Factory Records Day: Factory by Cath Carrol
Sometime in early 1978, when I was at school in Manchester, Tony Wilson was invited to the boys' grammar school to give a talk about this new punk rock business. Our girls' school, across the road, was also invited via some self-consciously new wave posters "Meet controversial host of Granada's So It Goes etc." My friend Julie insisted we go over to see him because she had a crush on him and I didn't get out enough.
We, the pimply audience, shuffled sheepishly as Tony ranted and declaimed, giving his all, despite our lack of engagement. I asked him about it years later, did he remember? Of course he did. "What a bunch of complacent fucks you were. NOTHING to say." Everything mattered to Tony; he found the legend in everything.
He worked it hard, quietly wrangling with dangerously real gangsters while noisily constructing lurid myths around those more harmless, the members of the Factory roster. When real life ran to grey, Tony always had a new confection at the ready: "Vini Reilly insists that all his future recordings will be Gentle Giant covers - and Factory can't fuckingg stop him!"; "Kevin Hewick - that mad fucker - he lives in his guitar case!" ; "Those mad bastardsn from Wythenshawe - they forgot they hid their drugs in their gas bill, and posted it!". The legend assigned to me was, I stole Tony's nest egg and ran away to America, like some cosh-less Ronnie Biggs. Not true, but rather that than the Gentle Giant story, those songs are a devil to sing.
Back to the beginning. After several years of hanging around Factory, dedicating a fanzine to whinging about them, and wishing Wilson would see the genius in our band, Gay Animals, we gave up and moved to London. There we re-emerged as Miaow and eventually recorded a song that Tony heard in his car one day. Suddenly we were on Factory. "Fabulous, darling!" said Tony. It began as it ended, with Tony calling from his car, the great idea machine.
Anthony H took up most of the Factory bandwidth, having so much to say and all of it fascinating. However, quietly necessary to this genius were the less voluble contributions of his fellow Factory directors. Rob Gretton, for instance, could describe worlds with a single sentence.
Tony's decision to release my first solo record on rather generous terms had generated some colourful opinions back at the old Palatine Rd ranch. In August of 1990, my co-manager Paul Smith and I met with the Factory team minus Anthony H. (on holiday in Italy). We'd just finished the video for the first solo release, the Beast EP. Alan Erasmus made the usual diplomatic comments. Rob Gretton, lying on the old carpet (oh, if rugs could talk.) listened quietly. Factory's accountant, Chris Smith, looking pained, ran through some figures related to this creative venture. When he was done, there was a pause, then Rob's flat Mancunian tones floated up from the floor " - It's alright that, in't it Paul?"
By Cath Carroll (Wikipedia)