Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bernard Sumner Interview at the Manchester International Festival

Right now in sunny Manchester the Manchester International Festival is happening.  The city is abuzz with with art happenings.  Albert Square has a giant tepee dominating it, enclosing a bar area.  Next to that is the Festival Pavilion, a tent theatre really. There is a glass structure serving drinks with a nice roof terrace,  Picnic tables and deckchairs are filling the rest of the available space.

Damon Albarn has produced an English Opera, Dr Dee for the festival, Victoria Wood a musical.  Bjork & Snoop are both playing.  Stephen Moffatt has collaborated with Punchdrunk to put on the Doctor Who Event Crash of the Elysium.  Unfortunately you're not allowed in without a child so I'll be missing that one.

The one thing I was most interested in was Dave Haslam's first True Faith event, Close Up faeaturing Bernard Sumner.  Basically Haslam interviewing Sumner in front of an audience.  We've all heard Peter Hook regurgitating his Factory?New Order/Joy Division/I funded the Hacienda stories.  In manchester over the last few years it's been hard to dodge the memories and memorabilia.  Throughout this though Bernard Sumner has remained near silent.  I've wondered what he would have to say about those times.

Dave Haslam was obviously a Hacienda DJ but he also wrote a very good book about Manchester and its musical history, Manchester, England.  The perfect candidiate for interviewer.   We luckily managed to get tickets on the front row.  A little further to the side than I would have liked but not bad for a sold out event.

Bernard was good to listen to but I don't think he's an interviewer's dream.  He does tend to meander from the original point somewhat.    Haslam did a good job of letting him flow but getting it back to the question when needed.  The Peter Hook question was raised early on.  I don't think anyone there was surprised to hear they were no longer buddies.  Sumner didn't lower himself to slagging him off but he let it be clear feelings were mutual.  He made a good point about what the Factory and Hacienda name stood for in the 80's/early 90's and how that was definitely no longer what current ventures stood for.

It was inevitable that we would be hearing about Ian Curtis.  The sad story was told from the interviewees point clearly.  It was nice to hear his thoughts on it but I don't think there's much that can be added to that any more.

He said that both Control and 24Hr Party People were pretty accurate in their own way which was nice to know.  He told of us working with Rob Gretton, Martin Hamnett and Tony Wilson.  I never tire of those stories.  Sumner says that you should be proud of the past, take from it what you can but always be looking forward and creating.  A pretty good mindset for an artist to have.  He has a new band Bad Lieutenant.  Pronounced the American way and named after the film.

When asked about appearing on Daytime TV to promote, yet another, New Order compilations he said he did it for the record company.  Obviously record companies make a lot of money from material they already own with no real expenditure.  He told us that, these days, record companies are nothing like the lore of old.  They are not the Devil's Dens people assume.  And that if the record companies make no money they will have no money to invest in new bands.  Who else will support the new bands then?  A good point well made.

From someone who was a pretty prominent Factory Records artist it seems he still holds those ideas to heart.  He came across as a nice bloke who just enjoys creating music.  I hope Bad Lietenant get a bigger profile or at least a good length of life.  As Bernard told us he preferred being relatively popular for a long length of time to burning too brightly for a short amount of time.

For £5 a ticket this was a unique and bloody interesting event.  Bargain!


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