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Reading And Rioting: A Louder Than Words Walk Through
The Quietus , November 11th, 2014 08:32

The Quietus is upping sticks and moving up to Manchester for three days this coming weekend, to help out with Louder Than Words festival. Here are some of our recommended highlights

Witchcraft! Drug Addiction! Sacred Cow Slaughter! Anarchy! Riot! Prole Art Threat! Paper Mache! Louder Than Words is a new genre based literature festival associated with words - written, oral and published - associated with the music industry, curated and run by Jill Adam, John Robb and Simon Warner. The full programme of events can be accessed here. The Quietus is proud to be associated with this event and helping out especially with the community and educational aims it has.

Ignorant Vs. Rimbaud: Two Sides Of CRASS Explored

Even their names tell their story. One is brimming with bohemian poetic dreams and the other the denialist stance of punk rock. Rimbaud and Ignorant. The clues to their key roles are there already.

The odd couple at the heart of the UK’s only genuine anarchist band and credible populist call for revolution of the everyday, Penny Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant were diametric opposites who forged together to create the tension that made Crass a credible and powerful force. Of course they were not the whole of Crass - this was no normal band of blokes but more a collective of fascinating characters of various capabilities and talents who created an avant punk music that has flowered over the generations and has come to sound like a genuine experimental masterpiece. (For example they would have been an entirely different - and less memorable - band without Gee Voucher.)

Penny was the older of the two - a battle scarred veteran from the hippie wars that gave Crass its countercultural strength. The tedious lie at the heart of punk was ‘kill all hippies’ - a neat marketing slogan that actually dripped with rank conservatism. The hippies were portrayed as freaks or dopes like Neil in the Young Ones - tarred with the media brush in an attempt to deny the counter culture by cliche. Penny was anything but the media notion of the stoned fool on the hill - intelligent, articulate and dangerously smart he was he a pacifist turned angry by the torment of his campadre and festival pioneer Wally Hope.

Moping around Dial House banging pots and pans and making freak music while writing a book on hope he was fired up by the possibilities of the punk explosion which he had initially been suspicious of. His mind was changed by Steve Ignorant, the angry young teenager from Dagenham, a working class punk rock beaver boy with a sensitive soul and an artistic bent which he had tried his best to hide from the world. The pair of them bonded over the notion of forming punk band with Penny on drums and Steve on vocals and all the conceptual potential this offered. Penny the middle class intellectual and guru type figure and Steve the working class anger and brimming with the agency of youth were subsumed in the all black uniform/no personalities method of Crass.

As the decade strut away from the band, the powerful impact the two of them made is often presented as the pair being the two sides of the same coin but what is really striking is their similarities. While Steve likes to debunk the Crass myth, he also embodies its idealism and possibilities that the band offered. They both helped to properly explain what this anarchism stuff the Sex Pistols had sung about was. They made the complex simple to understand and managed to introduce all kinds of unusual influences into the cynical punk ethos, from free jazz to poetry to hippie collectivism. John Robb

John Robb talks to Penny Rimbaud at 1.45pm and to Steve Ignorant at 9.45pm on Saturday 15 November

Rave Klaxon! Getting To Grips With Acid House And Club Culture

"A lot of people spend hours of their lives every weekend dancing to loud amplified music. But what sort of music - and why is this culturally interesting? The Club Culture panel at LTW will be exploring how dance culture has been represented by the written word over the last 25 years or so... Hacienda original Graeme Park will be outlining how the media picked up on the Hac in 'Madchester' in the late 80s, and its subsequent cultural significance. Sarah Champion will be sharing some of her early Hac experiences too, saying what inspired her to become a to become a writer and, later, editor of the acclaimed Disco Biscuits short story anthology of acid house writing. Author Nicholas Blincoe will be talking about his early novels like Acid Casuals that boasted a club culture backdrop. And I will be mainly talking drivel about DJ Magazine's reporting on the club scene for the past quarter of a century. The whole shebang will be moderated by Simon A.Morrison, who's like a proper Professor of Music Journalism or something. The things they give out Doctorates for these days!" Carl Loben

