I’ve been working with my friend Derek Hazel who was a regular at The State back in the day on this project for over 4 years. Finally everything came together so we simply pressed the GO button.
You had PA’s from Paul Rutherford and Scarlet Fantastic on the night. Why did you choose them in particular, what is the story behind their links to the club?
Scarlet Fantastic ‘No Memories’ was an inescapable Liverpool anthem that we created at The State that followed us into the early days of Quadrant Park. For this party in particular it was great to be able to have Maggie perform for us.
Paul Rutherford embraced the House scene fully when living in London during that time. Paul’s track ‘Get Real’ was a huge club anthem at The State and all over the country. As you can imagine, with him being a son of the city it was an extra special coup to bring him all the way from New Zealand to exclusively perform for us. As it goes it was the first time he’s ever performed solo in Liverpool. Both artists went down a storm adding more magic to a very special night.
Steve Proctor and Frank Cookson were the clubs’ original Dj’s when it opened in 1982. Can you tell us about how you came to Dj there along with Mike Knowler from 1984 to ‘89? And about the type of music you first played?
Mike Knowler was asked to fill in for Frank while he went away on his honeymoon. At this time Mike and I were working a lot together and Mike invited me to DJ with him while Frank was away. When Frank returned he decided to make a break from The State and so Mike and I stayed on doing a Friday and Saturday. Musically Mike and I had a thirst for new interesting music, shared similar eclectic tastes and both enjoyed playing a diverse selection of sounds so we embellished what Frank had started and carried a few of his hits eg King Trigger ‘The River’ across into the next sound-scape. It was a spectacle I’d never seen anywhere else in the country when that track was played. Suddenly everyone on the floor would double up as people mounted each other’s shoulders and went crazy in a river of madness on the State dance-floor.
(Frank Cookson in The State DJ Box c.1988)
I can’t exactly remember which year, it was either 1985 or ’86 that Steve Proctor took a job in A&R in London. At this point we then did Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I remember one time c.1986, a London record company guy was astounded at what we were doing at the club musically. He told us we were ‘Balearic’, at this point I had no idea where the Balearics were and hadn’t heard of Ibiza. I just smiled and carried on playing our unusual selection…
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’ filmed at The State for The Tube (Channel 4) 1983
How/ where did you first hear House Music? Can you also tell us about how the music evolved at the club pre-House to Acid House, and people’s reaction to the new music being played?
Mike Knowler (left, in The State DJ box circa 1988) went to the New Music Seminar in 1986 and returned home with some of the hot new sounds of the moment. I was blown away and began to seek out more of this music. We then started to blend it in with our ever changing eclectic soup of sounds. Regarding the point as to when the sound blew up, it’s a similar story throughout the more cutting edge clubs around the country in the early house music days. The night ecstasy arrived into the club was when house music mania exploded. The first time I met James Barton was at The State where through our love for music and enthusiasm to move things forward we began a journey than neither could of remotely envisaged, but that’s story could easily take up a good few volumes of a book so I’ll keep this part brief.
(James Barton, right with Carl Hunter from The Farm c.1988 Image by Mark McNulty www.markmcnulty.co.uk)
James saw an opportunity and asked Mike and I to do a full night of Acid House which we dedicated to his independently promoted night on a Monday. It was an overnight success and as the ecstasy express sped rapidly forward it pretty much took over the whole of the clubs musical programming. We imagined everyone was doing this, but looking back we were definitely in the first wave of clubs to have this happening the way we did. The crowd at The State were always special and didn’t disappoint during the acid house days either, they were an absolute dream to play to. In 1988 I was invited to Ibiza by Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling, but I wanted to go to where they made the music, to the source of the sound. I chose New York that summer and attended the NMS as Mike had done 2 years earlier. I flew out with an empty record box, befriended the staff @ Vinyl Mania on Bleaker Street in Greenwich Village and took over 2 full boxes home. What an exciting moment to see that amazing city in that year!
What are some of your favourite records from the club?
There’s so many great memories over all those years attached to some fantastic tracks it’s hard to choose, so I’ll include some of my rarer faves with a varied selection of the general State tunes in no particular order:
Propaganda – Bejewelled ( limited pressing ,vinyl only white label mix )
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – My Bag ( François K mix )
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle ( Shep Pettibone mix)
Most Wanted – Calm Down
Charles B – Lack of Love
The Smiths – This Charming Man ( Françoise K mix )
Laibach – Sympathy for the Devil ( Who Killed The Kennedys ? )
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream
Brian Eno & David Byrne – Jezebel Spirit
Hank Mitzell – Jungle Rock
The Cramps – Good Taste
Big Audio Dynamite – V Thirteen
Echo & The Bunnymen – Seven Seas
LL Cool J – Rock The Bells
Dan Hartman – Re-light My Fire
Can you remember what turntables the club originally had (or if they changed to Technic’s). How did you get introduced to the idea of mixing records?
We had Technics 1200’s from day one combined with a crap Citronic mixer and no monitors. The art of fade, cut and blend was a craft you learned back in those days so mixing dance 12’s just seemed to follow naturally. Initially it was all about headphone mixing, which wasn’t ideal.
Andy Carroll ‘live’ at The State mixing Scarlett Fantastic ‘No Memories’ in 1988
Where would you place the significance of The State in terms of the history of Liverpool clubs?
It was one of the North’s best kept secrets, we did everything by word of mouth and had no one working with us who was press savvy. Any attention we received was by accident in general. Whilst the Hacienda was getting all the press interest, we were simply just doing what we loved and possibly kept a purer crowd for longer being sort of underground as far as exposure went. Looking back I can see The State was a very important and unique place in the annals of Liverpool clubbing history.
(Right, New Order @ The State March 1983)
What are your memories from Liverpool in the eighties?
The city was much more run down and full of old men’s traditional pubs with a few alternative more youth orientated pubs scattered about town. We were never short of good places to go and the city always had great bands to enjoy in-between everything else.
How do you feel about the cities night-life today?
Everything has its pros and cons, uppers and downers but things need to move along and progress has to be made whether you like it or not. Right now there’s some great bars and many fab venues with a wealth of creativity going on, so I’d say Liverpool is still firing on all cylinders in a different way.
Where are you Dj’ing now, and what are your plans for 2013?
I’m currently DJ-ing at places like the Camp and Furnace, doing a few boutique smaller gigs around the city and guesting around the country with a few overseas gigs. This summer it’ll be my 19th consecutive season in Ibiza. I’ll be resident at the Ibiza Rocks after-party @ Ibiza Rocks House (Pike’s Hotel), resident for the mighty We Love @ Space on Sundays and have a few more gigs I’m awaiting confirmation on. After Ibiza I have an invitation to return to New York and a possible tour of Australia.
We Love @ Space on Sundays http://www.welove-music.com
Ibiza Rocks after-party http://www.ibizarocks.com/house/