Published: 05:00, 22 May 2022
A popular indie band is set to launch a new live music venue in a derelict city centre building.
CoCo and the Butterfields hopes to boost Canterbury's music scene with their "artsy" new venture Mr Fox - which will feature a bar and eatery if approved by the council.
The venue is set to launch in the St Margaret's Street building formerly occupied by novelty tearoom Alice and the Hatter.
Tom Twyman, who co-founded CoCo and the Butterfields in Canterbury with friend Dulcima Showan, said: "The city's music scene just needs a bit of a boost.
"We're at the age now and have got the experience where we can do something to help, and hopefully help out younger musicians."
The band began 11 years ago as a group of five young musicians busking in The Buttermarket.
"And it just took off," explains Tom, 33. "We ended up touring all over the world."
The popular group are now taking a year off from touring to establish a new venue in their home city, devoted to musicians and artists.
Mr Fox will serve food and hot drinks during the daytime, and will serve as a platform for emerging and established local performers.
"The idea is that it's an alternative, if you want to go out to somewhere that's not a pub or a club," said Tom.
"We're quite well connected within the area, for bands and musicians.
"The idea is you can get a drink and a bite to eat, and there's hopefully always going to be someone tinkling away on the piano.
"It's not a huge (venue) but we're going to do it so it sounds right and looks right, and it's a very nice place to go to."
The venue takes its name from Fantastic Mr Fox, and Tom says it will be decorated in a style reminiscent of the Wes Anderson movie version of Roald Dahl's book.
"We want to bring a bit of the artsy vibe of London members' clubs - like The Groucho, that sort of feel - to Canterbury, only it won't be members-only," he said.
"I want it to be a place where people can go and enjoy being around that sort of vibe and feel."
The band has applied for a premises licence.
If approved, the business could open from 8am until midnight daily, with live music performed between 10am and 11pm, and is hoped to launch in August or September.
Tom is particularly keen to hire staff who are keen to someday make a living in the arts.
"I'd like to develop Mr Fox so it's a way of helping young people pursue their passions," he said.
"We'd have the skills around us to help them with their networking, and further their career."
News of the venture has been welcomed by Nick Pygott, owner-manager at record shop Vinylstore Jr in nearby Castle Street, who describes the bid as "very promising and very exciting".
"It's the age-old thing with Canterbury - there's loads of great bands and no good venues," he said.
"And the trouble is that when we do have nice venues, they face constant complaints about sound and noise pollution and they end up having to wind things down.
"If they can make it work financially, certainly the idea of having a good venue in the centre of town that's free of the noise complaints - that can put on good live music and support local bands and maybe get some touring bands playing as well - it all sounds very exciting."
CoCo and the Butterfields are not the first successful band to launch their career in the city.
Prog-rockers Caravan started out in tents pitched up in a field beside a village hall near Canterbury back in the 1960s.
Singer Mimi Webb - who rose to fame on TikTok and is set to perform at the BBC's Platinum Jubilee Party at the Palace later this month - also heralds from the city.