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15 June, 2011

Factory Star French interview

There's an interview with Martin Bramah of Factory Star on the French Inside Rock webzine here. For anyone amongst you who doesn't speak French, below is a rough-and-ready translation by yours truly of the introduction, then the original interview in English. Whereas Mark E. Smith refuses to promote his new album, The Fall’s co-founder and guitarist, Martin Bramah, was happy to answer my questions. After leaving the group in 1979, he founded Blue Orchids, releasing The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) in 1982. The group then broke up several times until they released a handful of albums in the 2000s, including the second album The Sleeper, recorded in 1993. After putting out the Battle Of Twisted Heel solo album, Martin Bramah is back with a new group called Factory Star, whose first album, Enter Castle Perilous, is somewhat reminiscent of the lo-fi psychedelic pop of the Blue Orchids. The record, which still has that rudimentary organ dominating the melodies, came out on the Occultation label in April 2011 and obviously it talks about Manchester.

Inside Rock
: First of all, could you talk about your childhood in Manchester, your desire of doing music and The Fall's early years?
Martin Bramah: When I was a child I was completely unaware that I was a child. I was born in Manchester on Sept 18th 1957. As a small child I lived in Droylsden and Openshaw with my grandma during the week and with my great grandma and mother at the weekends. I didn’t know my father, but I was told he was a bass player in a jazz band… I didn’t like music until I heard The Rolling Stones on the TV… When I reached the age of seven my mother married and we moved to Prestwich, to start a new life.
In Prestwich I played in the woods until I reached puberty, then my parents bought a record player and I discovered Marc Bolan and David Bowie and music became the only thing that made sense (or didn’t have to make sense) in my world . As long as I can remember, I had always painted but I began, at this time, to write words and put them to music and I found that this made better pictures in my mind – I had no training.
In my mid-teens I met Mark E. Smith and we became good friends. We shared ideas about music, books and films mostly – and we came to want to start a band, a band that would be as cool as anything from New York, but totally British/Mancunian – I think Lou Reed said something like: “To imbue the pop song with the intelligence of the novel.” That was our starting point. The Fall was a communal thing to start off with. We were as much influenced by the hippy underground as by the punk movement. Our first British tour was a free tour, with “Here And Now”. And so it goes…

Inside Rock: You played with many artists such as Craig Gannon, Phillip Toby Toman, Stephen Garvey, and obviously with some ex-Fall members. It's like Blue Orchids was the mancunian musician nest. What was it like playing in Manchester at this time? What are your best memories? Have you heard of John Cooper Clarke lately?
Yes, I have played with lots of friends who have gone on to do other things. Manchester, although a city, is still small enough to be like a village for the musicians and music scene here, so we all get to know of each other quite quickly, it seems. I’ve know JCC, on and off, for many years now – the latest thing I heard him do is a voice-over for a Dominos Pizza advert!

Inside Rock: You also met Nico. How did you come to play with her?
MB: I was introduced to her by Alan Wise a local music promoter. She wanted to live in Manchester for awhile and was looking for like-minded musicians to play with. I was lucky enough to have my name put forward and we got on very well, so we started to make music together.

Inside Rock
: With hindsight, how do you explain that there is a gap of 20 years between the Blue Orchids two first records?

Well there was only a ten year gap in recording the first and second albums – but I lost interest – so our second album sat on a shelf for a further ten years.

Inside Rock: When and how was Factory Star born?

: Factory Star was born in November 2008. I wanted to make a fresh start and break the old patterns. I saw it as a chance to reassess my music and move forwards with new inspiration.

Inside Rock: How did you compose and record Enter Castle Perilous?

I wrote the songs on Enter Castle Perilous after returning to Manchester from a self-imposed exile in London. It is full of new impressions of the city I grew up in. I played all the songs live for quite some time to help breath some life into them, before attempting to record them. When we finally came to record the songs, I wanted to keep the urgency that we had developed as a band so we worked quickly in the studio, recording the whole album in three days, playing “live” in the studio as if in a club.

Inside Rock: The Blue Orchids sound was very particular, as if you played some short atmospheric songs live, and recorded as it is. Something similar in Enter Castle Perilous can be noticed. Is that important for you to capture that kind of genuine charm?

It is very important for me to capture the moment. I like to hear people interacting with each other. I don’t much like the sound of computers regimenting the human spirit. I love the unintended discords and happy accidents that come from working quickly and trusting your fellow musicians. I enjoy putting people under pressure while keeping the atmosphere light… hopefully!

Inside Rock: Are there any new artists performing these days that you're excited about?
I am very much enjoying The Crystal Stilts at the moment – I like the way they sound as if they’re not trying too hard – a kind of Zen nonchalance maybe?

Inside Rock: What are your hobbies except for music?

Day dreaming… I like to read a lot and I paint sometimes and I have also studied the Japanese art of Aikido for the past twenty years, which has been very important to me in many ways – oh, and I like to walk whenever I can.

01 June, 2011

Tracks In Snow EP now here

We received copies of The Wild Swans' Tracks In Snow EP (DIONE7DB013) today and rather lovely they are too. You don't really get the full effect of the colour in these pictures. They're shrinkwrapped for extra... whatever it is that shrinkwrapping gives more of. We are now starting to ship the very first orders but please bear with us as we've been swamped and it's going to take a while to get them all organised and out. We still have some copies of this pressing of the EP left but we'll probably not have them for much longer. We might re-press... Then again we might not, we don't even know ourselves at this point. So to avoid disappointment, etc. etc.