Johnny Marr: guitars, haircuts and football

By Lee Gale

Jack, 2003

Everyone’s favourite guitarist has turned vocalist with his new band Johnny Marr And The Healers. Singing? How did this come about? We catch up with the former Smith at the swanky Hyatt Regency Hotel in Marylebone, London

First thing, your hairstyle. Very nice. How long have you had this one?
Yeah, I bought this one about five years ago and it still fits. I think I’ve looked this way for ages.

It’s a lot different from your hairstyle on this (shows Johnny the cover of Electronic’s Electronic album, where he’s got a skinhead).
Yeah, but what year is that? When was that out, now?

1991, wasn’t it?
Well, there you go. I’ll tell you what, if I brought out a picture of you from 1991 you’d look different.

I played the first Electronic album over the weekend. It still sounds great.
Does it?

Absolutely.
Great – I don’t mean to sound surprised. I haven’t heard it since then.

Where did you get your haircut done?
Oh, my haircut. It’s actually the law in Manchester to have a haircut like this. It’s mandatory. If you don’t, you have the hair police come down on you. They wrestle you to the ground and make you smoke two ounces of hash.

How much is a haircut in Manchester?
Well, I have a gentleman friend of mine. It’s my mate, Bruce Maysfield. He’s a genius and a visionary. I’m glad I got to say that cos I’ll get some more freebies. Well, seeing as you ask, I’ve always had friends who are hairdressers from being in my teens. My best friend for years lived with me all the way through The Smiths time and for a few years afterwards, and we’d be sitting around at 2.30 in the morning and I’d look in a book and say, “Ray Davies’ hair was great there,” and he’d leap up and go, “Come on then, Johnny.” So occasionally I’d wake up in the morning and think, “Oh, I forgot about that last night.”

You had a proper big hairstyle as well at one point.
Yeaaahh! How did that come about? I really liked Stu Sutcliffe.

The other Beatle.
Yeah. I was really into his style when I first started off with The Smiths. The whole sort of V-neck and white polo neck and the beatnicky thing with the Ray-Bans. It came from the Stu Sutcliffe Hamburg pictures. And because I was so into his look, I did the systematic fringe then, which wasn’t about The Byrds or Brian Jones. My sort of Hamburg thing. It’s very important all this.

Are you never afraid of trying new hairstyles?
It’s a young man’s game.

We know you support Man City. Do you go to many of their matches?
I do, yeah. I go to the home games when I’m about.

Do you have a bit of a drink afterwards?
I don’t drink.

Not at all?
No.

Has that always been the case?
No, no. I drank plenty when I was younger, but I kind of got bored of it a couple of years ago. I stopped as an experiment almost. I stopped to see what effect it would have on me. So far, I’ve had no downside.

How long has this been going on for?
A few years.

Most of us are afraid to stop drinking because we become very, very boring.
Right then, maybe you should give it a go. I doubt that would be the case, to be honest.

Also, if you don’t have a drink, you can’t sleep because you’ve got too much energy in your body.
Yeah, well maybe you should try getting up at seven in the morning. That’ll sort you out. Maybe buy a running machine or something. I just got really bored of it. I didn’t want to live the same life over and over again. It was like, let me try this for a novelty. There was no downside.

I bet that went down well with the missus.
Erm, yeah. I haven’t really changed very much. The only difference is I can actually get up in the morning now. I’m not going, “Oh God, oh God.” Yeah, yeah. She has a cheeky marguerita now and then. But I end up as a taxi service.

Did you used to have a bit of a runaround when you were younger at the football?
What do you mean, runaround?

Fisticuffs.
Oh God, no. One of the reasons I became a musician was to avoid violence. I didn’t have the stomach for it, or the legs. I never was into that. I went to a few away games when I was younger and that got a little intense, certainly at Anfield one time. I did a fair bit of running away. But the idea of clobbering a stranger is not really my scene.

