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Weekend: Manchester is alive with the sound of music once more

Children Of The State: From left: Corey Clifton, Harry Eland, John McCullagh, Conor O’Reilly and Nathan Keeble PICTURE: SAM CROWSTON

MANCHESTER and music go together like apple and custard. Nonetheless, just like the rest of the UK, the lockdown has had a huge impact on the local live music scene, with shows cancelled and album launches postponed. But you can’t keep a good Manchester down and there’s a real buzz about the place once again. Here, three upcoming bands pay tribute to the city’s sound and venues.

Children Of The State

Yorkshire-born but now making waves on the Manchester scene, the group is made up of John McCullagh, Nathan Keeble, Corey Clifton, Conor O’Reilly and Harry Eland.

Based in Ancoats, they are mates with The Blinders, and have been busy in Liverpool as well, supporting The Mysterines.

New single Big Sur, which the band says is ‘born out of a lot of grey days in Doncaster wanting to be at the beach’, is out now. Produced by The Coral’s Ian Skelly and engineered by Chris Taylor at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios, the track’s video was shot and directed by Sam Crowston of The Blinders.

There’s a debut album in the pipeline, too. John gives us his take on Manchester…

On the music scene…

‘Coming from a small town, the Manchester scene seems huge but it’s very supportive of new bands. We’re still kind of stuck in 1966, so I’m not the best person to ask about new music, but I do like Go Express and The Blinders. We all ended up going on holiday to Budapest before all this, which was a lot of fun.’

On the city’s venues…

‘Deaf Institute is a beautiful venue with so much history, so it’s great to see it saved. We love the Northern Quarter and the Oldham Street corridor is great, with loads of places to play and watch live music. And Gullivers is one of our favourites, but you could walk down there and go in anywhere for a great night.’

Heavy Salad

Collective: The band’s Allan Hutchison, Rob Glennie and Lee Mann with Oscar Remers (rear) and The Priestesses

This East Manchester collective is made up of core trio Lee Mann (live bassist with The Moonlandingz), Rob Glennie and Allan Hutchison, plus a broader line-up for live shows — including backing singers The Priestesses and Oscar Remers. They work out of a base in Ancoats.

The coronavirus crisis delayed the much-anticipated release of the band’s debut album, Cult Casual, which was recorded by Christophe Bride at Oxygene Studio in Salford and with Ross Orton at McCall Sound in Sheffield.

The album explores some big ideas about life, after-life and apocalyptic visions of the future, so it’s fitting to release it during a global pandemic. Lead singer Lee shares his views…

On the music scene…

‘It’s a loose kind of scene, with loads of really inventive stuff going on. There’s a great band called The Maitlands, and The Battery Farm make brilliant abrasive punk rock. You’ll get psych-pop and post punk and there’s so much cross-pollination. I love that one band will remix another’s work. I’ve been lucky to do remixes for PINS and The Maitlands.’

On the city’s venues…

‘Over the years we’ve had great nights in places like Big Hands and Temple of Convenience. The Eagle Inn in Salford had a great live room and they serve good beer, too.

‘Gullivers is great, and Night And Day is an amazing venue that always reinvents itself for each generation of bands.

YES is another of our favourites, because it has a really good DIY ethos. I’ve worked at Deaf Institute as a DJ from the start. They’re a big part of the scene.’

■ Heavy Salad’s single The Wish is out now.

The Blinders

Looking to peak: The Blinders are (from left) Thomas Haywood, Charlie McGough and Matthew Neale

Originally from South Yorkshire, now based in Fallowfield, the core line-up is guitarist Thomas Haywood, bass guitarist Charlie McGough, and drummer Matthew Neale, but they’ve been joined for live-streamed shows by Eoghan Clifford, Thomas Castrey, Paris Taylor and Callum Chesterman.

The launch of their second album, Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath, was delayed by Covid but the new single, Mule Track, is out now. In September, they hope to do a UK headline tour. Charlie McGough gives us his take on Manchester…

On the music scene…

‘Cabbage have a scene around them with some great bands like Afghan Sand Gang. They have all taken us under their wings. Document are brilliant at the moment, and Go Express are a great post-punk band. People like Mark E Smith have been a big influence, and you hear that sound a lot. I think when we first started we worried it might be a bit cliquey, but I think there’s a lot of mutual respect.’

On the city’s venues…

‘Night And Day was always the big venue for us. Our dream was to headline there and sell it out. Another massive milestone was playing Deaf Institute. Gorilla is brilliant and we love Gullivers, The Rose & Monkey and Night People.’