Telephone interview with Phil Cunningham, 8th February 2006.

How's things? How's the rehearsals going?

Good. It's really exciting actually, it's just great to be working with Jaime again after all these years. Just like when we were kids and we started off when we were 16, 17, just sat down with acoustic guitars, writing. The good thing about it at the moment is there's no pressure from record companies or anything like that, it's just....

for the music...

Yeah, just for the music, you know. Getting to know each other again really, after, you know, he went off, did his thing, he was obviously a bit fucked up for quite a while, I've been doing the New Order thing, so it's just getting to know each other again really.

So it's just like the old days again then? You were in quite a few bands before Marion, like Cloud and Push The King?

Yeah, yeah, and that's one of the reasons for doing this low key gig down in Bath really. It's friend of mine who's got a night on, really it's just like a pub, and that's how we started off, me and Jaime, playing in pubs in Cloud and Push The King, so it's just revisiting that. We're just gonna take it from there, really. My year with New Order is pretty, sort of, um... last year we worked pretty hard, we had a lot on, but this year is a little bit more chilled. I'm just gonna get together with Jaime and see what happens with the Marion thing really. We are gonna come up with a different name as well, we're just keeping it as Marion for this first gig really, until we basically can come up a different name really.

Was there any discussion of an actual full reunion?

Eh, there was a while back, but I think everyone's doing their own thing now. Nick and Murad are not really doing music anymore, and Beard's got his own band together, so it wouldn've been good to get together as mates, but as me and Jaime keep working together and it gels, we're gonna turn it into something else. But, like I said, we're just taking it as it comes, really, you know.

So do you see it, as it evolves, the Marion side of things dying off, and it being a completely new thing?

I think so yeah. But some of the tunes we've been doing, it's a little bit of a different vibe. A couple have been Rolling Stones-y, Primal Scream-y sort of vibe. There again, the last one we did last night, for example, was more of a Marion-esque tune. More like 'Fallen Through' or something like that. It's always gonna be Marion-ish, you know?

Is it possible, that it'll be like the situation of New Order doing Joy Division songs? Would that be a fair comparison?

Well... yeah, that sort of vibe, yeah. It's gonna be a pleasure to play some Marion tunes at this little gig. Just even stuff off 'The Program' that we didn't get an opportunity to play. That's gonna be the fun side of it, but the other side is gonna be these new tunes we've been working on, that we're pretty excited about.

Do you have the rest of the band members sorted out?

It's a bit sketchy that one at the moment. We've got loads of people who wanna do it, but it's finding the right people really. But for this particular gig in Bath, it's gonna be Jack, the drummer from Haven, is gonna play drums for definite on that one. So, where are you, are you up in Scotland?

Yeah, I'm in Glasgow.

Right, cool.

Do you know what kind of set-up you're looking to do? Is it just gonna be bass and drums, or are you looking to add like keyboards and electronica?

I think it's just gonna be the basic, stripped down band side really. The plan is just to have bass, drums, me on guitar and Jaime singing. I dunno, it depends, we might need an extra guitar, so we'll see how it goes when we start rehearsing, which we plan to do next week. But the other thing is, Jaime's sort of learned how to play guitar recently, and that's been a really big help on the song writing side, cause he comes in with a few ideas, and we can take it from there, so that's been good. In Marion, me and Beard would just come up with all the riffs and he'd lay his vocal on top, but it's a good way of doing it, him coming up with the odd riff and vocal line and then developing it from there. So that might alter the way we write a little bit as well I suppose.

How are the new songs coming about? Is the recording going well?

Yeah, it's really early stages at the moment. The way we're doing it is not concentrating on getting the full band in, production, keyboards, and all that. We're just doing it on acoustic guitars. So we've got about, I dunno, 6 or 7 recorded now. I think we're gonna do about 10 and we're gonna pick about 5 out of the 10 and just really work on those with the band. So, get Jack in on the drums, and whoever it's gonna be on the bass and take it from there really.

Then after that, you'll look to expand the band, do a tour maybe?

Yeah, hopefully. We'll just see what the response to the gig is, and how it works out. I'd love to do that, it's the right time now. There was a long period where me and Jaime didn't speak to each other, but time's a great healer. But, like I said, it's just been great sitting in a room with him writing songs like we did when we were kids. You know, that feeling's back again, so, as long as that lasts, we'll carry on doing it.

Can I ask, how did Marion disband? What exactly happened? I know you went to America to try and tour over there....

It was just basically, em.... well, we lost our deal, but you'll have to ask Jaime about that one.

Ok.

You'll have to ask him. But you know, obviously some stuff you've heard about, and read about, it got pretty fucked up for a while. A few people got tired of just waiting around, and not turning up for stuff. That's why it was time to end it really. No one wanted to, but you know.....

And then you found yourself in Electronic and then New Order?

Yeah, thank God!

What's it been like touring with them? It must be quite special.

Yeah, great, recently it's been really good. We played a gig in Manchester the other weekend, and at the moment we're just sort of playing Joy Division songs in the set, which suits me down to the ground, cause you get away from the whole sequence thing and, you know, keyboards.

Yeah, I saw you a few years ago at the Barrowlands, during the 'Get Ready' tour.

That was the one where there was nearly a riot, cause we didn't go on and play 'Blue Monday' at the end! [laughs]

Yeah, I think you did 2 nights, you did it the first night, but you didn't do it the second night, when I was there, and I was like 'bastards!!!'....

It really kicked off backstage with Hooky [Peter Hook] and Bernard [Sumner]. They had a real 'Oasis moment'. Champagne bottles through the mirrors and stuff. By the time the argument had died down it was 'alright, I'll go out and do it', but by that time of course, the place was empty because everyone left. It must have 20 minutes later.

Yeah, I remember the house lights coming on, and there being a lot of 'What!?!?!?!'...

But it's been great playing those Joy Division tracks, getting back down to basics.

Ok. What sort of things do you listen to these days?

Erm, God..... I'm always wanting to listen to my old records. But, you what, I really like that band Bloc Party. It's one of those where I had the album for ages, and I was like 'I don't get this, I don't get it', but then just one day it sorta clicked. The drummer out of that band is the business.

Yeah, he's phenomenal.

One of the best drummers I've ever heard. So that's something I've been listening to a bit. What else? A lot of old shit really.

What like?

Johnny Cash! I've been on a real Johnny Cash vibe recently.

Have you seen the film yet?

No, I've got a pirate copy of it, I'm about to watch it tonight. So that's my evening.

Interview winds up......

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