FACTORIAL Booklet With Music Week
The Music Week Factorial
24 page 13 x 10 book to celebrate 10 years of factory given
away with music week 15th July 1989
'Ubiquitous Granada TV talking head, pop
cultural conceptualist, entrepreneur and bullshitter,' was The Cut magazine's recent
description of Anthony Wilson. "Yes, very accurate," the Factory Records supremo
agreed when I put it to him. "Although the one thing left out was the academic
side," Wilson ponders. "Maybe 'bullshitter' is where the word 'intellectual'
comes in, because I fundamentally regard myself as an academic, which could of course be
determined as a bullshitter."
Whatever your conception of Wilson, the Manchester-based independent
label he founded 10 years ago this January has built a unique and fascinating place for
itself in Britain's post-punk music scenario. Wilson, the man who started at Granada in
1973, was galvanized by punk in 1976 to such an extent he swept it onto prime-time TV by
fronting the controversial So It Goes music show, formed Factory Communications and opened
Factory's doors with A Factory Sample in January 1979, paid for with his own money. He's
had little reason to look back since, but enough reason to celebrate.
His choice of label name and emphasis on the word 'product' points to
Wilson's personal and uncompromising view of the music industry; his love of the music,
the culture and, it has to be said, the game plan. As he admits, not mincing words,
"an awful lot to do with the music industry for me is the intellectual and artistic
theory of it. I see my involvement with Factory somewhat as a laboratory experiment in
popular art. When I talk about the conceptual crap theory of it, that's what I mean by the
bullshit, as opposed to the bullshit level of the pop industry, which is people being all
sweetie and honey with each other and being very insincere. I don't think we've in any way
been involved in that part of the entertainment business."
Factory has always kept in touch and on top of what Wilson calls
"live youth culture" which in the UK seems to have gone hand-in-hand with
Manchester's undeniable impact and influence following the blast of energy that was punk.
Two songs on A Factory Sample were by Joy Division, who, after singer Ian Curtis' sad
death, were transformed into New Order; both groups combined have arguably been the most
enduring and endearing in post-punk times, with the latter also crossing over into the
white dance arena. Only The Smiths - another Manchester phenomenon - have exceeded New
Order's shrine-like popularity. Factory's run of credible but financially discouraging
dance singles in the early eighties with Quando Quango, 52nd Street, Kalima and Marcel
King meant the company decided against starting a dance label right at the time that
Mute's Rhythm King was honing it's masterplan, but the signs are there that Factory is
well prepared for the future. Wilson's pleasure on this tenth anniversary isn't solely the
satisfaction of the survivor.
My joy at this particular moment is the moment we're poised at now,
with New Order's new album Technique about to become a very significant world force - to
actually fulfil, in terms of sales and power, for what I've always thought was the best
group around," Wilson told me back in January. "I used to say two years ago that
when the next revolution happened, my big question would be whether we would go platinum,
or double or triple platinum, and whether we were going to know that the revolution was
happening and were we going to be involved with it with groups on Factory?"
The revolution turned out to be the dance explosion, spearheaded by
'house music' and colored by the 'acid house' phenomena, aided by the rocketing success
of Manchester's Hacienda club, owned by New Order, where Mike Pickering's Friday 'Nude'
night first popularized the sounds in the UK. And yes, New Order are still very much
involved in the rhythm-king wars, as are Factory's new stars-in-grooming, music press
angels and acid-hooligans Happy Mondays.
"If there was a group like Happy Mondays in Britain and they were
on another label, then I'd be terribly upset," remarks Wilson, who feels that 'acid
house', "has certainly been the most vibrant thing since punk. When there is a live
youth culture, it will produce bands of genius, and Happy Mondays are the continuing proof
of that basic reality of life."
