Recommended Read: Frank Sidebottom-Out Of His Head by Mick Middles

Art, Chris Sievey, comedy, comics, David Nolan, Frank Sidebottom, Jon Ronson, Manchester, Mick Middles, Music, Paul D Brazill, Post Punk, Punk, recommended reads, The Fall, The Freshies

The mind of Chris Sievey was clearly a treasure trove – indeed, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave – of bright and shiny ideas, many of which, thankfully, came to fruition. Most notably in the effervescent forms of The Freshies and Frank Sidebottom.

The Freshies were a brilliantly eccentric power pop/ new wave band who cheekily surfed the Manchester pre-punk, punk, and post-punk scenes, and came painfully close to success with a bouquet of great singles such as ‘I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk’ and ‘I Can’t Get ‘Bouncing Babies’ By The Teardrop Explodes.’

Sievey’s later creation, Frank Sidebottom, was a surreal half-man/ half-puppet version of George Formby whose anarchic performances enlivened kids television shows and late night TV alike in the ‘90s, and whose live shows seemed to have garnered an strangely obsessive fan base. When Chris Sievey died in 2010, however, he left behind a hell of a musical legacy that showed the he was more than just a novelty act.

Out Of His Head was written by Sievey’s friend the journalist Mick Middles and is as intoxicating and sobering as Sievey’s life seems to have been. The book’s timeline spans more than a quarter of a century and includes cameos from Sievey’s family and friends as well as the likes of Mark E Smith, Steve Coogan, Jon Ronson, Caroline Aherne, Chris Evans, Mark Radcliffe, and, er, Bros.

Frank Sidebottom – Out Of His Head is a fascinating and bittersweet read, and is very highly recommended.

out of his head

Recommended Read: I Swear I Was There by David Nolan

BRIT GRIT, Buzzcocks, David Nolan, Granada, magazine, Manchester, Paul D Brazill, Post Punk, Punk, punk fiction, sex pistols, Tony Wilson

i swear I was there.David Nolan’s  I Swear I Was There – Sex Pistols, Manchester and the Gig that Changed the World is a hell of a yarn that ostensibly tells the story of the Sex Pistols’ impact on the Manchester music scene in the mid-1970s. 

It focuses on three events – the Sex Pistols‘ first gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall on 4 June 1976, their second showing at the same venue one month later, and their first televison appearance on Granada TV‘s So It Goes.

I Swear I was There is a cracking read for anyone interested in the music and culture of the time and like all cracking yarns it’s choc a block full of great chatacters- Tony Wilson, Jordan Mooney, Howard Trafford, John The Postman, Slaughter and The Dogs and many more. Great stuff! 

Short, Sharp Interview: David Nolan

BRIT GRIT, David Nolan, Fahrenheit Press, Manchester, Paul D Brazill, Post Punk, Punk, short sharp interviews

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PDB: What’s going on?

I’m just recovering from the shock of my first novel being published. I still struggle saying the N Word… novel. It sounds so weird. Author is quite utilitarian but novelist still sounds suspect to me. This is the bit where I plug the book, right? It’s called Black Moss and it’s set in Manchester in 1990 during the Strangeways prison riot. It’s very sweary and unpleasant. It’s not knowing, there are no winks to the audience. It’s just unpleasant.

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

Yes. I like noise. I spent most of my working life in newsrooms with clattering typewriters, three TVs on and people screaming at each other. So yes, always music helps fill the silence: bit of punk, bit of electronica, bit of power pop, bit of reggae. Nearly all my previous books are music-related (I Swear I Was There, Tony Wilson, Damon Albarn) so I have an endless capacity for music.

PDB: What makes you laugh?

My daughter is 15 and she’s very funny. She calls me chief. Or Dave. Neither of which I like. Actually, she’s not funny, she’s annoying.

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

Being teetotal. Like me. And then being very smug about it. Like me.

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The far north of Scotland. Which is where I’m planning to move in a couple of years. I’d prefer to live on an island on a loch on an island that is impossible to get to, but I suspect I won’t manage to sell that idea to my wife (who’s Scottish). So a nice seaside village is more likely.

