Robert Paul Corless: Unearthed Mini Discs and Remembering Rob Gretton

As any keen Far Out readers will have come to expect, it’s been another busy year so far for Manchester’s king of the underground, Robert Paul Corless.

We caught up with him to discuss his latest Mini Disc (yes, you read that right) recordings and why Joy Division & New Order manager Rob Gretton was so important to him…

Tell us about your latest release?

I finished a record off last year and was sitting around scratching my balls for something to do. I thought, do I take a break? Do I go and have a walk around with my daughter in the hills? Do I wanna go down Canal Street [Manchester’s Gay Village]? So I’m sat there in my studio and I notice this big bag of…

not what you think…

Mini discs. Been there for 18/19 years. Someone got me one for my birthday. I thought it was the thing to do at the time. Wrong. But I used to do field recordings with it. Take out a little mic to get little bits and pieces to use for Gabrielle’s Wish.

Mini Discs? We’ve not heard them mentioned for a while. How does that technology translate in 2018?

I originally did it on this old computer, you can hear it crying when you play the tracks, ‘please don’t play these on here, I can’t handle it’. You Can hear the Mini Disc spin. I found about 50 discs you see. As this progressed I thought, some are pretty good, so I made a shit pile and a good pile – well, an alright pile. I went back to the alright pile and the rest went in the bin. Straight out of there, I put them on my new computer, did a bit of EQ-ing and before I knew it I had 30/40 songs. Tracks anyway. I approached the label and they said ‘what are you doing at the moment, apart from being a cunt?’

I said ‘I’m actually just sat with my mini discs’. They said ‘have you just come out of a cave or something? What do you want to do with them?’. I replied, ‘well you fucking rang me!’

He hung up, rang back two days later and said you should release the as a trio of albums.

Did you send them straight off just like that?

Straight off to be mastered, you can still hear that crackling. He sent them back and said he wanted to release them. To be honest I didn’t even listen back. It felt like another life by then.

What’s the meaning of the artwork [featured image]?

It’s me and my daughter, she’s got her iPod and I’m reading a book. Simple, but it represents that clash of the old and new. Taking these two-bob Mini Disc tracks then mixing and mastering them digitally.

So they put them out. It was that long ago I don’t really care how they’re received. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one.

But it felt like a shame to shelf it?

They were in a carrier bag for 20 odd years, so I’d completely forgotten. And now they’re out I’ve forgotten about them again. It’s important to move on.

I’ve got two new records on the go now. That’s why it’s good to work with friends. Namely Andrew Saunderson [bass], Tim Walsh Jr. [guitar] and Jack Wakeman [keys]. They’ll be out in the New Year. But I like to get things done and then leave it, so I’m off to Spain for 5 weeks. When you get too close to your work and play it over and over it’s like an itch that gets worse and worse. Like a bad disease.

And the long term future?

I’m coming back with both of my bands, Gabrielles Wish and The Evil Poor. They’ll be 2 records there and next year is the 20th anniversary of Rob Gretton’s death [former Joy Division and New Order manager who signed Robert’s band Gabrielles Wish].

Gabrielles Wish will do a charity show for The Christie or something. The anniversary is May 15th 2019. He signed us, but he wasn’t just someone I worked with. We were mates, we’d drink and smoke together. It’s when all the other twats get involved that it goes to pot!

Robert Paul Corless’ latest trio of LPs, Volumes: Twenty Three-Twenty Five are available via Eromeda Records and to stream via Spotify now.

Image by Chinese Francis