Discotext: Reporting The Rave starts at 9.45pm on Saturday 15 November

There Is No Golden Age: Old Music Journalists Should Shut Up Or Put Up

"There were three items that made me want to stage this panel, which all were published/broadcast in quick succession: that terrible Radio 4 documentary where David Hepworth and his cronies eulogised the good ol' days for 25 minutes while spending the last three lamenting how rubbish everything surely was now. Simon Reynolds' piece in the Pitchfork Review about how great it was when you had to wait for music media, and how futile it feels to add a voice to the current 'hubbub', and that peculiar Paul Morley piece in the Observer about how classical music is more subversive than pop, in which he - formerly a well-known champion of pop - demeaned its production-line status today. These are high profile men writing/speaking on high profile platforms, being given license to tell the public that music writing is no good now - without, I suspect, ever having immersed themselves in the rich world of music journalism ca 2014. Much of what these men were reflecting on was awful anyway - hammy writing filled with awful prejudices that's somehow attracted hero status - and to continue flogging that horse wilfully detracts from the diverse music journalism that's afoot today. I guess I'm the chair of the panel while I'll be getting expert help from some great writers who aren't rapidly approaching retirement age, Hazel Cills from Rookie, Chal Ravens from FACT, Alex Macpherson of the Guardian, Sam Wolfson from Noisey, Luke Turner from the Quietus, Martin James, a lecturer at Solent University who is writing a book on this subject and Jazz Monroe from Dazed."

There Is No Golden Age is at 3.15pm on Saturday 15 November

Head On: Zoe Howe On The Jesus And Mary Chain And Stevie Nicks

The swingorilliant Mark Ellen will be interviewing yours truly about my various books with a particular focus on new publications Stevie Nicks - Visions, Dreams And Rumours (Omnibus Press) and the acclaimed Barbed Wire Kisses - The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Polygon / St Martin's Press), mere days before the Reids and co themselves hit Manchester with their much-anticipated Psychocandy show. There'll be conversation, readings and anecdotes galore, as well as some discussion on the general thrills and spills of writing a rock & roll biography. Zoe Howe

Zoe Howe is in conversation with Mark Ellen at 12.15pm on Saturday 15 November

A Sound Like A Tiger Thrashing In The Water: A Reading From Jolly Lad By John Doran

Photograph by Al Overdrive

Due to overwhelming popular demand (three emails, one Facebook post and a vague request from his mother), music critic and mauvais vivant John Doran is turning his popular and long running MENK column for VICE into a book.

Jolly Lad concerns the author’s attempts to deal with his life as a recovering alcoholic, to calm his enthusiasm for narcotics, to take control of his wildly fluctuating mental health issues and to curb a tendency toward bleakness in order to become a better father to his young son and less of a meff.

John’s columns have been significantly rewritten for Jolly Lad, which also features several new chapters, a new introduction and several appendices. He will read several excerpts from his book before it is published this Spring on Strange Attractor Press.

When it is published Jolly Lad will be accompanied by an album of spoken word and music, featuring musicians from Manic Street Preachers, Factory Floor, British Sea Power, Teeth Of The Sea, Grumbling Fur, Gravenhurst, Eccentronic Research Council, GNOD, Arabrot and Heterotic.

MILD SPOILER – Jolly Lad will contain the following sentence: “This roaring oaf of a ukulele salesman was trying to kick the bathroom door down.”

After the reading, John will be in conversation with Luke Turner discussing resisting the terrible grip of ale, escaping the tractor beam like pull of narcotics and how to set up and run a music website.

A brief excerpt from Jolly Lad:

"It was pretty tough stopping drinking but it’s not like I wanted a pat on the back for it.

I saw alcoholism as a self-inflicted leisure injury to some extent, disease or not. But going on the wagon was nothing compared to getting used to what I was like sober.

The trouble with stopping drinking is the only thing it solves in your life, is you being drunk, hungover and ill all the time. Everything you drank to avoid dealing with is still there, as bad as ever. Mental illness, debt, depression, the impulse to self-harm, the impulse to commit suicide, anxiety, social dysfunction, gender dysphoria, body dysmorphia, stress, anger, violent rage…

I started drinking when I was 13 and was drinking heavily every day by the time I was 15. I stayed constantly drunk until I was 37. When I stopped I had no real idea what I would be like.