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

Nope. I’ve led a charmed life. Honestly, if I died tomorrow I’d be happy with what I’ve done.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

I’m doing quite a few radio interviews this week about the book. It’s set in a radio station, so that’ll be a bit weird. They’ll ask me if the characters are based on real people. I’ll say no. Which will be a lie.

PDB: Anything else?

Yes. Buy my book and I promise I’ll write another one.

nolanBio: David Nolan is a multi award-winning author, television producer and crime reporter. He has written a dozen books including Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, the true story of the largest historic abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police.

He presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary based on the book called The Abuse Trial. It won both the Rose D’Or and the New York International radio awards in 2016.

Officers involved in the case helped David with the police procedures featured in Black Moss, particularly the way the system deals with missing children.

Short, Sharp Interview: John Bowie

Bristol Noir, BRIT GRIT, Crime Fiction, John Bowie, Manchester, P I, Paul D Brazill, Post Punk, punk fiction, short sharp interviews

Untethered_Final-Cover-Proof-768x566

PDB: What’s going on?

 

JB: Reading, drinking, being a silly father, reading more, being a trying husband, and… drinking more. Oh, and scribbling and writing — for my sanity and madness; all in perfect balance. Teetering on life’s beautiful edge that’s fueled by all the pre-mentioned that put me there in the first place.

 

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

 

JB: I’ve had a permanent soundtrack running in my head as long as I remember.

 

Some tracks are constant; however I do get pests for the day: Russ Abbott’s – ‘Atmosphere’, R Kelly – ‘I believe I Can Fly’, or for some weird-ass reason Richard Blackwood’s – ‘1234 Getin’ with a wicked’ – You’re all welcome by the way!

 

The constants have accompanied me down the aisle, both in my head and literally played at the time (‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – The Stone Roses). And before taking a leap, needing strength; balls out (‘Force of Nature’ – Oasis). I blame Rhys Ifans and the film ‘Love Honour and Obey’ for this.

 

Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ is my creative comfort blanket or on-hold music. It’s where my head goes when I block everything else out. This will come clear in my next book: Transference. All four in the coming tetralogy have intentional, multi-layered, single title Joy Division type titles like this.

 

PDB: What makes you laugh?

 

JB: Often it’s the things that shouldn’t that do. And the things that should… just don’t.

 

I frequently don’t realise my reaction and my wife picks me up on it. I often can’t explain the cause of a smile, giggle or involuntary snort that I didn’t realise I was doing, because when I think about it it’s often just plain wrong, absurd or weird. I write some of these down and into stories to distance myself in a way – disowning the filth, dark, weird and absurd. Until next time.

 

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

 

JB: Holy-fuck-a-saurus – the Holy Grail – if only!!!

 

An antidote to that pig that ‘shat in our heads’… ‘a bastard behind the eyes’. Sorry, shameless ‘Withnail & I’ Quotes. I was so surprised to learn the best acted drunk (Withnail) was played by a non-drinker (Richard E. Grant). Maybe that’s a clue to the answer though – don’t touch it! Or, if you do, don’t stop and ‘go all the way’ (Bukowski).

 

I have studied this matter in some detail though and as the years pass the hangovers intensify, and with it so does the need for a cure. So, I’ll share what I’ve gathered so far:

 

Pre-age 20: the ‘hangover’ doesn’t exist.

Early 20s: a Marlboro and a shit is enough to keep going on (after a midday rise).

Late 20s: a strong coffee, Marlboro and shit (after an early afternoon rise).

Early 30s: cider… ‘ice in the cider’.

Late 30s: cider with ice again. But now a nap is required before yet more cider – cycle is to be repeated as required.

Now: milk thistle (600mg min), N.A.C (N-Acetyl-Cysteine 600mg), vitamin C (500mg min) before starting first drink and another dose repeated before the last drink and bed.

In the future: I’m pretty sure a full-on transfusion, drip and head transplant is going to be required mixed with most of the above.

 

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 

JB: I’ve been lucky; travelled and visited a lot of places. Pulau Tiga, Pangkor Laut, Gozo, Krakow, Cambodia, Vietnam all stick in the memory. Manchester, Porlock Weir, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle are in my blood, heart and soul though —  Bristol seems to be a smorgasbord of all them — I love it. I’ve discovered I need to be near the water or I feel wrong (and not in a good way). Maybe a Viking thing…

 

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

 

JB: No, I don’t.

