Thursday 8th August sees a rather remarkable line-up performing at Gullivers on Oldham Street in Manchester.
I took some time out, in anticipation of this fine event, to talk to (albeit virtually) to two of the main protagonists – Ian “Moet” Moss – lead singer of Kill Pretty, and Tim Lyons – lead singer with The Things.
Now regular readers of this blog will be aware of the work of Kill Pretty which I have extensively chronicled elsewhere in cyberspace, however, unless you are steeped in the arcane lore of Manchester music, it is highly unlikely you will be aware of the work and the legend of The Things. Indeed the entries in that fine website at Manchester District Music Archive are a little sparse – so it seemed important to speak to Tim about the genesis of the band, so I asked him how the band originally got together. He admitted that there was an initial line-up for the group but ...”I quickly sacked everyone when I realized I wanted better players!.”
The second iteration of the group was therefore “Dave Holmes, on guitar, I found him playing in a Rockabilly band. Ella Burton, I found her playing an original ‘Farfisa’ compact organ in a folk band. a guy called Bob Jones on bass, not sure where I found him!; and a friend of his a jazz drummer called John Douglas.”
I asked Moet why he had selected The Things for this line-up what he recalled of them from the original gigs…..” They were a breath of fresh air at the turn of the 80s , so many bands were conforming to the miserabalist stereotype of mancunian bands, The Things looked great and sounded like nobody else at the time, they played ‘Can’t seem to make you mine’ by The Seeds. That was very much a template for what they did. I remember them playing the Can Club and John Maher having a hissy fit that there wasn’t room for his drum riser. They played a fine set none the less. Dave (Holmes) was, and hopefully still is, a fine guitar player, and I’m full of admiration for Tim . He’s never stopped playing and being creative, that takes guts and stamina . Hats off to him.”
The exact details of The Things first gig are a little hazy…..Tim thinks the first gig was either at the Band on the Wall or possibly a John Peel Roadshow at Manchester Polytechnic, a gig that was apparently recorded! There are a few hazy photos on the Manchester Music District Archive.
I asked Tim about the bands only release “Pieces of You” – “The single! well I changed the line up again when John Maher from Buzzcocks came to see us play, with manager Richard Boon. John wanted to make a record on his own, new, label and I wanted him to play drums for me so the deal was done. We also did a short UK tour with Buzzcocks, which was nice! I got a friend of mine in, who was playing gigs with Jon the Postman in on bass, Joe Brehony. The record was recorded at Cargo Studio in Rochdale on 11, June ,1980.”
As was usual, in the heady days of the post punk world, the life of the band was relatively short, following the release of the single they carried on playing gigs around the North West until 10th March 1982 when they played a gig in Hull with New Order. When I asked Tim about the reason for splitting he said “usual kinda reasons for stopping, people doing other stuff etc.”
So we have the anticipation over 30 years laters of seeing the return of The Things, but it that were not enough, the chance to see one of the most exciting new bands in the city Ill. I caught the latter at Aiden Cross’s event at the same venue last year which I reviewed here – which just happened also to be the return of Kill Pretty following Moet’s operation. Moet’s view of Ill….
“………one of the great things about being able to curate an evening is when the artists you want to appear with you say yes! Ill were the first band we thought of to guest with us and I’m delighted they’re playing, I love their approach to music you can hear the passion and joy in their sound , there’s an honesty about them I love , without seeing them just from the music you’d know they were an all female band , they’re strong willed, proud, and empowered , I’m a fan
August is a busy month gig wise for Kill Pretty so I asked Moet if live performance a vital part of the bands work?……
“I love playing live with Kill Pretty, as do the other members. You can’t beat direct communication and when your looking in the whites of someone’s eyes there’s no faking it, I mean what I write and sing and it’s important to me that we project some feeling rather than just being entertainers, Chris (Dutton) and I were imprisoned in a previous band by the personalities of other members who lacked confidence in themselves and were hostile to the concept of taking risks with new ideas in public, I love them dearly as people but they, without meaning to, held us back , there was some animosity from the split but I think time has largely healed that and we have to accept that we simply had opposing ideas about what was important within the band. In kill pretty we are a more united team and I love that they’re unafraid to experiment sonically and structurally on stage”
Tim is pretty clear why The Things have reformed – unfinished business! And more or less the original line-up will be on stage with Tim – Dave Holmes, Ella Burton, Joe Brehony with the addition of Brian Benson (of one of Tims’ other bands The Sandells) on Drums. I asked him what the audience can expect ….. “well old songs and new songs and a development of the Things sound. I don’t really like making comparisons musically because there are an awful lot of influences but I think The Things probably influenced a lot of stuff that came afterwards! Unfortunately we didn’t make an album at the time, however, that will be sorted soon! Both John Maher and Brian will play on that.”
Tim added …. “we’re playing a short set soon at Gulliver’s with Kill Pretty but the next gig at Kings Arms, Salford will be a longer full set and will be the start of a number of gigs”.
The Things aren’t the only band going back into the recording studio…Kill Pretty will be recording their next album in August – along with legendary Fall guitarist Craig Scanlon, who is contributing material, and there is a hint from Moet other “special” guests…..Moet says “we are recording the next album soon , the main aim is to make it different and better than the last one, which I’m very proud of. The albums projected title is ‘ Here comes the Sun’ and if there’s a theme that runs through it I’d say its about human fragility of mind body and soul. Musically there are songs influenced by hip hop, Russian folk, and modern classical composition , so hopefully it will be an interesting listen!”
They have also secured a spot at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool….thanks to the hard work of punk poet Andy Thorley and Tess Wilson from the All The Madmen record lable……Moet says “…..the good thing about rebellion and other similar events is that we get to play in front of people we perhaps wouldn’t reach otherwise . I don’t particularly like being labelled a punk band that’s not how I perceive us, when people ask me what kind of music we play I tend to reply’ modern folk’ still I expect we’ll meet some nice people. See some good bands and have a good time.”
And with that sentiment I think it’s safe to say that Thursday August 8th at Gullivers will be a place where you can meet some nice people, see some great bands and have a good time. If that has whetted your appetite you can catch both bands again at further gigs in August!
Kill Pretty’s forthcoming gigs:
8th August – Gullivers, Oldham Street, Manchester -with The Things and Ill – free entry (7:30pm)
11th August – Bizarre Bazaar Pavilion, Rebellion Festival, Blackpool (5.10pm) see Rebellion website for ticket info
23rd August – Kings Arms, Salford (as part of Helmets for Men) with Monkeys in Love and Poppycock featuring Una Baines. (7:30pm) – £5
The Things forthcoming gigs
8th August – as above
24th August – Kings Arms, Salford (as part of Helmets for Men) with Luis Drayton & the Glamourpussies and The Disappeared – £5