Paul Tunkin grew up in South-East Essex and began his music career as a local DJ and club promoter whilst at Southend Tech Art College. He started his first club night The Monkey House in 1984 at the West End Bar. Placing him at the centre of the local Alternative scene, it was a pivotal moment for him and his first attempt to challenge the status quo using music and style to confront the mainstream. He later became a Saturday night resident DJ at The Pink Toothbrush in Rayleigh (85-91) as well as performing in two Southend based bands, The Ladykillers (memorably described by Alan Wheeler of the Southend Evening Echo as “On the verge of some awesome superstardom”!) and the Golden Section.
In 1991 Paul moved to London, DJing for bands including Suede, Blur and My Life Story. In late 1993 Paul launched his club night ‘Blow Up’ in Camden, which went on to become the centre and catalyst of a scene which was later dubbed Brit Pop. He continued to DJ for Blur as a tour DJ on their ‘Parklife Tour’ and other acts of the era including Pulp and The Charlatans. From a local pub in Camden, the Blow Up club’s reputation went global, later being voted No.4 in Time Out’s ‘Top 10 Clubs of the ‘90s‘ and being described by Melody Maker as ‘The club that changed the world’. One of London’s longest running club nights, Blow Up has had residencies at various venues in the Capital including The Wag Club and held events in Europe, the USA, Russia and Japan.
In 1994 Paul started Blow Up Records, initially to release records for his own band The Weekenders but soon expanding to release other acts including the debut from electronic pioneers Add N To X, current acts including Big Boss Man and Baltic Fleet. He also compiled the influential music library series ‘Blow Up presents Exclusive Blend’ for the label in 1996. He later set up sister publishing company Blow Up Songs to promote the Blow Up catalogue via placements in Film, TV and Advertising.
In 2001 he took over The Metro Club on Oxford Street, receiving the Time Out Award for ‘Best Live Venue’ a year later. The venue became the centre of another music wave, the ‘New Rock’n’Roll’ explosion of the 00’s, hosting early shows for The Killers, Kings Of Leon, Bloc Party, Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs alongside the occasional legend including Dion and Krautrockers Faust.
See Paul Tunkin in conversation at Sound of the Thames Delta's The Club that changed the World: From The Monkey House to Blow Up.