Thursday, 21 January 2010

fac251's You Tube Channel - now live.

Up and running now..

A dedicated You Tube channel broadcasting exciting updates on the progress of FAC251.


Hooky takes us on a tour of the site, witness the semi demolished Factory HQ as it starts to become the new FAC251 club.

See Hooky back in the old 'Boardroom' minus THAT Table!!

See what has become of the old Factory Records vinyl archive space!!

See Ben Kelly's infamous space being transformed!!

See Steve Jones cold and covered in shit!!


Heavy snow pushes back opening night.

Kevin Cummins enters the frame and joins the party, photographing the evolution of the new (old) venue.

Kevin also talks about the scene and the city.

Plans unleashed for Hooky to record exclusive music as a give away included with the invite for the opening night.

DJ booth and Stage start coming together.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Looking For The Light That Pours...

Here's a piece I wrote a few months ago for Splash One Blog.

Just picked up Faber & Fabers hardback book of the Manchester photography of Kevin Cummins.
This is a stunning collection of photographs that capture the mood of Manchester from the mid 70's to the mid 90's.
From the city's greatest iconic pop star sons such as Ian Curtis, Morrisey, Mark E Smith and Ian Brown to the lesser known (yet often important) bands (The Worst, The Drones, Section 23) and from the 'kids on the street' youth tribes (Punks, Smiths fans, Baggy Ravers, Acid Casuals, B-Boys) to the gloomy doomy streets and shopping centres themselves - its all here, documented in the most vivid and beautiful way.
Flicking through this book is a contradictory experience for anyone who lived through the era, both heartbreaking and joyous in equal measure. Mixed feelings of celebrating the past, missing the past, getting old, lost times, good times, bad times, what was it all about, will things ever be as good /bad again? The poetry in Cummins shots is often overwhelming.
The book kicks off as all 1970's beginnings should, with a shot of David Bowie, (Bowie not in Manchester but down the road in Leeds) however the next shot we're treated to is an exhilarating Iggy Pop at Manchester Appolo in 1977 - a life changing moment for many, for sure. As next up is the result of the Iggy Pop/Sex Pistols revolution - a 1977 shot of Slaughter and the Dogs, the genuine Manc Punk band. From here were off on a journey that takes in touching shots of The Fall, The Buzzcocks, The Worst, The Drones, A Certain Ratio, Spherical Objects, Joy Division, John Cooper Clarke, Peter Saville, Tony Wilson, Linder, Magazine, Section 23, ludus, James, New Order, Jilted John, Rob Gretton, The Smiths, Jazz Defektors, Mick Hucknall, The Durutti Column, Martin Hannett, Vini Reilly, Mike Pickering, The Railway Children, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays, Charlatans, Electronic, Oasis, Billy Duffy, The Other Two, The Seahorses, Doves, whist also finding space to show us the streets of Salford, Hulme, Shudehill, and Moss Side including vital punk venue The Electric Circus, The Russell Club/Factory Club, The Hacienda, The Arndale Centre and Maine Road. As well as the usual Manc hero's there's shots of outsiders making an impact on the city - capturing Manchester gigs by The Jam, The Clash, The Slits, Wayne County, Ramones, Madonna and Michael Clark.
As well as the photographs themselves there's a treasure trove of wonderful paraphernalia for Mancophiles. Including text chapters by Richard Milward, Paul Morley, Johnny Marr, Peter Hook, Mark E Smith, Stuart Maconie and John Harris.
While also included are scans of such interesting fare as gig tickets, club membership cards, 7" single sleeves, button badges, party invites and even a postcard to Cumins from Morrisey himself.
The last four shots in the book are priceless.
The first a black and white shot of an empty stage full of destroyed flowers after a Morrisey gig. This photo alone shouts 'The Party is over' or even - 'The party is over - go home' a fitting photo for both the end of the book and the end of the Era which saw Manchester rule the British alternative music scene for a staggering 20 years.
The second is a stark black and white shot of an unknown persons arm (sleeve rolled to elbow) featuring a tattoo that simply reads 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' there's a proud devotion and a profound sadness in the photo that screams out similar feelings to that of the above empty stage 'Morrisey shot'. Curtis is dead, the party is over (for the time being) but the emotion created during Joy Divisions brief lifespan will live on forever.
The third is another black and white shot, this time of Ian Curtis' Grave stone which reads 18 - 5 - 80 Love Will Tear Us Apart. Shocking, moving and coming straight after the Tattoo shot, a confirmation if any were needed of all that loss, and the end of an era. Of course we know now that it was just the end of one era and soon the next wave of Manc music history would begin with New Order but here the Gothic overtones are as far away from the heady cocktail of flashing lights and colourful highs of the Madchester era as its possible to get, testimony of the sheer scope of images, styles, emotions, sounds and meanings thrown up by Manchester's hungry, energetic Children in the time frame that this book spans.
The last is a colour shot of a brick wall that has a roughly painted mural daubed onto its weathered brick work. The painting is of a Union Jack split in two and through the middle written in white paint reads 'There's no future in England's dreaming: John Lydon Of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Fame'. Saying all things at once, the graffiti is funny, sad and poigniant, funny because we know the quote came from John Lydon when he was Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols - one of the greatest Ant-Hero's England has ever seen. but after the joke about his current fame takes a second to die, the nasty aftertaste leaves a sadness - is this where it all lead to - sick and desperate reality TV shows for the dumbed down and vacuous? But look at the quote again from the mouth of a teenager not an old man, and it's genius is apparent once again.
For Johnny Rotten inspired the people in this book to dare to dream, and dream they did, wonderful ambitious sky reaching dreams. This book is the evidence not of England's dreaming but Manchester's dreaming, more over Manchester's dreams come true - from working class success story's and personal escapes from the urban poverty trap to City wide rejuvenation. Even the painting and it's union colours of red white and blue remind us of the inner sleeve of The stone Roses debut album a painting by John Squire called 'Waterfall' - a painting from an album now often considered the greatest debut album of all time - a record that as much as any in this book sums up and represents what power Johnny Rotten had and what could happen when the young had the balls to dream. It seems that during a certain period of British history Mancunians dreamed the most.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Factory - Opening