 

I did drink a bucket (maybe 2,3,4…) in Cambodia after visiting Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields. Also fired a colt .45 as an ex Khmer Rouge soldier let the safety off his own pistol as he held a ‘reassuring’ hand on my shoulder. Later that night, after the buckets, we found ourselves in a Cambodian club. Westerners weren’t allowed on the dance floor all at once so we had to take it in turns. Between the rehearsed local Karaoke, dancers, troops, public announcements and fashion parades –  I got up alone and the stony-faced locals circled, with another armed guard watching on at my bucket fueled cross between ‘the robot’, Rab C. Nesbit and Ian Curtis.

 

I ticked a lot off what I could’ve put on a bucket list that trip, and on others since.

 

The thing is… If I had written a list, it wouldn’t have kept up with what was going on. Life’s a bit like that. Convince yourself to aim for sweet and you could miss the pleasure of the sour. And your taste changes anyway the more, or less, you do.

 

PDB: What’s on the cards?

 

JB: Researching and writing the second in the Black Viking P.I. series: Transference. It’s set in Manchester so I’m revisiting it physically and, in the head, to test if it matches memory: the smell, sights… the sounds of it all — I’m savouring it! It’s nice to revisit the idea of the Hacienda again too. It and Factory Records were so fundamental to my creative journey then and now. The next books could be a homage to the city and them —  doubt it’ll feel like that to read though.

 

PDB: Anything else?

 

JB: I’m currently pondering my first person, present tense style with jumps to the past to give context. Is it in-fact poetic, lyrical, immediate and … right? Or, is it restrictive and switching some readers off… and are they maybe the ones that should be?

 

Wait…

 

‘Another?’

‘Yes.’

‘… with ice?’

Bye x

John BowieBio: John Bowie grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996.

Recommended Read: Untethered by John Bowie

Bristol Noir, BRIT GRIT, Crime Fiction, John Bowie, Manchester, Music, noir, Paul D Brazill, recommended reads

Untethered_Final-Cover-Proof-768x566

John, the protagonist of Untethered, is a man with a dark and secret past who is living a new life under witness protection.  As he sits alone in his flat, drinking and writing in his journal, John becomes embroiled in the search for a missing neighbour.

John Bowie’s ’90s set Untethered is a violent and inense read. Lyrical, moody, funny and as gritty as hell, Untethered is like a British blend of Jim Thompson and Nelson Algren.

Coming Soon: Manchester Vice by Jack Strange

BRIT GRIT, Coffin Hop Press, Crime Fiction, Jack Strange, Manchester, Paul D Brazill, Writing

man-v-ebook_300cBio: The mysterious Jack Strange hails from the town of Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire , England. He’s a man with a checkered past, having worked in a morgue, been a labourer, and a salesman. He’s dug holes… professionally (to what end, he refuses to say – sales? corpses? possibly both?),  even more terrifying – he’s a former Lawyer.
He enjoys parties and keeps himself fit (the kind of fit that makes you think he may engage in fisticuffs with Vinnie Jones on a semi-regular basis, or possibly drink stout with both hands while also throwing  a perfect game of darts.) He is allegedly married with two adult daughters. They have yet to be located for comment.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @jackstrange11
Or visit www.jackstrangewriter.blogspot.co.uk man-v-promo_300c

Short, Sharp Interview: Col Bury

Caffeine Nights, Col Bury, Crime Fiction, Manchester, short sharp interviews

my kind of justicePDB: What’s going on now?

CB: At long last, my debut crime novel MY KIND OF JUSTICE has just been released by Caffeine Nights Publishing. So it’s signings, interviews (at all the best blogs!) and then back to the sequel, plus a few other bit ‘n’ bobs I’m working on.

PDB: How did you research this book?