Factory and The Smiths never joined forces for a number of different
reasons (Wilson's comment is that the label was "too busy" launching James and
The Stockholm Monsters, while Factory's notorious lack of promotion didn't suit The
Smiths' ambitions) and so never took part ' in Britain's guitar-band boom but with Happy
Mondays, the eccentric folk trio To Hell With Burgundy and the ultrapromising Cath Carroll
(of Miaow fame) recording her debut album in Brazil, Wilson can justify Factory's unique
style of operation. Verbal agreements in place of contracts, that absence of promotion,
the attention to aesthetics over commerce in the name, logo and packaging areas, all this
has made Factory not only a talking point but also contributed to New Order strengthening
their grassroots credibility and substantially increasing their popularity.
"This is where the bullshit and the artistic theories come in, but
the mode of production determines the mode of consciousness, being the great Marxist
theory," Wilson explains, "so if you change the mode of production, you aren't
producing and marketing a pure product. Martin Jackson of Swing Out Sister said to me at
the weekend, 'you don't know how lucky you are, and how packaged and fucked up everything
is, but you can have a different relationship and allow the musicians to flourish a little
longer and have a longer organic life'.
"How many groups that started in 1979 are in a rising sales curve?
Only New Order, and Depeche Mode, who have a similar organic relationship with Daniel
Miller and Mute. The usual theory is that a group's creativity will die away but you're
not going to kill the creativity or the excitement by the structure."
It would be easier to keep principles and structures intact if the
marketplace was on your side, but times have changed over the last 10 years. Life without
New Order was once conceivable because the independent scene was vital and records sold,
says Wilson "but with the decline of the vinyl single and the excitement of the
independent scene and the overproduction of records in the independent record area, all of
these things combined would have made life without the group hard. Mute always had two
groups. We've always wanted a second major group, which is why Happy Mondays makes us feel
very good and a lot healthier and stronger."
It was New Order's potential transfer to CBS that forced Factory to
reassess its practices. "It began about two years ago, at dinner with Rob Gretton and
Alan Erasmus, Rob (New Order's manager) said to me, 'well, maybe we'll go to CBS, we'll
sell more records', and Alan started arguing with him, and I looked at my dinner and
thought, of course they will, they'll take singles off albums, etc., and I thought, to
hell with it, there's no reason not to do this now."
Although the group weren't seriously anxious to sell more records
(they'd tour a lot more if they did), they were under pressure from their taxman, and
demanding far more accountability from the label. Wilson's answer was a serious
Having lost James, Orchestral Manoeuvres and The Railway Children to
the majors in the early promising stages of development, "which hasn't always been
good for the groups as we all know", contracts are now being issued, a flexible
roster of roughly 15 acts bands, mavericks and conceptualists has been cut down to a
manageable five, and regular PR and promotion will make their presence guaranteed in the
marketplace rather than courtesy of the media's clairvoyant powers. But the most
significant change is that after eight and a half years of working without a retail strike
force which Wilson referred to as "cheating" the first time we met in 1987, and
he once made a 'World In Action' on the subject Factory have employed first Bullet and now
Platinum (which helped The Smiths go all the way). "And we're very happy with
them," Wilson admits.
"It was our Perestroika," says Wilson, ever the ideologist.
"It was the biggest problem for me because I do see it as cheating, but we got bored
with the old way. The decision was very much Chinese influenced. As we were doing it, I
kept thinking of Deng Xiao Ping's pragmatic phrase which is 'it doesn't matter if the cat
is black or white, what matters is if it catches the mouse.'
"A strikeforce is to do with taking a professional attitude at a
point in time, and they're adding to our general team. If you don't change, you become a
dinosaur. I'm more than happy about the way we've changed. We've moved with the times and
not been hidebound by ideals."
But Wilson still fervently believes in independent distribution.
"In this year where, tragically, the independent single has kind of gone and it's
very tough to put out singles by very weird little groups, nevertheless if you have a
major group on an independent label, then historically the problem was having hits with
independent distribution but the best and most efficient distributors in this country are
The Cartel and Pinnacle. Which distributors have the highest proportion of top five hits?
I like The House Of Love and their manager Alan McGhee, but when they say they left
independent distribution because they wanted to sell more records, they're nuts! The
problem is with daytime radio play, not distribution."
