The legendary boss of Factory Records, Tony Wilson, tells Sandra Marron why he likes scremo and why there’s no place like the Hacienda.
‘There’s a market for old men,’ confides music industry legend Tony Wilson about his sought after DJ appearances around old Blighty, before adding, ‘by and large, the old men get paid more than the real DJs these days. It would be good actually if that were the case as I think it was us lot who started over-paying those inflated disc jockeys in the first place back in the 80s.’ The ex-Factory records boss is in Sicily, enjoying a coffee in the blazing heat and in fine talkative form. On more than one occasion it is impossible not to picture Steve Coogan/Alan Partridge - who played him in 24 Hour Party People - on the end of the phone. You can’t help but think that Partridge was the perfect man for the job; geeky, completely on the ball about all things music, pompous and utterly charming in equal measure. As well as lamenting the demise of his record label (F4) and the state of black music in Britain at the moment (‘they want to be big in their street but don’t want to be big in the world’) Wilson - along with ‘the other old men, I know Mr McGee does it, I know Mr Hook does it, I do it and Sean does it,’ - is having the last laugh when it comes to DJing. It seems only fitting that the man behind legendary Manchester club, The Hacienda, should finally make some cash from the very thing that virtually bankrupted him.
His forthcoming Glasgow appearance with New Order/Joy Division tribute band, Digital, promises to throw up a few surprises, so if you’re looking for a trip down amnesia lane via the Factory and Hacienda route, then you’re in for a bit of a shocker. Get your eyeliner out and adopt the pose of a pissed-off teenager as, along with an acid house section, the man who first put Joy Division and New Order on the map is now right into his emo. ‘I might do a whole pile of emo stuff that I like at the moment and two tracks I always try and play are “Heroin” by the Velvet Underground and I also like to play my favourite song “Chop Suey” by System of a Down,’ he confesses. Likewise, don’t expect to hear any Klaxons or new rave. ‘I think it’s a waste of time. I think it’s complete bollocks. The best band in Britain at the moment are Menter Shikari. I was introduced to them by my son who is crazy about them and I’m crazy about them as well. It’s scremo meets trance’. While it’s obvious that he still has his finger on the pulse where new music is concerned, he believes there is still no place like the Hacienda, ‘If you look at modern culture now, there is no club that is devoted to it. My 16- year-old daughter is on her way to the Leeds Festival and maybe there will be a tent at the Leeds Festival this weekend with the latest stuff being played that for one moment captures a bit of that feeling. But the idea of their being in a place where every Friday night it captures a zeitgeist, that was an extraordinary moment in history.’
Tony Wilson appears as part of 24 Hour Party Pinups at the Arches, Glasgow, Sat 9 Sept.