Questions from Jiri Broz – ‘Rock & Pop’ magazine, the Czech Republic – February 2008

1. Why do you think Manchester played such an important role in the UK’s music history of the 80’s and early 90’s? Was it because of the music activities of Tony Wilson? Or what was the reason?

Many people have played a part in the Manchester music scene. Tony played a role in giving people opportunities – to make records, to be DJs – and also he understood and championed the city incredibly well. But there was – and still is – a lot of talent in Manchester. There are a lot of reasons why music is so important to the city which is why I wrote a whole book about it (‘Manchester, England’), but during that particular era (late 1980s) it was as if Manchester had declared independence, musically, and creatively. There must have been some innate confidence, and maybe some desperation too.

2. Can you still remember your DJing at the Hacienda club? Did you feel – or did you realise – you might be a part of music History?

I did over 400 gigs at the Hacienda, so naturally I don’t remember them all, they’re all a bit of a blur. I think I realised that we were doing something more exciting than everyone else, but I think if we’d thought too much about whether there was going to be a place in music history for the club it would have been different; what we were doing was all very instinctive, not at all calculating or even particularly well thought out.

3. And was Hacienda really such a magical music place?

Some nights were so good the rest of the week was hard to get through; you were just craving that excitement. The music was often very good, the crowd was a great mix of people, very open-minded and amazingly enthusiastic.

4. You’ve also DJd at the legendary Boardwalk club. Was it a great change for you? Can you compare Hacienda and Boardwalk clubs?

The Boardwalk was smaller and in many ways I preferred this. I was there nine years and the club nights there were all developed and run by me so I had a lot of belief and emotional committment to them. The Boardwalk was less well-known than the Hacienda and that was an advantage – there weren’t any there or people just following the hype because there was no hype! It was a very genuine club.

5. We have to remind that you are not only a DJ and a music moderator, but also a writer. So, in the light of your book ‘Manchester, England’ what do you think about current Manchester music scene? Do you think there are still young and talented indie bands in Manchester?

There are some great DJs and bands in the city right now (some of my favourite bands are Geekgirl, Shmoo, and Air Cav), and I have just done a remix for a great singer-songwriter called Rachael Kichenside. Maybe the profile of the late 1980s isn’t here anymore, but the talent is. In some ways now it’s more exciting because it’s more diverse; whereas in the Madchester era it tended to be one-dimensional.

6. What is your favourite venue or club in Manchester now?

There isn’t one venue in particular, what you find is a lot of good gigs and club nights promoted at different places, so you keep having to track them down and sometimes these things aren’t very regular or very well organised. I love hard-to-find, cheap, disorganised nights playing great music! I like ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’ which is a club night at Cafe Saki, and I like ‘Mindtrain’ at various places including Fuel cafe bar; both these clubs put films on the wall and there’s always lots of guitar feedback, and one of the record decks is usually broken and you don’t get dressed up to go to them!