Factory may have got over it's own problems, but it was and
touch-and-go for a while. When lan Curtis committed suicide at the beginning of the
decade, Wilson wondered, "when somebody that talented dies, why we didn't give up?
Maybe we should have, but I'm glad we didn't. You also have to realize how clever joy
Division's manager Rob Gretton was, waiting six months to see what happened before
bringing in the girlfriend (Gillian, paramour of drummer Steven Morris) and not disrupting
Then, 1984 was another potentially hazardous year; Factory's Hacienda
Club was getting into serious financial difficulties (with only New Order's snowballing
success managing to plug the leak), musicians were, "constantly wingeing," and
to cap it all, joy Division / New Order producer and Factory partner Martin Hannett
instigated a lawsuit against Factory over overseas royalties. "Martin was still
getting his share of royalties here, even when he wasn't producing," Wilson points
out. "I think his real gripe was that we built the Hacienda instead of a recording
Eighteen months later, the "deeply unpleasant" lawsuit was
settled out of court and Hannett left the board. A depressed Wilson went to China for his
holiday which made him feel a lot better. The label survived too. Five years on, Wilson is
buoyant and ambitious, even if, first, his choice of New Order single, Round & Round
didn't make top five, and second, he had to resign as chairman, losing the bet with Rob
Gretton that it would. Otherwise, the road to 1990 looks fascinating.
Cath Carroll, sublime and photogenic pop-dancer is the hot property,
but first on the agenda is a classical label for new British composers, no doubt looking
toward the CD generation and those disaffected by pop's inability to deliver. But with all
the changes, did Wilson still see Factory adhering to its original principles, shaped by
punk and anarchy and the growth of the independent sector?
"To me, the word 'independent' sums up the situation where the
entrepreneur and the manager are all personally involved with each other. That to me is
what the independents have been and what the ones who still survive are." And to
prove the do-it-yourself principle, Wilson talks about the day they invited New Order to
the campaign meeting for their Technique album. "Last year was the first time we ever
had a structured release campaign. We invited Rob along, who hated it, so we thought we'd
ask the group this time to see if they'd hate it.
"To be honest, out of the 10 interesting things to come out of the
meeting, eight came from the group. We decided to do a national billboard campaign which
no-one's ever done before. There was a great debate about whether to put New Order's name
on the billboards or to leave them completely blank except for 'Advertising Technique'.
But we didn't do any press advertising in the end because we find it boring. So we're
still a little bit snooty. Factory is still about freedom and the profit motive well down
"You're quite lucky that Tina hadn't
warned me you were calling because I would've said no," admits Factory co-founder and
'director general' Alan Erasmus. "I've always let others put forward their views,
whether I agree with them or not." Erasmus' surprise means he talks all the time
through a Budweiser beer can: "I picked up the nearest phone which was in the
bathroom, which is this beercan, so every now and then, it slips round my car and I can't
hear you," he says halfway through.
Erasmus was an actor in rep and then film when he met Anthony Wilson at
a party and struck up a lasting friendship. After, "jumping in at the deep end,"
with a young band called Flashback, he managed The Durutti Column - then including two
sacked Flashbacks and Vini Reilly - and found them some shows at Manchester's Russell
Club. The shows were so successful that Erasmus started booking more nights, with bands
that had appeared on Wilson's So It Goes show on Granada, while joy Division's manager Rob
Gretton started acting as unofficial A&R scout.
It was Erasmus who thought up the label's name, although it was
initially for another purpose. "I was driving down a road and there was a big sign
saying 'Factory For Sale' standing out in neon, and I thought, 'Factory, that's the name,'
because a factory was a place where people work and create things, and I thought to
myself, these are workers who are also musicians and they'll be creative. 'Factory' was
nothing to do with Andy Warhol because I didn't know at the time that Warhol had this
building in New York called the Factory. 'Friday Night Is Factory Night' - so the poster
Factory the label only came about after the Russell Club's owners Roger
and Pete, started discussing a double twelve-inch single of two groups from Manchester and
Liverpool, which Erasmus and Wilson adapted to the more manageable double seven-inch
format. A Factory Sample eventually starred Joy Division, The Durutti Column - now just
Reilly - John Dowie and Sheffield's Cabaret Voltaire. "That was the start of it.