I've been asked to write a blog for the new Factory club in Manchester....

FAC251: The Factory

Where to start and what are we dealing with here?

Well it's a pretty big deal so here goes.

What we are looking at / waiting for is the total re-evaluation and rejuvenation of one of Manchester's most important and culturally significant buildings. What makes this 'project' so special is that some how it has been undertaken and executed first and foremost with love, passion and respect for the original Factory HQ, its place in the Factory story and it's relevance to the city as a whole. That in itself is remarkable in a day and age where usually the best you can hope for a once loved landmark or lesser known but hugely significant building, is either for it to be turned into luxury flats (or car park) or if lucky have a small plaque attached to its rotting exterior.

This project was not taken on as a money making exercise - again this in itself is GENIUS since we all know what happened to the Hacienda simply because the people that ran it didn't run it as a proper business. How exciting is that? Wow ? Who in their right mind you say would start up another night club in exactly the same manner and spirit as the Hacienda (knowing now all we do from books and films about that clubs obvious and destined downfall) in the current cultural and economic climate. Well these people have, and HOW FACTORY IS THAT? Its this fact more than any other (more facts later) that has got me worked up about the whole project.

A joint venture between Hooky and Factory super fan Aaron Mellor, the first thing that comes to mind after reading Hooky's recent book about the Hac is - I cant believe after all that heartache, upset and madness the guy is going back for more. Ding Ding round two indeed, well actually more like a Nam war veteran heading back to colonel Kurtz territory, another hellish tour of duty. Is the man insane?

However this time there's one crucial difference - the people behind this project know what they are doing, and wait before you jump to the conclusion that standing behind Hooky in this operation is just a bunch of corporate parasites jumping on the corpse of Factory for all it's worth. There's no reason why you should believe me other than I'm telling the truth, but I've known Aaron Mellor for over 15 years and if there's one thing I know it's that his success was born from the embers of Factory records. His premier influence and inspiration, 'the Factory spirit' has been with him in everything he has ever done (will not go into it here but it's quite some CV), he is also a true music fan and Factory records obsessive which has gotta help give the project some soul. Let us not forget also all the lessons Hooky must have learned from the Hac mistakes, this time he's probably more than ready to set those infamous wrongs to rights.

