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Here’s the article that Sheffield based Exposed magazine did with us ahead of our momentous 7th Birthday Celebrations

Danny Taylor, Gem Gallagher, Richard Pitts, Richard Taylor, Mike Beaumont, James Coster and Andy Pitts are the collective behind city stalwart trance night Off the Rails  - which celebrates its 7th birthday at Plug this month. We caught up with them for a much needed high five and natter…

Seven year’s old, congrats!

Thank you, we can’t quite believe where seven years has gone!


What’s been your biggest highlight over the years?

The single biggest highlight in those seven years would undoubtedly have to be Matt Hardwick’s Final Farewell in August 2011 when the ex-Gatecrasher resident announced his retirement from the scene.  He wound up playing just short of 6 hours and the night was so successful that we had to move from our usual room (Netural) into Plug’s main room, Live.  It really surpassed all our expectations and was a real honour for us to host this special event for a true legend of the trance scene.

Aside from that our annual ‘Journey Through Trance’ classics events each January are always a highlight of the calendar for us. With this we’ve put a unique spin on the typical trance classics night by assigning each DJ/timeslot a specific era, working back from present day at the start of the night right back through to the “golden era” of trance (pre-2000) as the night progresses.  Musically you won’t go to a better event as you get a true musical journey through the trance genre… a thought echoed by our faithful clubbers who turn out each year.


What first inspired you to set up a big trance night in Sheffield in the first place?

It all stemmed from the massive success of Gatecrasher which boomed around the millennium.  Clubbers made the pilgrimage to Sheffield week after week in their thousands to see the biggest names in trance play at what is considered, by most, the best club to have graced this planet, Republic.  When the club tragically burnt to the ground in 2007 Sheffield lost a musical institution and left a huge void in the lives of any clubber who frequented Crasher, us included.  OTR has always been a club night ran by clubbers for clubbers.  For that reason we know what constitutes a top night with us having spent many a night/morning dancing at S1 1DJ, and as clubbers ourselves (still to this day) that void needed filling.  Cue the beginning of Off The Rails… It all started out at what was then Club Shush under the Wicker Arches; very basic but very underground and that underground, intimate feel is something that we still carry through to this day.


You’ve got some big names in the way of Scott Bond and Signum playing at your birthday celebration Sheffield Bites Back on March 29, what can we expect from the night?

As you would expect the birthday shows are a major event for us each year so we always try to deliver something unique to celebrate the occasion.  For the 7th birthday we welcome 2 acts who were instrumental in putting the scene on the map at Gatecrasher in Sheffield… former Crasher resident Scott Bond and trance classic genius Signum, each performing 3 hour sets.  Going back around 8-10 years ago extended sets from DJ’s were a regular occurrence, an art which has seemingly been forgotten in recent years.  Extended sets allow a DJ to showcase the full spectrum of their style and create a unique and special atmosphere taking the clubbers on a true musical journey, something which simply isn’t possible over an hour or so.  Simply put, expect a night to remember with that special OTR atmosphere.


If you could have any act play, who would it be?

It would be a dream to have one of the “superstar” DJ’s perform for us such as 4 time world number 1 DJ, Armin van Buuren, or the likes of Paul van Dyk and Markus Schulz.  However, that said, we are proud to say we have already welcomed some of the world’s very best and most influential acts to the OTR decks.  We always aim to bring something fresh and slightly different to the scene, which has included us hosting a number of UK firsts and exclusives over the years, such as such as the Coldharbour Recordings label event we hosted in May last year, the Menno 5 hour set last October and the 00.db Live concept event for our 4th Birthday. We are not afraid to try out new concepts and ideas.


What do you hope to come out of the next seven years for Off The Rails?

When we started out we never really had a long-term plan for OTR, it started out as a bit a fun between a few friends and remains that way to this day. The trance scene is very different from what it was 7 years ago but OTR has always been about the party and the atmosphere so hopefully we can continue to bring people who they want to see into Sheffield.  For us, we just want to keep doing what we’re doing… hosting regular events in Sheffield showcasing the scene we’re all so passionate about to be enjoyed by clubbers, both old and new, and most importantly… keep having fun along the way!


What are your top five ‘go to’ tunes guaranteed to get the floor jumping?

This is a difficult one as there are so many tunes that mean so much to different people in one way or another.  But those true trance classics are always guaranteed to evoke special memories and nostalgic moments and really get the floor jumping.  So we’re talking about tracks like ‘The Digital Blonde – Legato’, ‘Veracocha – Carte Blanche’, ‘Gouryella – Gouryella’.  Basically the iconic trance anthems from years gone by that really resonate with the OTR clubbers.


What is it about Plug that makes it such a great venue for your events?

There are so many things that make Plug a great venue.  Firstly, and most importantly, it has an intimacy and “old school” feel that a lot of venues lack these days. The room is big enough to get a good-sized crowd yet small enough to keep that intimate feel and create an amazing atmosphere every time (we use ‘Neutral’ for our events). The sound system is awesome and the DJ booth is perfect for crowd connection and interaction with the DJ.  Where other nights have out grown their original venues and moved onto large, commercial arenas, we are proud to say we have made our home at The Plug.  On top of that we have built a great relationship with the team at Plug over the years and to host our events anywhere else just wouldn’t feel right.


What is it about Sheffielders that has a trance night such as this so successful and long running?

Easy… They are the most loyal bunch of clubbers around who are 100% clued up on the scene.  This stems from there being a real history of trance in Sheffield, with the city being the hub of the UK scene in the late 90’s/early 00’s.  Any locals in their 20’s and 30’s will remember Gatecrasher and for most this was where they met their best friends and fell in love with trance, just like we did.  The clubbers here are passionate about the music and although trance may not be as widespread as it once was, the people who are dedicated to the scene always want more.  We have been lucky that in our team we are all actually best mates and have been for the last 10 years so there’s a lot of enthusiasm and motivation on our part still


Has there ever been a night that’s literally gone ‘off the rails’ in any way?

Most events go ‘Off The Rails’ in some way, shape or form!  It’s all part of the fun!  But, again we have to give a special mention to Matt Hardwick’s Final Farewell.  Originally we only booked him to play a 3 hour set, but given the occasion (it being his last ever DJ set), he wound up playing for 6 hours to a packed main room right up until 6am.

To find out more get yourself along to the 7th birthday… we definitely know how to party and you may well find that you too go “off the rails”!


What can we look forward to you bringing our way throughout the rest of 2014?

OTR is all about bringing unique, fresh ideas and pushing boundaries to keep our clubbers on their toes, whilst keeping an underground feel.  We already have a number of events lined up for this year beyond the 7th Birthday and without giving too much away we have another UK exclusive concept in the pipeline for early June where we will be welcoming back a true OTR legend for one very special performance…!  And of course we will be delivering our annual free-entry Ibiza Beach Party over the summer.  Keep your eyes peeled ;)