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Cash 4 Questions with Barney  By David Quantick

© 1999 Q

He is half of Electronic, a quarter of New Order and isnít he a naughty fellow! You blamed him for Keith Allen and asked him about as many drugs as there are drugs. In return, he denied ever having "touched himself". Meet the people Bernard Sumner.

Bernard Sumner is looking rather well. In rude health, even. This may be because Bernard Sumner has stopped eating pasties, but itís more likely because the night before Manchester United won a football match against some Germans.

In a West London hotel, the only non-purple star called Barney lounges on a well-stuffed sofa nursing a half-bottle of Chardonnay. In spite of his numerous 43 years -20 of them spent as a member of Joy Division, New Order, Electronic, and, if you want to be pedantic, Englandneworder, the short-lived rock/footie conglomeration that brought you the rapping of John Barnes - he appears younger than he has any right to.

Moreover - bucking his Mr Miseryguts reputation - Summer appears delighted to answer even the readersí ugliest questions. Some of his replies maybe tongue-in-cheek, and some are, frankly, lies. He may, charmingly, have faith in the beauty of moustaches, he may be eerily loath to reveal the secret of his morphing surname, but the former Bernard Dicken is proving an amenable chap. Just donít call him Warsaw, thatís all.

Q opens the ceremonial geography project folder of questions, Sumner sips his Chardonnay and off we go.

Words David Quantick



Is True Faith about ecstasy?
Trisha Farmer. Hull
No. Itís about drug dependency. I donít touch smack but when I wrote that song I tried to imagine what itís like to be a smackhead and nothing else matters to you except that dayís hit. Thereís a line in the song, ďWhen I was a very young boy, very young boys played with me/Now weíve grown up together, theyíre afraid of what they see." The original was, ďNow theyíre taking drugs with me,Ē but Stephen Hague our producer made us change it because he said it wouldnít be a hit if we kept that line in. He was right. It was a very big hit, but we chickened out. I change it back sometimes live.

Given your chemically excessive past, what is your parental advice to your kids concerning drugs?
Anthony Clifford, Taunton
Donít go anywhere near heroin or crack or acid. Taking ecstasyís like Russian roulette, except you've got 99,000 bullets that are empty and one thatís loaded. I donít know anyone whoís taken cocaine where it hasnít become a friend for life. Although you can say the same for cigarettes. I donít smoke marijuana, but if youíre going to take a drug, thatís the best one. Itís not as bad for you as alcohol and it makes people mellow and friendly, Unfortunately, it just makes me go to sleep.

Do you still have a receiver in your head?
Noel Edmunds, via e-mail
I think I know what this is about. I think I came out in an interview with some bullshit answer to a question about howl wrote music. I said that I had a television aerial in my head and it picked ideas out ofthe ether and I used to work at night when everyone was asleep. Maybe I did write in a different way in those days. I think now Iíve not got that many problems in my life, I want to write songs about the ones I have got, rather than that kind of... dreamscape. I used to be pretty sort of dreamy and go off on one. I still can do it. I sat in my room for twelve hours just not watching television or anything, just thinking.

What made you piss yourself on Every Little Counts?
Jamie BIundell, Rednal
The words were so bad, basically (ďI think you are a pig/You should be in a zooĒ). We kept it on because it was better than the original lyric.

Whatís your excuse for having a moustache when you were Warsaw?
Ursula Stevenson, Reading
Itís a popular misconception that we were called Warsaw. We were never called Warsaw. At our first concert we changed it to Joy Division (He is reminded of the question) The moustach? Iíd forgotten all about that. In those days moustaches were really big. The thing I was embarrassed about was it was a bumlluff moustache that didnít quite join in the middle. Bit like Noelís eyebrows. No, the opposite of Noelís eyebrows. It looked like I had Noelís eyebrows on my lip. Iíll stand by my moustache. If you look at most pop stars, youíll find some kind of styling error in their past history.

When joy Division started, why did you keep changing your surname, from Dicken to Albrecht to Sumner?
Dove Clarke, Salford
Family reasons. Iíd rather not go into it.

