Saturday, May 29, 2010

Manchester : So much To Answer For

hi Everyone. It's been a while. I have elsewhere, in the past few months, had an incredibly busy time as a journalist, interviewing Mystery Jets, The Drums, The Gaslight Anthem, Mr Scruff, and various others, as well as doing various news, reviews and stuff over at God Is In The TV.

This after several years out of the game - I last properly wrote (well, edited)  professionally on a regular basis in the days when City Life was an actual regular magazine, 5 years ago, and, so it's been a while. It's really more like 10 years since I was doing this much writing, back when I was interviewing the likes of Doves, Campag Velocet (anyone remember them?), I Am Kloot, and other indie reprobates for Flux Magazine and City Life, as well as other internet startups which duly disappeared in the web 1.0 crash around 2000/2001.

So, strange coming back to it, feels like I've gone round in a big circle. This week has been hectic, calling Alex Levine of Gaslight Anthem in New Jersey, and Damien O'Neill of The Undertones in London for various features, before throwing myself into 4 days of gigs, with the Hungry Pigeon Festival, and Dot To Dot Festival on Monday, for Clash Magazine. I also got word that I should be attending Latitude festival, and Reading this year for a website (which shall remain nameless until it's totally 100% confirmed).

Busy, busy busy. It's a good feeling getting back on the horse after all these years. In 2000, I was working for Tony Wilson and going out to loads of gigs, the big events at Castlefield, Glastonbury and other shenigans. Wilson was a man who truly inspired me. He would come in from presenting the Granada news every day to the In The City / Factory offices, and tell us stories about Joy Division, The Buzzcocks, The Mondays, Sex Pistols, and all sorts. He would occasionally roll up a joint and smoke it with us, and we would celebrate sales victories by ordering in rounds of drinks to the office, from Atlas bar over the road. A rock n roll office, my first proper job, and probably the best I ever had, besides City Life. Fresh out of uni, I was inspired by his passion for music and journalism, and he filled me with the confidence that I should be a writer in the fly by night creative industries.

That summer, I fell in love with someone (who shall remain nameless), but though she liked me, it turned out she fell in love with the lead singer of a very successful indie band (which shall remain nameless). There was something about that summer, it was perfect. There was something in the air, I had my life ahead of me and I was full of hope.

By the end of the year, in my rush to become a success, and my frustration at how things were going personally, I went off to London to work for Carlton, and it was never the same again, if I'm honest. I was never the same again. I lost my way, both professionally and personally. I was never really that happy for most of the time after that barring the occasional moments or brief periods.

But today, at the Hungry Pigeon festival, in Manchester's Picadilly Gardens, I felt that feeling again. I guess it was partly sparked by being in Factory251, the old Paradise Factory, last night. There's a feeling of renewal in me, a feeling of hope. After a terrible time scraping a living in call centres, and surviving the evil cut and thrust of bitching and gossip that makes those places hell on earth, I feel like I can "be myself" again, by doing what I love doing. I loved hanging round bars and watching bands, talking about books and TV shows, surrounded by scruffy, arty people, but I always felt ashamed of that, as if it wasn't a "proper" thing to do for a living.

When I was a kid, Tony Wilson gave me that permission I needed to do that, when I was young. He went to Cambridge (though once he told me he came close to going to Manchester, like myself), wore a suit, and gave a respectability to a love of rock n roll culture, debauchery and fun that made it seem ok to build a life around. Somewhere, I started to feel I *should* be doing certain things, and I think I quite badly lost sight of who I was. Hell, I even went to Law school, this from someone who agrees with John Lydon's quote, "Rules? Rules are for fools!"

Anyway, right now I have to scrape together a few hundred words on Sheffields' Slow Club, who are now my find of the year after their gig on Friday. They were like The White Stripes without Jack White's angry machismo, which makes it hard to like them sometimes. Thoroughly likeable, defiantly youthful, idealistic with beautiful souls. And they were really funny. I hope they never get old.

Other than that, I have to scrape together a piece on The Undertones, whom it was fascinating to talk to this week. That's all on top of preparing to interview Mystery Jets again on Monday, for Clash, along with possibly Lissie, as well as review the various bands on, and tweet (and twat) about it.


While I remember. Just got back from the Hungry Pigeon. Caught George Borowski, and The Jesse Road Trip. Borowski is, for those who don't know the fella "guitar George" mentioned by Mark Knopfler in the Dire Straits song Sultans Of Swing. A Mancunian folk hero. He was a bit annoying when he spoke, basically telling people off for having a bit of swagger, drinking too much cos there were kids there, etc. The music was amazing though,  a mix of tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and other classic American rock, but with storytelling  about everyday Mancunian stories, referencing Stockport station, and Openshaw. Great stuff, but it was so bloody cold I got indoors after 20 minutes, cos I may be from this city, and sometimes I love it, but I fucking hate the weather.

Jesse Road Trip, well she look hot in hot pants. They were good, but nothing special, a 4 piece band with a great female singer/guitarist (with incredibly guitar skills), outside the standard Mancunian bloke rock mould, thankfully, but perhaps missing that X factor or ingredient to make them stand out. Anyway, I'm signing off to get writing. See Ya!

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