The current music scene has taken a pasting from a pair of Mancs - one mouthy, the other characteristically curmudgeonly, and both with new albums to promote.
First it was Noel Gallagher talking to The Quietus, complaining that everything is "so bland and safe" while rejecting in unconvincing terms interviewer Jude Rogers' gentle observation that he might actually be held at least partially responsible for this sorry state of affairs: "I know what you're saying – it's the same kind of thing but with an
acoustic guitar, yeah. But that's the key thing. Ours were electric
guitars, and we were from the streets. There you go." Sorry Noel, but I for one am not hankering for a return to the supposedly halcyon days of 'Bittersweet Symphony' and 'Rocks'.
As boring as his music is, Gallagher always makes for a refreshingly candid and entertaining interviewee, even when he's spouting bullshit. It's beyond me how he can bemoan a perceived lack of working-class voices in music these days and then, in attempting to respond to Sleaford Mods' jibes about him, argue that music shouldn't become infused with politics in any obvious way. He does make a sound point, though, when he points out that art was better under Maggie Thatcher (in spite of her, though, not because) - it often flourishes in adverse conditions and when there's a real enemy to kick against, and Marilyn Manson has made much the same observation about the cultural impact of Ronald Reagan's presidency during the same period.
As an aside, I imagine any Morrissey fans dismayed at the cancellation of tour dates last year will hardly be pacified by the revelation that the great man was quite fit enough to booze away energetically in the company of Gallagher and mutual friend Russell Brand...
The second Manc to mouth off was Mark E Smith, speaking to the Independent on the eve of the release of The Fall's umpteenth album Re-Mit. He's not known for suffering fools gladly, and sure enough he doesn't have anything good to say about contemporary pop and rock acts: "The occasions I go to award shows, they're just a bunch of shits. You
sit next to The Killers, and it's like, am I on the wrong fucking train
here? No, really. Talking about shares and stuff. Mumford and Sons, it's
like sitting next to Ernst and Young."
Nearly 40 years since The Fall were founded, Smith still clearly has no interest whatsoever in playing the game. He describes one track from the new record, 'Sir William Wray', as "anti-music": "Stick that up your arse, X Factor." Their publisher deserves a medal for managing to get the band a deal with Twilight to write a horror song in return for $50,000 regardless of whether it was actually used (of course it wasn't...).
(Thanks to Dave for the first link.)
Update: Thanks to Dave (a different one) for pointing out that the Mark E Smith interview is actually from 2013. That'll serve me right for forgetting to check the date...