CB: I’ve always read and written crime fiction, plus I know a lot of cops and have worked closely with violent offenders, so most of it was already with me I suppose.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

CB: My two ebook collections, as (along with the ezines) they served to get my name out there in the big wide world, but the novel is a much more testing challenge, and did the rounds with an agent (as you know) and I gleaned lots of praise but no ‘cigar’. I rewrote it based on the feedback and then the man from Caffeine Nights Publishing ‘he say “Yes”,’ so with all the work involved, it has to be the novel.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

CB: Film’s easy, The Shawshank Redemption. Book’s almost impossible, but I loved Stuart Neville’s The Twelve (aka The Ghosts of Belfast). Song is possibly Sweet Child O’ Mine by Gun ‘n’ Roses, but that changes dependant on mood. TV Programme’s Cracker or Luther.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

CB: Absolutely. Manchester is a huge character in my fiction. The contrasts are distinctive: The old and the new, architecturally; the good and the bad people; the blue or red football-wise; the paradox of the historical (and present) rep for industry and hard-working folk, yet there are literally thousands of ‘dolites’ and ‘gobshites’! It’s a booming City, but like many others, there’s a dark underbelly that’s a crime writer’s dream.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

CB: Daily just after release, then probably weekly.

PDB: What’s next?

The second DI Jack Striker novel and then a separate series featuring a female anti-hero. Plus, I’m doing a comedy book on and off, which provides respite from the crime. There will probably be another short story collection too. Thanks for having me, Paul. c98f8-colbury

Bio: Col Bury is the former Crime Editor of webzine Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers, for which he was voted ‘Online Fiction Editor of the Year’ in a 2010 readers’ poll. His fiction has featured in many anthologies, most notably, THE MAMMOTH BOOKS OF BEST BRITISH CRIME 9, 10 & 11. He is the author of two popular short stories collections, MANCHESTER 6 and THE COPS OF MANCHESTER, and his debut novel MY KIND OF JUSTICE has just been released via Caffeine Nights Publishing. Col lives with his wife and two children in Manchester, UK, where he reads a lot, enjoys action movies, shoots pool and watches his beloved Manchester City FC.

Find him on

Twitter

Facebook 

Website

Get MY KIND OF JUSTICE at AMAZON UK, AMAZON. COM and from CAFFEINE NIGHTS PUBLISHING. 

Stories For Sunday: Amore, Formetta, Peters.

Andrew Peters, Atlantis, Dani Amore, Manchester, stories for sunday

The Garbage Collector by Dani Amore

The Garbage Collector is part private eye, part hit man. He is hired by a group of big shot Detroit lawyers to head off to Florida and track down  their former partner, who has absconded with some important confidential documents.  The missing lawyer is also a former Delta Force vet, however, so things  don’t run too  smoothly. Dani Amore  introduces a cool new character and kicks off a hard- boiled and  fast paced  action series.

Strangeways Here We Come by Cristiana Danila Formetta

A young Italian girl embarks upon a sentimental  journey across the U K, planning to visit all the places that are mentioned in Morrisey’s songs. Along the way she encounters tattooed local boy,  Skinny Terry, and has a brief but passionate affair. Cristiana Danila Formetta’s  touching tale of seizing the day is well told and full of yearning.

The Venusian Vamp by Andrew Peters

Otis King is your common or garden Memphis based Welsh blues guitarist turned private eye.vamp

In The Venusian Vamp he is hired by Ursula – a blues club owner who also happens to be a green-skinned, four-armed Venusian blonde.

Andrew Peters has again given us a wild, witty and immensely enjoyable yarn which also serves as a  great introduction to the world of Otis King.

Short Sharp Interview: Gordon Harries

BRIT GRIT, Gordon Harries, Manchester

 