Do you think the north does music better than the south? You’ve got to say yes at this point.
Ha! Right, yes. Cos I am being strong-armed at the moment. God, talk about partisan. Do you know, Radiohead have just messed that whole thing up. But I’m sure somewhere there’s got to be some sort of genetic tie. We’ll have to investigate that. They’re still doing great stuff.

Well, they’re heavily influenced by Joy Division, so they’re a northern band really.
I like it! Loophole. I like it, there’s a loophole. A resounding yes!

Do you think they put something in the water in Manchester to make it such a hotbed of musical talent? Why not Bradford? Why not Huddersfield? Why not Carlisle?
I think a lot of it’s got to do with the infiltration of immigrants, I guess. There’s a lot of Irish immigrants, a lot of Jewish immigrants, a lot of West Indian and Jamaican immigrants. They would have arrived in the Fifties and given the place a bit of a vibe. I know in terms of the Irish influence – I can only talk about what I know – but I grew up around music all the time. My parents came over with their families in the early Sixties. They were music mad. They loved living in Manchester. I grew up around those communities.

There’s always been a history of after-hours parties in Manchester, hasn’t there, because of the West Indian community, bringing jazz over? And it pretty much followed up to the rave scene.
Yeah. The Northern Soul scene drew people from all over the country to dance all night, and maybe take a five-hour coach ride back, to explore obscure American records, that were only played in that particular place.

Apparently, the reason Manchester got all those soul records was because of the American ships using records as ballast. When they got to Liverpool and Manchester, the records were swiped – nicked!
That’s amazing. That’s lucky for Manchester. I don’t know very much about Northern Soul. There seems to be a connection for me between the feeling of Wigan Casino, just from photographs I’ve seen, to the rave scene. Not very many clothes, very, very wide trousers, with their hands in the air. Dilated pupils, having a really fantastic time.

Of course, you’re not just Johnny Marr who plays guitar – with Johnny Marr And The Healers you sing. At which point did you think, “Hang on, I’ll do the vocals…”?
I didn’t. The band approached me with, pretty much, an ultimatum. I had a five minute mutiny on my hands. Which was great.

You’ve done backing vocals before, though.
Yeah, I sang with Pet Shop Boys and The The, and a few other people.

So you knew you could do it.
Yeah, I knew I could sing. I wrote the songs and sang because I didn’t want to get another known singer in. I didn’t want the direction of the music to change too much. I got given a couple of CDs of guys who were in bands with a, in quotes, traditionally great rock voice. Rubbing my hands and pretty pleased with myself, I said to the band, “We’ve got a front man, it’s gonna be fine.” And we played the stuff, and they were really good singers. The band went off to a café for half an hour or so, while I was on the phone, and when I got back they just hit me with the decision really. I had to be the singer. And I trust them. They had no other reason to like what I was doing other than they thought it was right.

So there were other people up for the job as singer?
There were two other blokes, but I can’t remember their names. I don’t even know if they’re in bands or anything. I wanted to play them to The Healers before I approached them. There were a few days of complete shock, an angel on one shoulder going, “It’s cool, trust the boys, it’s going to be fine, it sounds great.” Then a devil going, “This isn’t what you do, people are going to read too much into it, blah, blah.” I just listened to it and I thought, “Yeah, that’s OK. That’s all right.” And then I was off. Telling people not to make eye contact with me.

Do you think with the current climate with all this Pop Idol nonsense, that it’s virtually impossible for another Smiths to break though?
No. When you say another Smiths, I’m guessing that you mean…

A good, credible band.
A good band with integrity, who are into messing stuff up. I think it’s more likely that that will happen. It’s reached a horrible situation. I’d forgotten all about Pop Idol and the Rivals and all that stuff until you mentioned it. I can’t stomach it. Horrible karaoke on a really mass level. It’s embarrassing, isn’t it? It’s really embarrassing. I don’t know, people seem to like it, don’t they?

Well, they’ll accept what’s put in front of them.
That’s right.