There are lots of frills to the story but you're not getting those."
Erasmus also takes the unofficial title of special projects director.
As usual, titles mean little. "I may have met Quincy Jones, had a meeting with New
Order about the new album, and done a deal that will bring us in 250,000 over that
month," says Erasmus, describing 'a day in the life.'
"I do whatever needs doing. At the moment, I'm looking at the fact
that Factory needs an audio-visual side (the Ikon production company which previously made
all Factory band videos now works out of a separate office). Then there's DAT too. We
released the first Digital Audio Cassette in the UK in 1988, with Durutti Column's Guitar
& Other Machines and then New Order's Substance a few months later. Everything from
that point on has been on DAT. I do believe that DAT will be launched and marketed by the
majors in the future. It's far too good a technology to be abandoned. All studios have DAT
Factory's adventurism and idealism was reflected by Erasmus' plan to
establish a classical label, starting in 1984 with a quest to find young Soviet and
Eastern bloc musicians. "It was at the time that Thatcher and Reagan were putting
across the view that the Soviet people were animals, or sub-human, which was out of
order," reckons Erasmus. "I went across to Russia and worked very hard trying to
organize some deals but the main thing that happened was that the two guys I was dealing
with in London, the head cultural guy and the one who ran the record and arts company, got
expelled for supposedly being KGB, so I was back to square one. I just wanted to show that
people worked the same as us. Glasnost has happened since and there's a greater
understanding of people.
"It's been very difficult to get it off the ground, but we have
got a classical label together which is establishing itself by using young English
musicians. It's a new area for us so we have to get people in who know the ground and can
help us to launch it." Erasmus is determined to see Eastern Bloc musicians on
Factory, "but a little bit further down the road." He admits his determination
lost Factory time, but that's the price you pay for being an innovator.
Keeping up with the artists is another concern. Erasmus feels he has
more or less scaled New Order's Barney Sumner's solo album (in conjunction with Johnny
Marr). There was a time when Barney was a bit wary of putting it through Factory because
he thought he'd see what it did through a major, but at the moment, the pair of them want
the album to go with us. When New Order come back from America, I'll be working on that as
a project to make sure it gets from A to B, regardless of whether it goes out on Factory
or not. If they want a deal because they've been offered 'x' amount, a major can't really
top any deal we can offer because of the other points involved. If the deal was for
straight cash, then that's up to them. We wouldn't be overly offended by that, but I'd be
in touch anyway to make sure it goes through."
Is Factory such an attractive proposition then? "Very," says
Erasmus. "These days, we do encourage bands to tour because it does help sales, but
at the end of the day, they're not pushed around the same way as they would be by a major,
like over what singles to release. We give them our advice but it's up to them. A major
will offer 15 to 16 points, whereas with New Order and most of the other bands, the deal
is still 50% of profits, after mechanicals and royalties. We now do deals, because in the
past, bands like The Railway Children and James have left us, and I always wonder why?
Unfortunately for all the bands who've left us, except OMD who we knew would leave before
they recorded with us, it's been the kiss of death. We'll see what happens with A Certain
Ratio, but The Distractions fell apart after Factory too. I hope they all make it.
Someone's on our side, I think."
Designer Peter Saville first met Alan
Erasmus and Tony Wilson in Manchester in 1978 during his final term of college studying
graphic design. "I wanted to do music-related work an album cover or poster. My
closest friend at college was Malcolm Garrett who'd started working with the Buzzcocks. I
pestered, their manager, Richard Boon, who eventually told me that Tony Wilson was opening
a club. I did the first posters for The Factory, it followed on from there."
From 1979 through to 1986, Saville shaped the perception of Factory as
much as Joy Division or New Order. His reputation as an extraordinary designer grew on the
back of sometimes enigmatic, other times painstakingly luxurious, but always individual
and innovative album sleeves. Saville also free-lanced - with Ultravox, OMD and Roxy Music
being among his clients, "but since then, I've run that side down, from 10 to maybe
two or three albums a year. This year, we've done New Order's Technique and the Paul
McCartney album. I don't think you can be a record cover designer at 30 and certainly not
at 40 (he's 34) because I don't want to be condescending - it's impossible to sit down in
a studio and think what a teenager will want - it has to be what I would want. I design
for myself for me, because that's the only way that I can work.
