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Mark & Farrar

“WE STARTED DJing about a year and a half ago at this really dodgy nightclub in Keighley called Vicky’s .. We didn’t really know what we were doing but, you know, it didn’t seem to matter. There were loads of people trekking over from Leeds and everyone got right into it and had a good time. We were playing the right tunes”.

Mark Alexander and Steve Farrar are still playing the right tunes in a DJing career that has seen them leave the grim, rural wilds of West Yorkshire to return to their home town, the bright and bustling metropolis that is Leeds.

“We were playing the same stuff as we do now,” says Mark. “Garage, techno, Belgian stuff, mostly techno from America. The charts are for popular music, which is fair enough, but we’re not into playing that kind of thing. We want to keep it underground, keep it hardcore”.

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The Cravats

IF EVER there was an archetypal ‘John Peel band’, whatever that actually means, then the Cravats are probably it. It seemed like they were doing sessions for Peelie’s legendary late-night Radio One every couple of weeks at one point but I only really began paying attention when they released their seminal single Rub Me Out on Crass Records in 1982.


Although they largely conformed to the Crass ‘format’ in the single’s packaging, with the front cover featuring the title picked out in the Crass label’s trademark circular stencil, the image in the centre wasn’t some convoluted hybrid CND/anarchy A logo or whatever, but actually featured a member of the band.

I imagined Crass fans all over the UK asking: are these blokes on some kind of ego trip or what? Maybe it was just me being as daft as a brush.

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OKAY, let’s cut to the chase. Who has the biggest record collection in Snacks?

“Aljoscha, definitely, without a doubt,” says Rene Corbett, the New Zealand half of the Berlin-based DJing/production duo. “He’s been buying up large of late. I don’t know how many he’s got now. Every week he’s definitely adding to it. He’s such a good digger.

“He has a thirst for new music. He’s also got a good ear for what people are playing. It’s helped us develop a really cool set, the Snacks kind of sound, so I’m constantly learning a lot from him.”

Who is the best dancer in Snacks?

“Rene,” says the German half of Snacks, Aljoscha Babel. “He used to do ballet. But we both wouldn’t win any prizes”.

“I have to say Aljoscha,” says Rene. “If I get to a certain point, if I’ve had enough to drink, I sort of get better. As most of us do.”

Who can drink the most and still maintain?

“We both drink a bit,” admits Rene. “When you’re playing all night you lose track. I always get to a certain point and think, okay, I’ve had enough. You get passed shots and I’ll say cheers with everyone and just take a little sip and put my shot down. Aljoscha just keeps going. Right through to the early hours of the morning.”

Who is the best cook in Snacks?

“Cock?” asks Aljoscha, with a nervous laugh.

“That’s definitely, Aljoscha,” says Rene, who does not mishear my question. Skype lolz. Although the pair do share a flat in Kreuzberg, so …

Let’s not go there.

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Dennis Morris of Basement 5 and Urban Shakedown

EVERYONE knows the score, right?

Someone whose work you’ve admired for three decades is appearing in town – except you’re broke and worse, broken-hearted, because your girlfriend’s just walked out on you, it’s all still very raw and you don’t really know what day it is.

So you walk all the way to the Whitworth in the rain, and then when you get there, you’re soaked to the skin, you’ve no fags left, everything’s a bit surreal and you suddenly feel utterly disconnected from whatever the fuck ‘normal’ is.

You can’t find the insightful, carefully-researched questions in your pad, so you just end up asking questions about stuff that’s not very interesting, and forget all the stuff you really wanted to know about.

Everybody has been there, right? No? Yeah, me neither.

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Mark Archer

IF YOU live in the UK, you’re of a certain age and you haven’t ever totally lost it to one of Mark Archer’s tunes, you’ve no business owning feet. Hand them in at the door on your way out.

In 1989, the same year the Stafford-raised Archer and a mate called Dean Meredith started Bizarre Inc, Archer also started making Detroit-influenced electronic music with Chris Peat as Nexus 21. Archer and Peat later started a side project by the name of Altern 8, with the sound of raw 808s replaced by sampled breakbeats. After the pair went their separate ways in the mid-Nineties, Archer proceeded to explore a more house-orientated direction with Danny Taurus as Slo Moshun.

One way or another, we’ve all been dancing to Mark Archer’s tune – even if we didn’t realise it.

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Amy Winehouse *1

AMY WINEHOUSE might look like she’s been dragged though a hedge backwards but she walks into the hotel bar like she owns the place.

 We’re introduced and she informs the photographer that, nah, he won’t be taking any pictures while we do the interview. She’s just this minute off the tour bus.

”Look at the state of me,” she says, unnecessarily. Everyone is looking at her already.

“Trust me,” soothes the snapper. “I can do something artistic with the computer 
later on.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m doing something artistic with these zits now. We’ll do the pictures later.”

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Alex Gopher

SUCCEEDING where Napoleon failed, those dastardly French have at last managed to invade this sceptered isle.

But rather than manning the barricades and ridding our supermarket shelves of brie and Golden Delicious, as a nation we seem to be welcoming this particular Gallic menace with open arms and dancing feet.

