On the Pandemic and Life in Quarantine
It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? Considering I’ve been locked in the house for several weeks, I’ve just tried to stay away from it to be honest. We did lose a grandad in the family.
We’re certainly not alone in this, though. A few of our friends have had it or they think they had it. They’ve not been tested. It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? It’s so alien to our way of life. I think it’s been bit of a shock for everybody.
I’m high-risk, you see — I have asthma. Pneumonia scarring on me lungs. I’ve got pneumonia three times. I’ve got so much scarring. I’ve got to be really careful.
On the Ignorance over Covid-19
It’s quite weird because obviously they haven’t had COVID-19. I think people that have had it — most of them change their opinions rather quickly. The saddest thing is our grandad went into hospice with something else. Cellulitis. They cured it!
They apparently give you a test before they send you home, though, and the test came back positive for COVID-19 for him. Within four days, he was dead. 88. Shows you, while people might be derogatory, you’re much better off being on the safe side.
It’s life. It’s 50/50. You either survive, or you don’t.
On throwing the Hacienda House Party
It’s a matter of hard work and getting the message over and out to people. It’s taking a long time, but we’ve built up a following since the Hacienda closed, and that following is very faithful and very satisfied. So, whenever they see our name, they want to participate.
I’m DJing on this one, so I hope I don’t fuck it up for everybody. It’s funny. I’ve gotten out of the habit of DJing because I’ve been playing with The Light so much. To be honest with you, even though it’s completely different, I prefer playing with The Light. While DJing isn’t as tiring, I certainly wasn’t going on at four o’clock in the morning with The Light!
It’s nerve wracking, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to play. I got jealous. So many interesting people, I thought, Shit I’ve got to put myself on! We got Arthur Baker and so many greats as well. I just hope it does as well as our first one and raises as much money.
I hope it shows people that we’re all in the same boat and that we have to be careful and considerate of each other. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it? You know, in a way, this pandemic has been a great leveler for everybody. And I think the thing is: It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, where you are in life, we’re all exactly the same when it comes to COVID-19.
Speaking to the logistics of the event, United We Stream Greater Manchester has basically been living together since COVID-19 began. They haven’t been mixing with anybody. I suppose, in a strange way, it’s like the workers in the hospitals, right? They tend to leave their families and be isolated in their own way.
Well, lo and behold, this lot have been isolated since it began! They live together and they don’t really see anybody else. So, they are safe … ish. When it comes to recording, some DJs go down to the station, but some do it at home. Doing it at home is easy: Someone comes in with a camera, they just shine it on you while you play, and then they go.
But, yeah, they’ve more or less devoted their lives to doing this. It has to be said that good people come together at times like this and do good. These people that we’ve got doing this, United We Stream Greater Manchester, are good people. So, it’s nice.
It’s often quite weird with the charity stuff, but in this occasion, it was easy. You’ve seen people on the Internet take action. Because really, you can’t ignore what COVID-19 has done. You’re not going to be able to ignore what it does in the next couple of weeks and months from a financial and a business point of view.
The ramifications and the repercussions are gonna be horrendous.
On What He Misses
I’ve lost a year’s work. It’s unbelievable to sit here and even think, Good god! A year’s work. You become a victim of your own success playing to large amounts of people. Financially speaking, the arts community are going to be last in consideration. The last thing that’s going to happen is letting large amounts of people be allowed to get together with this going on.
And it’s still very hard to get used to meeting people that you’ve been talking to a lot and not being able to give them a pat on the back. Like, if someone’s done really well during a performance, you want to give them a big hug. It’s a very, very strange feeling.
But, human beings adapt really quickly.
On Working with Gorillaz
I’ve known Damon [Albarn] for a long time. I’ve collaborated with him on a few things that he’s done. But, I’m a great fan of the Gorillaz mainly because of Jamie Hewlett. My favorite cartoonist. He used to contribute to a magazine called Deadline a long time ago in the ’90s that I was a massive fan of: Johnny Nemo, Tank Girl, they were all from this one magazine.
I was an avid comic reader. So, I knew Jamie Hewlett art wise before he started working with Damon. When they started working together, I just thought the idea of a cartoon rock and roll band — which, I mean, most rock and roll bands aren’t far from being cartoons anyway — was such a great concept.
Damon is a fantastic songwriter, it has to be said. I was with him funnily enough when he was going through the Oasis battle. I used to see him a lot in London, and we used to share a lot of tears on each other’s shoulders, shall we say, during those times. I’ve known him a great deal. He’s a fan of New Order and Joy Division.
However, for some reason, when he asked me to play on [“Aries”], I was incredibly nervous about it. If I do any collaborations, I tend to do them on my own terms. You send me the song, I put all the bass on, and then you do what you want with it. This one was different because he asked me to do it with him, which made me even more nervous! [Laughs]
It was hilarious because on the day where I was driving down to London, I was talking to my wife about my nerves. She was saying, “How can you be like this? You’ve been doing this for years! He’s a good friend…” Then I got a phone call where they said, “Damon wouldn’t be there.” So, I was like, “Oh my god, thank god!” I can relax, not worry, and just piss off! Then Damon can sort it out later.
I was absolutely delighted. So, I finished the rest of the journey down to London with a big smile on my face, drove over to his studio, sat down, and I was waiting for the engineer to come in. Eventually, the engineer said to me, “We’ll go down to the studio now.” I turn around and there was Damon. I was like, “Ah ya bastard!”
But no, he was absolutely wonderful. He was great to be with. He was easy. The setup he’s got there is amazing. The whole thing was not difficult, and it came together really, really quickly in the odd way that some songs do and some songs don’t. You know, if you look at a song like “Perfect Kiss”. That was nine months. “Blue Monday”. Six months. “Temptation”. A few hours, maybe three. “Age of Consent”. Two hours. That was one that came together really quickly. Literally, I was out of the session in two hours. It was really easy to do.
With the Gorillaz now releasing each track as a single, there’s no waiting for some massive campaign or anything like that. It was much more relaxed and much more easygoing. Damon was very, very generous in all respects, which was absolutely fantastic. I must admit, while this lockdown has been very difficult — and it has — to hear that “Aries” had reached No. 10 in those Billboard charts … it really gave me a good week.
Oh, and with The Hacienda House Party being so successful? I was like, “Wow!” This shouldn’t be happening, but I did feel very lucky last week. I’m hoping that luck extends to Saturday. We’ve got a couple of surprise guests for Saturday that will be popping into the show, all of which I’m very excited about. I’m really looking forward to that aspect.
The strange thing is, for the first three weeks of the lockdown, every time I opened my emails, each gig was gone. This was supposed to be our celebratory year in the life of Ian Curtis, and I can’t tell you how disappointed I am to sell out the gigs and not be able to do them. So this news with “Aries”, and these events … I’m in good company. Let’s put it that way.