I’m not a number, I’m a free Manc!

The inaugural Festival No.6 in North Wales mixes Sixties spy drama with the better elements of indie rock. Despite the rough red wine and absolutely miserable weather, it proves an outstanding, curiously British, cultural gathering

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2012

Taking the paranoia of Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner and adding Britain’s foremost purveyors of rock-dance crossover – ie New Order and Primal Scream – sounds like the loose plot of a late-morning dream, the sort of wonky scenario you find yourself in once the alarm has stopped and you’re drifting idly back to Boboland. Despite the weirdness, Festival No 6 piques the interest. If cheese and brown sauce can magically combine in sandwich format, then maybe merging an ingenious but frequently unfathomable Sixties spy series with cooler aspects of British indie music might just work. 

Continue reading I’m not a number, I’m a free Manc!

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?