Whatever happened to the Dunquerque spirit?

In reality, it’s not like we have much choice. With music of the quality produced by the likes of Daft Punk, Air, Mr Oizo and Etienne de Crecy, we can do little but capitulate.

And just when you thought it was safe to go back on the dancefloor, Parisian funk merchant Alex Gopher turns up to deliver the coup de grace with his debut British album, You, My Baby & I.

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Fila Brazillia

THEY know how to do band names in Hull. The Housemartins were named after the tuneful domestic songbird. Everything But The Girl were named after the ladies boutique on Beverley Road.

And Fila Brazillia are named after a huge South American fighting dog which is now banned in this country, thanks to the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

The name is nothing to do with trainers then?

“I think we confuse the hell out of most people.”

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Shaun Ryder*2

SHAUN RYDER has got himself a personal assistant. Rather than the Mancunian Miss Moneypenny we’d hoped for, Gaz, a childhood friend of Ryder’s who has worked with him for years off and on, turns up to escort us to the pub in Hadfield where we’re to meet up with the singer.

I’m half-expecting to walk into the pub and find a huge, disembodied Shaun Ryder head waiting for us, just like his memorable if nightmarish appearance in the Gorillaz Dare video – this is Royston Vasey after all – but, of course, Shaun is a good half-hour late so it’s us who are waiting for him. When he does turn up his head is, thankfully, fully attached.

The affable Gary has stepped into the breach since Ryder’s marriage to Felicia – mother of the singer’s youngest child and his unofficial PA – hit problems earlier this year. Ryder begins to explain Gary’s role in the two companies, improbably named Three Little Pigs and Yes Please, which now manage his intricate business affairs. But nothing can ever be that simple for the man still known to his friends as X.

After much umming and aahing and theatrical side-glances around the bar, Ryder decides: “It’s like, er, well, it’s, um .. Put it this way, just say it’s called Yes Please and I’m not going to go into it more than that.”

For someone who likes having an audience as much as Shaun Ryder seems to, the singer is a uniquely uncomfortable interviewee. He’s almost comically paranoid about being misquoted and misinterpreted but, endearingly, can’t open his mouth without saying exactly the wrong thing. In the past, lawyers have quoted his words back to him in court, leading to convoluted explanations about how for example, no, he didn’t make a single penny from the bootlegs of other Factory acts the Mondays used to put together before they actually signed to the label.

Doing press is something he could do without (“I’d rather sit back, keep my mouth shut and get on with things..”) but the reformed Happy Mondays have a gig at the MEN Arena to promote and needs must.

At one point Ryder talks movingly about 20 years of being looked at and observed and you can’t help but feel for him. The rock’n’roll lifestyle has undoubtedly had an effect on the artist formerly known as Baby Horse, but then so has sitting on his arse watching satellite TV in Hadfield for the best part of five years. It’s called being over 40.

Either way, Ryder seems as sharp as he ever was (sartorially this manifests itself in head-to-toe Adidas clobber) and, after a couple of false starts retreading old material at the Get Loaded festivals, the reformed Mondays – featuring only Ryder, Bez and drummer Gary Whelan from the original line-up – are now working on new music.

While he is on record as saying that he “couldn’t give a fuck” whether the Mondays went down in musical history or not, Ryder is clearly a lot more comfortable now that they are able to record new material – the first release being the decidedly Black Grape-ish Playground Superstar from the Goal! soundtrack.

“We was unable to sort out things, with the name and everything, and this and that, and copyright, and it was taking years, as well as other court cases. It all meant we couldn’t record. So every three or six years, we come out and do a show. It’s no good if you’re out every fucking week or out all the time, you’re just working your way down to chicken-in-a-basket.”

Why is it important not to end up on that circuit?

“Well, if I wanted a real job, I would’ve got one. Wouldn’t you?”

But for a lot of bands who reform, that’s good enough for them.

“Basically, right, that’s cool for them and I’m not knocking them for it but y’know, there’s other things in life that you can do, and still make music or whatever. You can produce music. Gaz, me, Bez, we fucking .. we do what we do, y’know.”

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WE’RE all familiar with the idea of the wandering minstrel but Liars frontman Angus Andrew is more of a wanderer than most.

Quite apart from the usual round of touring which inevitably follows an album release in the traditional rock’n’roll marketing plan, Andrew has a need to keep on moving that sets him apart from even his most itinerant contemporaries.

Relaxing in the less-than-salubrious confines of the band’s dressing room before the band’s gig at the Bierkeller in Manchester, he explains that – born in the Philippines, brought up in Melbourne before moving to America at the age of 17 and then relocating to Berlin a decade later – moving around is simply something he has to do. It’s in his blood.

“My family has always been moving,” says Andrew. “My mum was born in Sri Lanka, my dad was born in China, and they met in London. My two sisters were born in Japan, and my brother was born in Milan. My dad was in advertising and they moved everywhere, for work and just generally cos they’re like that, y’know?

“So they lived in Tokyo for six years, then they moved to Italy, and then they moved to the Philippines, and a few years after they had me, it was either Sao Paulo, Brazil or Melbourne, Australia. And they chose Melbourne.”

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