Picture a reservoir surrounded by mountains. You have been tasked to drain the massive body of water away to repopulate the area. But once the water has gone you are faced with the old town that was initially flooded and the now wrecked buildings which need to be pulled down. Call several construction firms. People have been fly tipping here for years. There is tons of rubbish everywhere. You will need help to clean the area up. There are corpses wrapped in carpet and chains. It was the ideal place to dump bodies. You’ll need to call the police and the coroner’s office. The press are on their way. There are rotten and half eaten animal carcasses that need to be cleaned up and disposed of. Environmental health need to be involved. You have never seen so many mangled shopping trollies, broken children’s bikes and unwanted cars. The clearance job will be massive. There are burst canisters of toxic waste that have long since leached into the ground. It will be years before you can do anything with this land. The water was merely the stuff making this area look picturesque. What you have left in its place is an area of outstanding natural horror. It probably feels like you should have left well enough alone.

The first time I went to AA up north it was terrifying. A bare concrete room with old school chairs, bare lightbulbs, spiders in corners. A retirement age man with a nose like a blood sac mumbled brutal things as other broken people looked at their feet. I was dizzy with fear walking home afterwards. I struck me quite clearly that there might not even be any point to giving up drinking, that it could even make things worse. Every fibre of instinct told me to grip on for dear life and keep drinking until I died. Which was, at that point, about one month away."

John Doran will be reading from Jolly Lad and then in conversation with Luke Turner at 1pm on Saturday 15 November

Atypical Girl: Viv Albertine In Conversation

"It can feel like Viv Alberine, formerly of the Slits has crammed a thousand lives into her own and that makes for one of the great stories of our generation. There have been many great books written about punk but never one like Viv Albertine's - Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys. This is one of the first time this punk story has been told from a woman’s perspective and it’s all the better for it. Gone is the predictable competition and macho bluster and a more feminist version of events appears with all the key characters sketched and painted in full resulting in 3D personalities instead of the usual cardboard cutout figures. Sid Vicious becomes a shy and intelligent fucked up manchild, and Mick jones an insecure rock & roll old reamer dripping with talent and insecurities that make him even more loveable. Viv makes punk seem colourful, flamboyant, thrilling and grubbily sexy. Her book is a quick fumble under the bed clothes of the late seventies in damp squats and back alleys. She deals with he rest of her life in and out of the media, broken marriages and cancer with the same powerful and flippant style that drips wisdom and inspiration in equal measure. Essential." John Robb

Viv Albertine will be in conversation with John Robb at 5pm on Saturday 15 November

The Quietus At Leisure Films

Over the past two years, Quietus co-editor Luke Turner and director Ethan Reid have wandered the UK making a series of films about the non-musical habits and hobbies of some of our favourite cult musicians. We love these musicians for their art, but what do these people get up to in their spare time, and what can we learn about them from it? Steve Ignorant needs no introduction: a righteous son of Dagenham, he was the voice of Crass for years, and with new band Paranoid Visions continues to fly the flag for no compromise punk rock. It's an attitude that extends to every area of his life - now living in North Norfolk, Steve has managed to find himself on the crew of an autonomous, non-RNLI lifeboat, we take to the grey waters of the North Sea with Steve and find out what would have happened if he'd found Margaret Thatcher drowning. You might not ordinarily associate indie rock with the macho rough and tumble of American Football, but Alan Sparhawk is a lifelong enthusiast for and player of the sport. He valiantly tries to train The Quietus' Luke to catch and throw in the Barbican foyer (with little success), tells us about a particularly gruesome sporting injury, and reveals an unexpected emotional side of his participation. Two further films include Cosey Fanni Tutti (COUM, Throbbing Gristle, Carter Tutti) on vegetable gardening and striving to attain self-sufficiency without using pesticides, and Stephen Morris (Joy Division and New Order) demonstrating and discussing some of his collection of military vehicles, and the unusual Beltring military festival, where policemen like to dress as Nazis.

Also featured are Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice) on how drawing birds helped him recover from a stroke; Jim Sclavunos (The Cramps, Bad Seeds, Grinderman) on Tiki cocktail culture; Tim Burgess (The Charlatans) on importing fair trade coffee and meditation; Luke Haines (The Auteurs, Baader Meinhof, Black Box Recorder) on painting and Darren Hayman (Hefner) on working on a heritage railway.

