- November 18, 2019
Grant Smillie – Celebrated DJ, Founder of Ponyfish Island & E.P. & L.P.
Grant was one of half of TV Rock, and one of Australia’s most celebrated DJ’s, winning two ARIA Awards throughout his career. Grant’s success also extends into the hospitality industry, co-founding Ponyfish Island, one of Melbourne’s most iconic and unique bars, situated in the middle of the Yarra River, Melbourne Brewing Co, and E.P. & L.P, one of the highest-grossing venues in Los Angeles.
On today’s episode of The Daily Talk Show, we discuss:
– What makes a great DJ
– Confidence and humility
– Burning out and needing time out of the market
– Opening E.P. & L.P.
– Differentiation and building beyond the trend
– Tipping and staff culture
– Learnings from running multiple businesses
– Runway and surprises
– Things you have to do in LA
– What’s next
E.P. & L.P: https://www.eplosangeles.com
Grant on Instagram: http://instagram.com/smiles01
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send us mail: PO BOX 400, Abbotsford VIC 3067
The Daily Talk Show is an Australian talk show and daily podcast by Tommy Jackett and Josh Janssen. Tommy and Josh chat about life, creativity, business, and relationships — big questions and banter. Regularly visited by guests and gronks! If you watch the show or listen to the podcast, you’re part of the Gronk Squad.
This podcast is produced by BIG MEDIA COMPANY. Find out more at https://bigmediacompany.com/
Daily talk show and we're in Los Angeles and
specifically we're at E.P. & L.P with Grant Smillie Welcome aboard guys. Nice to hear another Aussie accent yeah fine.
Good job guys.
I saw remind that has bondo harvests down in Culver City and we'll just said Nick stone who from Blue Stein? Yeah, the Australians have invaded what you did you did you invade America.
Yeah we're on the boats and 2014 We arrived here we are in 2015 but obviously is 2013 was the first sort of toe in the water. So what was watching this when we signed the lease at this particular spot, we took 18 months of planning and building and whatever else and then you open the doors.
We had lunch the other day, what was the name of that pies, Chicago nice catching easy
I didn't mention it lunch but growing up I used to come and watch you at Prince of Wales so my you You gave me my disco education and
probably robbed you of a few brain cells along the way. So
my It was good fun. I'm so you use the DJ
yeah obviously back in the day Yep. Alan we day Jane for before you moved into the hospitality game? Yeah good questions I started well, when I was 16 I looked clearly exactly the same as I did today. Yeah. And I would turn 16 new 12 so I was turning I was really young. So then I want to get me out of the house possible. But so what I had to do was going wag school God made all the bounces that they said the metro in the city at the time and I went and decided that I can be promoted because there's only was me getting and they said you have to write your name on a pass, you know, and that's you get $1 Pit Boss and I said, Hey, can I use a drill? I said what do you use a drill for rock because otherwise you get a rock all the time they said initials, let's get it down then Was get them all out there.
So your mark was the drill hole. So yeah,
yeah. And so then I was banging them out at universities, whatever else was making like two or 300 bucks awake as he at 12 and I give me 100 bucks drink caught a touchdown, right? So I sort of got instantly into that sort of nightclub space. But I was also a musician at school as well. So then I post, you know, finishing up school, I decided that I wanted to go and pursue that DJ thing. I was doing a marketing management double degree at Monash. But at the same time, I was showing them the music stuff and became a DJ that went pretty well, I was providing running clubs at the same time. And that was the first pivot was saying, I don't want to be a model anymore. So I'll be judged by the musical, you know, acumen I can have, because giving yourself a jobs a bit, you know, whatever, and you competing HTTPS and all of a sudden I you run the nightclub, or funnily enough, he's displaying me. But then I started producing and then that was, you know, the first record we put out was a track or forms. It went pretty well. used to go to the gym with Sean, Sean. Yes, Johnny, Johnny. Yeah,
yes, ma'am. came to the gym today.
Magnificent. So we went on the wind two hours sold 300,000 copies. And that was for that part of it. We couldn't get the record signed. So I started my own record label. And that was how that came to be. film clip self funded. got to a point we said, we've got to go to Warner, you guys can distribute it and sell it mine rest is history and then did that for the best part of, you know, 1520 years and then decided the hospitality was just more than 300 flights a year is exhausting. Yeah. And it was like late nights. Well, that was all right. But he just had to get used to it. It's like have a chill but yeah, just missing your friends birthdays. Weddings never went to them. You know, never set the night at home ever with your mates ever, ever ever? Because that was meant you weren't relevant. You're working on a weekend you went? You want to go jock?
What makes a good DJ
spin sunglasses? Well,
cuz that's what I'm trying to understand. Because it seems to be like a big, like, filmmaking and videography. There's a huge scope, right? So you have the The DJ who has you know, 1000 CDs and they're rocking up at the school. And they've got the strobe light which is only for big, big songs. Can you What's the spectrum of day jet? What are the different types of JJS? And how do you end up becoming a producer? I got
two questions as to how do you have a good day JR. denied the barriers to entry back they were a bit more significant was 22 bucks for a vinyl single. So you had to pick make sure what you're buying was good because everything was expensive. Yeah. And then you had a box one crate that was all you could carry. Not like these days us being a everyone's a DJ now because it's all greed. It's
to cure, right? You are curating the music.
We had X amount of hours. And that was all I had. Yeah, you better make sure it's bloody good content. And then assume that everyone's played the biggest record before you got there. Because that's what made a good DJ, make you beat your eyes and make sure you can still kill the night without having to play hit. That was my rule as long as I can. How long can I go without giving them what they want? So what's this Secret what was the secret track that you would pull out if it was going bad? What was the one that got the pressure?
