Section 25 are one of the great undiscovered post punk bands. Innovative and ahead of the game the Blackpool based group formed by brothers Vin and Larry Cassidy were one of only three bands not to lose money for Factory Records.
Their initial dark yet thrilling bass driven, disco punk ÃÂ on their debut 1981 Martin Hannett produced ‘Always Now’ album (which came complete with a classic Peter Saville designed sleeve) was groundbreaking and has recently become a template for bands like Factory Floor and their ilk.
Their early gigs in Blackpool were enthrallingly original and as we all made the transition from punk to post punk it was amazing that one of the most innovative bands was actually on our own doorstep. I still remember Larry’s silver striped bass and the brutal power of their music with Vin’s patented disco/tribal drums and those skull crushingly incessant bass lines clouded from Larry combining with Paul Wiggin’s noise skree guitar.
The band’s later 1984 released ‘Looking From A Hilltop’ sung by Larry’s wife, the late Jenny Cassidy, was one of the first techno post punk crossover tunes and still sounds astonishingly fresh to this day.
In the past few years they released three equally stark and cutting albums that showed they had lost none of their invention and cut.
Last year founder member and vocalist Larry Cassidy died and his shock death seemed to have ended the group. Fortunately his brother and other core member Vin has decided to carry on with the group, John Robb caught up with him to find out how.
What was the initial idea behind the ‘Retrofit’ remix album
I always thought that the band had been shortchanged in a way, especially with the earlier stuff like Girls Dont Count and Dirty Disco, we were young and inexperiencedÃÂ then and, in some ways, I felt there was some potential in those songs that we tapped into live at the time but not so much on record. You would not be suprised that Larry didÃÂ disagree with me on this!ÃÂ but that’s how I felt. The aim behind the project was to revisit theseÃÂ songs with the same sentiment and intent but with the latestÃÂ equipment and say, ‘right if we were doing this for the first time now this is how it is.’
Was it difficult to work out what to do with tracks- lot of different Section 25 styles? what was the process?
Yes it was difficult. I decided to use the one style throughoutÃÂ I am most comfortable myselfÃÂ with- sequencers and drum machines. I like machines, it can be a hypnotic process and that’s always a good way of introducing positive ideas with the lyric. Put the Right Thought In the Right Mind. When Larry died halfway throughÃÂ recording the album, the projectÃÂ became really hard for me, just listening to your dead brother’s voice, his emotion- bloody hard but I wanted to finish it for both of us.
How difficult was to carry on after the death of Larry? what are the plans with the band now and down the line? new abum etc?
Section 25 was always a joint art project for Larry and I,ÃÂ when he died I asked myself ,do you want to carry on? After a while I thought, yeah I fucking do! I hope he approves, I left a copy on his grave anyway but some bugger nicked it. We (Beth,Stu and Steve) are writing new songs and we plan a new album in the second half of this year and more live shows hopefully- interesting gigs in interesting places. I like playing, it releases something for me, not sure what but I have to let it out or I may explode.
How important is Blackpool as a backdrop for the band?
Blackpool is the region we come from, were born into. Unfortunately as ever- a cultural desert but maybe that encouraged Larry and I to express ourselves in the first place. When we first rehearsed at a warehouse in the centre of Blackpool about 100 metres from the ‘Golden Mile’ the surrounding guest house keepers hated us. We would arrive at the practice room and they would have swept all the dog shit up in the alleyway and leave it at our doorstep.That made us play faster/angrier and more determined.That was in 1978, what’s changed ?
I should know this, coming from Blackpool, but how did you end up playing drums in Section 25
I have played drums since I was 11 or 12 and used to be very happy playing alongÃÂ merrily on my own, then Larry came back from college in London with a bass and a head full of punk in about 76-77ishÃÂ and said, ‘LET’S START A BAND!’. It went on from there really. It went on like that for quite a while until we found the missing part of the triangle, guitarist Paul Wiggin. Larry said we were the original drum n bass, before people even knew what that was, just me and him playing like maniacs, locked in together when weÃÂ jammed, Paul doing his nihilist ambient fuzz guitar ‘thing’ and Larry shouting at people over the top of it.
We would get up and play gigs totally improvised from start to finish, no idea what we would do until we started playing, not some headwank, jazzy kind of thing but pure spontaneaous creative anger- that was our idea of punk.
Are you still in touch with the Factory family
Yeah, I still see a lot of the oldÃÂ Factory Mafia,those thatÃÂ can still get off the settee anyway, nice crowd and I really like to see people still active musically.
The so called new albums from the last few years are fucking great, how did you manage to keep your edge and creativity?
Thanks for that, I suppose we are still the same people we always were and the coreÃÂ stuff we feel strongly about and emotions we need to get out are still the same as they ever were, and music is just as good a way as it always was to get that out/ Larry and I made music for us, not for other people. That’s not meant to sound arrogant because that’s not how I mean it. It’s just an honest approach. That was the real point,then and now.