Photography by Katie O'Neill
John Robb is a Manchester based music Journalist, musician, best-selling author, radio and TV presenter, DJ and publisher.
Born in 1961, John grew up in Blackpool before punk rock came along and saved his life. He was inspired by the DIY ethic of punk to form The Membranes in 1977, the band released several albums and toured the world achieving cult status.
I moved from Blackpool in 1983… to West Didsbury bedsit land! And signed on - the band was penniless but touring. We starved for food but gorged on genius!
John was one of the leading post punk fanzine writers in the UK with his fanzine, ‘Rox’, before he went on to write for the rock press with 'Sounds' and was the first person to interview Nirvana and many others including KLF, The Stone Roses and the Manic Street Preachers. John coined the expression Britpop and was instrumental in kick starting and documenting the Madchester scene with his writing.
His website louderthanwar.com is currently one of the biggest music and culture sites in the UK and is now also a nationally distributed magazine. He is a TV and radio regular appearing on BBC Breakfast TV, Sky Arts, ITV Breakfast and many documentaries as well as filming a very popular series of interviews for Lush Cosmetics website - exclusive one hour interviews with people such as: Green party leader Caroline Lucas, musician Shaun Ryder, comedian Stewart Lee and many others.
John Robb has written many books including the best-selling and definitive biog on The Stone Roses - ‘The Stone Roses And The Resurrection of British Pop’ and what is considered one of the most important books on punk rock - 'Punk Rock - An Oral History’ as well as a oral history of Manchester music, a biog on the Charlatans and a book about underground music in the UK in the eighties. John is currently working on a new book ‘The Art of Darkness’ about post punk and goth music as well as a collection of his journalism and his own autobiography.
Manchester is a place where anything can happen and anything does happen. It's a city where people make art on their own terms and you can like it or lump it!
John's Louder Than Words music, books and conversation festival is the biggest in the UK and he also chairs committees in Parliament. He is an in demand speaker with his spoken word show spawned by the success of his talks of TEDx on punk, zen and the universe. John is popular across Europe where he chairs panels and comperes events.
THE SHOOT: Tony Wilson Place and Deansgate Square
The statue of Friedrich Engels outside HOME & the Deangate skyscraper cluster
Student reflection: Katie O'Neill
We met up with John at HOME Mcr and then ventured out on our photo walk on a bright but cold January afternoon. First stop was at the foot of the statue of Engles in Tony Wilson Place. John explained how he’d recently done historical research on the philosopher. A short walk later, we arrived at the Deansgate Towers where most of the photography took place among the metal, glass and stone of one of the city’s newest landmarks. John was very relaxed in front of the camera, positioning himself and offering poses and advice. During the shoot we got to know a little more about John’s background and his current projects. The skyscrapers made a dramatic backdrop for many of the images, but we were forced to shoot away from the bright sunshine, choosing to take advantage of the areas of shade.
Millie-Grace, John & Rose
Mine and Millie-Grace's final images combined to capture John’s trademark look and his enigmatic personality perfectly and without doubt provide an eye-catching addition to the Greater Mancunians project.