I was gonna say Love Shack, but I'm calling a different.
Nice to this mash up with inexistent new sensation and Daft Punk. And we used to blow the roof off it was to our vinyl things. And it was all live drum seat having to correct it all the time on vinyl, which is tricky. Yeah. But it's a lot of that and then get back to your point, how do you become a good DJ, make the record and that produce a part of it, the only way to be an authority in the space is to make it like and be relevant. So that was the other reason I stopped DJ I didn't have time to produce and if I can actually get in there and drop a record and be like, I want to be in the chat all the time.
So on the tools you using like Ableton or something or what do you Logic Pro? Yeah,
was was our weapon of choice. But everyone eats their own doesn't matter, whatever. You start on, making good music. And I think that's the other problem, too. There's this this enormous shotgun approach to music these days, because there's such a proliferation of technology out there. So now you're getting I'm going to show up, I'm showing my age. But we used to sit there and play, you make a record again. And to get it out, it wasn't even CDs back, then you pressing it on vinyl, you have to go on, let's cut that costs, right? So if I'm going to get it signed, that guy's gotta say, I'm going to spend X on a test pressing, then we got to take it to record shops, and they don't have to want to buy it otherwise is an enormous amount of money going out here. So I had a guy from the record label Who said I believe in it, and he'd be almost planet down the phone to record still is gone. What do you think of this record? Because then when are you going to buy it? Yeah, because we want to get X amount of buy into to actually produce the record. So or now it's like I export, it's on the net, that's, you know, you can bought or its download for free so that the quality control aspect I feel is not there.
So samples is that like you like getting beats or stuff from other songs like this sort of electronic is that the genre or what does
it mean samplings? Not you know, not electronic. I mean, Kanye has been on it forever. Like, you know, some of his biggest records, you've got samples. It's just the clearance if you want to sell it and then leverage against other people's works. obviously having unique original stuffs your best avenues and under worry about Clarence but there's no problem you know using other people's works as long as you pay him for that you
we focused on personal brand back then because I think the the smiley brand the grand smiley brand back when I was going to clubs it was you'd nailed it
either I just going over a bit of one love
it was all there it was it is is that what you're thinking back then? Like how can I How can I build my personal brand?
I'll be lying if I told you it wasn't beneficial. I mean look at the same time when you saying how about becomes a good day? Yes. I spend money back on doing you know your logos, your press shots, all the bullshit that goes with that because again, if you just rip out all the coin, then how do you get better at it? You know? So I just found that. also trying to do like if you're a DJ stood up do your job. That's a bit like the iceberg you know, during the week. It's me guys. I got the best job on the planet. You come out here. You get drink coffee to try and pitch my missus And you know, I say lineup, but my whole week was programming planning, you know all these edits and things that meant that you come to the watch my show because I've done the work when you get here. And then it was about the intros and stuff. Make sure when I turn up, I'd be like, I don't know how to swear on this thing. Yeah. You're gonna walk into him, like, fuck you all your fucking mind. Because I don't know who's performing. And I don't really care. But look at me, look at me. And as long as I've got you look at me, and I'm just going to do on this now. And you can honestly take me if they'll trust you. Yeah, they start to trust me, I'm bottom of the ocean, we get anywhere with shit you never should get away with as long as you can sort of demonstrate to that I'm putting in more energy than you are. And then I can do some things that give it some relevancy that wants them they get a thread that I can follow. And then I don't know that's what made it kind of just gonna walk in like Cecile joint has to be you know, and I think people want to be led only you know, it's if you look like you got any sense of fear and no matter what job These
guys and got it.
Yeah, you know, have you taken that on with him business if I can walking into every meeting with your fucking mind?
many different ways.
Well, I mean, look, you gotta have some self confidence in your brand and what it is you're doing. And I think that goes a long way but it's also going to back it up because it's one thing to sit there and puffy chest out. And I think, you know, humility is you know, as I've got older is more impressive part of your business acumen, you know, I think it's, I built this, we built this platform to let others be the star of the show bit the shift bit whatever us the design is I'm first to say who's the it's not me? Well, we didn't we just have a curated experience. I know if I can't been delivered this and if this is as good as it gets, then I guess it's as good as it gets, or do I want to progress personally and develop other things do other parts of it because the creative foil I guess is what's been my thing that connects the DJ to Promoting or this whatever else. It's like the process of the opportunity. Yeah. And the nice thing I what is it that this? Was it a roof on the rooftop what we can do there is going to put a bar. Okay, well, it's not rocket science, but then it's one of the elements that make it relevant six months, six years later, you know, it's trying to fast forward that, that sort of process and I think that's what I enjoy the most the day to day stuff is kind of, you know, if Billy doesn't turn up for work, I don't really care. Yeah, as long as someone's doing. That's a manager's job. That's my job. But you know, that's easy. I think you can spend time in the wrong spots in your in your day to day life. It's just trying to push that out as much as you can.
Comedians cutting their teeth opening for bigger acts, is something you have to go through. I think you toured with Swedish House Mafia. Yeah. Which, you know, they one of the biggest groups in the world and you were probably the biggest in Melbourne, very big in Australia. What was that experience like opening for a huge Huge band that a huge group that the people they, they had to see someone else.
