EVERY lunchtime Lee Harman steps into his office and becomes a music business aficionado.

The former Woolston High School student might be found updating his website, organising a gig, writing articles for his magazine, uploading photos or videos from live shows or keeping up to date with Warrington bands on social media.


But what makes Lee's 'office' stand out it that it is also a white Hyundai i20.

The 31-year-old launched Warrington Music [WAM] in 2012 to support the town's artists but it has always been a labour of love rather than a profession.

So in between his 40 hours a week in the motor industry, his [WAM] headquarters amounts to him sitting in his car for an hour with his laptop.

Lee said: "I enjoy what I do. I’ve come to the realisation that there isn’t the opportunity for me to do this full time but I’m gaining valuable experience and it has its perks. A lot of people are blown away by the work that goes into [WAM] when a lot of the admin is done in my car during my lunch break.

"We can only do so much for a band but anyone who wants to get in touch for advice or to get a song played on the radio I’m more than happy to work with them."


Despite those challenges, [WAM] has become an emblem for the town's music scene.

As well as the website, photography, videos and social media, Lee hosts his own live shows including this year's [WAM] Festival which featured 20 artists over five events.

On top of that, he took most of his 2018 annual leave to write, design and edit the new [WAM] Magazine which launched this year.

If that was not enough, Lee is also a partner of Rivfest, offers exposure to grassroots bands on his Radio Warrington show and arranges half time music for Warrington Wolves games.


Lee, who lives with his girlfriend Sam in Latchford, added: "I’m very lucky to have a partner who accommodates something I’m passionate about. It’s definitely a part of me.

"It means a lot to me to see bands becoming successful because a lot of them are friends."

Lee, who recently hosted a Man and The Echo gig at the Auction Rooms, has a big support network and people help where they can but at the same time he does a lot of the work singlehandedly.

He said: "People who help and have a passion are really valuable. They do come and go and we’re always looking for more people.

"Mike Massey, who I do the radio show with, is a fantastic help. He’s really passionate and while Mike Grainger, from Priestley College and Rivfest, isn’t an official member of [WAM] he’s always a really good soundboard for what I want to do."


But strangely enough and like some of the best things in life, [WAM] was happy accident as Lee originally fancied himself as a filmmaker.

He added: "I went to Priestley College. I was back there today actually to speak to students about music. But I wanted to be a film director and to make short films. My background was in media production and creating original content."

Lee saw a different opportunity when he started to manage a band called Seven Day Weekend to help his mates out. Their highlight was supporting Feeder at the Parr Hall.

He said: "It was a case of finding them shows, doing press and doing the artwork and making sure everything looked good. So when that came to an end, instead of championing one band I wanted to champion the whole town."

The brainwave for [WAM] itself came in September 2012 after Warrington Music Festival.

Lee added: "It was a great event and I wanted to do more to shine the spotlight on things like that which were going on and to make sure bands were getting the attention they deserved.

"At the time there were a lot of bands from Warrington but they were marketing themselves as Manchester bands or Liverpool bands just because they’re big centres for music.


"Nowadays bands shout out that they’re from Warrington. I think a lot of that was down to Viola Beach who were proud to be from the town. They became ambassadors for the town and they embraced that."

And it was Viola Beach that inspired Lee to keep [WAM] when he scaled it back in 2015.

He said: "Bands were breaking up, venues were closing down and it was a case of if I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to do it was better to go out on a high.

"It was what happened to Viola Beach that brought me back. The whole town had a newfound passion for music in the wake of their tragic deaths.

"I was running tributes and people were contacting me to ask how they could show their support."

And what a comeback because in 2018 Lee went on to sell out a [WAM[ gig at Warrington's biggest venue, the Parr Hall, headlined by Slydigs.

Lee added: "We definitely captured a moment in history and to have 1,000 people there supporting Warrington bands was amazing."


Having worked with more than 100 bands and artists, Lee has a bit of a sixth sense about those who have what it takes to crack the music scene.

The 31-year-old reckons perseverance and having confidence is as important as songwriting abilities in a notoriously tough industry to breakthrough.

He said: “You can see it in the way they play or the way they carry themselves.

“There are a lot of bands that have potential but who aren’t able to carry the momentum

“It’s an incredibly tough industry to be in.

“The best bands don’t make it sometimes.”

Work ethic and versatility are vital too in an environment where a lot of the tiers of the old music industry have been stripped away and bands often have to largely manage themselves.

Lee added: “The music industry has opened up where a lot of bands can do the same roles that a music label would carry out in the 70s and 80s.

“So a lot of the emphasis and a lot of the strain goes on an artist to be their own campaign manager, social media guru and PR plugger.

“But because of that, a lot of bands are more well rounded than they used to be.”

Lee gave Earlestown’s The Ks as an example of a band that are now reaping the rewards after putting in all the groundwork.

Warrington Guardian:

Last year they performed at the two-day Neighbourhood Weekender festival in Victoria Park as well as a host of other venues across Warrington.

He said: “A lot of people knew they were destined for something really special and 2019 has been their breakthrough year.

“They have been getting a lot of coverage, have been on the TV for Soccer AM and now they’re signed to Alan McGee’s label.

“That’s the guy who discovered Oasis so it’s really exciting.

“I’m really proud of them and before all that we put them on the WAM Magazine front cover so we like to think we played a little part in their journey.”