Factory location, Factory Spirit, and an original Factory legend, can this be happening? It is.

At this point its important to stress that although all these things give serious weight, context and credibility to the project -




Everybody involved along each step of the project has been eager to stress that although one foot in the past as historical context (and respect for Tony Wilson and his achievements) is certainly a worthwhile angle, the real interest and excitement here is following the other foot, the foot that will be striding into the future. Pushing new ideas, new angles, new sounds, exactly the kind of spring board Manchester needs at the moment. This (even more so than all the reminiscing, history books and hype about original Factory bricks and mortar) is the stuff that will truly pay respect to the energy and changing winds of Antony H Wilson.

So then, this venue/space (FAC251 - The Factory) is absolutely in no way shape or form 'Hacienda 2', which would be a cheap shot, a terribly tacky retrogressive step. The fact that FAC251 has been conceived of as a live venue with much emphasis on nurturing and supporting bands, places the project in a more rock and roll context - a million light years away from the DJ-centric super club that the Hacienda became. Even in the early days of the Hac when it was as much a live venue and saw a wealth of now legendary bands come through it's doors, it was never regarded as much of a 'live' venue in terms of live sound.
FAC251 however seems hell bent on getting the live side nailed good and proper right from the off, that's not to say there's not as much consideration being given to the clubbing side of things (Funktion One have this in hand), but rest assured this is a very different beast to the Hac, and as I've already said anyone looking for a cheap theme park thrill or a trip down memory lane will be sorely disappointed.

So what else are we looking at.

Ben Kelly

The project is somewhat authenticated by the huge involvement of original Factory HQ and Hacienda designer Ben Kelly. Again though not interested in going back to the 80's. Now as ever it's all about the new new new.

Remember this is a man who has his place in history for pushing things forward, indeed helping / inspiring others to push the envelope of modern culture. Designing that infamous Molotov cocktail of a shop 'Sex' for Malcolm McClaren and Vivian Westwood in the 1970's (the germ from which Punk was bred/spread) something not lost on Tony Wilson who commissioned Peter Saville who in turn roped in Ben Kelly to design his dream space - Manchester's very own New York disco, The Hacienda.

How apt that Ben Kelly designed the walls which gave birth to punk and the Sex Pistols as well as the walls which gave birth to Madchester and Northern acid house euphoria. Since the Pistols maybe the most important ingredient of this whole story. No Pistols, no Pistols gigs at the Free Trade Hall and the Electric Circus, and that would have meant no Joy Division, no Buzzcocks, no Fall, no Smiths, no Factory records blah blah blah. For a fascinating account of the cultural importance of the Pistols on Manchester read Paul Morley's Chapter in Kevin Cummins recent and stunning book 'Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain'. Kevin Cummins by the way has been documenting the coming together of the new FAC251 space, capturing the rebuild and reopen process with his usual evocative flair for Northern romance. You heard it here - yet another validation of the concepts credibility, Kevin Cummins as official photographer for stage one of the project.

And now the story comes full circle as Ben kelly once again leaves his inspirational mark on Manchester. The fact that his original Factory HQ has now been saved form certain death and is being re built for further exciting assignments is something the city should shout about from surrounding roof tops.

The Factory must be... re-built.

The Factory HAS been re-built

Tony Andrews

Also another crucial factor is that Soundsystem guru Tony Andrews of Funktion One has become personally involved with the project.

Aaron Mellor himself enthuses about Tonys input

"this isnt just a couple of cool speaker boxes - its a purpose designed scheme & personal comissioned sound system from Tony Andrews - the guy who built the very first pyramid stage at glastonbury, went on to invent Turbosound sold the company, then came up with the mighty Funktion One - unquestionable as the coolest club soundsystem in the World! Were overjoyed that now he has personally designed this mindblowing and unique system for FACTORY, in a word epic..."

Wow this should keep the tech and spec heads happy. Proof again that every care is being taken here to ensure that all elements of the project are of outstanding quality and delivery, as Factory product always was - think all those fine packaging schemes that cost a fortune!.

So after being blown away by the possibility of such a dream ever coming to life, I am only too happy to contribute my ramblings on the new club and it's roots.

Join me if you can and see you on the opening night.

We can Do the Du.

Kristian JB.