What was that feeling?
look as good to hang out with the fellas, man, that wasn't my show. And I think you know he going into that. So you just, I'm not the star on that day, that's them. And my job is actually just to be the best warmer up a fluff or whatever you want to get them to where the crowd wants to get. And we just sit backstage and I sort of knew what they are playing by that stage. And I just sort of walk through them saying, here's what I want to do. But every crowd is different. That's the beauty of music, you get to some place you think this is going to blow the doors off at it and it's like crickets better go and refocus. But the main was kind of watching the excitement in a room and you can say it's this palpable energy for waiting for the band to come on. Knowing that I'm at 30% volume and they're going to come in and
I was wondering so they did they actually disengage speakers and shift for the support.
Because that's what makes the magic You know, when it gets all of a sudden is loud, and it's them and it's the show so you don't get when you don't get the co2 you don't get the by he had none of that stuff. So these guys come as like bang bang bang Welcome to the Swedish House Mafia show but look for all those guys don't get me wrong they're doing the same shit we're doing on what's our next single look like I'm not that creative today but I say tomorrow guys keep going back to the well back to the well and how do we remain relevant I'm sure they're doing the same questions that every home studio produces doing that is wealthier older and you know it's probably got more pressure to deliver.
So what do you think for these huge acts Calvin Harris What do you think it is that has made them pop?
I mean, look, there's just significant songwriters I mean, if you think about this wagered, don't you worry Charlie, get with the other john Martin. They have this record and still still stands the test of time. Calvin writes, he's written records for a generation almost of dissonance. banger off the bank. That guy's a talent. Now he's a gardener. He's got a big plot of land in This is a throne he just wants to tend to the garden for you.
Do you burn out? Like I guess it's a quite a extreme lifestyle in some ways bringing that energy.
Yeah, I mean you do but I think the other part of it is your set a time at a market. I think if you give yourself an availability to people all the time and they expect that they can see you and you're going to do another record, how do you write the smash it if you're on the on the road all the time, and you sit down, I've got to sit down in front of the computer and be creative for a minute and write this next hit. And again, when's the next hit? And yeah, I just put a record out like two days ago, you know, the internet's like, what you guys every night. What's next? What's next, you know? So I think the expectation and like you'll see even the Taylor Swift's of the world I have to go I need to ease off Ed Sheeran on what three days off because I gotta write the next album. Because otherwise and then I can go on tour it
What was that for you? What was that moment where you realized you had to take a break.
Ah, liver damage.
got to a point where I can I remember I was standing at a key, you know, old Bry sorry, ovary. And I'm like, I've just driven here five hours from Melbourne. The crowd would just not educated about what I was trying to do and I'm I'm just getting I feel like I'm a hookup. I'm getting paid a lot of money, but I really want to be here. Yeah. That's it. I'm done. And I said, I'm back. I'm sorry, buddy. I got 10 shows left. Cuz What do you mean? I said, I got 10 shows Lyft I did 10 shows as picked 10 I want to do and that was it was the final one. And what year was that? Oh, shit. That would have been like 20 the teens and by that? I mean the final shower. I think we might have been my music bowl thing. I
mean, I played the grand final I played it often like some epic shit.
Yeah. What's the grand foot because the grand final obviously has to be honest. What has it has the stigma of like, you can't fucking win. Doing the grand final do as an artist. Are you going in with that mindset killed it might
play with the others was big at the time, which is a trackway with Jason Windsor. But we need this record. And the benefit of there's always something that happens on the day didn't happen to me It happened to get support from Nick sister. They had these fallbacks in front of them. And they weren't allowed to play the drums live. Well, they were playing lot but they weren't amplify so it was a click track and whatever else and then they had the live monitors bacteria, and the monitors went dead and he could hear himself on this delay about two seconds on the other side of the sudden stand and he was just like, wow, I'm looking
at the guy. He's over
day. And then Excel is all about how jets performance was terrible, but it wasn't their fault the amplifies when I never had to let them play live like they wanted to. It would have been no drama but let's let's try business. Hey,
what was the highlight of all the different performances? You did? Which one stands out?
So many good ones. I mean, a beta was always great to go on Play playing. We played a festival and I played the left right in Belen doesn't mean people you know, they're all so different the ball in Melbourne when it was on fire for somebody just closing those things was you know pretty amazing and there's nothing better than you know when we had track like a Florence at whatever else so when there's 20,000 people singing back to a lie It's pretty you know amazing we are sitting in hockey and remotes with Ivan we're in maybe Magnetic Island or something and they said are you gone to number one like that? That's pretty that's pretty impressive. I think I think we're a bit naive you know, I was a bit naive the first one out smashes it then you got the next nomination The area was you know well that's good even get one and then you lose it. It's hard to get out my people are gone their whole lives as career musicians that have never even picked up one of these things and all night this waltz is a new one and gets to
was just, it was just the time was timely. It was sounded different. And then after the house was sneaky, and then after sneaky, it was presets and off the preset just electronic music had a moment. I just happened to have a record With the other guys that connected for whatever reason
and you're doing radio with john course show was to have you there. Was that a was that a Did you guys have a partnership? You in business together?
