After the sad passing of Larry Cassidy, Manchester’s original post-punk techno band Section 25 have regrouped with daughter of both the late Larry and Jenny Cassidy Bethany Cassidy now providing vocals. Their recently released EP ‘Invicta‘, is an electronic rush of synth layered uplifting pop, with lush vocals – the sound of the Factory originals once again moving on.
The ‘Invicta’ EP is Section 25 carrying on after the tragic loss of Larry. Was it hard without him there (I mean that in every way, not just the mechanics)?
Bethany: Yeah it was, and still is. My life in the band started out alongside my Dad, and he guided me through difficult times. Me and him rekindled a great relationship that had been lost a bit when my Mum died, so to lose that again has been really hard on an emotional level. But I think it’s spurred us all on to give it our best shot now, in his memory.
Vinny: Yes it was hard. In a way the ‘mechanics’ was the easy part, it was the bit on a personal level that was difficult. After the initial shock I asked myself two questions; firstly, do I want to carry on playing? Yes. And secondly, do I want to carry on playing as Section 25? Yes again. But it had to be different, it had to make sense to me on an emotional level. Larry was a complete one off and any attempt to replicate that would have been wrong and dishonest, so Beth and I got together with ideas and decided we needed to move into a new phase, and this is it.
What’s it been like mixing the new side of Section 25 with the ideas Vinny and Larry originally had? Especially Bethany stepping into the same role her parents did.
Bethany: I feel honoured that I’ve taken on the family business I suppose!
Vinny: I think the new stuff has turned out very different and very optimistic. We decided to only record stuff when we were in a good mood, that’s why it took so bloody long to get it done!
Does it feel natural to be playing and recording with S25 after all these years, and is the new unit a close one?
Bethany: It feels really special to be now doing this creative project that my Mum and Dad also worked at together, feels like it keeps them alive. And yeah, it does feel natural. Now especially that I feel like I’ve got their blessing in a personal way. I’ll be continuing to do my own other creative projects, I’m trained as a visual artist, so I always go off on tangents with that side of my creative practice, and I’m hoping to merge the two together at some point. That’s the idea anyway!
…and what’s it been like for you up to now being in the band, and have you plenty of ideas for future songs and tracks with Section25 already written?
Bethany: We’ve all gotten really close since being in the band together which is ace, and we share ideas as and when they come, and work on the best ones. I’ve always got ideas, I’m just finding my feet with which ones are the best ideas to follow up or are most feasible.
Is this a continuation of ‘Retrofit’ in a way, as it was the first thing you as this line up all worked on?
Bethany: Well I actually worked in the studio with the band in its current line up, I put some vocals to a few tracks on ‘Nature + Degree’, the album before ‘Retrofit’, so ‘N+D’ was actually the first time we all worked together. I think all the stuff we write and create is a slight extension of the last thing we’ve written or created, just since that’s how a narrative works, you can’t get away from that. But we’ve evolved hugely as a band since the first time I set foot in the studio. I think. I hope so anyway.
‘Colour, Movement Sex & Violence’ – Bethany’s soft,warm vocal over those lush beats and synth come together for a pretty outstanding tune. Section 25 pulling off that classic Factory sound wouldn’t you say, are you pleased with it, sounds great?
Vinny: Yes, I am really stoked about the whole thing. For any band it’s a good track, but considering the adversity maybe it made us work harder and made us more determined. I love the sound of hard beats, sequencers and hard tech sounds up against natural instrument sounds like strings/femme vocals, I love the contrast and junxtaposing the two opposing positions.
The title and aspects of its sound actually do have a New Order vibe about it, very Factory, therefore very you. Would that be a lazy comparison?
Vinny: Yeah it would be a lazy comparison. I have a great admiration for New Order and the body of work they have done, you would have to be a knob not to, but we do our own thing and always have done. You have to realise a lot of these are historic comparisons that have stuck from years ago, mainly to do with our shared label Factory. It’s very easy for people to shove you in that box but that’s never been our intention.
…and what’s the title referring to?
Vinny: It’s about the media, basically TV and the effect it has on all of us.
Bethany: The title is a reference to popular culture and the current hyped up media that we’re surrounded by 24 hours a day. I hate Sky News, what can I say?
The EP ‘Inner Drive’ and ‘Colour Movement Sex & Violence’ – what was the idea behind having two mixes of each track?
Vinny: We wanted to try and give another perspective to each song. It might sound a bit obvious but there you are.
How important is presentation regarding packaging? Debut ‘Always Now’, with that marble effect sleeve, is it something that still appeals?
Bethany: It means a great deal to me, it always will do. That’s why I made sure I designed the artwork for the EP – that’s half the fun for me!
Vinny: Presentation is really important. It’s about what you see as well as hear. The visual side, packaging if you like, is just another avenue to explore. Why would you not want it to be the best you could do? Packaging is all around us and even bands who don’t care are still making a statement by not doing anything. ‘Always Now’ was a masterpiece of design delivered by Peter Saville.
Bethany: I agree. ‘Always Now’ is a fucking amazing cover. Also, if I had it my way we’d always release limited edition full sleeved records as well as the CDs and digital downloads. But then, that’s why I’m always skint, I’m not very good with economics (laughs).
Is Manchester still very much the back drop to everything you do? Like ‘Looking from a Hilltop’ was shot in Hulme. Where was the video for ‘Colour, Movement Sex & Violence’ shot?
Bethany : Was Hilltop shot in Hulme? That’s a massive fucking coincidence if it was, as I suggested Hulme arch and underpass as part of the location for ‘Colour, Movement…’, I had no idea! The rest of the footage was shot outside my art studio, behind Piccadilly Station, and the black and white bits were filmed in various locations in Blackpool. I love the look of Manchester, so it will probably always be somewhere near the top of the list when it comes to interesting or apt locations.
Vinny: I love Manchester and I’m not just saying that. My family came to Manchester when they emigrated from Ireland last century so it has strong family ties and is a very fertile artistic place. You want to try coming from Blackpool where I was born, it’s a fucking cultural vacuum and the first thing my brother did when we started the band was seek out like minded souls in Manchester, hence our association with Factory.
You’ve recently played The Factory 251 haven’t you. What about future dates, where are you playing, and will there be more to come from the band, does it feel like something that will continue?
Bethany: Yeah the Factory was a great gig. We really enjoyed it and we had a good turn out. We’re special guests at the Lowry with Hooky in November, we’re doing a little one off at Gulliver’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter early next year, and we’re off to Antwerp in December this year to play Belgium Independent Music festival, or BIMFEST as it’s otherwise known. I prefer the former, sounds less pornographic to me. I think that each gig we play, and each new song we create together, we get inspired to do more stuff, so I think we’ve got a bit more to do yet, before Vin hangs up his drumsticks.
Vinny: We are arranging shows for next year. It’s a bit of a bastard actually as rock is really a young man’s game, and it’s sometimes a bit difficult carrying it off at 53 if you know what I mean? I sometimes feel jealous of those old jazz guys – just grow a little goatee, wear a hat and you can get away with it into your 70s, maybe I should try that next.
Section 25 will be the special guests at The Light’s second Lowry date on Saturday, 19th November. More live dates are set to be announced shortly.
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