These films were produced with the assistance of legendary audio equipment manufacturer Naim Audio. For more formation on their products, including the new Muso player, please visit the Naim website here. Luke Turner

The Quietus At Leisure Films Will Be Screened at 12 midday on Sunday 16 November

Out Of His Head & Totally Wired: Examining The Cult Of The Fall And Frank Sidebottom

Following Last week's launch of the biography I wrote on Frank Sidebottom, aka Chris Sievey, I'll be talking to music historian, author and lecturer CP Lee; we will be discussing the life and times of this unique artist, who sadly died in 2010. There has never been a performer quite like Chris Sievey or, indeed, his comedic alter ego, Frank Sidebottom. And this uniqueness was apparent whether he was pushing for chart action with his former band, The Freshies; wreaking bombastic anarchy and chaos on television and radio or performing with the Oh Blimey Big Band (whose members included Mark Radcliffe and Jon Ronson, with Chris Evans driving the van). Both CP Lee and myself knew Chris – and Frank – for many years and myriad anecdotal absurdities will no doubt bubble to the surface of this lively conversation. And then, if that were not enough… Joining me in conversation about The Fall, will be time served former members Simon Wolstencroft and Steve Hanley – both of who have written memoirs based around their time with the band; sleeve-note compiler and author, Daryl Easlea and academic Matt Davies (who researches the lyrics of Mark E. Smith using Corpus Software). Given that wealth of experience, it is expected that the panel will provide a unique insight into the workings of this most enigmatic of bands. Just what is it that makes The Fall such a fascinating band to write about? Mick Middles
Mick and CP Lee discuss Frank Sidebottom on Sunday 16 November at 11.45am and The Literary Celebration Of The Fall happens at 2.45pm on the same day

Happiness Is A Warm Goth: Getting To Grips With The Genre

Author, broadcaster and journalist Natasha Scharf will be attempting to answer that age-old question of "What Is Goth?", along with musician, writer and producer Si Denbigh; novelist, poet, singer and performer Rosie Garland and academic/researcher David McWilliam as part of Louder Than Words' Goth Subculture Panel. The whole shebang will be chaired by John Robb and Banshees-style fireworks are a dead cert as the panel discuss the realities and misconceptions of this largely misunderstood subculture. Natasha will also be signing copies of her latest book, The Art Of Gothic in the Post Room from 4.15pm. The coffee table-style tome, which is out now through Omnibus Press, delves into the darkest recesses of both popular and unpopular culture to explore the beautiful and creepy album art, cinematography, fashion, fine art, computer game graphics and everything in-between that have accompanied the goth movement over the past 35-odd years. Contributors range from the late HR Giger, modern macabreist Roman Dirge and Nik Fiend through to iconic designers Neville Brody, Vaughan Oliver and Dave McKean, as Natasha tracks the mysterious world of goth right up to the present day.
Natasha Scharf and the other panelists will be in discussion at 2.30pm on Sunday 16 November

Paid The Cost To Be The Boss: Recommendations From LTW's Jill Adam

"As ever, in the run up to the Festival weekend, there’s hardly time to draw a breath and your heart is racing from a heady mix of nerves and excitement. Your mind is racing with final details but also with the pending opportunity to indulge in passions and obsessions, the chance to hear more and gain that insight from those in the know and those who have lived it.

It’ll be terrific to welcome back friends from our inaugural Festival, each bringing a fresh offering to the extensive smorgasbord on offer over the weekend. Zoe Howe who returns with her biography of Stevie Nicks, readings from her acclaimed Jesus and Mary Chain book and of course the logical link from her Slits book to a new contributor for 2014, Viv Albertine of The Slits. Oh yes!

Marcus O’Dair’s authorised biography of Robert Wyatt Different Every Time will be another personal indulgence. Of course, the book’s title captures the great man perfectly. Never predictable, never conventional, always intriguing, always provocative and always provoking. From the political to the personal the book takes us on the exhilarating journey that was and is the roller-coaster life of Robert Wyatt. Beyond the predictable, Different Every Time captures the sensitivity, the drive and the pure genius of an inspirational individual who continues to inspire generations of musos and fans alike. Let’s hope Louder Than Words Festival does a little of the same. Can’t wait."
Tickets for Louder Than Words available here