What bands have you been into over the last couple of years? Apart from your own, of course.
I like Lemon Jelly. They’re pretty good. They’re more electronic. Wait, I’ll try and think of something a bit more obscure. Godspeed You Black Emperor! are absolutely fantastic. If you like your music about 18-minutes long with lots of drama and kind of heady. I think they’re happening.

What did you think of John Squire’s attempt at singing?
I only heard a few of his songs. I quite liked it. I was taken by surprise. His voice was a bigger deal than I was expecting but I was really quite impressed by that. I admired it.

I thought he was trying too hard to make a style.
I thought it would be really interesting to see where he goes with his next few albums. He’s obviously smart and talented. It’s hard when you’re trying to break the mould. The situation I’m in, it makes me have a sense of admiration because it takes a lot of balls.

When are you and Barney getting back together to do another Electronic record?
I saw Bernard recently and it was really good to see him. In fact, I spoke to him yesterday morning and we’ve still got a really good friendship. I’d like to get together with him and do some kind of soundtracky thing, just because it was the one thing that we could do and that we never did.

Have you had offers for that before?
Years ago, the manager at that time thought it was a really good idea. I just saw the whole Mark Knopfler headband thing, fiddling about in a studio to a low-key film.

If I was to take up guitar, and I wanted you specifically to teach me how to play, how much would you charge an hour?
Ha-ha-ha. Bastard.

With your background, we’ve got to be looking at… at least £30 an hour.
I was thinking more in the region of £200 and I thought that was being generous. I’d throw in a haircut as well.

I need your favourite Smiths and Electronic tracks, please.
Favourite Smiths track would be “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”. When we recorded it, I’d never heard anything like it. Even though I haven’t heard it for years, I know it’s a beautiful song. It kind of gets across all the emotion that was around the band. It crystallises what we did. If I had to play something for someone who’d never heard the band, one record, this would be it. This is the essence of the band. It would be that track, I think. But I love loads of them, obviously. Electronic, it would be “Get The Message”. That’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever done.

The guitar at the beginning, the break in the middle, which you’re drawn into, the strength of that sound – a great record. It still gets me going.
I’m pleased, because it’s one of the favourite things I’ve ever done.

Have you ever been too drunk to play a gig?
Not to start the gig. By the time the encore came around, without a doubt, yes. I came off stage a few times and when that adrenalin left me, I was just like a total heap on the floor. I think there’s some photographic evidence of it around.

What clothing label are you into?
Dolce & Gabbana.

Who makes that shirt you’ve got on?
Dolce & Gabbana, yeah. And you can’t go wrong with a good pair of Birkenstocks.

Do you remember Gio-Goi?
I do, yeah.

You wore a coat at Wembley in about – and this makes me sound like a trainspotter – 1991 and you had a coat on that was brilliant.
The black one.

Yes, the black one. With the yellow writing on the back. As soon as I saw that, I went to Manchester, found the coat, and bought it for £100. It cleaned me out for the month. I was so proud of it.
Bastards, they told me it was a one-off.

Mine certainly was – one arm was longer than the other. There were about three in the shop.
Have you still got it?

I let a girl borrow it when I was at college in Derby and I never got it back.
I don’t know where mine is. That was really cool. And the jumpers as well, that was really good.

They had some good T-shirts as well. They still do them.
Do they?

Gio-Goi was the Donnelly Brothers in Manchester, wasn’t it?
I knew the Donnellys who ran it. When I was about 13 or 14 they lived on the same estate as me.

Do the Manchester acts hold yearly parties for themselves, where 808 State make the cakes, Morrissey supplies vegetarian sandwiches and Mani hosts a hook-a-duck stall?
What do I do then?

What would you do?
I’d probably ferment my own alcohol, wouldn’t I? I’d be on the moonshine stall. Or yoghurt. A yoghurt stall. It’s funny you should say that cos I went to one of those last Thursday. It was Mani’s birthday.

