Meet Bath’s Indie Heroes: Moles

In 1978, despite heavy snow, Moles opened its doors for the first time to a crowd of friends, family
and locals for a New Years’ Eve party.

Initially primarily a vegetarian cafe with jazz music, Moles
blossomed into one of the most important small independent venues in the country. The first big
band to take to the stage played to just 30 people – The Smiths, having just released ‘Hand In Glove’,
became one of the most influential bands of the decade. In fact, this set the tone for the success of
Moles, acting as a springboard for countless bands before they hit the big-time. Britpop behemoths
Pulp (1985), Blur (1990) and Oasis (1994) all debuted here, firmly cementing Moles as a mainstay of
the British music scene with both it’s stage and studio (which has recorded Biffy Clyro, Elbow and
Portishead, amongst others!).

The noughties brought more artists on the precipice of popularity; in 2004 The Killers played the day
before ‘Somebody Told Me’ was to be released, which would go to number three in the UK charts. Ed
Sheeran played in 2011 whilst circuiting small venues promoting his debut album ‘+’, and Bastille
concluded their 2012 tour here. A solid favourite with locals and beloved by bands, it seemed like
Moles was unstoppable – until disaster struck.

During the night on 8th March 2014 an electrical fire blazed through the venue after hours, which
lead to smoke and water damage throughout the entire building. Luckily Mallory Knox, who had
been recording in the studio, were all away for the weekend – the venue was empty and nobody was
injured. However, the venue was out of action for over a year while repairs were completed. While
this kind of catastrophe would have spelled the end for many small businesses, Moles bounced back
thanks to it’s dedicated team and their hard work.

With a full refurb and brand new sound-system, Moles was ready to throw it’s doors open with two
sold-out shows in November 2015: Don Broco performing live followed by Erol Alkan and Eats
Everything DJing into the small hours. Since then, the big names have kept coming. Fatboy Slim rang
in Moles’ 40th birthday in 2018 with ‘The Big Bou-tiki’, selling out in minutes and raising thousands
of pounds for a local charity. Artists such as Nova Twins, Bury Tomorrow, John Newman and local
celebrities Idles have graced the stage – either as burgeoning newcomers or established acts
returning to their roots.

Even the pandemic was no match – with it’s doors closed, the venue continued to broadcast live
music from local bands and at-home clubnights from the resident DJs. When seated entertainment
returned, sit-in gigs became the new normal.

Now, things are looking brighter than ever for Moles. Live bands are back with a bang (Orlando
Weeks and Beans on Toast among the most recent shows), and the appetite for clubnights is stronger
than ever – especially with headliners like Jax Jones and Jodie Harsh on the decks! Music in Bath is
here to stay – #longlivemoles

Published in
20 July 2022
Last Updated
20 July 2022