Years and years and years ago I was sat in my mate’s house smoking, eating sandwiches and listening to records and he played a Three Johns record and then another, and another. They were great and fresh and to my ears and brain they still are super fresh, a thousand frowns less dour than many of the bands around at the time, a real howl of fun! Then some weeks later, we went to Leeds to see an exhibition of the singer John Hyatt’s paintings which were like the records, big slabs of irreverent fun. Leeds were• the centre of the Goth scene and for some reason to us in the slightly further south of Manchester The Three Johns had been lumped in with that scene by proxy, but really they were on another planet than the backcombed and crimped mongers of darkly doom. They were also considered a part of the northern agit pop movement, which again was something bands tended to get categorised as depending on whether they had played a Miners benefit or not. At first I thought they sounded a bit like a happier Virgin Prunes, who also had that techno voodoo rockabilly vibe, but further listening showed the Three Johns had tons of different ideas and were a classic pop band, they were constantly regenerating and many of those ideas I heard first on Three Johns records cropped up in less abrasive and clever ways later on other bands songs.
Then some years and more years later I was doing art foundation at Arden in Wythenshawe and came to the decision to apply for the Fine Art course at MMU, there were good reasons for this, but one great reason was John Hyatt, whose paintings had been an influence on me, and who was then the head of the department of Fine Art, so, I figured, it must be a bit of a maverick post punk rock place to be.
As it happened the course was in the process of moving buildings from the Medlock campus to the old School of Art Grosvenor building, so there was a fresh start for the whole department. One of the first things I did was go for a beer with John Hyatt, I pretty much doorstepped him in the pub, and we got chatting, and he told me to go for it, do what I want to do, and don’t be afraid to put my head above the parapet. So I did, and during my time at MMU I did what I could to make the course a maverick post punk rock place to be, at least in the vicinity of myself and my post punk rock maverick mates.
Fast forwarding the tape through years and cities on roads that get fuller with each revolution to now, there is only the now! We, M4SK 22, Simon and myself, have collaborated with John Hyatt on his Pilot of Bee Patrol project, fusing our music with his music, his words, our images, his images, until it all shakes up into something meaningful. We are thrilled to present this first product, “This is a Time of Alternative Being”.
It is a great pleasure to be working with John Hyatt now and I hope this collaboration grows and grows, it is a nice way to keep up with something that for me started back in the late 80s. I can say the same for my comrade Mr Woolham too, his music loving roots are deeply enshrined in the northern post punk badlands of Manchester and West Yorkshire, and he joined us at MMU a year later and immediately set about flying his own post punk rock flag, literally from the top of the Grosvenor building, but that is part of another story which will be coming soon to this station, you know it will, it really will.
Dave Moss. July 2011.
•a deliberate use of were instead of was there, setting the location with dialect geo tagging.