Was MC Tunes there? He’s one of Mani’s best mates.
Is he? Ha-ha-ha! Yeah, but everyone’s one of Mani’s best mates. It’s impossible not to be his mate. He’s a diamond geezer. It was fantastic. I normally avoid going out to places where I meet people where I’ll have the same conversation I had 15 years ago. Yeah, just cos I’ve kind of done it, do you know what I mean? I love seeing everybody, so I wasn’t going to miss this one. It was really funny. As soon as I saw him, he had two magnums of Champagne, and he dropped one on the floor. That’s a lot of booze, man. It completely blew up. I was soaked from the waste down. I was walking around like this, like I had ski boots on.

Did you tell him off for it?
I haven’t seen him since, but he claims he can’t remember any of it, which all sounds a little bit convenient.

What would have happened if The Smiths had signed to Factory Records?
We would have ended up in short trousers, wouldn’t we?

You might have done the England record for a World Cup.
We might have done the England record, yeah. Bloody hell. God, can you imagine that?

That’s not a bad idea. If there is going to be a Smiths reunion – which you’ve probably been asked about 50,000 times…
No.

If The Smiths get back together, it could be to do the next England World Cup record. Genius!
[Does Morrissey impression]: “Let’s score one, and another one, and another one, another one, whooo-oooo-oooo!”

It’s got Number One written all over it. Final question. Come the day when there’s a film made about The Smiths, which is probably just round the corner, who would play you?
Erm… oooh…

Don’t say Ralf Little.
Err… you’ll have to give me some ideas here. Come on, don’t worry, I won’t be offended. Err… Winona Ryder. Yeah, Winona Ryder definitely.

I think I’ll try and hold off the drinking for a bit.
Give it a go – you might enjoy it.

One last thing… Graham Fellows

The Guardian’s The Guide’s great, lost, back-page interview from 2009! This interview was dumped when the newspaper’s cultural diary was overhauled – but now, here it is!

It’s fantastic to see your character John Shuttleworth back on telly, the first time since Europigeon (1) in 1998.
I’ve just made some TV and radio ads for Yorkshire Tea with my old pal Willy Smax, who shot 500 Bus Stops (2). John might have preferred to promote a quality tile grout or travel mints, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the perfect marriage of two trusted niche brands.

What are you working on at the moment?
The final edit of my new [John Shuttleworth] movie Southern Softies, set in the Channel Islands. It’s the follow-up to It’s Nice Up North, set in the Shetlands. Southern Softies nearly bit the dust when I inadvertently plugged the AC adaptor for my laptop into the hard drive, blowing it up and its contents. I’m a careless sod, but a persistent one, so it’s all back on course and I’m very excited about the world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe on August 18th.

You’re from Sheffield, but before you were famous, did you have a Sheffield claim to fame?
My sister, Sally, claims she used to deliver Tony Christie’s mother’s newspaper in Sheffield in the early ’70s. I reminded Tony of this when I met him in Leeds a few years ago when we were guests on Richard Whiteley’s (3) short-lived TV series Friday Whiteley.

John likes a pair of fawn slacks, nothing wrong with that, but have you had any fashion disasters in the past?
My mother made me a pair of bell-bottom trousers for a Christmas party in [school class] J4. I thought they were cool until someone laughed and said they looked homemade. I said, ‘Well yes, they are,’ and this kid laughed even harder. So I kicked him and split my trousers.

John Shuttleworth is eco-minded – but are you?
Earlier this year I bought an electric G-Wiz (4) car in an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint. Having now left London and moved back up north, the car is parked permanently in a West End car park. I make frequent trips down south to recharge it, trips which increase my carbon footprint. I realise this irony must not be left unchecked, so I plan an epic voyage in my G-Wiz from London to Orkney, where I have an old church (5) which I’m planning to restore and convert into an eco-friendly recording studio. The car will be there to ferry Bono and the Arctic Monkeys, etc, around the island. Anyway, it might take a while, this trip, as a single charge of the car’s battery will only take it 30 miles, so I’ll be looking for a few power sockets en route. Look out for me!