Yeah bit of both. So with Nova you know Contrary to popular belief that I tap you on the shoulders and how you blokes it killing it down one love joining on to a show. I was at seven, and I was running seven and john was at one left. And I knew that between the two of us we sort of had the Melbourne kind of club scene happening for the minute from a musical perspective. So I said why don't we got a novel will go and pitch them on a show would sit there and give them a free
And we'll see if they are and so when did this demo, put it together and went down? They said yeah, we'll do it was at the time was called overdrive. That that was their show name. So we said you know, it's we'll do that. And then over the next year we sit and maybe we'll put a fan of but not a big one. It was never about the money. It was just more to cover the production costs and whatever else. And so we evolve that evolve that evolve that and then I started saying to the guys that the prince may be in Background all sort of waving in a bit of maybe I'll just jump ship and we'll join the team together and say what was what? And because I was running the seven I was running all the promo, all the marketing and I said and they said you can just turn up and DJ for more money. Magic that goes the day job is set up and play play records. So john and I started playing it was the one lump brand they could spit like having to fall forwards, you know, like it's in john yoga and Sydney gronk Yoga and Adelaide and was kind of like a build the brand with all of us. We bought this, this suite of dudes that we've got all this feeling. But obviously you get to a point where it dilutes the brand so much that you had to prints on a set. They're not in this, the beta, kind of no disrespect to anyone at the time, but sometimes they'll just they'd sent this everyone out all the ice all around Australia, but one level was really popping at the time. But I'm back to your point about john and i so we we did a lot of stuff together and I think we both benefited from leveraging each other's you know, kind of he was He was the ministry sound guy. He was the one love God and then we'll work together It was kind of that some of the parts I guess begin though,
what did you learn about collaboration?
Oh look, I think I've always tried to collaborate with people smarter and better than me, I think you've always taught you've always got to if they're stupid enough to want to hang on me. But um, I mean, even with the night TV rock, Ivan was a far better producer than I was. But I was always the kind of guy that said that beats not going to work in the fall, it's just acts that do this do that. You can spend five hours fashioning that cake, because that's what he's, he's amazing. he's a he's a genius. That made me the magic was that I could market it better than other brands and I could get it through the cut through the noise and get into the right hands to make sure it was getting played at the right times. So I think the collaboration thing is here we get all if I can afford the best chef or the best architect of the best designer and the best real estate and the best, whatever. Just get the mist figure it out, get a white and get it because the outcome is so much better. They've invested in this smarter than you because you know, you never want to be the smartest one in the room.
What happens with music and, you know, years on from that track being released? How many years ago? Was that?
20 1112? Do you
still make money from songs because it's still getting played
on the radio lying may recognize I think last year I got a feeling I'm gonna collected 78 bucks.
And the admin fees are on me. So that's what happens it just the So yeah, I think about like huge, you know, the you hear about these royalty checks. Yeah,
that's a billion streams, they getting pile and significance for out 20,000 last year, I'm sure whatever it was, I mean, it's all like kind of it's, it's a touring game. So these things are just postcards, send them out a giveaway. If I'm making more music, I'll give it away for free. Because the actual monetary value of what it's $1 99 on iTunes, I gotta do this, but I won't take it because if I'm on on the road, then that's I'm making my my bread. So that's probably the other reason why as much as I'm excited to go back, I'd love to go and do another record. I'm petrified about what the outcome is Yeah, going on the road.
When did you decide that you will kind of live in Los Angeles
I think I was naive in so far as I thought I could just bounced back and forth between Australia and ally and maintain that sort of balance but pretty quickly, when we got here and open, we sort of just sort of the magnet magnitude of what this venue was. In particular, we had two staff we had 100 staff, you know, within a week of opening the different levels, different levels, different everything service, whatever and I just sort of thought yeah, I'm probably going to stay but then at the same time, I mean, you know, you can say in the background that these hills are not too bad the boys guys pretty much 360 days a year is worse places to be stranded. You know, and I still get to go home and I've still got plenty fish Island in Melbourne and I just recently so My mom, my shoulder PR agency there, but I still got a connection to Melbourne, but I don't think I'll be home in the immediate future,
opening a place like this, I could imagine, you want to know that you can keep the doors open for a certain amount of time, which equates to a certain dollar figure, because you go, you know, six months running costs, what is the approach when you're opening a venue of this scale?
Look, first thing is your assumptions are wrong. You got to be over budget, are you always gonna be over budget, always gonna be over budget, but it's kinda like, when I even when you talk about invest, anyone who wants to invest in these things, the only guarantee you got is the wrong way and that your budget estimates going to be either higher or lower. You know, they do better or worse than what you are. But to your point, I guess we sort of thought that I mean, you've got to allow a realistic kind of outcome number. So when you say so you DJ, make sure you've gone through the planning process, understand all the timings and the bill costs and then allow for you obviously, everyone's got a contingency But you if you can sort of get you got to get through the first year as any business you hold your head above water some things catch file I think
we actually do but
45 feet down the other end and we had to fire is Danny awake for we were literally on fire I sat downstairs in and out with my disappointment day with three fingers a whiskey on geez that was no way the quickest blow up a couple of million bucks you gotta say a lot but I'm which is a heartbreak for old restaurants is because you've gone through the work and then yeah, it's like a you know a fire and kitchens disaster. But back to your point I think look if you can do a strip mall Danny real cheap, but you better be just bang in because what's your differentiation? So I always like to think about these. It's not easily replicable. So it does give you some sort of sense of protection around what the site and what you're doing. So I find that Grandmaster corps would Hollywood opens in July, June, July this next 2020. And it's going to have, you know, enormous rooftop. We spent two years in planning with lawyers and consultants and whatever else but I can tell you no one else has spent two years doing that stuff. What's the weird things that you have to consider when you're opening a rooftop? White? You know, you're putting 500 bodies on the roof. You know, that's a lot of structural steel. Then the noise mitigation What are your neighbors look like? You know, how you servicing it and how you getting vertical transportation? What's your address? What's fire, what's the matter? It's as long as you want to go and they're all the fun place. It is spinning sirens everywhere because it also has these gorgeous will be fun. It's fun. So the thing, buckles and collapses, but they're all the things that everyone because it's such a litigious country. Everyone wants to cover their rear ends. So they'll over engineer this deal over engineer, they're aggressive, they'll over engineer everything to make sure you're so compliant to the point where you know it's it's crazy, but you just don't But, you know, on the upside, there's not many of them. And that's do the work. Yes, you get the reward having multiple businesses. Does it change the type of role once you go from one business to having many? How do you manage that? Yeah, that's a good one. You just get obviously busier. Yeah. But what it does is you get via 4g, the opportunity to employ some really good people. So all of a sudden, if someone says, I need 100 grand to do XE, like it's fun, you know, within reason, as long as I can justify it, you're the best in your craft, the budget, you can monetize it across a group kind of thing. So you've just got to learn to not sweat the small stuff and delegate really aggressively. So plan like you know that certain things have been itching is happening, you know, holiday periods happen, whatever else and there's no reason that I can't do the marketing program for Halloween next year. It's coming
is something around like salaries versus taking dividends like? How does that work, GAG? Take a salary from every single business, are you better off making a profitable business that you then take the coin at the end?
