The industry’s battle of the bands takes place on 20 October, and Building met some of the stars as they prepared for the big event

Zero Charm, as the name implies, is from the “less is more” school of music. So should you expect a pared down sound from the Balfour Beatty outfit? Not exactly. “Basically, you won’t want us to overrun,” warns band member Barry Perrin, looking nervous as he stares up at the stage he’ll be looking down from in less than three weeks’ time.

Ian presumably believes his practice’s ‘rock, or punk rock’ band is more suited to a field in Somerset

Perrin, along with an unlikely lineup of fellow industry professionals, is in the Camden Centre casing the venue for Construction Rocks, the industry’s battle of the bands, which will take place on 20 October. In its fourth year, the event has moved to a bigger venue this year to enable up to 750 “fans” to spot the next big sound to come out of construction. Last year’s Best New Band, Grontmij’s The Acquired, had clearly hoped for even better, however. “It’s a bit like a school hall,” muses Ian Turkington, who presumably believes his practice’s “rock, or punk rock end of the spectrum” band is more suited to a field in Somerset.

One band that clearly hasn’t let fame go to their heads is BAA’s The BAAnd, which triumphed at last year’s competition. The group has restricted its sought-after performances to selected destinations in Heathrow’s airport terminals. “That was our world tour”, admits manager Jason Holmes. So is he confident of retaining the crown? “Not at all confident, no,” he admits. “I’d probably describe our style as strength in numbers.”

Indeed, such is the level of modesty demonstrated by this year’s hopefuls, you suspect a bit of gamesmanship might be going on. Grimshaw’s Den Farnworth, of the Fountainheads, claims her group offers “style over substance”, although she insists the cavernous venue is “not at all intimidating.”

Most of the bands were terrified before, and they’ll be even more terrified this year

This gets short shrift from Lend Lease’s Paul Nicholson, the event’s lighting tecchie, as he tries to work out how literally each band wants their moment in the limelight. “Most of them were terrified before, and they’ll be even more terrified this year, playing here. But at least they know they’ll be properly lit …”

One band member who does seem to have a degree of confidence is Paul Donovan of Rolfe Judd and the Lost Profits. “It’s ‘profits’, with an ‘f’”, he emphasises, worryingly keen to draw attention to the band’s recessionary beginnings. Maybe they’re planning a heart-achingly poignant set, and a tale of triumph against adversity? “Well, it’s bluesy rock,” he confirms, “but we’re sort of loud and bouncy.” Nothing like the economy, then.

Construction Rocks is a charity event taking place at the Camden Centre, near King’s Cross in London, on the evening of 20 October.

Tickets and the full line up for the event are available from

Bill Price WSP / Wild Sex Party
Ian Turkington Grontmij / The Acquired
Paul Donovan Rolfe Judd / Rolfe Judd and the Lost Profits
Den Farnworth Grimshaw / The Fountainheads
Barry Perrin Balfour Beatty / Zero Charm
Jason Holmes BAA / The BAAnd
Sarah Richardson Building