Section 25 set to release new album

Blackpool band Section 25, ahead of the release of their new album Darl Light in February 2013
Blackpool band Section 25, ahead of the release of their new album Darl Light in February 2013
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NOT many Blackpool bands would be able to tell you about the time the late, great Joy Division singer Ian Curtis nipped out of their recording session to buy a pound of mincemeat.

But then again not many bands, certainly not from these parts, have a rock ‘n roll story like Section 25.

Bashing out tunes since the 70s, and showing no signs of stopping any time soon, they are about to release a new album, Dark Light.

But they have a fascinating tale to tell.

It all started in 1978 when brothers Vin and Larry Cassidy - born two doors down from the Cottage chippy in Marton - started a band and won a lot of admirers in a short space of time.

A year later they did a gig at the Imperial in Blackpool with Joy Division and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Heady stuff.

“It was a bit of a watershed moment because Ian (Curtis) and Rob Gretton (manager of Joy Division) were really into our band and they got us to go to a place called Cargo in Rochdale to record an EP,” said Vin.

“Rob was big mates with Tony Wilson and the EP was released on Factory Records.”

Better than that though were the producers of that first EP. It was Ian Curtis himself, who insisted on helping out because he was such a big fan of the band.

“It was brilliant for us but it wasn’t daunting because he was such a nice guy,” added Vin. “The very first time we met him he was just so humble and quiet. There was no big ego there.

“He was a massive help to us because me and my brother had never been to a studio before and we had no idea what a producer did.

“We were there two days and I remember Ian standing up at one point and explaining he had to nip out. He came back half an hour later with a pound of mince, which he’d got for his tea. That shows how grounded he was, and it was really flattering the way he and Rob championed us.

“I suppose looking back it was a hell of thing to happen but when you’re there at the time you don’t really think about it being momentous.

“It’s only now when I think about it that I realise what a special time it was.”

It wasn’t only Curtis who was a Section 25 fan.

New Order’s Bernard Summer also loved the band and produced the second album.

“We still see him now. In fact last time they played the Empress Ballroom a few years ago they asked us to support, which was great,” Vin said.

“We are friends with all the band and we’ve done a bit of work with Peter Hook on his solo stuff and gigged with him a lot.”

Section 25’s first three albums were Always Now (produced by Martin Hannett, Joy Division producer), From The Hip, and Love and Hate. They gigged throughout Europe and North America.

When Factory Records went bust at the start of the 90s, they started working with a label called LTM.

They’ve done three albums since, Dark Light - released on February 25 - is their latest.

It is an important album for VIn, not least because it is the band’s first since the death of his brother - and his brother’s wife, who was also in the band.

“Myself and Larry started this band and to lose him has been hard.

His wife Jenny also sadly passed away recently so it has been difficult,” added Vin.

“But the nice thing is that their daughter Bethany is our main vocalist in the group so she is carrying on the music tradition.

“Joanna, another of my nieces, is also in the band, so it is quite a family affair.

“But because of what’s happened in recent years this is an important album for me.

“I don’t think the mood of the album is dark. It is more about hope, about getting through adversity and coming out the other side.”

Section 25 have gigs lined up in Leicester, Manchester, London and Bury to promote the album.

“I’m particularly looking forward to Bury because last time we were there, with Joy Division in 1980, there was a riot,” said Vin.

“Ian (Curtis) wasn’t well at that time but instead of cancelling the gig they decided Joy Division would play a couple of songs, then the rest of us would come on and play a sort of Woodstock, hippy-style medley.

“As you can imagine it didn’t go down particularly well with the audience. In fact they trashed the venue.”

Vin is 54 now and living in Inskip with his wife and three children. But he has no plans to stop making music any time soon.

“I love it,” he said. “We’ve been doing it a long time now but we’ve always worked, been creative, and done gigs ... and we’re still doing it.”

Best described as post-punk, the album Dark Light is described in the record company’s press release as “a return to smooth electro and synth-pop textures, first explored on (the band’s) seminal 1984 album From the Hip”.

Given what the band have been through, it should be well worth a listen.