I mean, they both work. I mean, I think it's kind of do you want to exit it and keep all the all the rev and all the profitability in the business, which is a more attractive business to sell? Or and look, we've set up businesses where all profits are retained because that means you can grow. Yeah. So you're not sitting there worried about where's the next deposit coming? You need to be able to invest? Yeah, just keeps getting reinvest and reinvested. And I think for me, that's the smart play, if you can bet. I mean, obviously, certain everyone's got different requirements. So some people say I need a dividend because the dividend so you might do a hybrid model where you say he does a dividend of x and the rest gets retained. Sometimes someone they want to drain the swamp down and drain the swamp, knock yourself out, you know, like, they're all different, but I think I like to have the available cash because it's otherwise going around and shaking the team all the time to try and raise revenue. For the projects can be, look, I think we've we've proven a model so it's a bit easier, but it still takes your time that other stuff to do and that's probably more important but
your, your second venue from the first Is it easier or is it still just the same hard game of hustling?
No, I think it's been easier. consultant teams rock and roll you know, you just know the right people to call and we got here we had Monday's number, my number now right real estate agent and you gotta try and find everything else. Because you build a Who's this? Who's that? You know, what's the liquor supply? And I saw these come up again. So I'm going to deal with like the equivalent of CUB, they're going to pay for everything. That's illegal. Mark, what do you need is legally now you gotta just pick whatever you want. And you stuck it like but what it is paying for the beer system? Yeah, you are a champ.
So in Australia, you're allowed to like you go to a new bar and secured at the village Bell shop, read on it and you've got all these things which are Captain Captain united. So that of the pipe De Niro's. And they brew it fresh yet brewery
is coming up. So for a new
refresh, and so they they keeping it
so what they'll do is all this dough nice tonight, like it's the way that I go about in the model, you can say we looked at the venue as enemy taps, we are coming into your way you're a good operator will give you 250 grand and up front, but you get what we pay for you put forward to whatever you choose to, but you're gonna have to do 600,000 Ladies and it's either your contract is up when the 600,000 ladies is met or five years, whatever it might be. So it does allow you in Australia the benefit of that cash flow, but in saying that the tax liquor taxes and whatever else so you know, it's a 10 bucks for a bottle of luck here in America, or it's for the same equivalent one is 40 bucks in Australia. So, you know, it doesn't matter whether I end up getting it on this side, whether they paying for it own. It's just you know, that's the cost of doing business.
What was the biggest like this The surprise cost you just want expecting the haters. haters are expensive, not
just the hot no delays, the things you think you're going to open, you see thinking open, you know, December and all of a sudden you're rolling into August.
someone telling you December like who's fucked up?
Look, he got to put it we probably didn't have enough penalty clauses on our builders to sit there and say that Yeah, he's the penalties if you don't deliver on time. But then the second part is this the city song often Johnny, who is the guest guide now only works Tuesdays and Thursdays and he's booked up for the next two weeks. She like we're finished. We're finished our job like we got and you've had all your stuff. We had six shifts we've left from Australia sponsored phases. Yeah, and now we're on right now painting and like planting shit and like sanding the floors of me. We're all just like all pitching on God, guys, when we get back on the tools anytime soon. Because if we're not finished this frickin project, you're going to be just confident with me.
just that the cost that the in the hidden cost of just the labor costs. Yeah. When we We hide way too early, thinking that we're going to get the sign offs in the city and all of a sudden, that's like two months later, you've been paying, you know, 40 grand a week of costs. And, you know, it's three months, but you know, you're not factoring that into your bill costs and it's just right out the door of no benefit. But wouldn't that again, you just get a white secret sauce and then just go hard, do some training and hire that stage? What came first pony fish Island or this this venue? That pony fish is your nine. So it's been going for a while that was that was a pop up for you know, two weeks then on the first night, we saw that it'd be four times and I said, this is permanent.
is a pop up just a way of people saying we're tasting.
It's the same way that someone says I'm an entrepreneur, like I wouldn't even prefer to be called a fucking successful business person.
pop ups are pretty non committal.
For us, it was like because it was a piece of frickin concrete and then all of a river. You know, you We still have to bring ice there every day. There's
a spot. It's bizarre, but it's so unique. So if you if it worked, it was going to be amazing because you're not gonna get a piece of land like that not anywhere else.
But you can't get insurance on there either because the great flood of 97 and the great flood in 2006 day like a flood every year. Yeah.
So you got to factor that in there.
Yeah, he's caught fridges with motors on the top. So you have blogs on when the water comes up. And you know, like, it's just you got to get everyone out.
So you'd have to, you know, practice with a venue in Australia and then you move over here. What's the biggest difference in Australian laws and regulations and American laws and regulations? Like what blows your mind?
