Six Of The Best: Mike Tweddle (Broken Scar Productions) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Broken Scar Productions is an independent film and media production company based in Darlington, who produce projects, including short and feature-length films, that are entertaining and thought-provoking and utilise the stunning regional locations that surround it.

Their recent project is short film, The Curator, starring Derek Griffiths (Playaway, Man Down, Coronation Street and Bod) and is a beautiful mix of live-action and animation with a stunning musical score written by John Robert Wood. The film opened at Keswick Film Festival in February and was well received with an 85% approval rating.

Mike Tweddle who runs the company (as well as writing novels) has been kind enough to dedicate some of his lockdown time to give us his six of the best.

Husker Du Gig, Manchester (1987)
My old mate Gary Wilkinson and I were down in Manchester to hopefully interview a couple of bands for our Inkslinger fanzine.  A fortuitous piece of luck meant that we got our grubby mitts on some tickets to see Husker Du at the Manchester International on a tour in between their seminal Candle Apple Grey and Warehouse Songs and Stories album.  The place was heaving and Mick Hucknell decided to stand next to me as we awaited the band (I didn’t ask for an interview). Suddenly a wall of sound started and the three dishevelled blokes who had been setting up on stage, and we assumed were the roadies, suddenly started the most seminal and beautiful 90 minutes of noise I have ever heard. The dynamics between Bob Mould and Grant Hart were something bordering existential, every song hit the perfect spot at a relentless breakneck speed. This was truly a band at the top of their game and about to implode in the coming months and still the best gig I have ever seen. As for the interviews the next day we got offered two, one was with the mighty Waltones, the other a lesser-known band called the Stone Roses. Guess which one we decided to do? I’ll give you a clue, their, about-to-be-released debut album was not called the Stone Roses!

James Herbert – Fluke
As with my film choice I could have picked something regarded as intellectually challenging, such as the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenirsyn or the Debacle by Emile Zola (both brilliant books). Instead, I have
picked a great little book that had a big impact on me as a teenager and probably planted the seed of wanting to write, something, anything. Herbert was known for quite graphic pulp fiction horror novels such as “The Rats” and “The Fog” which I never really cared for but when Fluke came out I thought I would give it a read. It was a total change of direction for the author, the heartbreaking story of a man who is resurrected as a street dog and returns to his family home to discover how much things have changed since he died. Fluke is funny, beautiful, disturbing and sad in equal measures and is a bit of a lost and underrated gem. It is a clever way to explore how we look at our own lives through the eyes of someone/something else. Who needs Solzhenitsyn?

Vic and Bob
Yeah I know it’s a bit partisan and probably a bit predictable but I needed to include these two for obvious reasons, not least the fact that they are Darlington and Stockton bred lunatics that, dare I say it, have become national treasures. Vic used to drink in the best pub in Darlington, the wonderful Green Dragon (music, drink, drugs, fights, sex, crisps…..sometimes all at the same time, what was not to like!) but I never got to meet him before he moved to the Big Smoke, although he did play in some sort of prog-rock band called Trout with my old mates Trev Gilligan and Ian Wallis.  I remember seeing Vic and Bob for the first time on telly and reacting with a mixture of bewilderment, laughter and more bewilderment. However, it soon dawned on me that we were seeing the start of the careers of two genius comedians who were determined to plough their own furrows, regardless of where it might lead them. Despite a few relatively quiet recent years, they are back with a bang, the last couple of series of Big Night Out have been the best ever. Who can forget George at Asda’s (sorry Ezra) appearance and the introduction to Vaughan- surely the personification of all things humour wise that the Tees Valley can offer. Even recent side projects are wonderful i.e. Bloke on a Train and Gone Fishing. Also, Jim Moir’s recent art exhibition at the Biscuit Factory was superb (I was so tempted to pull off some sort of mini art heist that day). In an era of Michael M*ckintyre and similar career hungry humour by-passes surely the surreal antics but sheer beauty of Vic and Bob’s comedy is something to treasure, maybe even on a national level. Having just achieved a long-held ambition to make a film with the wonderful Derek Griffiths I now have Vic and/or Bob in my sights. Lads if you are reading this please get in touch.

