“One Summer – why aren’t they bigger than the Roses?” There have been many many bands who’ve held the title ‘should’ve been bigger’ and one of the great lost bands that should’ve certainly been bigger are Manchester band One Summer.
Twenty years after the band split their ex-manager, with the help of Vinyl Revival Recordings, are releasing their debut release for the forthcoming Record Store Day 10th anniversary.
Louder Than War’s Matt Mead interviews.
What are your recollections of how One Summer came to be? Obviously ET (bass player Carl Wolstenholme ex Rainkings) and John Matthews (lead singer) knew each other through ’80’s Manchester band Turning Blue, plus John and Chris Goodwin (drums ex Inspiral Carpets, Stone Roses, Buzzcocks, Electronic) had massive success through THE HIGH, but how did you all become One Summer?
John: After The High called it a day, myself and Chris still wanted to carry on making music. I had played with ET in Turning Blue and he was still playing bass, so I invited him to join. Chris knew Fitz (guitarist Stephen Fitzgerald) and asked me to call him and ask if he was interested in coming down. They both said yes and we arranged a rehearsal. Think this was 1993.
Fitz: I knew Chris from going out in town, we were always backstage at the same gigs in the early eighties Mondays/Roses etc. We all used to hang about in the Boardwalk on Thursday/Sunday nights too, which for me was a better scene than the early Hacienda nights. John and ET were part of the same circle of friends. I had been playing guitar in various North Manc bands for a number of years when I bumped into John and Chris in the old Ten Bar in town and they asked would I be interested in joining a new band they were forming. I think we started rehearsing the following week.
What was your background before managing One Summer?
Steve Caton: (One Summer ex-manager): I was the owner of a small clothes shop in central Manchester, Geese. Geese was pretty intense from day one – 1 March 1984 – until it closed – 1 March 2004. It’s nice to hear the shop being regarded as iconic so long after closing.
Had you managed any bands before or after One Summer?
Steve: No management experience other than managing a small clothes shop in Manchester.
What was the initial thoughts behind One Summer and where did you want to go with the band? World domination? Kings of Manchester?
John: Personally I didn’t have any vision of pushing One Summer and wanting it to be a success. It was more about who we were together and what music we could make together. We never stopped laughing and Manchester was one of a hell place to be around at this time. Rehearsal and going out as friends all blurred into one, which made it even better. We would rehearse, eat, drink, talk bollocks and laugh our way through everything. We were always out at gigs etc. Great times !
Fitz: I think we were all just happy to make the music that we liked, we all had a similar set of influences, there was no real plan apart from making good music. We had a great manager, a lad called Steve Caton who owned the shop Geese in town and he had some great plans, he put together the Isobar show, which was one of the best we did, we had Trev Johnson doing posters and Matt and Pat Carroll from Central station doing T shirts, Steve set up the In the City show as well.
Steve: I was mates with Chris from him coming into Geese. We just chatted about music, music, and music. Chris was a big REM fan, the conversation should have ended there. Ten years later 1995 he asked me to go and meet One Summer ET, Fitz and John. I recall John being the best dancer in the Hacienda 87/88. How could I not want to manage One Summer! What were the early days of One Summer? Most of the band were on the dole and just enjoying playing music. Is that right? I had no idea the boys where on the dole. I thought John and Chris where living off the global success of The High, Fitz was at British aerospace, ET was ET.
Can you remember what the first rehearsals were like? Where did you rehearse?
John: Yeah, Beehive Mill in Manchester and it just felt right.
Fitz: Hard to forget them really, we rehearsed in whats now Sankeys nightclub. Back then it was an old mill with rehearsal studios on each floor, it was freezing. We would meet up in the Cross Keys pub next door which was a proper old school Ancoats pub, you could buy anything in there, from leather jackets to live sheep. We eventually moved to a place near the CIS building called The Red House, another scabby cellar that stunk of damp, it cost about a tenner a session, the owner was a great bloke called Al, or Asbestos Al given that the place was made of the stuff, we rehearsed next door to a covers band called Bi Jovi.
Did you all jam out songs or did you all have song structures that you brought to rehearsals? Was John the main force behind the lyrics?