"The relationship with Factory and New Order is different - it's
not like working in the music business at all. They give me carte blanche to do what I
want - a vehicle for ideas, experiments and concepts, while the other areas we work in now
are not so open or free. We design identities for art galleries and companies, ... that's
more the reality of graphic design, solving problems for people rather than making
personal statements on white paper."
Saville's dedicated approach has landed him the blame for Factory's
notoriously unpredictable release schedule. "It's only in the last year that Factory
have had the pressure on them to perform in the marketplace. Before, records were released
when they were released. But as New Order have sold more, the more they're involved in the
system. Stores want to know when the records will be in. Any artist, whether a designer or
musician, is pressured by a manager or client. Factory rarely apply the same level of
pressure as, say, Virgin, (Peter Gabriel's SO), or Polydor (Roxy Music's Flesh And Blood).
"I'm not automatic - designs evolve. Usually, there are
discussions with management, the record company and the band as to what a sleeve is going
to be, and a decision is taken. With New Order, I have to decide what it's going to be,
and the band leave us to get on with it. I express something that I'm interested in. This
year, designing Technique, I was interested in shopping - for antiques."
The band of course can add to the delay; 1986's Low-life concept of,
"no concept -just photos of them," was initially rejected, leading to another
six-week delay ("I've made a cross for my own back with New Order album
covers"). Nineteen eighty-nine's antique theme was only finalized after exploring
other avenues - "more pop, like dollar bills, pineapples, bananas, sixties art
images. In the end, we came up with a pop art antique. For the last two to three years
we've been developing a process that's like photographic silk-screening. We bought the
antiques and put them through the process. We make it up as we go along. Even if I have a
concept, it takes weeks to get there."
Peter Saville Associates current project, a New Order magazine,
initially for their American tour and thereafter for retail, still wasn't finished a week
before the group were to leave. Factory's new classical label is an important project.
With a specialist market, the budget is lower, so the sleeves will have a practical house
style, "like a 'Deutsche-Grammophon'. It has to shape itself in people's minds . The
idea is different to our pop records. We are giving the musicians an identity. Our pop
records were designed in an abstract way and now we're going to do classical records in a
pop way. All the musicians are young, living, working and playing, and traditionally,
classical music doesn't have that personal identity. It's ironic really because when I was
doing pop sleeves in my mid-twenties, I wanted to do them like classical sleeves."
It's been 10 years of excitement, experimentation and rows...
"Tony and I have had incredible rows, mainly about things being late... but we've
never wanted to stop working with each other."
Could Saville identify what was the most special aspect of Factory?
"One of the quotes we thought of putting in the New Order magazine is Rob saying he's
always believed in the punk ideal, that if you want to do something, then you do it.
Basically, that principle that brought us together has continued to apply over 10 years to
everybody at the core of Factory. If you want a classical label, or a club, let's have
one. It's believing in what you do. The Hacienda was an outrageous idea when it started,
and it took years for it to prove itself, but it's done so now. There isn't a club like it
here in London, but it only happened because some people actually cared enough to open the
kind of club that they themselves would like to go to.
"Sometimes there are problems because of what the music business
is like - the pressure is there for you to just produce. It means so much more when you
can believe in the product."
General manager Tina Simmons was originally
at Pinnacle when she first worked with Factory back in 1979, becoming its label
representative in her capacity as label and production manager. Sensing correctly that
Pinnacle was overreaching and over-spending, she bailed out and went to Carrere, but she
kept in touch with her existing contacts.
Out of the blue, Factory asked Simmons to run its international
licensing, but only confirmed that she had the job two months after the interview and only
two days before she was about to sell her flat and go on an extended trip to Australia.