What's the one thing that I when we first got here, and I still think every Australian tourists is as saying this, when you go to a venue and you say, Hey, bud, can I am kind of scrub? I'd be Thanks, guys. Yeah, let's go get your server. You like, what are you on the on the backlight? I'm like, oh, I just want to Yeah, rights Can you can you just tell the God whose is going to get? But just cut out the middleman, right? Yeah. Because in Australia it's like grants working you section. I'm taking you drink water. I'm clearing your plate. Yeah, I'm dropping the check sale at a bar right here. It's like no, no, no, I don't collect the I'm just taking the orders. I'm live on the front man. And if someone else does that job,
did you try and push it the other way?
I tried it. We tried it on and all the servers and we couldn't get staff. They're like, I'm not doing that. And I said explain. I'm like, you get the tapes with that guy. You can pull them you get the lot of show. It was like you've asked them to gang jump off the
side of a building. I think I've created a bunch of drama in the US before where I've managed to get someone to do something. Or it's a shift that like even
have to split checks at the tips and you get calls that
way even not to brag but we went to I hop last night
and now the It actually the the whitelist said I cannot like I just close your closet check out check out because I'm finishing my shit. Yeah,
yeah tweet to you. How about you just leave it up enough?
Yeah, it's strange. It's odd. I'm just gonna
all comments, I make sure that I'm leaving some letting you know that I'm late. Yeah. And they're going to be taking up it's like
so much drama. How does it What does it do to the culture of you know, your venue and the staff?
Look, it's all about how you deal with it. I think at the same time, like, you can have a model in America where it's kind of everything's a piece of real estate, so you can rent this for 3000 on a sad day, and that states that and that states that and it's quite a common set of the medic imminent sports bars, both like foreigner buck minimum spend
some real estate games real estate
release, and we found that then you can't really regulate the con of crowd or if you do your bunch of 15 blokes, always by two tables, but then you got 15 knuckleheads all hanging around, this is really not the best look. So we sort of decided we'll create a rooftop pub kind of scenario where it's just It's elevated and it's beautiful but I'm not going to try and worry about this bottle service to the kind of thing and I want you to come often and enjoy it and not pretentious, it's just kind of part of the community. And I think that's what's made it give it some longevity because there's always the hot new thing that rock started the venue so there's like down the street when the nice guy was was banging noises bottles and then they open up another venue at the local Poppy and then that hot crowd goes there and then they sort of singer for this up and down the road. So the bottles
that just haven't been to that many venues
bottle so so you get a bottle of tequila bottle of
is that common in Australia as well. Starting a bit try hard.
When I came into the bottle service here, I sort of promote us I because a lot of the promoters that will get a huge cut. If they sell a bottle the bottle 900 bucks. Just one guy says I didn't sell bottles I sell expensive ice that you can put a free bottle into the fray the ice Wow. So then, so like I remember Buzzi bellows
is still open. Yeah, that is spent a couple million bucks on it. Read on it, read on it. That's the hard part through those things, always flipping the concept, flipping it, flipping it, making it new again, I can't
do that. Because I mean that I remember that being an exclusive club. It still is. It still is. Yeah. And so he said, play in the opposite direction of exclusive or is it still an exclusive venue, but with a different approach?
It's just like, I mean, like we still regulate, but it's kind of you can regulate your crowd in many ways. Like you can be a lot more subtle. Ladies, sit down, go to real estate game, put an extra two bucks on your cocktails and put the West Hollywood rooftop tax on it. Hey, and if someone's looking for a true value, only go to sports bar because I don't want to pay five bucks for people and this isn't the spot. Yeah, and that's okay. Because they're going to find somewhere else and it's probably gonna be more to their liking anyway. So I think he can curate it by design, pricing and other elements. But it still makes you land the right people you want to get them so that's what Well, I think the long plays
Yeah, there's fun nothing sadder than walking past a venue that has zero people in it all the time. Like I start thinking, like this is going to be closer. And I keep looking. I mean, is that a is that feeling? This is something you have with a venue where you like fuck if I don't start seeing people here soon, but I mean this one's pretty big
like burger places in Melbourne right there was like five five years ago everyone was opening fucking burger places
but it's on your mind when you're opening a venue going is this gonna Yeah,
well that's what I think you gotta build beyond the trend. That's why I think with hospitality it's Think of it as like a wide cake that's got design food, you know, beverage events, you know whatever it might be that have so many different elements and any single one of them might collapse for a minute but the thing doesn't fall apart. You can rebuild it fix it get it right and if you sign you guys so balls deep into a concept new sites, this burger king that's going to be what doing like, you know, plant iceberg off. Interesting story. Crap. I got treated as a all vegan all plant based everything right? All of a sudden these other restaurants around town start adding vegetarian vegan items to their menus because it's become more relevant important to do so. Do you reckon that no, the only one you went balls date with vegan and then everyone used to go there. Now you're out and you're out with your friends and they don't want to go to the vegan all vegan spot, but you can still have a block of vegan Avenue down the road. So we're going to drink in there as busy as they were at the Stata
no wait so a nation is overrated then
depends if you're the best sushi joint in town you the best sushi joint down will stop. Yeah, so I kind of think that still okay to be niched as just you got to be balls deep if you're going to do it. Yeah. But even then there's no guarantees. I don't know. There's nothing certain there's only like 15 institutional restaurants in Melbourne, Melbourne only 20 Yeah, yeah, they can survive 2025 years. I mean, I don't know if you want to stand around the center of 25 years. Some just feel good. Yeah. And you just thought about that.
