Indie Originals: The New Hormones Story

The story of New Hormones records 1977-1983

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“An open house to derelicts”

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Richard Boon began renting the office at 50 Newton Street when he was managing Buzzcocks. “I was living in a shared house and it didn’t seem appropriate to be working from it. So I found a cheap office,” he recalls.

“The offices were hardly salubrious. You knew they weren’t exactly rolling in it,” remembers Lawrence Fitzgerald. “Looking back, it could have been the 1930s, the architecture of the building and our maverick but impoverished lifestyles somehow became blurred,” says Ian Runacres.

“Chaos,” is Paul Emmerson’s memory of the New Hormones HQ. “Just insane really,” says Lix Naylor. “Random was pretty out of it quite a lot of the time.”

Boon had invited Naylor and Cath Carroll to run their City Fun fanzine from his office. “Richard’s invitation of free rent and phone was not just generous, but a great opportunity to perch and gripe whilst watching the scene go by,” says Carroll. “We liked drinking as well. And Richard liked drinking and speed and they were probably the things that bonded us,” believes Naylor.

“Richard Boon’s kindness” is Carroll’s favourite memory of 50 Newton Street: “He used to buy us halves when we were broke, even though he wasn’t too far behind owing to a failure to put out Wham!-style records. Least favourite memory but still entertaining was the incredibly bad tempered lift operator, Tommy. He seemed to be well past retirement age and had a grudge against the world that going up and down in a lift all day did nothing to wipe clean.”

“He was a complete cunt,” says Naylor. “A one-armed armed, belligerent Irish ex-soldier.” “Grumpy old sod. Probably had a very interesting story,” says Boon. Was he a potential New Hormones signing? “I didn’t have Bob Last’s wit.”

To add to the general mayhem, Boon also let out a large connecting room to self-styled doctor of theology, Alan Wise, and Nigel Baguely (“his waster sidekick” – Naylor). Together they promoted a lot of new wave and art rock gigs under the banner of Wise Moves. “Alan Wise is one of the most bizarre people you’ll ever, ever encounter,” reckons Naylor. “The James Young book about Nico is fantastic on Alan Wise – it nails him exactly.”

“Ideally they were supposed to be there to pay half the rent, because I couldn’t afford the whole rent,” explains Boon. “Did they pay? Now and again.”

By 1982, Wise was also managing Nico. “She was an extraordinary presence,” says Naylor. Boon’s favourite recollection from Newton Street involves the German chanteuse: “She comes in the office to wait to be picked up by the road crew – the van’s running late. She’s sat reading this book, she keeps bursting out laughing: Nico, what are you reading that’s so funny? And she says, ‘Bleeeak Houuuuse’.”

Another bohemian figure lurking in the shadows was Steven Patrick Morrissey. “He just used to sit in the corner ogling Linder – Starstruck,” laughs Eric Random. Lawrence Fitzgerald recalls seeing the future Smith in a “trilby and long trenchcoat.” Others have no recollection of his being there at all. “In those days Morrissey was a bit like Zelig – he was present at all these major events – at the Russell Club, at the New Hormones offices – but no-one noticed him,” says Runacres.

“He was in and out the office quite a lot, because he was big mates with Linder,” says Boon. “He gave me a cassette of him singing very quietly fragments of songs. And I’m sure some lyrics ended up on Reel around the Fountain and the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. And there was a Bessie Smith song, a blues called ‘Wake up Johnny’. And the trope, which I quote myself on endlessly, is a couple of months later Johnny knocked on Morrissey’s door and woke him up.”

The tape may still exist: “If only I could find it,” says Boon. “He would kill me if I put it on Ebay!”

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

New Hormones Discography

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RECORDS
ORG 1 Buzzcocks: Spiral Scratch EP 01/77 (reissued “in unlimited edition” in August 1979)
ORG 2 Linder/Jon Savage: The Secret Public (A3 collage fanzine) 01/78
ORG 3 The Tiller Boys: Big Noise From The Jungle (7″ EP) 02/80
ORG 4 Ludus: The Visit (12″) 03/80
ORG 5 The Decorators: Twilight View / Reflections (7″) 07/80
ORG 6 Eric Random: That’s What I Like About Me (12″) 09/80
ORG 7 Dislocation Dance: Perfectly In Control (7″ EP) 10/80
ORG 8 Ludus: My Cherry Is In Sherry / Anatomy Is Not Destiny 10/80
ORG 9 Diagram Brothers: Bricks / Postal Bargains (7″) 04/81
ORG 10 Dislocation Dance: Slip That Disc (12″) 08/81
ORG 11 Eric Random: Dow Chemical Company/ Skin Deep (7″) 05/81
ORG 12 Ludus: Mother’s Hour / Patient (7″) 06/81
+No-one wanted ORG 13
ORG 14 Gods Gift: Gods Gift (12″ EP) 07/81
ORG 15 Dislocation Dance: Music, Music, Music (LP) 10/81
ORG 16 Ludus: The Seduction (2×12″ LP) 02/82
ORG 17 Diagram Brothers: Some Marvels Of Modern Science (LP) 11/81
ORG 18 Eric Random: Earthbound Ghost Need (LP) (03/82)
ORG 19 Dislocation Dance: Rosemary / Shake (7″) (05/82)
ORG 20 Ludus: Danger Came Smiling (LP) (09/82)
ORG 21 Diagram Brothers: Discordo (10″ EP) (06/82)
ORG 22 Dislocation Dance: You’ll Never, Never Know / You Can Tell (7″) (10/82)
ORG 25 Gods Gift: Discipline / Then Calm Again (7″) (10/82)
ORG 30 Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias: Cruising With Santa (7″) (10/82)

