Spacezombibingo.blogspot.com/ ask Dave about Manchester music, changes in clubland etc (Aug 2009)

You’re always a busy fellow, what are you up to at the minute?

My diary is varied, even maybe confused. I have a ton of DJ gigs which include a couple of Festival dates, a gig in Paris, a gig in Sunderland, a charity event to raise money for Christie’s Hospital, and a party at the Town Hall; on Sept 9th I’m a keynote speaker at a conference on post-punk in Leeds; I’m arranging a few of my own ‘Sweet Sensation’ nights; and I’m trying to arrange a mini-tour in America as I have two gigs waiting for me in New York and one in Cleveland (Ohio) but that might be February or March next year now I think.

What do you personally think has been the biggest change in Clubs/Clubbers/Djing during your tenure?

It’s all gone very overground. There were always big commercial clubs, back in the early 1980s – I never went to them, as mainstream music has never really appealed to me and they all had dress codes, you’d have to wear a tie to get in and stuff – and then there were very small credible and semi-credible clubs. Now there’s still a big commercial scene (which still doesn’t appeal) but now there are dozens of great credible and semi-credible clubs and club nights too, with international DJs and clued-up promoters and huge scenes. The quality and quantity of DJs and clubs amazes me now; we had so little 25 or 30 years ago, you were really lucky if you found a decent club night to go to.

As a purveyor and supporter of new musical talent from Manchester do you think that given Manchester’s past musical glories, there is a kind of unspoken pressure placed on the up and coming local bands and club nights to be ‘the next big Manchester’ whatever?

Not really, maybe more so for the bands. For club nights the biggest pressure is just to make them work and get the people in.

If there is some kind of a pressure does this also add an air of short- attention-span-itis to the major labels and music journalists, who would quickly write-off bands and nights instead of giving them the time they need to develop?

I know what you mean. But who cares? I generally believe that the power of the press in music is easy to over-exaggerate. You just do what you do, and if you believe in it, so what? Success, if it comes, will always more about word of mouth. The press usually follow rather than lead.

So what bands and scenes are you into at the moment then?

Bands in Manchester; Airship, Delphic. Nights in Manchester; ‘Contort Yourself’, ‘The Devil’s Jukebox’ and ‘Here Come the Girls’. Generally, I like Fujiya & Miyagi. I like the Sonar Kollectiv label. And DJ Nic Fanciulli.

What do you think about Manchester’s past band-based heroes turning to the decks, almost as if they are cashing in on their past glories? Andy Rourke, Peter Hook and especially Shaun Ryder’s appearance at South where he handed CD’s to Clint Boon?

I guess they’re allowed to cash-in. And people are allowed to go and see them. I mean, it’s not like anyone is dying as a result of this is it???

In fact, as a professional DJ what do you think of ‘celebrity’ DJ’s?

There are some celebrities I would like to see DJ; it’s an interesting way of seeing what kind of people they are, how brave they are, or how idiotic. I’d like to hear Vincent Gallo DJ for example; is he a celeb??

Do you think it’s at all plausible, in this time of FaceSpaceInternets, that Manchester or anywhere for that matter could have a scene again that’s directly linked to a place or City? For example – will there ever be another ‘Madchester’?

The idea of community is something a lot more fluid now, yes, you’re right, but at the same time, people also recognise that social interaction in the real world is more authentic in some way. In recent years, for example, people have gravitated towards Berlin; because there’s a sense that like-minded or creative people or whatever are there, and so although they’re people you might track down on the internet, actually sharing a physical space and walking the same streets with them seems to have a real attraction. Also, as a kind of second point, I’m not sure Madchester was really to do with geography; it was more to do with an attitude, a sense of social and musical freedom.

What do you think to the ever changing skyline of Manchester and the vast amount of shoe-box-sized flats popping up everywhere? Surely this is destroying Manchester’s charm and aesthetic or do you think its time Manchester had the facelift it deserves?

A lot of the flats are pretty pokey and they don’t really do much for me, but it’s not like Manchester is the only place where urban planning or urban regeneration or property developers or whatever have changed the city. I was reading one of the last interviews that the American writer/DJ/journalist Studs Terkel gave and he lived in Chicago for seven or eight decades and looking back over his life he said that the biggest thing has been the homogenisation of our big cities; the loss of individuality in the cities. Big business, multi-nationals, major brands, corporate finance etc – they’re not interested in a creative bohemian weirdo world. It’s always about cash.

How’s the ‘Haslam for Mayor’ campaign coming along?!

Ha! Well, I didn’t start the campaign, people started signing up to it (on Facebook) and that’s the first I knew about it. I’ve done a manifesto though and I’ve sent it round to a few people. A few big cheeses at the City Council have read it, but they don’t seem perturbed. I also actually met the real Lord Mayor last month at an art gallery opening; she’s called Alison Firth. She was very nice, she said she loved my ‘Manchester, England’ book and often read from it when called upon to make speeches. She insisted someone take her photo with me. She was so nice I didn’t have the heart to tell her I wanted her job.