Magic. What do you think the magic is? For here APLP
I think over time it just keeps on changing like the greenery on the roof is continues to grow. So every it looks a little bit different. We put a big tent on a like a fall of the winter because the first two years it was just freezing up here and doing movies, movies, we added the movie theater
request to fuck with licensing.
You get through it. That's pretty funny when we opened it, and we started doing that the movies and it's like, what are we gonna pick? Like all of a sudden, it's the look to the article, which is called Google. What's the one of the most popular chick flicks on the top boys program the shadow at Fine Arts awaken
to things I had about you.
And yeah, Crocodile Dundee did so much.
And I loved it.
But you just got to figure out which one didn't work and we found out pretty quickly we had a 70% skewed towards Women at the cinema and it was like a date not a cheap date the date they bring the dates they bring the guy or was it was a girls not out yet so then all of a sudden it was those kind of movies and you know the notebook sells out you know lala land you can short 17 times in a season you know, sorry, but we just want you to know what the what it's doing it is thin skillet more than a year and get tired or better. And it's for us it's like on a Tuesday night when you got 110 sold out. movie and 60 of them are doing dinner at six o'clock downstairs in the restaurant. When you walk in at six wherever else is waiting for their first client to come in we're going to pumping restaurant and it just builds momentum and energy I think like you said when you're like you know want to say a place it's empty. If you can walk into a room it already feels like it's rolling. It's much more enjoyable.
Yeah, it does the sheer amount of people in this city main that venues have more people going to them like so they they are less empty but it doesn't mean they're necessarily doing really well. Not. You think so but not really.
Yeah. I mean is it handful of people West Hollywood Kind of, you know, the 50 yard line of where everything's happening. So you're halfway between downtown half right at Santa Monica. It's kind of the center of the universe over here. And it's also the rent to pay for it. But you know, catches busy. Ciccone is busy, we're busy. But along that same strip, you know, if you get the concept wrong when you're paying those rents, it's kind of you're in and out pretty pretty quickly, but, and people are still at the city of villages. They saw habitual, like if to get me to go to Studio City across the hill is like, yeah, maybe, you know, I got a Malibu. Yeah. Nobu twice a year. You know, so I just think you got to be your neighbor and restaurant first and foremost, irrespective of way you are on the planet, but timing wrong. On a Saturday night here we can get 1000 people trying to come through the doors because there's a lack of this other night club, and there's either a dedicated bar, there's none of this kind of thing where you can just mingle a loungy kind of thing. I don't want to since you don't not come not over, you can't walk you know different kind of thing. So getting that blend, I think is the is the hard part and getting something we have a restaurant that you can come for a meal stay for the night is kind of what we're trying to do is sweet spot differentiate
you'd be in the now of the real estate around here like I know Ackland straightens Singh cuter in Melbourne. There's someone that owns pretty much half the street and then Ella clavier and at Collingwood. Is it a similar vibe here? There's a bunch of people that own a lot of the buildings
Yes, two families down here that own about one and a half billion dollars ah and they just, you know, we want to run with them, they're nice people, Melrose Place they said there's been they've been planning that saying we gotta hold apple and see I got coming. You know, you know, people will be applying not Chanel great because I want to replicate that Rodeo Drive kind of bosses. Am I doing that but they'll just let it sit for two years because I don't have money. But yeah, they've it's very wealthy people small pool supply and they just regulating it. And so how do you
what's the what's the approach to get into These people is a foreigner,
look, you can anyone can get it, he could have high enough ED attacks, you know, but it doesn't mean it's going to guarantee that you're going to be successful and I'll take your money. But it's it's sometimes just unpalatable in the rents and being in Melrose does it How much is it important to be a Melrose can extend to straights back and still attractive, easy concept gonna stand up? Whereas does, you know you're competing with added so as I sat here DS, you know, to try and they're going to say, well, we don't we need a retail presence or the real real which is across the road from us, which you won't know back in Australia. But the real real is a consignment store where you bought us Chanel jacket, and you wore it twice and I want to sell it. So you give it to them. They take 30% of the river, you get 70% of the rave. So they're doing a billion dollars worth of sales a year. On secondhand clothing, they authenticate it make sure it's legit, but then they hold no stock. They just something as far as I'm not producing shit, you send me your stuff. I sell it. I take 30 Sound the clip and it's 99% online, but in one store on Melrose, that one store in LA New York, and that justifies stores.
This by the way, is this
before it's Trump, is it
that's a Osprey
helicopter. It looks like we're in some futuristic movie where the world so what is actually full
that'll be some drone or anything that's the generally goes with the whenever the presidential detail comes into town.
Yeah, we started the other day and it looks quite alien like Yeah,
yeah, that's that's my Uber chopper.
So with with talking about that example, which is sort of, I guess I don't have that many overhead outside of the venue or whatever. Yeah. Something like this. There are heaps of overheads. Where are the margins? Where do you actually make money in a venue like this?
Look, when we've got the benefit of having, you know, an enormous amount of venue events? Tickets out from this you know weekend like a sales, food sales in the restaurant and what is the busy spot? So that's the overall sum of the parts but I think where we have wins is labor costs compared to Australia. Yeah and look at cost compared to Australia is where you're getting that extra couple of margin points that allow you to do it. Tell me wrong the rents are just as expensive as Australia if not more. But you know what Melbourne when we talk about this week, it's been a tremendous couple week i'm sure everyone's will. Unbelievable, but with rain on Saturday, I understand it rained on August day it's raining on stakes day and everyone's predicting to do enormous revenue in the UK and I knew Richie but if it's rains in Melbourne a lot Yes. We haven't had rainy since May.
Since everything grain by the way.