Take Me by the Wedding Present
Okay, I know its an old track but sod it, I’m an old(ish) geezer so why not. Don’t get me wrong I love some of the new stuff out there such as the Oh Sees, Flat Worms, Ghum, Pozi, Corifky but this track means a lot to me, all 9 minutes, 13 seconds of it.  I was working on building sites in London at the time it came out and hated being there. I was pretty homesick and had come to the happy conclusion that I am a northern lad and needed to come home. I remember getting on the night National Express, squeezed in my seat by the huge bloke next to me and putting this on repeat on my (tape) Walkman.  I must have played it countless times as before I knew it I was back in good old Darlington and feeling quite chipper. Take Me consists of some of the most wonderful, beautiful jangly guitar thanks to Dave Gedge and company, who I had interviewed at a sweaty gig in Leeds a couple of years before. There is something about the way those guitars create such a momentum of joy which to this day uplifts the spirits. I saw them play in Boro a few months back and it still stirs the spirits. Ok, maybe it’s not my favourite track of all time (“Cartoon”  by Soul Asylum takes that honour) but it’s right up there. My mate Gaz Ivin, who is the bass player in the Quireboys and who was a fellow teenage punk back in the day, and I had a great argument in the Sunset Social Club in Los Angeles, or was it somewhere completely different, about our most important album – he chose the Bollocks by the Pistols, which I totally understand and do love, whilst I was torn between Eternally Yours by the Saints and Bizarro by the Weddoes, mainly because Takes Me lifted me (and still does) from a place I wanted to leave desperately and brought me back to the place where I am happiest and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Young Frankenstein
As with my book choice I was thinking should I go for something high brow, maybe Bergman or similar, then I thought sod it, put the film that has brought the most joy to you and you have watched countless times (Life of Brian was a close second). The reason Young Frankenstein (pronounced Frankensteen!) is one of my six of the best is simple, I loved it when I first saw it as a kid, and still do, and both of my own kids have loved it from when they were probably too young to watch it. The cast is perfect (Gene Wilder and Matty Fieldman….damn those eyes…too late), the gags by Mel Brooks sublime and timeless (“sedagive, abinormal”) and the sets are wonderful (great knockers). A couple of years back we booked up to see the musical version at the Theatre Royal, despite having huge reservations that it could kill the magic. I was hugely relieved that Ross Noble, as Igor, and the rest of the cast pulled it off brilliantly, even Leslie Joseph as Frau Blucher (neighhhh). It also seemed appropriate to go to the show as my oldest was leaving the next day for his first day at university. A did shed a tear or two but think it was most likely from laughing….honest.

Fanzines
This one’s a bit generic but think it is such an overlooked part of the written media I think it needs a mention. I also think that NARC has all the best elements of a fanzine and most importantly, unlike old-school fanzines, including my own, every word is decipherable, which is always a bonus. To me, fanzines personify everything that is good (and bad) about DIY art. Yeah, everyone can do it, if they get off their arse, but it also means any useless tool can do it (me?). Thankfully, most can’t be bothered to go to the effort so, in general, most zines are crammed full of great interviews, articles and gems that are quite often ahead of the mainstream music press. The amount of work that goes into fanzines is quite incredible and not appreciated. When I started reading Sniffing Glue and In the City I just assumed they were produced by a vast array of writers, editors, photographers, artists and graphic designers. When I started my own zine at school, Out Of Control, I quickly realised that there is literally blood, sweat and tears poured into every paragraph. Mind you bagging an interview with the elusive Crass for my little fanzine, as a 14 year old, was a real victory which made it all worthwhile. Inkslinger was our next main fanzine and apart from dropping the proverbial bollock by not interviewing the Stone Roses just before they became the biggest band of the decade we achieved another slice of infamy which still makes me proud. About 10 years later I got a phone call from a lad in Scotland who was making a book about the best fanzines and he wanted to feature Inkslinger. I was honoured but then wondered why? It turned out one edition contained the most scathing review he had ever read. Needless to say, Celestial Orgy were bloody terrible and deserved every single word of our vitriol…..well maybe not that much. As Billy Bragg would indeed proclaim ” the fifteen famed filled minutes of the fanzine writer”.

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