Austin Wilde: Chester’s renaissance man

This post originally appeared on Schotts List, but I thought it deserved a run-out on here too. Enjoy

I have a white dog and a beard.

That’s the message I received moments before I met Austin Wilde. For some reason, I just knew I was going to like him.

Austin Wilde moved to Chester to write a novel about London. Chester also had the advantage of being closer to his family after the loss of his father, itself the catalyst for his writing. It was his way of coping with grief, understanding mortality. This cathartic exercise gave birth to a book, entitled My Dad’s Deader Than Your Dad: a fanzine for death, written for the individual generation that fetishizes the new over the now. The accompanying blog secured him a London agent and interest from Faber & Faber. But the book never came out.  Most importantly, perhaps, this experience encouraged Austin to invest some serious time in his writing – and he moved north, embarked on an MA (Creative Writing), then decided to go the whole nine yards and study for PhD – Rioting in Literature – at John Moore.

Every cloud, even the darkest, has a silver lining….

During this stretch, Austin found time to knock out two collections of shorts and poetry. The first, The Business of Families, focuses on flesh and blood, naturally, and its twisted rules and logic. A Large Can of Whoopass, out in February 2014, is about life’s changes and life changers. He even designed the book cover for this one, a reworking of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Not a laurel-rester by trade, Austin is writing a trilogy of novels about the big smoke, the dirty city some call *London*. Partly for his PhD and partly because he has unfinished business there – he emigrated from there to here – in my humble opinion.

Death made me focus on a new creativity…

Austin’s words, not mine. I think this could also apply to his time in the music business. In a previous job, life, existence, Austin was the Creative Director of EMI Music Publishing. He signed Beirut, Joanna Newsom, Lindstrom and Duffy. That’s a proper job, that. Music was his life for seventeen years, on the lookout for the next this or the new that. He was there during Guy the Gorilla Hands ill-fated take-over, so he is a survivor too. By the end the magic had gone, music became work. But, over the hill came a white charger leaden with a handsome pay-off replete with lengthy gardening leave. Free, Austin had the means and the time to write. And, he had a teenage-like love for music, once more, that fervent desire to focus on new creativity. Everyone’s a winner.

Good, strong music…

Austin’s rediscovered love for music has a cheeky new outlet. He runs Repent at Telfords Warehouse  each Thursday: six spanking hours of good, strong music from around the world. ‘It’s different things at different times during the night.

‘There are links between the records but no-one notices’ he says with a laugh. As Austin explained the concept, he casually mentioned how he helped establish Renaissance – the original UK super club – in Ibiza. He did everything from playing records to paying people to hand out flyers. Forty-eight hour shifts were not just common, but essential. Not as glamorous as it first sounded, but still another considerable string to Austin’s rather magnificent bow. Music is in his blood it seems.

A whole hour whizzed by. Throw in a few anecdotes about the Judas Goat and why Brooklyn cops call hipsters marshmallows – they are soft and white – and you have the best cup of coffee I’ve had in a long time.

Make sure you check out the estimable Mr Wilde’s books and his music nights

Sell a child, swap a wife, rob a bank, just make sure you bloody do.

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