John: Fitz would bring in a new riff, Chris would drum along and ET would get a baseline going. I’d then mumble along until I got something. This could be a quick process or sometimes take time. I scribbled down lyrics as I went along, although sometimes I’d just sing a word that wasn’t a word to fit it into the melody or song..
Fitz: We would set up the gear and just jam out ideas. We all contributed to the music but John wrote all of the lyrics and vocal melodies. I might turn up one week with a riff or as with Spirit, Chris came in with that drum beat and we worked around that.
Who were your musical influences at the time of One Summer?
John: Wouldn’t want to speak for anyone else on their individual influences but think its fair to say that collectively we loved what Talk Talk were doing on Spirit of Eden.
Fitz: We had many various influences, Love, Bowie, Talk Talk, Rain Parade, Joy Division, Lieutenant Pigeon.
Did One Summer do a proper tour at any point? If so where did you play? Did you support big upcoming bands?
John: This is one thing I can’t quite remember, especially the dates, but as I recall we played The Roadhouse a few times, a very funny trip down to London to play in Soho at Madame Jo Jo’s. We supported Northern Uproar on a mini tour and played Gloucester, Portsmouth. The Isobar gig, Hacienda and In the City and, erm, then I need help remembering ?? Think we supported IntaStella somewhere ?
Fitz: Yeah we toured with Northern Uproar across the UK. We played in London a few times, Madam Jojos and the Water Rats, Madam Jojos was a great day out. As with most Manc bands, our entourage was bigger than the group, and we took over Soho for the day
Any interesting stories you can give from tour dates/playing live?
John: Too many, but the usual stuff that happens when you take a group of lads in a band to another town and play a gig. We didn’t have a deal, so it was all self funded and we didn’t have much money at all, so squeezing as many as people as possible into a transit van and then all squeezing into guest house double rooms meant lots of laughter and brushes with landladies, hiding in corridors etc to avoid being rumbled. Funny times!
Steve: Every gig we played while I managed had the same mad packed out vibe as the gig before so no particular gig stands out. They where all ace.
Fitz: How long have you got – every show had a tale attached to it. We had Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet at one of our shows, no idea what he was doing there and when we played in London, Frank Black of the Pixes turned up. When we played Glouster Guildhall we were carried out on peoples shoulders and down the main street, they loved us. We used to book one single bed room in a B and B and smuggle all 20 of us in plus amps/drums and equipment. The Isobar show was mad, watch the video, everyone who was anyone was there.
You played at Paul Gallaghers 30th birthday party. Were you close friends with Paul and his brothers?
Fitz: I think we all know/knew Noel from The Boardwalk days, I knew Bod and Noel from going to City.
John: Paul was managing Performance. We got involved and played with them. We weren’t close friends, but at the time almost everyone you rubbed shoulders with was either in a band or doing something with a band. Manchester had that village feel and when you went out you bumped into everyone. That was the special buzz for me about ten years after ’89, Manchester was a place that was doing all sorts of things in music, culture, inner city development etc etc and pushing the rest of the county along.
Can you tell us abit about some of the songs on the forthcoming Record Store Day release? Can’t Stop Falling:
John: We all wrote it. I’ve never wrote lyrics with a direct message or story. If that sounds a bit fluffy and vague thats okay, I’ll leave the story tellers to tell their stories, you can make your own mind up and Can’t Stop Falling can be about anything you want.
Fitz: This came from a rehearsal jam, I think it was the first song we ever did. We used to have this dude called Franco that knocked about with us and came to all of our rehearsals, he just turned up one day and stuck with us, I think he mentioned live backing vocals to me, so I started doing little bits here and there, Cant Stop Falling was the first I ooh’d and ahh’d on !!! Can’t Stop Falling was also played by Pete Mitchell on his radio show.