Ian Curtis, 1999 - what would he be up to?
Matt Palmer, Worcestershire
Itís hard to imagine because Ian was very ill. I canít imagine him in the Ď90s. He once threatened to go off and leave the group and buy a corner shop in Bournemouth. It was an off-licence that sold books as well, I think that was his idea. These mad, completely illogical thoughts used to come into his head from time to time. So maybe eventually he would have done that. I think he would have been a writer, because he was always reading books and he was always writing anyway. Or maybe he would have retired a millionaire by now, who knows? Silly sod.

Is it true that Touched By The Hand Of God is about whacking off
Aidan Vaziri, San Francisco
(Long pause followed by wide-eyed response) Whatís whacking off mean? (It is explained to him) I would not write a song about masturbating, No, itís not, most definitely isnít. And I've never done that in my life ever. Ever. Do people really do that? Masturbate? Do you masturbate? Iíve never done it ever in my life. Iíve certainly never written a song about it. (Confidentially) Itís about bestiality, actually.

Do you keep losing Johnny Marrís phone number?
Nick Trevor, New York
Well, we go off and do other things. The first album, I did Republic and a tour, and Johnny did stuff with The The. Between Raise The Pressure and Twisted Tenderness, Johnny produced an album for Marion. Twisted Tenderness was finished last summer but we didnít bring it out because the music business takes a holiday in August and then youíre get-ting ready for Christmas, so we couldnít release it Ďtil after. And anyway, who wants to finish the album? ĎCos then youíve got to go out and promote it and make videos. Itís much more fun staying in the studio and making it.

Do you regret doing that Prozac documentary? Wasnít it a rather strange thing to do?
Damon Williams, Bromley

I regret it but not bitterly. It was interesting tak-ing Prozac because I donít really suffer from depression but I can be a melancholic sort of person. It was interesting being a different person for seven months. It really agreed with me. I still think itís a very, very interesting drug. I found when I took it if I had problems, then instead of me crumbling before my problems, I would deal with the problems.

Quote a lyric from the second Electronic album that isnít from the single, Forbidden City.
William Haas, Winchester

Um... I honestly canít be bothered. You tell me. What a trainspotter. All right, hereís one: ďMisguided youth/You mix some juice with alcohol." Itís from Liquor.

Finish the sentence, in less than 10 words, ďManchester is great because..."
Carl Hedges, Liverpool
Weíve got the best football team, we've got the best bands, weíve got the best gang violence scene anywhere in Britain, Itís always sunny there, it never rains...

You and Michael jackson are the only pop stars who whoop. Discuss.
Heather Thompson, London NB
Ha ha ha! Well, I get excited. Whoopings a primeval expression of enjoyment, and sometimes if Iím getting into a vocal take, I just get into it. If Iím at a club, I like whistling... I was at a club in Bath and this girl got a bouncer over to stop me (demonstrates incredibly powerful, piercing whistle). I donít get excited very often but when I do, I get really excited. Iíll stop doing it now, Iíll get self-conscious about it.

When did you last touch Pernod?
Steve Heath, Keighley
Um... Well, Pernodís been replaced by Absinthe. Thereís this whole ritual where you bake some up on a spoon, a bit like freebasing. That stuffís like rocket fuel, I had a couple of nights with Alex James out of Blur, a couple of disastrous nights drinking Absinthe, and I donít even remember drinking it.

Have you ever been down to your last dollar and how did you cope?
Adrian Gibbon, Bassetbury Balloons Party Shop, High Wycombe
It was on New Orderís first US tour and I didnít really get the idea of tipping - Iím a bit of a tight bastard and I find the whole idea of tipping abhorrent. We bought a beer in a club and it was 75 cents, So I thought, well, youíve got to tip here or they'll go fucking mad. I only had a dollar, I didnít have any more money so I him the dollar and said, Keep the change, and he went, "You fucking Manc bastard," and threw the 25 cents at me.

Do you own a Sainsburyís reward card?
Jill Cash, Amersham
I do, but itís mysteriously gone missing. I probably left it in the toilet somewhere. I keep losing odd credit cards,,, It didnít have many points on it because I cashed it. I have a special platinum reward card. You get more points than other people, being a celebrity and that.