What issue outrages you?
Cruelty to farm animals. It amazes me how worked up we get because a whippet is malnourished, cruel as that is, but no-one cares that thousands of sheep, cows, pigs and chickens live miserable lives before suffering even more miserable deaths. Check out PETA [www.peta.org.uk] and you’ll learn all about how Australian sheep farmers still carry out ‘mulesing’ (6), a barbaric practice that is maiming thousands of defenceless lambs for no logical reason. Am I a vegetarian? Not quite, so yes, I’m a hypocrite. But I’m beginning to realise that vegetarianism is the way forward – not just for the sake of the animals, but the planet too.

None of us are getting any younger, are we?
I recently hit 50 and death is suddenly on the agenda. I’m noticing a lot more people around me are dying. My father, Derek, recently observed that he used to be invited to lots of funerals but gradually the invites are tailing off. I used to want to be cremated, but a good old-fashioned burial is more eco-friendly. I’d miss the ashes routine, so perhaps the compost that I eventually become could be sprinkled on my vegetable patch.

Where would you want to be buried?
Well, I wouldn’t want to be planted anywhere near noisy traffic, or where disaffected youths congregate, or next to one of those chavvy headstones with a drawing of a footballer doing a bodyswerve. That’d start me turning, that would.

1 Shuttleworth’s Eurovision push; 2 Trans-Peak District tour; 3 C, U, N, T came out on Countdown, but cut; 4 Made in India; 5 wwwthespaceorkney.com; 6 Removal of buttock skin.

Southern Softies is at Pleasance Above, Pleasance, Edinburgh, August 18, 9.15pm, www.pleasance.co.uk

Get it in the mixer! Fatboy Slim on DJing at the Amex

After phenomenally successful Big Beach Boutique shows on the pebbles of Brighton seafront, Fatboy Slim makes a hometown comeback with Big Beach Bootique 5, two nights of DJ goal-lagging at Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium

GQ.co.uk, 2011

Slashing rain, and Brighton & Hove Albion in their new Amex Stadium are running out of viable ideas against a determined West Ham side whose average height seems to be that of King Friedrich Wilhelm I’s Prussian Infantry Regiment No 6 – the “Potsdam Giants”. Nil-one and an electronic indicator reveals to the assembled 20,686 that there will be eight minutes of injury time. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has sworn at the fourth official at every juncture during the 90 minutes – world-class foulmouths can be entertaining ogres – and he swears again: “F*** that!” Brighton boss Gus Poyet, who had earlier blown a raspberry at the fourth official, now applauds and begins whistling at his players like they are obedient working dogs. But Brighton haven’t the rufty-tuftiness to break down that great, claret, Sbobet-sponsored wall. West Ham are impenetrable, a Thames Barrier across the seasider’s turf.

Continue reading Get it in the mixer! Fatboy Slim on DJing at the Amex

Ohm is where the heart is: Karl Bartos on life post-Kraftwerk

GQ.co.uk, 2013

“Rick Waller? Fat fella on Pop Idol? Yeah, he was great. Kraftwerk? Never heard of them. Were they dancers on Britain’s Got Talent?” It’s easy to say there’s no hope for civilisation when educated people in top jobs speak this way. The ideal solution would be to take these ne’er-do-wells into a study, reach for a cane, and, while striking that sorry rump, repeat, “’Numbers’, ‘The Model’, ‘Pocket Calculator’, ‘Tour De France’, ‘Home Computer’,” hoping that a physical chastising in the quiet of your low-lit cultural headmaster’s office might open minds to music away from the ongoing Opportunity Knocks-plus karaoke pap of ITV1.

But you can’t lay hands on people these days, not in the workplace. All you can say is, “You want to get yourself on iTunes and open those big, flappy ears of yours.”

