Death of the Party promoter Clayton Vomero learned the game in a pre-Giuliani playland and will go to great lengths to keep his artists happy, from haircuts to canoe rides—he's as versatile as a deluxe model Swiss Army knife.
Job title, duties:
Title: Owner/operator, Death of the Party.
Duties: Talent buying, DJing, promoting, production, P.R., coffee making, airport shuttle and ambulance driver.
How did you get your start promoting?
I grew up in Staten Island, N.Y. At about the age of 15, my friends and I started going out to nightclubs in Manhattan. Places like Twilo, Tunnel, Limelight, and Palladium would let you in for free if you took stacks of flyers to your high school and gave them to your friends. This was pre-Giuliani, when you could get away with anything in N.Y.C. I had the cliché fake ID saying I was 29 and in the military, but absolutely no one cared how old you were. So, we would go on the weekends, then go back to high school and hand the flyers out to kids all week long. That was like 12 years ago. HA! I'm old and I'm still doing this. What the hell is wrong with me?
The first night I ever did of my own in Seattle was Low-Life at the Viceroy a couple of years ago. We totally started that on a whim, just so my wife and I could have a place to go out dancing. It kind of just snowballed into this awesome night, with lots of friends DJing and people having a lot of fun. Dancing has always been the primary focus. I hate people who throw parties and look like they're having a terrible time.
What was the first show you ever saw?
Vanilla Ice with my mom when I was in sixth grade.
Best DJs you've brought to Seattle:
Low Budget, Aaron LaCrate, Rapid Ric, Devlin & Darko. There have been so many. But I'd have to say Flosstradamus were the guys that really brought Sing Sing to its knees. That was the night of the infamous ass-shaking competition, which was absolutely out of control. Also, the Diplo show we did at the Viceroy years ago was pretty legendary. Line around the block, people dancing on couches and screaming. Absolutely crazy.
What formula do you feel works best to get people off their asses and into the club for your nights?
Being at your party and having a good time speaks volumes more than any flyer, article, or MySpace bulletin. I'm not putting on shows, I'm throwing parties. Be a host, and people will want to get wasted, dance, and have fun. Also, spraying a little beer on everyone never hurts.
The first big-budget show that I promoted was [ironically] with Low-Budget of Hollertronix at the War Room. The airline had lost his luggage, which had his sampler and hard drive in it. I was on the phone with the airline for hours and hours. They finally delivered his bag to the stage at the club about five minutes before he came on. Since then, everything has been smooth as silk. I have been very lucky.
How do you hear of most of the artists you book?
Magazines, word of mouth, MySpace. It really is amazing how effectively you can put yourself out there if you want to be heard. I check out every music page that asks to be my friend on MySpace and I have found some really awesome things and a lot of crap. But taking the time to sift through the crap is worth every second when you find something special.
Most random thing you've had to do to keep an artist happy while in town:
If you're a good promoter, you're like a Swiss Army knife for the artist. People forget sometimes about keeping the artist happy and just focus on the business side. I've always wanted the artist to walk away from a show I've done with them saying, "Seattle is amazing!" So, whatever it takes to make that happen. I've done everything from late-night meals at 13 Coins to canoeing in the Arboretum to haircuts and two-week stays on my couch.
What can we look forward to from Death of the Party in 2007?
I'm going to be touring a lot this year, so we've trimmed Sing Sing from a weekly at Havana to every first and third Friday at Chop Suey [starting Feb. 16]. We'll be doing a lot more fly-ins, and we'll also have the ability to feature live music. I've got my mixtape coming out, and I'll also be doing a lot of remixes for people this year.
Top five tracks to listen to . . .
While posting a MySpace bulletin: "If I Gave You a Party," by Sexual Harassment.
While taking a shower: "Louie Louie," the Kingsmen.
While cooking dinner: "Amsterdam," Jacques Brel.
While counting money: "Fast Life," Kool G Rap.
At midnight: "Move on Up," Baltimore Club Remix by DJ Ayres.
A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.