 
PDB: How did you first get interested in Dashiel Hammett?
This is a fairly convoluted story, but many years ago I had a friend who ran a used book shop. He’d pass me books that he thought might be of interest. One of these was ‘The Big Nowhere’ by James Ellroy, which I loved so much I began tracking down interviews via the Internet. Ellroy was then expelling a lot of air extolling the virtues of Dash Hammett, who I was already dimly aware of via the oft-stated debt that ‘Millar’s Crossing’ owed to him.
So, in much the way the Elmore Leonard led me to George V. Higgins (Leonard has always claimed that ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ taught him to write crime fiction), James Ellroy pointed me to Dashiel Hammett.
PDB: Hammett and Chandler are pretty much the only crime writers that have been accepted by the mainstream writing world. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Both, I think. On the one hand there are writers who should be considered ‘mainstream’ (George Pelecanos, for example, writes in the social realist tradition at least as much as he writes in the slipstream of Hammett or Chandler.) and there are also novels that fall between the stools of crime and literary fiction, like Martyn Waites’ ‘The White Room’. As a consequence that book failed to be promoted effectively and today languishes in obscurity. Best thing Waits ever wrote. That’s the biggest cost: writers who struggle to find an audience because they’re labelled genre.
Crime fiction, at least to my mind, should be an interrogation of the culture that spawned it and the urge towards respectability militates against the urgency of the genre. (For several reasons, not least because authors can end up worrying about ‘the legacy’ when they’re writing self-consciously more mainstream i.e. less offensive novels.)
But I do think that Crime Fiction will end up becoming part of the language of mainstream fiction anyway. Authors like Laura Lippmann, Dennis Lehane, John Connolly, Declan Hughes, David Peace, Denise Mina and on (and on) are already pointing to that….
PDB: Do you see a big difference between American and British crime writing?
The short answer is: not as big a difference as there should be.
There’s a fundamental difference, I feel, in the way that crime fiction has developed in Britain and America. If you look at the post-Vietnam writers such as Daniel Woodrell or James Crumley and more recently David Corbett, they’re all movie freaks. (The first Corbett novel –‘Devil’s Redhead’—really does feel like a good seventies thriller.) Much of James Ellroy and Megan Abbott’s work is directly about the disparity between the portrait of America that the movies present and the reality.
Britain, by way of contrast, really doesn’t have much of a movie culture –young and glamorous people here go into and gravitate towards music, which is where things like class frustrations and the disparity between truth and illusions get talked about.
The difference is, obviously, in an age where cinema has become the predominant universal language (certainly of the west) that the British don’t really bring they’re own interpretation to the table, even directors like Paul Greengrass and Danny Boyle are working in an American ‘voice’. So, ultimately I feel that far, far too much British crime fiction comes across as an instant variation of real coffee.
PDB: Is there a difference between crime writing from the North of England and the south?
Well, certainly a writer like Ray Banks bring a demonstrably rougher voice to his stories than, say, Mark Billingham does…
But, again, the real problem is one of people writing about either London or Glasgow as though they were writing about South Central L.A. I don’t mean to disparage other sub-genre’s of crime writing, but my heart lies with the social realist tradition and it’s important to be truthful about where we come from and who we are, I think.
PDB:What’s happening with your blog Needle Scratch Static then?
There’s been a lot of emotional turbulence around my family over the last few years, which suggests that it was probably the wrong time to launch/ramp up any type of on-line ‘presence’. I also had an issue with my computer blowing up and a significant problem with my eyes.
The problems have ebbed away now though and I’ve recently initiated a ‘soft’ relaunch of the site, with the pieces building up with substance as time goes by.
PDB:What’s your involvement with Crimefactory and The Rap Sheet?
The door’s open at both sites, in so far as I’m aware. I’d imagine that my productivity in both places will pick up now that my eyes work and I’m on-line again.
 
PDB: How’s the novel that you’re writing ticking over?
I’m actually mid-way through the novel, which is about Manchester in both the seventies and the present day. I’ve also recently finished a novella (which was kind of inspired by what Tom Piccilli’s been doing over the last few years with his ‘noirellas’) that I’m currently debating what to do with.
You can stalk Gordon Harries here:

NoirSongs: Joy Division – Shadowplay

Futurama, Joy Division, Manchester, Music, Noir Songs, Post Punk, Uncategorized

Both of my Noir Songs so far have been connected to the 1979 Futurama festival in Leeds- where I saw Joy Division before they went synthypop.

Very noir city,Leeds. 

This is very cinematic and dramatic, eh?

To the centre of the city where all roads meet – waiting for you
To the depths of the ocean where all hopes sank – searching for you
Moving through the silence without motion – waiting for you
In a room with a window in the corner I found truth

In the shadowplay, acting out your own death – knowing no more

As the assassins all grouped in four lines, dancing on the floor
And with cold steel, odour on their bodies, made a move to connect
I could only stare in disbelief as the crowds all left

I did everything, everything I wanted to

I let them use you for their own ends
To the centre of the city in the night – waiting for you
To the centre of the city in the night – waiting for you