Continue reading Ohm is where the heart is: Karl Bartos on life post-Kraftwerk

Joy divided: an interview with Peter Hook

Feuds, addiction and beautiful bass lines – muscle-bound Salfordian Peter Hook discusses his new Joy Division memoir Unknown Pleasures, his plans for a New Order book and how his lawn-raking technique mirrors his low-slung playing style 

GQ.co.uk, 2012

For 32 years, there has been an otherworldly mist shrouding Joy Division, a lingering pall blanketing the memory of one of Britain’s most innovative bands. Various informed writers and film-makers have positioned gigantic wind machines by this immovable bank of fog but have invariably failed to give a true indication of what life in Joy Division was actually like. Much has been made of the elegiac soundscapes created by the foursome, of Martin Hannett’s insane production techniques and Ian Curtis’ deeply troubled lyrics, but until now the minutiae of band life, like the inability of drummer Stephen Morris to maintain a safe driving distance behind other vehicles and the semi-submerged bath-time dining habits of guitarist Bernard Sumner, have remained a prisoner of time. What was needed was a band member’s memoir – and now one has arrived.

Continue reading Joy divided: an interview with Peter Hook

An ideal for reliving: an interview with New Order’s Stephen Morris

GQ.co.uk, 2012

Snow is falling Christmas-card style in Kensington, an apt real-time video if you’re listening to the icy tinkles of an ARP Omni 2 synthesizer on one of Joy Division’s more elegiac compositions. Sickeningly, the sullenness is shattered as that ode to sad ski holidays, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, thumps through the flurry. Beyond the reach of Michael and Ridgeley’s mulled-wine mitherings sit the toasty Warner Bros offices, where, surrounded by biscuits and Peter Saville artwork, rests Joy Division, New Order and Bad Lieutenant drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris. He’s wearing chunky Caterpillar boots, hardly surprising as Macclesfield resembles Lapland right now.

“You’ll never guess where Bernard Sumner [Morris’ bandmate] is at the moment,” says a black T-shirted music exec. “Going round the world on a yacht.” It’s in stark contrast to Morris, who is meeting GQ.com to discuss +-, a boxset of Joy Division seven-inch records he’s remastered with Frank Arkwright – a sound engineer notable for his work with Warp Records. It’s a must for serious collectors, but will Santa decipher the peculiar positive/negative symbols on Christmas lists?

That’s the elves’ problem, not yours.

Continue reading An ideal for reliving: an interview with New Order’s Stephen Morris

A Menace to you, Rudy: The Specials’ Horace Panter and his Beano art

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

For men of a certain vintage, a Beano annual was a guaranteed gift beneath the Christmas tree, sitting among a pile of pressies that might also include an Airfix plane or three, Matchbox car transporter, farm set, full football kit, five-colour torch and, if you were lucky, a gleaming Raleigh bike. Girls, of course, got dolls and prams. Flicking through the pages of your annual in the evening, stuffed to the gunwales with selection-box chocolate, there was almost a sense of joy that the protagonists in The Beano would usually end up tasting a size-nine slipper. Meanwhile, Walter the Softy was basically a frightening prediction of Shoreditch in 2018.

This year, The Beano celebrates its 80th birthday and to mark the occasion, Horace Panter, bass player with The Specials  – and also one of Britain’s finest exponents of pop art and fine art – was invited to paint a series of compositions to be exhibited. The likes of Dennis the Menace, Lord Snooty and Billy Whizz were given the fantastically in-yer-face, wildly colourful Panter treatment, and can be seen at RedHouse Originals in Harrogate until 15 December.

In the more monochrome existence of The Specials, news has emerged that Britain’s reggae-tinged punk-pop kings have recorded a new album: Encore is to be released on 1 February. Panter puts down his brushes to tell British Ideas Corporation about his busy year.

Continue reading A Menace to you, Rudy: The Specials’ Horace Panter and his Beano art

Unbroken: interviews with Ben Thornley from Manchester United’s Class of 92 and writer Dan Poole

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

It all started with “Fergie’s Fledglings”, a group of players that were recruited into the Manchester United set-up in the late Eighties, round about the time Alex Ferguson was the bookie’s favourite for the sack. You may remember the likes of Lee Sharpe, Russell Beardsmore, Guiliano Maiorana, Mark Robins and Lee Martin. They won little but looked great in those classic, Sharp-sponsored Adidas kits.

