If there was a World Cup dedicated to having quite a life, then Moseley born Dave Haslam would certainly be into the knockout stages. DJ at the legendary Hacienda, DJ for the Stone Roses (also legendary) Spike Island concert when it seemed all the youth of the world were Baggy, and also a talented best selling author and raconteur, Dave really has been there, done that and got the t-shirt (or maybe the record.)
Last week Dave returned to Birmingham to promote his latest book, a memoir with the brilliant title ‘Sonic Youth slept on my floor.’ An intimate audience of friends and fans gathered together on the stage of Birmingham’s beautiful Town Hall to listen to extracts from the book read by the man himself, and then to enjoy a question and answer season conducted by Birmingham Music Archivist Jez Collins.
The evening started with a couple of readings from the new book, the first being from the chapter ‘Joy Division in a Mod Club’, which took place during August 1979 in Romulus, a club once on the Hagley Road in Birmingham, and where Dave had talked his way in to attending a soundcheck for the band ‘The Au Pairs’. The chapter was an amusing look at the Birmingham Music scene in the late 70s, with Dexy’s Midnight Runners popping up to add a slightly sinister air to proceedings with their ‘Dexy’s against the world persona.
The second reading was an hilarious episode where Dave appeared on Icelandic MTV to promote the Factory film ’24 Hour Party People’ and was interviewed by a very young, bouncy person and was asked just one question ‘who is the most famous person you have ever met’ and answered Moby – he’s very short.
Q&A with Jez Collins
On Birmingham in the 1970s
I was inquisitive, as 12-13 watching Saturday night television, something like ‘It aint half hot mom’ and I’d think, there’s got to be more than this. I wanted to get beyond the obvious and the mainstream. I would follow strangely dressed people through the streets. I fell in love with the weirdos, they were incredibly creative and incredibly brave.
On Why the Book is a memoir
It is deliberately a memoir rather than an autobiograhy as there is a lot of emotion in the book. Not all the emotion is negative, there is a lot of joy as well as despair. The book is me trying to find the words for my emotions.
On his record Collection
I had 4,500 records in my collection which represented both my career and my life. I sold my record collection when I instinctively knew I had lost my connection to them. I still have the music as it is everywhere. The records had begun to feel like baggage that I didn’t want to carry around everywhere with me.
I sold the collection to a DJ who wanted to take them around the world. He made them living things again.
On the Fanzine Debris
I’ve forgotten about it, but I loved it at the time. It has very varied content, a product of who I was. We finished issue 19 in 1987, and I feel that we should now bring out issue 20 like nothing ever happened.
The Fanzine led to me writing for the NME, which was funny as the fanzine had been set up as a reaction against the NME.
On going to Manchester
Manchester and Birmingham were very similar, with more people buying Dire Straits than Factory Records. It was a small scene, but that made it easier to fit in, these were my tribe.
On tribes today
There are indie tribes now, young people are just as resourceful as they ever were. There was a generation that was bewitched by the internet and Tony Blair, but the generation came after were bewitched by neither and are finding their own space.
The title of the book
You can’t get more mudane than sleeping on someone’s floor. Although situations are mudane, they can also be memorable, like when you hear a song and can remember something in perfect detail down to what you are wearing etc.
Someone once came up to me in the Hacienda and said that he loved the Acid House I was playing, and I had no idea it was called Acid House!
The best period was the early period, before everything was defined. We all felt like we were on a big adventure. Tony Wilson believed that youth culture and music culture could change the world. He was the only one who truly understood the importance of what we were doing. We were playing the music but he was shaping it all.
The Birmingham musical heritage is just as strong as Manchester’s on paper, but Manchester is so reverred due to the likes of Tony Wilson. People like Jon Savage and Tony Morley were writing about it, the Factory label stayed in the city, and the Hacienda was at its centre.
Stone Roses and Spike Island
The Stone Roses were always pretty ropey live, well Ian (Brown) was. Reni was one of the best drummers around, he held it together and Mani raised them with a great rhythm section. I was their warm up DJ for three years, and to watch them rise to Spike Island in front of 20,000 people was incredible. But it also felt like a natural end.
I was close to Morrissey for a time, I made him cauliflower cheese. I was a big Smiths fan, from 83-85 they were my favourite band. I found Morrissey to be very charming and funny.
I lost touch with him around 33 years ago, so I really don’t know this person who appears on my Twitter feed spouting shite.
With my sister at the end of the talk.