Publications > Scream City > Scream City Issue #5 > Factory Over America Part 2 by John Cooper

Factory Over America Part 2
by John Cooper
Factory Over America Part 2
an interview with Michael Shamberg by John Cooper
Michael Shamberg ran the various operations of Factory Records in the USA. He filmed and produced many videos for New Order including the seminal Taras Shevchenko live from the Ukrainian National Home in NYC. He lives in the USA with his partner Stanton Miranda of Thick Pigeon.
What's your original connection to the Factory family (AHW, Erasmus, Gretton, Hannett, Saville)?
I met Tony at a party for a French magazine I think was called Actuel at a club on Union Square, below Warhol's studio in New York City. I also met Geoff Travis and Michel Duval there I believe. Tony brought me in somehow, probably when he was here with A Certain Ratio. They stayed in a loft in Tribeca which is when I made the film of the same name Tribeca (which Tony titled).
He also did the transfer of the film and sound and discovered extraneous radio noise on it and asked if he should keep it and I said yes.
I met Rob Gretton when ACR played with New Order at Hurrah's where I also filmed ACR. I only gave him a cassette off the board. I did not speak to him or the 3-piece band who were fumbling for who was going to sing. It was too depressing having waited for Joy Division.
Peter Saville came in through Tony most likely. I can't remember first meeting him but we got on as I did with Tony.
How did you end up running Factory Records in America?
I travelled with Tony and ACR to Canada filming (which is somewhere...). Tony was excited by the Hurrah's video live of the stage during the show and bought a Portapak to begin making videos. Rob and I built a slow relationship. When they were returning to NY the clubs were fighting and not letting the band play other venues if they played theirs. I suggested we do our own show, found the Ukrainian National Home in the East Village and produced the show and made the video Taras Shevchenko with Barry Rebo and his crew. Barry was a friend and generous person.
I did not know what I was doing with the show. whether it would not sell enough or oversell as I never did it before. My friend Richard Tobias made a poster I believe and did Lawrence Weiner do the tickets? Anyway it was a great success. I was able to hold back the cameras to stay on shots and edited what you see which I am very proud of. After the concert, Rob took the tapes from me as I was drunk on Jack Daniels.
Ruth Polsky helped by counting the money and taking care of that business.
And I went home.
Rob of course then asked me to make the videos for the band which I did for many 2 According to Stuart Argabright of Ike Yard it was he who did the handwritten elements of the poster for the NO/IY Taras Shevchenko show.
FACT A / BLIND DATES poster 53 years and became closer to him while Tony drifted away.
Martin Hannett I met once in New Jersey recording a track with ACR. That was all.
Alan Erasmus was very nice and keen and seemed a bit of a background to Tony.
Don't know how to describe it but it did not turn out nice, as you know.
How was it all run? On the FACTUS 19 stationery you are listed, together with Anne Lehman and then AHW, Erasmus and Gretton. Who was Anne Lehman? What level of involvement did the others have from back in the UK?
Saville, Erasmus, Gretton and Wilson were my partners in OFNY. I think it was Tony's idea. So we began and made a compilation record with the bands and a protege of Saville's designed it.
Anne Lehman worked for me at OFNY and was never a partner. But she was special and we were lucky to have her.
Rob brought in 52nd Street I believe and I did a deal with A&M records without ever having done such a thing and it was fun, like Taras Shevchenko, doing something new.
The Factory Catalogue's playful approach to numbering would appear to have been in operation with Ike Yard's Factory America album which is formally called Ike Yard but it also known as A Fact A Second due to the prominence of the FA2 catalogue number. Was this unintentional or was it just a happy coincidence?
How we numbered things I do not know. But Ike Yard was a cover I designed and I believe called it A Fact A Second.
How come there were so many different designations of the Factory product? There was Factory US, Of Factory New York and Factory America3 to name but three.
OFNY was my idea. I think the first release was Yashar by Cabaret Voltaire mixed by John Robie.
I can't remember how we chose bands for here. Quando Quango was with Will Sokolov whom I met through Arthur Russell. Will had Sleeping Bag Records with Arthur. When Quando made their next single and signed with a major I regret not giving it to Will, who was rightly pissed off.
Both Thick Pigeon and OFNY managed to procure the services of Lawrence Weiner for album cover and poster design. How did that come about?
Lawrence Weiner was an old friend with whom I made films, videos and a radio play with as camera, actor... anything. So he was always keen to do things as his work could go anywhere. We had a lot of fun and I owe a lot to him, his generosity and knowledge.
I learned a lot with Lawrence. As I later did with others like Robert Frank.
Thick Pigeon was Miranda who was and still is my girlfriend!
Factory America was the shortest-lived of the American FAC-variants. It came between Factory US and OFNY.
The first release on Factory US was in 1980, FA1 followed in 1981 and the first OFNY release was in 1983.
FA1 New Order Gig - Ukrainian National Home event
FA2 Ike Yard: Ike Yard album
FA3 was not allocated or is unknown
FA4 A Certain Ratio: Knife Slits Water single 8/82 was going to be an official release but it ended up as an OFNY release.

Factory Over America Part 1 by John Cooper

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