and reflections from the artist.
I played their records solidly for
another three years, but how many times can you play them before realising
that it's not going to change anything? How many times can you play
Closer, cry your eyes out and then follow it up with Atmosphere just
to cry a little bit more - it's like drinking a pint of sorrow followed
by chaser of despair - it certainly felt like it at the time. Once
I'd played Power, Corruption & Lies and heard the sunshine, I decided
to move on and packed my records away; I can't recall playing them
again after that though I heard the first album a year later, but
wasn't interested - I'd buried it all, entombed, sealed and departed
from it, never wanting to return because I didn't want to - it was
too painful, too awful, too sad. Another year after that, I caught
the Roses and saw the future - and then the sun did shine didn't it??!!
Joy Division made me think about what I wanted to do and what I do
now - unconsciously and consciously, they gave me fuel for a destination
I wasn't exactly certain of ; they were face workers, mining a seam
of gold whilst others scavenged off their masters' tables. I'm not
sure if you can see their influence in my works, or whether their
presence is apparent, but these were not the objectives. If there
is a lasting guide, a heart-rending influence, it is this - their
last recorded song is beautiful and I've wondered where it could've
gone from there - certainly, listening to Movement, I've tried to
determine what could have been, but it's tricky to do so - you can
hear panic, abandonment & people looking for a way out. My direction,
my destination, is to mine that seam and obtain beauty.
Influence has caused
me to paint what I do - being alive and constantly stimulated by what
life throws at me is one such influence; basic human requirements
are others that are there as well.
Visually, colours definitely influence
my existence and situations, whether it's something in the environment
or on a supermarket shelf-influence is there. Sonically, the night-time
drone of industry, the distant roar of the motorway drifting through
the midnight air and the space between these both and myself, resonate
in my sketches and ideas; yet more immediate and probably more tangible
is music, and out of all the bands I've seen and heard, a few have
definitely guided and affected my direction - Joy Division, Public
Image Limited and the Stone Roses.
The Roses - well, seeing them walk
through the crowd to take the stage and blast out their songs at Fairfield
St. was a life-changer - their ability, confidence, self-assurance
and exuberance was plain to see, their debut album a treasure - played
loud or soft, you can hear so many things that they and Leckie did;
listening to the tunes, I can still see John Squire walking over the
bridge on Wilbraham Road, head down, thinking. Public Image, with
their bass-led, dub-spacious sound and hurt, personal Rantings pointed
towards discovering more Jamaican rhythms and sounds; Joy Division,
contemporaneous with PiL, were also bass-led, and appeared at a time
when the space cleared by the Sex Pistols was there to be filled.
Whilst although the lyrics were of a personal content, they subsequently
caught the feel of the time when everything that had once stood proud
and sure was decaying, when the future that had beckoned promptly
vanished; when they were on the rise in Manchester in early '79, the Victorian sewer system in the city began to collapse causing constant disruption on the roads for years whilst undergoing repair, their music being soundtrack to the city's psychogeography .
Live, they were raw, intense and driving, their songs going deeper and darker,
striking chords in the people that saw them play and who constantly
played their records. They played by building up a concentrated, powerful
sound and when that power could no longer be held back nor contained
any more, they would let it go and really move - watch the clip of
"Transmission" from "Something Else" and tell me if it doesn't
travel down your spine. They held your attention for as long as they
were on stage - apart from when Hooky had spotted a couple of Perry
boys causing trouble for someone in the audience, jumped off-stage
and chased them out of the Russell club, the others left bemused on
stage getting a couple of songs together whilst he was away.
careful that I don't bullshit things up here, as so much has been
written by people who were - and who weren't - there, but it was a
shared communication for Novices with people who had glimpsed things
not discussed, touching on subjects rarely given consideration, but
which mattered and considered precious because others were looking
for answers and a way through the debris of this crumbling social
& economic meltdown of a country; and for a while we were privy to
them, listening to what they were saying and where they were going.
I had begun playing New Dawn Fades constantly after I saw them last
again at the Russell in Manchester, trying to begin to understand
fully what was being sung; one Monday night in May '80, I listened
to John Peel and early into his programme he mentioned that he'd heard
a rumour that Ian Curtis was dead - and then he played New Dawn himself.
I wasn't expecting him to say that nor to play that - and it stunned
me, totally, totally shocked me.
For more info check out the following writings
by Jon Savage, the best writer & chronicler of Punk Rock and Post
Punk - these are very succinct ;
England's Dreaming - Jon Savage ( faber & faber
Touching from a Distance - Deborah Curtis ( faber & faber ) (foreword
Permanent: Joy Division 1995 , London Records (sleeve notes)
Heart and Soul - Joy Division box set - London Records 1997 ( "
Good evening, we're Joy Division " essay in booklet)
Check this one out as well - it's highly detailed
and well worth reading (at least twice!) ;
From Joy Division to New Order - Mick Middles (Virgin Books).