Loving Love

I popped in to see the chaps at Love in Manchester today. I don’t normally just turn up in strange towns and nip round to see people, but I got nice email from them yesterday as I was on the train (completely out of the blue), so it felt like fate was trying to tell me something.

So I went and met them. And what a lovely bunch of guys they are. With a fab office space. I even bumped into Matt who’s a sometime Poke freelancer which was a nice surprise too.

They gave me a book when I left. I’ve been looking at it. And I’m quite jealous. They’ve got a really amazing body of work behind them and when you look at what they’ve got going on it’s really impressive. Check their blog at: http://blog.lovecreative.com/

I really like the tone of voice they use in the book. Here’s one of my favourite bits (hope they don’t mind me using it):

I’m not adverse to a bit of swearing. But I always think there’s a bit of a risk using it in commercial things. But I’m OK with the use of ‘What a bastard’ at the end there. But oddly only if it’s spoken with a northern accent.

If you pronounce it b’ah-st’ah-d it just sounds odd. But b’ass-tard sounds just perfect to my ears. (Sorry my phonetic notation is crap, but hopefully you get me).

Perhaps its something that I’m particularly sensitive to being as I seem to see-saw on the way I pronounce bath, path and grass. One minute I’m all b’ah-th, p’ah-th and gr’ah-ss the next I go proper North. The curse of growing up in the midlands I guess.

The Omelette Bomb

My trip to Manchester was made awesome by witnessing ‘The Omelette Bomb’ – a piece of extreme Teppanyaki showboating the likes of which I’ve never seen before…

Thank goodness I had my camera with me…

A Postcard From Manchester

I’m in Manchester doing some work.

It’s good for me to get back to ‘the north’ from time to time. Last time I was actually in Manchester everyone had really baggy jeans (like 28-inch bottoms), Madchester t-shirts and curtain haircuts. I was glad, and not surprised, that times have changed.

I’m always amazed at how many people haven’t really ever been to ‘the north’ – there’s a few in the group that I’m with. Sorry to northerners for the use of inverted commas around ‘the north’, but that what it sounds like when the virgins say it.

Toshio Iwai’s Tenori-On From Yamaha

Toshio Iwai has made a load of cool audio widgety things. The thing I know best is Electroplankton on the Nintendo DS. But he’s done lots of other stuff too. I’ve just come across his latest device to hit the streets, Tenori-On, it’s a bit like this:

As a piece of design I really like it, especially when you see it’s double sided!!!

There’s a UK launch party for the thing in a couple of weeks with performances and DJs and stuff. It’s at Phonica in London (and I think there’s one in Manchester too, but I can’t find the details). More info on their last.fm page: http://www.last.fm/group/TENORI-ON

I could get quite needy for a thing like this. But it looks like it going to be about $1000 which is a lot for a plinky plonky toy…

UPDATE: Full UK site is here: http://www.tenori-on.co.uk/ (it’s empty at the moment), a better global site is here http://www.global.yamaha.com/tenori-on/ and the Manchester night is at Mint Lounge.

The Image of Joy Division

joy division

Lots of stories around this weekend about the sad death of Tony Wilson.

It also span off lots of stories about bands that he’d been involved with and that time in Manchester. This story in the Observer caught my interest:

Closer to the birth of a music legend

It’s a piece by Kevin Cummings who photographed Joy Division. If you’ve ever been in or around a music scene that includes Joy Division as part of its makeup you’ll be aware of what an amazing ‘image’ there is around them. An image constructed from a mixture of the music, tragic legend, ground breaking graphic design, and amazing yet bleak photography of the band.

The article reveals how a lot of the things that make up Joy Division’s photographic image may have been part of a very fortunate set of almost accidents:

When I was shooting for the NME in this, my first year out of college, I had very little money. I had to pay for my own film and processing (£10 per roll) and hope that the NME would use more than one shot in order to make a profit. (£6.50 was the repro rate at that time). Consequently I was very parsimonious with film. I rarely wasted a shot.

So it means that there are very few images of any of them looking goofy or mucking around. All of the shots were taken with purpose (from the point of view of a ‘serious’ music photographer).

Often, as Ian stood in front of my camera looking contemplative, the other band members, bassist Peter Hook ‘Hooky’, drummer Stephen Morris and guitarist Bernard Sumner, would stand behind him pulling faces. Occasionally Ian would yawn. These images only exist in my mind. I could never commit them to film. I couldn’t afford to. Would my pictures tell a different story if I’d had the luxury of being able to shoot endless frames digitally?

Then when you imagine what would happen if all of the fans also had digital cameras and had captured everything too. The mystique around the bad would have been massively eroded.

But the quote that made me slap my head most of all was this one:

It was pointless shooting the band in colour. I’d be wasting money. Publications that were prepared to feature the band only published in black and white. Peter Hook told me that even he thinks of Joy Division as a black and white band.

So Joy Division weren’t a monochrome band after all, it was all a matter of photographic economics!

It just got me thinking about how bands now have to appear and behave totally differently and that their performances and images are much more the property of the public. Which I’d sort of thought was a good thing. But reading that article made me question whether it is or not. Maybe it’s not better or worse, just different.