CASSETTES
In 1981, New Hormones released a series of three limited edition cassettes (500) that came with a booklet, badge, stickers and a sweatshirt offer.

CAT 1 Ludus: Pickpocket 07/81
CAT 2 C.P. Lee Mystery Guild: Radio Sweat 08/81
CAT 3 Biting Tongues: Live It 09/81

NORTHERN LIGHTS
Audio magazine, created and compiled by Shaun Moores
NL 3 10/81 (see image in Graphic Design/Packaging section for track listing)
NL 4 (Northern Lights, February 1982) 02/82 (Included two live tracks by Danse Society, a feature on Biting Tongue Howard Walmsley and an interview with original Hacienda manager Ginger a few months before the club opened. A full tracklisting can be found here).

(Shaun Moores: “There were four issues – the last two of which were distributed and funded by New Hormones (as a result of a loose contact I had with Pete Wright and Richard Boon – through knowing one or two people in Dislocation Dance). The first two issues were very much ‘home made’ and I distributed those myself, by taking train rides to Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield – and approaching record shops in person.” According to Moores, the two ‘home made’ issues included an interview with The Passage and a live recording of Cabaret Voltaire at Plato’s Ballroom in Liverpool. As this link to Northern Lights 2 shows, the second tape (a limited edition of 150) featured live tracks by Eric Random and Dislocation Dance, by permission of New Hormones. A full tracklisting for the first Northern Lights can be found here.

UNRELEASED
Records
ORG 23 Ambrose Reynolds: The World’s Greatest Hits (mini-LP) – later issued by Zulu records
ORG 24 Reserved for Ludus
ORG 26 Biting Tongues: Libreville (LP) – later issued by Paragon Records)
ORG 27 Dislocation Dance: Remind Me (single) – later issued by Rough Trade
ORG 28 Reserved for Ludus
ORG 29 Gods Gift: Clamour Club

Cassettes
CAT 4 Ambrose: 20 Golden Great Assassinations

REISSUES
Biting Tongues: After The Click (Retrospective 1980-1989) (includes tracks from Live it and Iyahbhoone, originally released on Northern Lights issue 3) (ltmcd 2371)
The Diagram Brothers: Some Marvels Of Modern Science + Singles (ltmcd 2480)
Dislocation Dance: Music Music Music / Slip That Disc! (ltmcd 2461)
Dislocation Dance: Music Music Music (Vinyl Japan ASKCD 96)
Ludus: The Visit/The Seduction (ltmcd 2333)
Ludus: Pickpocket/Danger Came Smiling (ltmcd 2338)
Eric Random: Subliminal 1980-82 (compilation) (ltmcd 2437)
CP Lee and Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias: Radio Sweat (the complete CP Lee Mystery Guild recordings for New Hormones, plus unreleased Albertos live tracks and rarities) (Overground B000005ZFZ).

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Fun with the Crones

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City Fun fanzine began life as a collective venture (a bit like the MMC of print). Liz Naylor recalls buying the second issue in “about 1978: I was at a Fall gig at Droylesden Town Hall and bought a copy. It was Roneod [mimeographed] and it was kind of crude and it printed everything than anybody ever sent in. I was just 16 and a rather angsty teenager. So I wrote something I find incredibly embarrassing. And they printed it.”

Naylor then got involved with the running of the publication and also brought her girlfriend of the time Cath Carroll on board. “At that point we had collective meetings and it was all very open,” she says. The City Fun collective was founded by “a guy, Andy Zero – I’ve no idea what his real name was – who was a total hippy and lived in a place called Mossley which is on the outskirts of North Manchester and worked in a wholefood shop or something,” recalls Naylor. “There was a guy called Martin X who didn’t live anywhere, who was a kind of bizarre vagrant, who was quite old. He was probably in his late 30s then. And he managed The Distractions at the time. There was a guy called JC and a guy called Neil. I mean it was the culture where you’d have to have assumed names because everyone was signing on. And JC and Neil had a squat in Hulme, about two minutes walk away from The Factory. Anybody could crash there. So [City Fun] came out of a hippy/Hulme squatter type milieu.”

