18 Jun 2004
Sweetly acerbic 
Stephin Merritt (The 6ths, The Magnetic Fields) answers another one of those questionnaires (in fact the same one Vini Reilly did a while ago) in Time Out. Here is a selection of his answers:

Have you ever sung karaoke? I haven't. When occasionally my friends ask me to sing karaoke, I have a great excuse, which is that I sing for a living. No money, no singing!

So, do you live on takeaways or eat out? I eat out. Everyone in New York eats out - we don't really have kitchens here.

Who's the most famous person you've ever met? John Lennon. I was at the Syracuse Children's Museum in the early 70's; he and Yoko Ono were having a show there. I walked up to him just as he was taking a chisel to a block of ice and asked him what he was doing. He said, 'I'm carving an iced tea' - and it turns out he was in fact carving a large letter 'T'.

What's your favourite animal? My dog, Irving. He's a five-year-old chihuahua.

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Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

Factory Records

The Durutti Column