She sold anyway but moved up to Manchester instead. "Typical Factory," she
Like at Pinnacle, Simmons has, "many titles" at Factory;
after two months, she added production to international and now liaises with PR manager
Tracey Donnelly, studios, producers, and handles all the legal matters just call it
running the Factory office. "I'm the one who's here all the time," as Simmons
Some things haven't changed since she moved to the other side of the
fence. "Factory still manufacture their own product and supply it finished to
Pinnacle. It's down to the fact that we have more control over, in particular, our sleeves
and design side, and the type of material used, which can be really expensive. Anybody who
took that on would probably get a little bit worried, like our licensees occasionally do.
"I used to find it a little frustrating at times when, and it
still happens, Factory would name a release date and then two months later, it still
hadn't arrived, but I can understand more now how that problem occurs. We have a design
consultant, Peter Saville, who is an integral part of Factory and who comes up with
incredible designs and materials. But he will sometimes change his mind at the last
minute, so occasionally there is a question mark around the release schedule with regards
to Peter. But we do supply Pinnacle with proofs now - back then, you were lucky if you got
the track titles. You certainly didn't see a sleeve or get a white label. The first one I
ever saw was for Blue Monday, and Alan still took it away with him, because he was going
to give it to John Peel in person. The first white label I could keep was New Order's
Confusion, in 1985. But times have changed, because Factory realises that these are good
things to have for pre-selling."
Simmons was made a director in 1986, but is not yet a shareholder.
"That's typical Factory too - they say, 'we're going to make you a shareholder and
we'll discuss it at the next meeting', but they don't get round to the next meeting."
When meetings do take place though, they sometimes "go round in circles, with every
aspect covered. But also flying off on tangents. That's part of allowing creativity, and a
lot is achieved. It just takes longer. There isn't any red tape, like there is with a
major - once a decision is taken, you can move forward.
"It's a healthy environment here. If you have an idea, then you're
encouraged to pursue it, without anyone telling you it's a waste of time, just as long as
we don't break down the original philosophy."
Belfast-born Gary McCausland was writing
his paper on the economic structure of independent record companies for his post-graduate
degree in Industrial Economics at Manchester University when he went to interview Factory
Impressed by his knowledge and enthusiasm, the label took note of McCausland's hint that
he wanted to work for them and in November 1988, made him production manager.
"Because we're situated in Manchester, I think it's important to
have a regional identity. Also, as far as I'm concerned, I want the manufacturing in the
UK and not abroad. If I can get a reasonable service here, why go abroad and give away
foreign earnings? We use Lambourne and Lintone. There are some pressing plants with
different capacities. We like to diversify, but we do use Nimbus almost exclusively for
CD's. We use James Upton in Birmingham for our sleeves a regional identity again. They're
used to our complicated make-ups."
Having tied up production, McCausland has also taken on the export
drive. He admits that breaking new bands overseas is always hard, but the New Order and
Joy Division catalogues "carry the Factory flag. People buy new releases just because
they're on Factory. We get requests for everything we've released".
McCausland is still researching his paper on independent label
economics, which he hopes to have published in September. "Not many people have done
academic work on the record industry I'm interested from both the academic and personal
sides. Basically, I want to get my oar in."
and Alison Panchett
PR Manager Tracey Donnelly and office clerk
Alison Panchett both lacked academic qualifications and relevant work experience for their
respective jobs, but that didn't stop Factory from giving them the opportunity. Panchett
was temping in London before deciding to move back up north, not to her native Halifax,
but to Manchester - "the best city in the north"; Donnelly meanwhile, had
various jobs before becoming receptionist at The Hacienda club's 'culty' basement
hairdressers. "I put my name forward when the PR job became open," recalls
Donnelly "and then went for the strangest interview I've ever had. There was me and a
few other girls on the shortlist, and when we met up at The Hacienda, Tony Wilson sat me
down with the others and then told them that I'd got the job, and then proceeded to talk
to them about their Hacienda jobs and not a word to me about my new job! They'd already
decided. Tony bought me a drink after and then said, 'see you in the office on
Panchett's interview, was pretty straightforward in comparison. But
does she find Factory a weird bunch to work for? "They're not straight people but not
totally eccentric either," she reckons. "It's just very relaxed here, and people
know what they have to do. They're very straight about work though."