“[Andy Zero] secured distribution through this indie mag distributor who lived several bus rides away in North Manchester and who seemed to sell the stuff that more mainstream distributors would not touch, for reasons moral and/or economic,” remembers Cath Carroll. “After a couple of years, it was just us and Andy and we became so insufferable that he left,” she says. “I was a very young punk and I was utterly disdainful of his kind of hippyness,” admits Naylor.

After their power struggle with Zero (“makes it sound like the Conrad Black empire,” laughs Naylor), the two women decided to make City Fun more professional, publishing monthly rather than on an irregular basis. The content also became more focused: “It sort of emerged that you just got endless poems sent by people and Andy was very much like, ‘we print everything’ and we were like, ‘no, this is just shit, we don’t want people’s poems’,” explains Naylor: “A bit of quality control.”

Stuart James remembers Naylor and Carroll’s reviews of bands as being “Very funny – just very honest.”

City Fun held a couple of fundraising gigs, including Stuff the Superstars in the summer of ‘79 with a line-up that included Joy Division, The Fall and the Frantic Elevators. “Various bands were supportive of us and one of the big bands that was supportive of City Fun was The Fall because they were outside of the emerging power base of Factory Records. And they have remained so,” says Naylor. “There was a very close relationship with The Fall and there was quite a close relationship with New Hormones,” she adds.

“[City Fun] was a very important alternative voice in Manchester at the time,” believes Naylor. The only other ‘underground’ periodical was The New Manchester Review, “which was run by a load of hippies as far as we were concerned,” she says.

Carroll and Naylor took great delight in winding up the Factory Records crowd in print. “We always thought Tony [Wilson] saw right through the Factory baiting – we were clearly obsessed – but he [claimed] he took great offence, which is not what we wanted,” says Carroll. “We were particularly keen on writing about Vini Reilly, with particular reference to his hey nonny-no haircut and gentle minstrel-like persona. He came up to us when we were selling City Fun at the Hacienda- it had just opened- and asked if we were the ones who wrote the pieces. Vin may seem like a gentle creature but he had hard man Wythenshawe Slaughter and The Dogs connections and can take care of himself very nicely. We were wondering if we’d escape with teeth but he bought us a drink and said how much he enjoyed reading what we wrote. And thus began a delightful friendship.

“In fact, everyone at Factory took it very well. Peter Hook was always exceptionally civil, except when we were extremely rude and grumpy once backstage at a Joy Division/Distractions gig and he called us couple of bad names, which made us very happy,” grins Carroll.

As well as commenting on the music scene in City Fun, Naylor and Carroll soon got involved at the sharp end, badgering Alan Wise into giving their band Gay Animals some support gigs. They also started representing Ludus under the name Crone Management. The name came from Linder, recalls Naylor. “Linder was forever reading feminist literature both fiction and non-fiction and I think it came from one of those early feminist books about reclaiming language: ‘the word crone has always been associated with witches…’ The whole management thing was just complete concept. I don’t think we did anything. Linder just liked the idea of having us because me and Cath were very posey: Cath would wear a black cape and I would wear a full male suit. We’d go to the Beach Club absolutely dressed up and Cath took to wearing white face make-up to look more deathly.”

The Crones had an important role to play in Ludus’s notorious gig at the Hacienda on November 5, 1982, when Linder opened up a meat-lined dress to reveal a large black dildo. “When I saw Buck’s Fizz I was so angry. I thought ‘I’m going to take my skirt off at the Hacienda’, recalls Linder. “I wanted meat – I felt strongly as a vegetarian that eating meat was wrong,” she adds.

“With Liz Naylor from Crone Management I went to the Harmony Centre [one of only two sex shops in Manchester]. It was family run. We told the owner we wanted a dildo. I don’t think either of us really knew what one was. He asked what colour and at the same time Liz said pink and I said black. He asked what we wanted it for. I said it’s for stage. He disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a thing called ‘Spunky the spraying penis’ – ‘It’s a little too theatrical’, we said. Eventually he produced a fairly standard black dildo. So we bought it went for a cup of tea at Kendall’s. Liz got it out and said ‘looks fine’.”

On the night of the gig, a cocktail called the Bloody Linder was on sale in the club’s Gay Traitor bar. ‘Bloody’ tampons and cigarette stubs were left on each table. Naylor and Carroll handed out chicken gizzards wrapped in gay pornography. “The management of the Hacienda freaked out because they didn’t want their Ben Kelly designed floor to get bloody,” recounts Linder. “We were shown the door very quickly.”

“That was a great performance piece,” reckons Richard Boon. “Just a fantastic piece of work.”

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:32 pm