There followed a second wave of talent in the early Nineties who became known as the “Class of 92” and included some of the players who’d go on to achieve resounding success under Ferguson. David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville would become household names but there is one member of this gang of super-talented ball wizards – Ben Thornley – whose ascendency through the United ranks came to a clattering halt just as the club’s fortunes were rising.

Continue reading Unbroken: interviews with Ben Thornley from Manchester United’s Class of 92 and writer Dan Poole

Old school: an interview with International Teachers Of Pop

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

Sheffield is a city of pioneers. The first football club in the world were Sheffield FC, formed in 1857 and still in existence today. They beat Stocksbridge Park Steels last week 3-1. Hallam FC are the second-oldest club in the world, founded in 1860 to give Sheffield FC an opponent. Hallam’s Sandygate Road base in Crosspool is the oldest football ground in the world. They thumped Harworth Colliery 5-1 on Saturday in front of 204 people.

We also have Sheffield to thank for stainless steel, which was invented by Harry Brearley at Brown-Firth Research Laboratories just before the First World War. Brearly left in a huff due to a disagreement about patent rights but his successor, WH Hatfield, ran with the idea and in 1924 presented the world with 18/8 stainless steel, 18 per cent chromium, eight per cent nickel – the most common stainless steel used today. Unless you’re Lord Fauntleroy or Lady Docker, your cutlery will be made of this, as are those drippy teapots at motorway services.

Britain’s first astronaut was Sheffield’s Helen Sharman, who hitched a ride aboard the Soviet Soyuz TM-12 mission in May 1991, spending a few days growing protein crystals on the Mir space station. Sharman may have been adjusting to Earth’s gravity two months later when she famously went ass ovver tip at the 1991 World Student Games at the newly opened Don Valley Stadium. During the opening ceremony she tripped while holding the games torch and completely extinguished the flame. Thankfully on Worksop Road there were enough newsagents nearby that sold boxes of matches. Incredibly, Don Valley Stadium was demolished in 2013.

More than space travel, football or metallurgical breakthroughs, the city is perhaps best known for its influential musicians. Sheffield, as you’ll be aware, is synonymous with synthpop and electronic trickery.  Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, ABC, Pulp, Heaven 17, Clock DVA, Warp Records, the Bleep scene and Fat Truckers (who?! Check out “Teenage Daughter”) have all helped place Sheffield firmly on the global musical map. Slow Club are pretty good, too.

Now, on the strength of two singles, we can add International Teachers Of Pop to the long list of Sheffield greats. “Age Of The Train” and “After Dark”, both released this year, carry the baton for Sheffield synthpop in a way that Phil Oakey, Jarvis Cocker and Martin Fry would appreciate. Prior to a UK tour, we catch up with International Teachers Of Pop’s Adrian Flanagan to discuss wonky electronic music and the state of Britain’s railways.

Continue reading Old school: an interview with International Teachers Of Pop

Happy soul with a hook: an interview with Moss from Craig Charles favourites Daytoner

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

Some of us have a love/hate relationship with BBC 6 Music. For instance, you get the feeling that Cerys Catatonia’s eclecticism on Sundays is simply the result of her entering the BBC’s vaults, selecting 20 or so CDs at random with her eyes closed, then playing track 6 on all of them. When a 1911 sea shanty recorded on the Outer Hebrides to celebrate the construction of a jetty is followed by mid-Fifties Alaskan swing jazz, you have to wonder.

Then you’ve got the Craig Charles Funk And Soul Show. The longest-running programme on 6 Music – it started in 2002, in the first week of the station’s existence – has become an essential element of Saturdays. Craig Charles’ soul weekly is where you’ll most likely have come across Daytoner’s northern soul-injected beats. In fact, Charles stated via Twitter, “Daytoner are my new favourite band – fact.” For a man with his track record, this is some claim.

Continue reading Happy soul with a hook: an interview with Moss from Craig Charles favourites Daytoner