I saw you purchase a tuna sandwich from Spinks in Wilmslow. It was a cold day - why didnít you buy a pasty like me? Were you trying to be hard?
Andy Parr, Maclesfield
Ha ha ha! Iím trying to lose a bit of weight, thatís why! Tuna's much more healthy for you and I'm trying to go on a health kick. I canít eat pasties any more without affecting my, ah, already fragile waistline.

Whatís the most unusual place youíve had sex?
Polly Winterton, London W12

I couldnít possibly tell you without offending someone. Um... ah... I might get in trouble. I'm trying to think of which particular unusual place out of all the unusual places...

Donít you feel ashamed for having started Keith Allen out in his pop career?
K Allen (thankfully no relation), Bromley
Heh heh heh! K. Allen? Um... em... I think Keithís made a wonderful contribution to pop. I think the Fat Les records are some of the all-time classic songs thatíll go down as... Ď90's classics. Iím very proud of Keithís contribution to pop music and Iím sure that every time thereís some kind of football event to cash in on... er! help to promote Iím sure Keithíll be there with one of his wonderful renditions.

Whatís your best Shaun Ryder story?
Jane Smith, Liverpool
Which one? Iíve got about three. He went out in his car to score and he crashed into a vicar in a Lada. He had 500 quid in his pocket and he said to the vicar, "Look, mate, your carís not worth 500 quid, Iíll give you this ifyou donít call the cops." He was a vicar and he wouldnít take it, so Shaun said, "Well, fuck off then," and got in his car and drove off. About ten minutes later, the police knocked at his house and he said, how did you find me so quick? And they just showed him his number plate. Heíd left his number plate at the scene of the crime. What else? Thereís a few disgusting ones...

Did you really do a version of Blue Monday for a Sunkist ad? If so, how did the lyrics go?
Peter Rees, Shrewsbury
(Recites) "How does it feel/When youíre drinking in the sun? Something something something/Sunkist is the one/How does it feel/When youíre drinking in the sun/All youíve got to believe/Is Sunkist is the one" I didnít write them. We got offered £100,000 to do it. I kept laughing when I was singing it, so Hooky (Peter Hook, New Order bassist) got a piece card and wrote ď£100,000Ē on it, held it up, and I sang it perfectly. But then Rob Gretton (New Orderís late manager) turned up and put the kibosh on it. Thereís a remix of Blue Monday by Steve ďSilkĒ Hurley and itís got the Sunkist lyrics on it.

People who bought the Electronic album probably see it as a substitute for New Order, and primarily use Electronic to fill the gap until the next New Order album What do you think of that?
Nicklas Mandahl Enevaldsen, Denmark
Well... very pleased. Fucking hell, what do you expect me to say? Um... Thank God not everybodyís like that.

Former Factory Records boss Tony Wilson comes to you with a sure-fire business proposition that ďjust canít failĒ. What do you do?
Kevin Leslie, Oldham
Ha ha! Ha ha! Piss myself laughing. In fact thatís what happened when we were recording Every Little Counts... Tony came in with a sure-fire business proposition.

Does Steven (Morris, New Order drummer) let you play with his tank?
Lee Hollows, Birmingham
Iíve sat in his tank, yeah. Steveís got a tank that he has permanently pointed at my house. Me and Steve play with it and weíre in training for Kosovo. When the troops go in, we hope be in the vanguard of operations. Weíre keeping the gun well-oiled and weíre going to shove it right up Slobodanís arse. In fact, someone up the road from Steveís had the same tank, and theyíve got a slight design fault which means that youíre driving along and swerve, itís uncontrollable, and this guyís tank did this and decapitated his wife. It was because it was on the news and there was a picture of Steveís tank - we were ďSteveís crashed the tank and Gillianís been decapitatedĒ. So I donít think Iíll be going in it again.

Whatís your favorite memory of Rob Gretton?
Ruth Quest, Gloucester
(long pause) um.,. Rob used to say to everyone, ďWhat are you doing?Ē nothing, Rob, nothing: ďWhat should you be doing? Skin up!Ē Iíll remember those words.

© 1999 Q

 

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