Donnelly agrees. "I don't know any different because I've always
worked for weird people. I think I've become as weird as them, so it seems normal."
What was weird about her job? "Well,
you might sort out an
interview and then one of the group gets arrested, like with Happy Mondays, and you have
to sort out bail money, which I don't think you'd find with other labels. A lot depends on
court appearances, fixing interviews around that. You become immune to it and join in with
the rest of them!"
January Tony Wilson partners with Alan Erasmus for the first time,
trading under the name Movement ofthe24thjanuary, to manage The Durutti Column.
May Opening of The Russell Club.
June Peter Saville completes poster artwork for The Factory opening
night at the Russell Club. "Late as usual," quips Wilson.
September Wilson, Erasmus and Saville decide to release sampler
single of Manchester bands who've played at the Factory Club.
October Martin Hannett becomes fourth partner.
December 24th The first white labels arrive.
January A Factory Sample released,
with two tracks each from Joy Division, The Durutti Column, John Dowie and Cabaret
Voltaire. Factory set up offices in Alan Erasmus' flat at 86, Palatine Road, Manchester,
sharing with Charlie Sturridge, who starts directing Brideshead Revisited at same time.
May Rob Gretton and Joy Division decide not to release their first
album Unknown Pleasures through Radar/Warners but through Factory. "Why go to London
if Factory in Manchester can work?," is the general reaction. A Certain Ratio release
debut single All Night Party; Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark release debut single
Electricity. OMD subsequently leave Factory to sign to DinDisc/Virgin, as agreed.
August Open air pop concert in Leigh attended by 300; A Certain
Ratio, OMD, Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrops Explodes all play.
"They gave a party and no-one came," wrote Sounds. Months later, every group had
September Rob Gretton becomes the fifth Factory partner.
October Joy Division release debut single Transmission. No
independent charts yet.
November Factory Benelux opens in Brussels with ACR's Shack Up, in
partnership with Les Disques de Crepescule, run by Michel Duval.
April Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart released. Gets to
May With Werner Herzog's Strojek on the video and Iggy Pop's The
Idiot on the hi-fi, Joy Division's lead singer Ian Curtis hangs himself. American tour
cancelled at 24 hours notice.
July Joy Division's second album Closer is released. Reaches number
September In conjunction with Rough Trade America, Joy Division's
Atmosphere single is released in the USA. Huge demand forces UK release. Joy Division
become New Order. Play first concert at Manchester's Beach Club before flying to America.
Play second show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey.
November Factory Records becomes a limited company, trading under
Factory Communications Ltd.
December The Durutti Column lose all their members except Vini
Reilly who releases solo album Return Of The Durutti Column, produced by Martin Hannett.
Gillian Gilbert joins New Order.
January New Order release debut single Ceremony. Reaches number 34.
May Factory New York opens. Run by Michael Shamberg, later to take
charge of the label's video division in the USA.
August Joy Division's retrospective double album Still released.
Reaches number 5.
September Factory decides to build The Hacienda Club in Manchester.
New Order release Procession / Eve7thing's Gone Green single. Reaches number 36.
November Fact 50: New Order release debut album Movement. Reaches
April Martin Hannett instigates lawsuit concerning overseas
May The Hacienda Club opens on the 21st. New Order release 12-inch
only single Temptation. Reaches number 29.
July A Certain Ratio release debut album Sextet.
Factory enjoy fame as hot dance label in
America, with releases from Quando Quango, Marcel King, Section 25, Cabaret Voltaire, ACR,
and 52nd Street. "Everyone in the UK was still talking about long
raincoats," Wilson says.
March New Order release 12-inch only single Blue Monday. First
charts at number 12 and again at number 9 in August. Becomes the biggest selling
12-inch single of all time, totalling over three-million copies.
April Peter Saville establishes Peter Saville Associates in London
with colleague Brett Wickens.
May New Order release second album Power, Corruption & Lies.
