MUDKISS FANZINE

Mudkiss is now an archived site, there will be no more updates. Mudkiss operated from 2008 till 2013.

THE RETURN OF FRANCESCO MELLINA INTERVIEW BY MEL

 

Francesco Mellina documented the music scene in Liverpool from 1978 – 1982. He arrived in Liverpool aged 21, having been a fan of The Beatles. Mesmerized as so many have been with Liverpool, he settled into the Liverpool art scene as an honoury scouser (an award he recently received). The story goes he worked in a Pizza parlour with Holly Johnson and Budgie to earn some money. He progressed onto becoming the manager of ‘Nightmares In Wax’ - Pete Burns first band and began his initial venture into professional photography, in addition to organising the record label ‘Black Eyed Records’. He earned his place in many notable publications, such as The Face, ID, Melody Maker and NME. The list of bands he captured on celluloid as too numerous to mention. He was part of the Liverpool explosion and he’s back with a stunning collection of never before seen photos for our delight. Francesco decided to unearth his negatives to produce this unrivalled body of work. I am proud to have an invite to the preview, which I shall be reporting on. Francesco took some time to converse with Mudkiss.

 

Mel - Hi Francesco, Firstly I guess I should ask you about your recent news. You’re about to explode once more onto Liverpool, only this time it’s to open an exclusive photographic exhibition in Liverpool, with never before seen photos. For the people who don’t know can you tell us about this?

 

Francesco – The exhibition covers my photographic work between 1978 – 1982 and captures the excitement of that era by showing the bands, the clubs, and the followers of the music and fashions of the time.

The exhibition takes place at The Liverpool, from the 1st May to 31st August 2009.

 

Mel - Out of the exhibition do you have a favourite photo?

 

Francesco – Honestly for me all the photos are of equal importance but if I had to choose one it would be the one of David Byrne of Talking Heads. I like the way he holds his guitar, eyes closed, totally lost in his music.

 

Mel - Which band were your favourite to photograph & musically and whom do you listen to in 2009?

 

Francesco – Visually I always liked The Cramps, Lux Interior was an outstanding frontman. The Stray Cats were also excellent live and Pete Burns was hugely captivating. These days just like years ago I listen to all kinds of music. I particularly like Arcade Fire.

 

Photo: The Cramps at Eric's

Mel - How many photos can we expect to see in the exhibition?

 

Francesco – There will be 60 photos in the main exhibition and 60 – 70 on the audio visual screen.

 

Mel - Can we expect to see a book with all these photos in at some stage?

Francesco – A book is planned for future publication although no date has been finalised yet.

 

Mel - I believe you helped with providing photos for the Eric’s musical which was held last year. What was your impression of the show did the cast and musical direction do Eric’s justice?

 

Francesco – Yes I did provide the photos for the show’s programme. I thought the show was good, but people expected it to be like Eric’s The club might have been disappointed. I believe the show itself was a success in terms of attendances and reviews.

 

Mel - Many of the photographers are taken of bands playing live in Eric’s club in Liverpool. Do you have any memorable nights in Eric’s to share with us?

 

Francesco – Yes, the first time I saw The Cramps, Lux Interior, Brian Gregory, Nick Knox, Poison Ivy, shook me to the core. Sweaty, thrilling and totally unpredictable.

Photo: Paul Simpson - The Wild Swans

Mel - What was so fascinating for you about Liverpool that you moved over from your native shores of Italy?

 

Francesco – The Beatles! They were the catalyst for my longing to be in Liverpool and I have been in love with the city and it’s wonderful defiant people ever since.

 

Mel - How did you feel on receiving the title of ‘"Honorary Scouser " by The Lord Mayor of Liverpool?

 

Francesco – I felt extremely proud to be recognised for my contribution in championing Liverpool and help in promoting the cultural and artistic rich vein of the city.

 

Mel - You were the manager of Dead Or Alive with Pete Burns. Take us back for a little while. What were those days like?

 

Francesco – They were really exciting times, the work in getting the band recognised was hard but inspiring. Travelling to London with Pete Burns to meet company executives was a lot of fun. They really didn’t know what to make of the two of us. Me from Southern Italy and a crazy accent and Pete looking resplendent in his full regalia. Signing the band to C.B.S records, releasing the first album appearing on Top Of The Pops, touring the UK, travelling to New York for promotional tours was a wonderful experience.

We had been in New York for no more than one hour, as we were travelling in a limo and when we stopped at a traffic light this guy recognised Pete from the video which had been played on heavy rotation on MTV. He started screaming aloud “Hey it’s that guy from Dead Or Alive” and started banning on the windows with excitement. We were amazed by that and happy at the same time.

 

Photo:Early photos of Dead Or Alive - with Pete Burns

 

Mel - You snapped away in many clubs over the new romantic period. Tell us what were the best nightclubs?

 

Francesco – In Liverpool Cagneys, was definitely the leader of the pack. The nights were run by Steve Proctor. It was often frequented by bands such as The Human League, Duran Duran, and Blue Ronda a la urk, a London band championed the ‘Zoot suits’. Another good club was Pips  in Manchester. I took some great photos there.

 Photo: In Cagneys nightclub -Jon, Edmo, Debbie and Peter.

 

Mel - What time do you look back fondly on and say was the best era?

 

Francesco – It’s a bit difficult to say what was the best era. It’s a personal thing really, however the I look back most fondly on is the time spent at Eric’s. It was genuinely a great time for me.  A time of discovery, learning and in a sense of fascination. We were all young then and we were united by the common thread that was Eric’s. The vibrancy, the creativity and at times the lunacy of it all was in many way intoxicating.

 Photo: Boxhead and Rockabilly's in Liverpool

 

Mel - Do you still take professional photos of bands, people? If so who would you like to photograph out of today’s new bands?

 

Francesco – I take photos mostly for my own private collection, things which interest me, but I will be taking photos professionally again soon. Although they've become hugely popular I will still like to take photos of The Kings Of Leon. I also would like to take photos of Glasvegas and The Last Shadow Puppets.

Mel - And finally in your own words, why should people come to see your exhibition?

 

Francesco – To discover through my photos, one of the most exciting eras in the music and fashion history of Liverpool and to get a glimpse into the vibrancy of Liverpool's clubland in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

 

Mel – Many thanks to Francesco for taking some time out of his busy schedule for us. We are very excited about the exhibition evening  preview on Thursday.

 

Don't miss this exhibition:

 

Sound and Vision

Music and fashion photographed by Francesco Mellina, Liverpool, 1978-82


Liverpool Museums website:

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/conservation/exhibitions/mellina

 

http://www.myspace.com/francescomellina

 

Interview by Mel 28.04.09

Photos by Francesco Mellina