Experienced and knowledgeable, Ooosh! Tours have been keeping artists as varied as Lonnie Liston Smith and Patrick Wolf to Royal Blood and Alabama Shakes out on tour. No matter how complex or large a production is, their large facility in Portslade has got everything that might be needed. And now they’re taking their services to the next level.
Director Jon Wood started the company in late 2008. Working as a tour driver and manager for a range of local bands, like Blood Red Shoes, he found himself in the agreeable position of having too much work. Purchasing another van, he started buying equipment for bands to hire out. From there everything just snowballed. “I eventually took myself off the road and started concentrating on hiring everything out.” Drawing from their many years of road experience, Ooosh! strive to provide a wide range of services to ensure artists with a hassle-free tour. From an amp for a solo pub gig to organising transport, road crew and backline for international outings, they’re able to fulfil almost any needs of the modern working musician. Armed with knowledge, skills and solutions, their services are invaluable for up and coming bands, busy tour managers or promoters overwhelmed by logistics.
Once the cornerstone of their operation, Ooosh! Tours’ van hire still plays an important role in keeping clients on the road. Converted Mercedes Sprinters, these provide comfortable travel for nine people and equipment on even the most gruelling of tours. The Ooosh! Tours building itself houses a score of different instruments, drum kits and amplifiers ranging from the classic to the modern. “Every now and then we do run out,” he admits. “Normally during The Great Escape… I did work out once we could keep 25 simultaneous bands on the road.” From this huge, and still growing, stock of equipment available, drummers can hire Gretsch Renown or Yamaha Stage Custom kits to cowbells and djembes. Bassists can choose from a range of instruments, including the classic P-bass or Gibson EB-O. Whilst amongst the Stratocaster and Les Paul guitars, there’s also a rather tasty selection of odd little 60s and 70s Japanese brands and imitations. There’s the usual amplifier and speaker brands like Marshall and Orange, as well as a few more exotic models. Keyboards from modern Rolands to an old school Wurlitzer, as well as two Hammond rigs complete with Leslie rotating speakers. “We’ve got anything you can think of, or know where we can get hold of it.” They can even rent you flight cases, a table, flute stand or even a massive fan (if you haven’t got any – arf!).
Now there’s a significant expansion underway. Lee Webber, whose father started London’s renowned Ritz Studios, is bringing her considerable expertise and experience to the company. Two enormous rehearsal rooms have also been constructed in their building, now allowing bands to perfect their stage shows.
Both spaces are bathed in natural light and decorated with a brick finish beneath a tongue and groove wooden ceiling; one is 600 ft2 whilst the other is a massive 1,400 ft2. That’s roughly the size of an average festival stage. “Because the ceiling is so high, about 4.5m at its highest point, if you want to put in a lighting rig you can. The room’s completely flexible. You can lay yourself out any way you want in there. It will sound good whatever.” The two spaces are tied together with XLR and Cat6 lines, also equipped with three-phase power, a lighting truss and even individual production offices.
Although Brighton’s really well served for great hourly-hired rehearsal rooms there’s nothing on this scale. Many similar facilities in London also suffer from placement in fairly remote locations. Ooosh! enjoys being a 60-second walk from Portslade’s bustling Boundary Road, a rail line and four roads to Brighton nearby. This area’s fortunes are currently changing, reflected by a growing number of great places to eat and drink. It also enjoys great transport links, with a nearby train station. “Brighton’s becoming quite expensive. So a lot of people now live just around the corner from us.” The biggest rooms south of the capital, with plenty of parking and power for tour-buses, Ooosh! seem to be offering an alternative to the expense, hassle and expense of travelling to London. “Clients would come to us and pick up backline, then whizz off to rehearse. So a lot of them should be very interested. I think we’re a viable option.”