Because I ship it down from San Francisco and yeah, there's still like, you know, the the Ozzy broom with all sit at the front with their hose.
sidewalk is in a Drought Drought here. By grace
God's Not satisfied and no one says anything. It's frightening it's crazy Friday
with the US currency when it when it's going good against the Australian dollar Do you invest in different ways do you say hi the US is doing really well I'm going to start doing more in Australia or does it not really come into consideration?
Not really I mean at the moment is sort of for us our next you know, two years is here. And it would be a distraction for me to go and look at anything back home. Yeah. do me wrong if it gets the if the OZ pace I really falls away and it gets to like in 50 cents or something. I'll go and buy a house back home because it's double double your money. That's attractive, but other than that, not really. I think it's kind of we're owning US dollars here and I guess, you know, we get the benefit of when I go home and sell at a family it's nice. Yeah, but in on the inverse the tourism is a bit more challenging the dollars, you know, up against it because you know, people said they got embedded drinks frickin expensive in that hotel is not 200 bucks. 300 bucks. So but you know, as they're always when you're on holiday, it's got to think about it in the currency or in otherwise you have the worst time.
Because then it actually is the same, but just when you put the conversion that kills Yeah,
yeah, just, it's ruined your holiday. He's gonna go on about it, leave it as it is. Yeah. So
for Ozzy's coming to LA, what are three things that they can do one thing in the morning one thing in the one thing that not that's different to what everyone else is doing, to have a great experience?
Well, look, there's 1000 things you can do here, I guess. depends where you're staying. Because that's a little bit of a drama. You gotta do a hawk. It's one of those things. It's a quintessential California thing to do. And if you're on this side, of course, it's running. You'll see more bodies in the morning events in your life. It's like it's tops off at 630 ready to go. Ridiculous. And if you down if you've done sort of Allah BY you can go to mescal Canyon, any of those ones. But look, there's 1000 online things for a hawk. So that's so fun. What's your what's your Hawk of choice? All right. Rotten the Iranian so it's kind of pretty easy to bang it out but I'll do it it sort of five in the morning when it's dark. Yeah, yeah still top off. And then I guess from like the afternoon and evening things I mean afternoon in California can be in Australia we've always thought that you can ever go to a pool right? No hotel pool. Yeah. Well, the hotel pools are free. Yeah, just go and sit by one. So even if you're not staying at the addition, just go rock up and use their pool goes
live in LA. Really? Can you go to the Mondrian
Hotel in Cape Town, you can only go while I'm here. Because
she doesn't want you to bother.
Roosevelt taking money by the pool. So yeah, if you don't have a pool, you place your Airbnb. Go down to the rosy tell him I say yeah, and you're good to go. But seriously, it's a great tip and you can use the hotel pools no problem and that's a great idea. And then by night look, I think one thing I do really well here is the dodgy sports bars. If you want to go to Barney's or one of those kind of And just get an 15,000 beers on tap and more sports than you know what to do it we think we got sports here that you got all year round there's NBA there's there's but you know this that's being college and then professional then it's hockey then it's you know it's just every night something's going on and if it gets if it gets to the Lakers game or clippers game at Staples, it's unbelievable. Is
there any any tips on getting tickets they always just can be fucking expensive. They are expensive but like a stub hub.
Stop hobbies. If you get them last last minute you're prepared to hold your breath and see what's what whites half an hour an hour before tipoff. They're all going to be empty or you can get a deal and it's just an online scan code so you can get it populates for tip off the download site now you're going in and just wait for the last minute deal. Awesome. So
America is known for you know thinking big, it's the land of opportunity. You back when you day Jane you're at prints you're in old Bry we thinking big were you thinking this is on the cards for you.
I didn't think California was on the cards. But always I always had met multiple business. This is I you know, I saw my DJ agency to ministry sound so my record label back to my partners because I just sort of didn't have any passion for it anymore but was always going to create new things. So I'm on enough this is my forever career I think Paul it probably the next steps going to be hotels or something like that. I don't know. But I don't think we're actually tied to anything anymore. I think you're only as limited as your own dream, but you've also got to have the stones to back it up. Yeah. My only thing is I'd suggest you know, you don't want to risk every single dollar you've got in your pocket to fulfill a dream. It's pretty boring to be you know, especially the older you get, I don't have children but if you had to risking your livelihood of your family or you or your children or you just can't do that anymore button risk as much as you can afford to lose and just
push it in a pay LP. Is that a records reference like Well, yeah,
yep. So extended plan long play so the old you know, seven inches and and 12 inches out the August and apply long play. Luckily enough, we The next Cafe is co strings of life. And then Grand Master record is when we found the site and it was, you know, a recording studio walked in a minute, fuck. That's what we're doing. You know. So it's the musical undertones is one that we've just decided as a thematic to travel through doesn't necessarily play a significant part. We have days here, but it's not you know, we're certainly it's just more of a reference to what was the past and what is now my future.
Yeah, that's an amazing spot. It's like we can see behind us what heels are at
the Hollywood Hills. Yeah, Hollywood Hills behind it. So it's a Sunset Strip, just straight up back this way. It's not Tommy not in some pretty, pretty special spot to look up on, you know, this. There's not too many spots in the world like this. And funnily enough, he's gonna find that magic one straight up is to close the holy don't get the same sense and then one straight back to fire away. So, you know, heads. It's that lucky. Well, wasn't lucky. I think my business partner Dave was in real estate. So he did that he did a great deal.
And you've made enough impact that no other one's going to Come here anytime soon.
I think we're good.
Grant thanks so much for coming on the daily talk show was really appreciated all the time you've given us it's it's a daily talk show hi the daily talk show.com is the email address if you want to send us an email otherwise cinema guys