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

Silver linings: Festival No.6, 2013

While the weather did its best to ruin the superb Festival No.6 in north Wales, GQ took shelter with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and Father Ted director Declan Lowney, culminating in a Q&A on Sunday evening at Portmeirion’s majestic Piazza stage

Words Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2013

On The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan’s lavish 17-part cult spy series of 1967, there isn’t much in the way of relentless precipitation halting No.6’s daring attempts to escape the Village. It’s all well and good proclaiming, “I’m not a number, I’m a free man!” and scowling in a defiant manner when a Mini Moke approaches, but when the rain’s falling so hard that lyns form around your walking boots and the wind’s toppling metal fencing in a furious show of intent, there isn’t much you can do other than flap open an umbrella and hope that you’re not carried into the sky like Mary Poppins. Let it be said that at Festival No.6 – the nation’s most eccentric and all-round fun cultural gathering – it knows how to rain.

Continue reading Silver linings: Festival No.6, 2013

Fjällräven Kånken backpack: Too cool for school

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2012

One of the main problems with casual fashion is that the Iberian peninsula and, by association, South America, holds too much sway over the way the British currently dress. Where once our fashion pointers were derived from All Creatures Great And Small, golf or WWII armed forces, today’s High Street hotsteppas are more likely to resemble Mario Kempes on a post-Argentina ’78 beach holiday.

Continue reading Fjällräven Kånken backpack: Too cool for school

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

The Hard Sell: Indesit Moon

The Guardian’s The Guide, 2007 

You’d need to know New Order’s back catalogue with McWhirter-like obsession to realise that the soundtrack to the Indesit Moon washing machine commercial is Hey Now What You Doing from the 2005 album Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. New Order and white goods – let’s Hoover up the irony. I once asked bassist Peter Hook if drugs were ever a problem with the band, and he replied; “Yeah, sometimes we couldn’t get hold of any for days.”

With its round window and centred, circular dial, the curiously-named Moon resembles an Apple creation: it’s an iPod that’ll soak your big, baggy Eddie Yates underpants. It costs £280 at one large supermarket and comes with an A+ for energy saving, A for wash efficiency and B for its spin. That’s all well and good, but is Indesit now targeting the potentially lucrative market of students and football hooligans?

The word on the Manc grapevine reckons the Italian kitchen appliance giant may be perilously short of stock – by now, New Order will have sorted out Indesits for themselves, all their families, Bez, Shaun, Mani, MC Tunes, Johnny Marr, Tony W, Fat Neck, Sir Bobby, A Certain Ratio, The Smashing Pumpkins, Anton Corbijn, Deborah Curtis, the One True Saxon office, Jayne who does their press, and all their mates’ mams in the north-west. You watch. Due to freebies, Indesit will end up making a 5p loss on every washing machine they make. Let’s recap. Blue Monday has been used on Sunkist and Mars ads, and Hey Now What You Doing for Indesit. What’s next? Everything’s Gone Green for the Tory party?

Champion Sound: Andrew Collins

The bit of the website where someone of sonic sophistication supplies a selection of serious dance-floor stompers.

YOUR DJ 2-NITE!
Andrew Collins, writer and broadcaster

“I rarely DJ any more outside of family gatherings, but could. When I sold my entire vinyl collection for practical reasons in 2005, I held on to my 7” singles, which, miraculously, fit into a flight case that’s too heavy to comfortably carry, and a selection of cherished Eighties 12”s that fit into a flight case that’s easy to carry. Between the two containers, I could do you a pretty sound Seventies/Eighties/Nineties disco night. Or, with my laptop, something for the kids, but never mind them.” – Andrew Collins, May 2016

Continue reading Champion Sound: Andrew Collins

Brighton rock: The Great Escape festival

By Lee Gale

Seagulls pinching chips from kids is one thing but swiping a cheese-and-onion sandwich from the hand of a ravenously hungry adult is a dangerous new development. A flash of feathers and a flap of webbed feet and it’s off. To add insult to injury, a punch aimed at the departing bird goes wildly astray and for a moment, I am an unwitting and unpaid comedy act at Brighton’s Great Escape festival. Naturally, titters follow from lunchtime drinkers. The seagull flaps its mighty wings just twice and lands on the roof of a nearby Pizza Express: job done. Continue reading Brighton rock: The Great Escape festival