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Stephen Morris Talks Factory Floor Production & Remix
Luke Turner , June 28th, 2010 10:48

New Order drummer passes on knowledge gained under Hannet

Former New Order and Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris has spoken to the Quietus about his work with our long-standing favourite current troupe, Factory Floor. (here's our 2010 Glass Half Full piece wherein John Doran explains why they are his favourite band). Morris has remixed Factory Floor's 'Wooden Box' (out now on Blast First Petite), and is currently producing new material from the London-based trio. We dropped Mr Morris a line to find out more about his relationship with the band, their connection to his past work, whether his treatment at the hands of Martin Hannett has impacted his production style, and to see what lies at the bottom of the relationship between drummers and military vehicles...

How did you first hear of Factory Floor?

Factory Floor first came to my attention courtesy of the Royal Mail when a CD addressed to 'Stephen Morris, Macclesfield' miraculously arrived on my doormat along with a note asking if I would like to do a remix. I listened to the tracks on the CD ('Lying' and 'Wooden Box')and thought they were brilliant, checked out the visuals on the Myspace page and really liked them too.I was hooked and immediately said yes please I'd love to do a remix.

What was it about their music that initially grasped you?

In the tracks I could hear something which reminded me of the spirit of New Order in the early days, not musically so much as the way they are doing things, something that I felt even more when we (Gillian thinks FF are great too) saw them live. They were Raw, Chaotic, Fantastic and Different - everything I've ever liked in a band.

What then led you to want to work with them?

While I was doing the remix for 'Wooden Box' I was thinking 'This is a great band I would really like to do more stuff with them' and fortunately Factory Floor on hearing the remix thought they would like to do something more with me. So we met up and made plans to go into the studio and record a track or two with me as a sort of producer which what we are in the middle of at the moment.

People seem to pigeonhole Factory Floor as a very intense, post-industrial group. Do you hear the electro disco element that we at the Quietus love?

There is no denying that Factory Floor can be very intense at times,but it is a very hypnotic kind of thing working around the synth pulse that invokes Giorgio Moroder's disco electronics more than anything industrial. It's an unsettling disco though. Pigeonholes worry me, like too much cutlery at a fancy dinner, I sometimes wonder what they're all for

Is it a rare thing for a new group to attract your attention?

Yes-extremely rare, in fact FF are the first thing I've heard in a long long time where I've thought that this was something different and interesting. It is very inspiring to come across a group that makes you remember why you got into music in the first place. It is an odd thing that although I try my best to listen to as much new stuff as I can and trawling through it all is a bit bewildering at times, the music that really grabs you always seems to arrive by accident,a rare and wonderful thing.

Did you feel a kinship between Factory Floor and music you've made over the years, and perhaps in the way they approach music making?

Definitely - the way that Factory Floor use analogue synths and sequencers, drums and guitar is kind of how we got started using electronics back in the early 80s. The way that FF songs seem to spontaneously change and grow every time they play live reminds me of the way early New Order would work out songs at gigs, the way the sound sometimes seems on the brink of chaos then suddenly gels together is spectacular.

What were you trying to bring to your remix?

I didn't want to do anything radical to the structure of Wooden Box, the way it flows is part of it's (and FF's) charm but I did feel that there was a "catchy" element in the tune that needed bringing out a bit more. Extreme vocoder processing seemed like a likely route and I sort of got carried away with it. I did have a great time doing the mix

How is it working with them in the studio?

Dom, Gabe and Nik are lovely to work with, they just keep coming up with so many ideas it can be hard keeping track of what's going on, but it is always better to have too many ideas than not enough.The hard thing is knowing when to tell them to stop.

Again, what do you think you can bring to their music?

That's a hard one to answer. Another perspective I suppose. I know that when you are playing/writing together you always reach a stage when you can't tell if something is working and having an outside opinion, whether you agree with it or not, can be a useful thing.

You rather infamously were made to suffer for your art by Martin Hannett during Joy Division's recording sessions. Have you employed similar tactics with Factory Floor?

I learnt a great deal from working with Martin but recent EU legislation forbids subjecting the drummer to unnecessary mental and physical suffering. I do mumble a lot though and ask them to do things for no apparent reason: some habits are hard to break.

We're not sure if you're aware of the fact that Factory Floor's Gabe is something of a tank enthusiast. What is the connection between drummers and an interest in military vehicles?

I am not surprised to discover that. Gabe is a brilliant drummer and there does seem to be some law that states an interest in military vehicles accompanies a fascination with percussion. Al Murray's the same, loves tanks and drums. More research is needed but I suspect there may be something in the fact that drumming and tank driving are both extremely physical and very noisy pastimes.

Check the Quietus later this week for a 2010: Glass Half Full feature on why Factory Floor are as good as The Fall and Slayer