.0 and the MySpace / Facebook revolutions. We were certainly the first active band in Reading to have a website, and we promoted it using old-fashioned methods, by giving out photocopied flyers at gigs which had our URL.

Saloon Web Flye
The Saloon Web Flyer
Certainly none of the band had their own computer at home, in the early days I didn’t even have access to email at work. If we wanted to do an update, send an email to the mailing list or even respond to an email, I had to fax our message to Gideon who then had to type it up for us. In hindsight I am glad he found the time; luckily he has made a good career in web design for himself now.

Arguably more important than the website was the Saloon mailing list. As soon as the website was running we very quickly had hundreds of names on the list and after every gig we played, in every town, you saw the list go up incrementally in number. We used the mailing list to promote our gigs, new releases and occasionally stuff that friends or bands that we supported were doing. We were very conscious even then of not spamming people.  I am incredibly proud of the fact that, and I can say this with my hand on my heart, we didn’t add a single unsolicited email address name onto that list. Everyone who was on the list had gone to our website and subscribed (and it was just as easy to unsubscribe).   

I will probably say more about the list at a later date if I ever get onto discussing the 2002 Festive 50, which is something I don’t think any of us have ever done. Until then, if you want to see what the old site looked like, try the fantastic wayback machine. Here are some links:

The very early site:

The classic look (with Gideon getting excited by an email from Yahoo):

The split:

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