Martin Hannett


Martin Hannett

Born in Manchester on May 31 1948, Martin "Zero" Hannett moved from a chemistry lab to music, first as soundman, bass player and gig organizer, then finally as the legendary record producer and partner in Factory. He is best known for his work with Joy Division, even if he did a great job with other groups including the early New Order, U2, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, and many Mancunian bands of the era.

Martin Hannett
Photo Anton Corbijn

He loved to experiment and was interested in electronics and new technology. His role in the sound of Joy Division and its evolution is definitely immense. One can easily understand when comparing with the pre-Hannett versions of the band's songs. He did not only bring in synthesisers, noise effects, etc. but this specific way to isolate, separate the sounds - often using looping technology to treat notes with cutting-edge digital filters. Another important feature of his work with Joy Division is that bass, drums, guitar and voice are treated equally. All this combined with the inspiration of the band and his own gave Joy Division's music its unique atmosphere and strength.

Martin Hannett
Photo Kevin Cummins
reproduced with kind permission

He gave very few interviews and had a reputation for being a difficult man to work with, presuming to know better than the bands he was working with how they should sound! Hannett said about his work with Joy Division : "There was a lot of space in their sound. They were a gift to a producer, because they didn't have a clue. They didn't argue. The "Factory Sampler" was the first thing I did with them. I think I'd had the new AMS delay line for about two weeks. It was called "Digital". It was heaven sent."

He worked with Chris Nagle, John Caffery & Michael Johnson on Joy Division's original albums. He left Factory at the end of 1981 over a disagreement on royalties. The lawsuit between Hannett and Factory had its own Fac number (fac 61)! Despite of this, he would later work with them again.

Martin Hannett
Photo Michele Mauguit

He was found dead in his chair on April 18 1991, aged 42. His untimely death was probably linked to years of drug abuse. Factory released "Martin, the work of Martin Hannett" (fact 325) in the following weeks as a tribute. Martin is buried in Manchester Southern Cemetery.

Martin Hannett
Photo Daniel Meadows
reproduced with permission

Bernard Sumner:

"Martin didn't give a f- about making a pop record, all he wanted to do was experiment. His attitude was that you get a load of drugs, lock the door of the studio and you stay in there all night and you see what you've got the next morning. And you keep doing that until it's done. That's how all our records were made."

Martin Hannett
Photo Daniel Meadows
reproduced with permission

Peter Hook:

"Bernard and I were very down to earth, and he was, like, from another planet. He was just this really weird hippy who never talked any sense at all. At least, I never knew what he was talking about anyway. Still, you had a rapport with him. He used to say to Rob, 'Get these two thick stupid c-s out of my way'. In the studio, we'd sit on the left, he'd sit on the right and if we said anything like, 'I think the guitars are a bit quiet, Martin,' he'd scream, 'Oh my God! Why don't you just f- off, you stupid retards.' It was alright at first, but gradually he started to get weirder and weirder."

Strawberry Studios          Britannia Row Studios
Strawberry Studios, Stockport                               Britannia Row Studios, London

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Update 2014-10-25    Copyright Michel ENKIRI