Reaches number 4.
June James release debut single Jim One.
August New Order release single Confusion. Reaches number 12.
October Hairdressing salon Swing opens in basement of Hacienda.
Love Will Tear Us Apart re-appears in charts. Reaches number 19.
January Factory settles out-of-court with Martin Hannett. Hannett
resigns as Factory director.
April Alan Erasmus goes to Moscow to open negotiations for
recordings of young Russian classical musicians for the proposed new classical label.
May New Order release Thieves Like Us single. Reaches number 18.
July Riverside Studios In Hammersmith holds Factory Records week,
with concerts, films, videos.
May Fact 100: New Order release third album Low-life. Reaches
number 7. New order release Perfect Kiss single. Reaches number 46.
July Factory Australasia opens, run by expatriate Andrew Penhallow.
Distribution is through CBS. Soon becomes very successful offshoot.
September Happy Mondays release debut single Delightful.
October New Order release Subculture single. Reaches number 63.
Channel 4's The Tube films at The Hacienda.
February Mike Pickering signs The Railway Children and Happy
Mondays to Factory. Becomes head of A&R. Also starts DJ-ing 'Nude' night on Fridays at
The Hacienda, playing house music from America - the first DJ in the UK to do. New Order
play benefit concert in Liverpool in support of Militant Tendency, titled From Manchester
March New Order release Shellshock single. Reached number 28.
May The Railway Children release debut single A Gentle Sound.
June Festival of the Tenth Summer , a ten-event week-long
extravaganza held to celebrate 10 years of punk, culminating in G-Mex concert headlined by
New Order and The Smiths.
August New Order release State of The Nation single. Reaches number
September The Durutti Column release Domo Arigato, Factory's first
CD only release.
October Fact 150: New Order release fourth album Brotherhood.
Reached number 9.
November New Order release Bizarre Love Triangle. Reaches number
56. The Durutti Column's Vini Reilly album is Factory's first DAT release. All subsequent
Factory releases follow suit.
July New Order release True Faith single. Becomes their first
top-five hit, peaking at number 4. Factory starts filming Mad Fuckers, a car chase /
exploitation film, directed by The Bailey Brothers, and still in production.
September Happy Mondays release debut album, Squirrel and G-Man, 24
Hour, Party People, Plastic Face, Can't Smile, White Out. New Order release singles
compilation Substance. Reaches number 3.
October A Certain Ratio leave Factory for A&M.
November The Railway Children release debut album Reunion
Wilderness. Reaches number 1 in the independent charts. They sign to Virgin six months
later. New Order release Touched By The Hand Of God single. Reaches number 20. Factory
buys premises in Oldham Street, Manchester, for a massive new bar. "It will be to
bars what The Hacienda is to clubs," says Wilson.
March Factory Benelux and Factory New York are closed because
they're "unnecessary money pits."
April New Order release Blue Monday '88, a remix by John Potoker
and Quincy Jones. Reaches number 5.
July Fact 250: A Joy Division compilation is released, also titled
Substance. Reaches number 5.
September The first Factory contracts are drawn up. Cath Carroll is
the first to sign, followed by Happy Mondays. New Order have a written agreement that they
only have to give six months notice if they want to leave. Factory buys new premises on
Princes Street, Manchester. They subsequently decorate it on the outside with Happy
Mondays and New Order posters. They have still to move in.
October Happy Mondays release second album Bummed.
November New Order release Fine Time single. Reaches number 11.
January New Order release fifth album Technique. Becomes their
first chart number 1.
February New Order release Round & Round single. Reaches number
21. Tony Wilson resigns as Factory Chairman over a bet with Rob Gretton that it would go
May Happy Mondays release Lazyitis single. Reaches number 85.
July Music Week publish Factory's 1Oth Anniversary edition in time
for the New Music Seminar in New York. Rob Gretton says he "can't be bothered"
talking about the label because he's too busy organizing New Order's American tour.
"That's typical Gretton," says Tony, "I love it." Factory's new
classical records to be released, and new bar Dry to open.
Interviews and text by Martin