Pete Mitchell (famed BBC Radio 2/6 Music, Manchester Piccadilly, XFM, Virgin FM, Absolute Radio DJ): My memory of this time is a little vague. I remember I used to see Andy (Couzens, The High guitarist) , John and Chris around town quite a lot during The High days. They always looked like they were having a good time. When they split in the early ’90’s, like many groups of the time, Manchester was very bleak. Everything seemed gloomy. However things move on and people started to reorganise and re group. I was talking to Chris, maybe at Dry Bar or the Boardwalk after the split and he told me of his latest venture One Summer. Now this I remember. It was the title of one of my favourite TV shows, written by Willy Russell with music by Alan Parker, about a couple of scousers who run off to Wales for the summer. The soundtrack has just been released on my friend Andy Votels record label Finders Keepers. They were involved with Factory I think. Chris sent me a demo/final copy and I played his new band on my weekend music show IQ on Piccadilly Radio. Through the haze of time I can recall thinking that if it was good enough to get played on the radio, then it was good enough to hit the Top 40. Alas it was not to be.
John: “Cherry blossom skies and sunshine”….We all wrote that one….Martin Moscrop on de Flute.
Fitz: I had a guitar riff nicked from New Orders’ Leave Me Alone and Regret and it sort of built round that…I think. Martin Moscrop from ACR took us into his studio to record it for free…thanks Martin…and one of his mates a kid called Bernard Moss played flute live in one take.
John: A long jam session and lots of versions, lots of messing with it and this was a live favourite as you could extend it and play around with it.
Fitz: Spirit was one of the last things we did, We were always listening to Talk Talks ‘Laughing Stock’ album and theres a track called After the Flood, which is a big One Summer favourite, listen to the drums on that, Chris’s were better. ETs bassline is great too, one of the best I’ve heard from a white kid. Thats the sound we were developing into, I think the others will agree that was our favourite to play.
Steve: All the songs seemed to be in place in 95 prior to me getting on board. The quality of those songs and the fact the boys where all easy going made the offer of managing them an easy decision.
You played the In The City event in Manchester, run by Tony Wilson, you were runners up to Placebo who won. What are your memories of this event?
John: Great day… If I remember rightly, we heard Hooky was in the crowd as he was one of the judges ? Went out gave our best and got a great response, but we didn’t make it through to “Boot Camp”…
Fitz: We supported Baby Bird who were crap even then. I remember seeing Tony Hadley at our gig, and Hooky. We were down to the last three bands, it was us, a band called performance and Placebo.
Why weren’t One Summer signed up by a record company?
Steve: I cant recall ever having a conversation with anyone in the music business in regards to being signed.No one ever approached me, I just hanged around waiting for it to happen. We played all of the correct gigs to attract record label interest,Roadhouse/Hacienda/Madam Jo Jo’s/In the City. My strategy was, we are fucking brilliant the next big Manchester band come and get us. In hindsight this was just naive and lazy.
What happened after the In The City event?
Fitz: We got onto the Northern Uproar tour and played the UK – Plymouth, Portsmouth, Glouscter, London and Manc. We played Manc almost every month.
When and why did One Summer decide to call it a day?
John: I think about 1995 or 1996. I decided to call it a day and went and got a “proper job”. Spent the next few years pondering this decision, but you can’t go back and just happy that we all still in touch and friends.
Fitz: We called it a day around the end of ’96, we had started enjoying the social side of things a bit too much, we would be out every night of the week instead of rehearsing, and it took its toll.
What made you decide to get the Spirit EP released for Record Store Day?
Steve: Fitz and I have kept in touch, I think I suggested putting the tracks out 12 months ago simply because the tracks are too good never to have been released, just get them out there and see what happens. Fitz introduced me to Colin (White, Vinyl Revival Recordings) who managed the whole process and suggested releasing on April 21 VE record store day. Working with Colin for the first time was effortless, everything was straight forward. I’ve known and worked with Trevor (Johnson, Sleeve Designer) since 1913 Trevor is also very easy to work with and happily provided the artwork.
Are you pleased One Summer are finally getting their debut release?
Steve: Its nice seeing the whole package come together and nice for me to be giving something back after what was a feeble attempt at band management.
When are we going to see a One Summer reunion?
Fitz: I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group One Summer 27.05.16 !!!!!
John: We’ve had our personal re-union. A three track EP is coming out for Record Store Day, released through Vinyl Revival. Vinyl Revival is 20 years old this year and Colin White is celebrating this at The Ruby Lounge and we’ve been asked to play.
Interview by Matt Mead. More writing by Matt can be found at his Louder Than War author archive.