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WHAT DECADE ARE YOU? from 20’s chic to punk rock we take a closer look at the styles that shape your wardrobe

ALTERNATIVE NATION ideas for that daring night out you’ve been promising yourself


BODY TALK what our tattoos say about us... FREE


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EDITOR Jonathan Parker


STAFF WRITERS Jogga, Rik Dawson



alternative nation

Write to: On The Couch PO Box 1234

Scissor Mister Hair Stylist, Phil Knowles speaks to us from the cutting edge of Salon trends pages 4-7

page 4 interview

Scissor Mister


hil Knowles is a stylist with a huge amount of talent and charisma. He occupies a well respected place in the hearts of the people of the North West having owned a salon in St Helens and built his

Hairdressing is your career, it’s what you do not neccessarily who you are...

career in London and Manchester.

“In a sense, it is a big part of me, I know it is and i love my job. Talking about it to a certain level is alright and you kind of think, right I’ve had enough of this now I want to enjoy myself like everybody else is.”

I cornered Phil during a very rare moment away from a client to discuss his career about styling and how he feels he fits in to the world of stepping out and showing off.

Having worked in London for a number of years I asked if Phil saw differences between the capital and the North West.

Phil, you must have met hundreds of people during your time as a stylist. I guess it’s fair to say you like people?

“There are huge differences. When I first left London I moved back to Manchester, I was in Manchester for 6 years after moving back from London and even Manchester, being a very cosmopolitan city and a very forward thinking city, was still months behind what was going on in London. It was so full of different haircuts and full of different colour techniques that were being used in London and I started saying to clients at the time, why don’t you have this and you could see the look on their faces thinking, oh I’m not so sure about that you know, and I can actually remember literally 6 months down the line, where the same clients were coming into the shop and asking for those haircuts I was trying to get them to have 6 months beforehand. I can remember that as clear as yesterday.

“You can’t be a hairdresser and not be a people person I always remember when i first started my hairdressing career feeling that you have to have the gift of the gab to get on, and i felt like i did, and people always used to say you’ve definately got the gift of the gab. You’ve got to have that as a hairdresser, you’ve got to be able to communicate with the people you work with and the clients.” I wondered if working in the business had changed Phil.... “I like being me and i think that if you try to put on this false persona it’s not gonna work and people will see through the cracks. I like just being myself, I think people like me for being myself, it’s whats kind of made my career.”

In London I could put a wedding dress on and walk down Oxford Street and no-one would bat an eyelid. That’s the kind of place London is. So you can really let your artistic side let rip.” Do you miss London?

I asked Phil if he oftens approaches people outside of work to comment on their look or help them with their style. “I’m more likely to be the one people approach and say I’m wearing the daft outfit to be perfectly honest. I have done that, I’ve stopped and chatted to people plenty of times in clubs and bars and started talking shop with people about their hair, and it always falls into conversation. The minute you sit down and talk with somebody you’ve never met before and they start asking you, “what do you do for a living” and you say you’re a hairdresser, that’s it, the whole conversation is dominated by hairdressing. Like I said before there’s a very fine line when it comes to a point where people say, “ you’re a hairdresser can i ask you what would you do with my hair” and i go actually its my day off i don’t want to talk to you about your hair and they see the funny side, and just walk off and get on with it because they see there’s a time and a place for some things like that, you think I’m out to enjoy myself.

“I do to a certain degree. You get so much inspiration from what you see on the streets and whats going on fashion wise. Just to be in a place like London you get to see it at first hand and you’re able to say, I really like how fashions’ looking and how it’s going, and you start producing haircuts that work with that kind of image. Like the shoot we did (On The Couch cover model Caz) with Caz stemmed from the fact that I wanted to do something that was a bit more art deco, and a bit more divine decadent, but then during the shoot it started to veer off, which is fine as far as I’m concerned, because you are going to branch off and try other things. You always work with a certain model and think well I’m going to try and get as many different looks out of this model as I can, and sometimes the other looks that you tend to go for end up being the ones you prefer.” (cont...)

page 6 interview It all starts off with a certain theme and in a place like London you get to see that quite a lot, like at the moment if theres something that’s quite mod looking you’re going to start doing those kind of haircuts to tie in with that whole theme. In a place like London you see that a damn sight more than in St Helens unfortunately.” For the past year Phil has worked for himself at the Absoulute Beauty Salon. When I first met Phil he had his own Salon. I was interested to see which he prefered. “I prefer it here now to be perfectly honest. The opportunity came up for the Salon and I didn’t want to look a gifthorse in the mouth and turn it down. I thought it was a cracking opportunity at the time and I felt that I’d have been stupid to turn it down. Even though it wasn’t something I was pursuing at the time I thought lets just go with it and see what happens. I did enjoy it at the time but to be perfectly honest I’ve always been far happier being more freelance. Prior to the shop I’d be self employed for many years stemming way back to London, which was the first time I became self employed. I used to work for myself at the salon and could take time out to go and do freelance work and do the photoshoots that I wanted to work on. The one big plus side since letting the shop go and concentrating on myself is the fact that I’ve now got the time to look at the artistic side of my career a bit more. The shop took over so much of the time that it meant I was always having to look at the management and the running of the business, and unfortu-

nately it did start to drain how I felt about the artistic side of my job slightly. I didn’t have the time to do it, and i was starting to lose a bit of the enthusiasm towards hairdressing as a whole. Since the shops now gone my artistic side has started to shoot through the roof again and I’ve started thinking right, where do i want to go with this now. I’m dead happy here, the shop always did well financially but every single penny I made in the shop went back into the business, whereas now I’ve still got the same clientelle, the overheads are far less, I can do what I like and I’ve got more freetime to do more photographic work and start to look at the artistic side of my career. Do you like seeing people in the Salon when you come in each morning.... “Yeah, I’m very much a morning person. People get annoyed at how chirpy I am in the morning!”

“In London I could put a wedding dress on and walk down Oxford Street and no one would bat an eyelid” model: Caz photos: Rob Knowles words: Jogga

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t’s time to cut ties with the weekend visit to the pub and some very, very dodgy club afterwards. We highlight more exciting ways to spend that hard earned coin. First up, and for birthday fun, our party headed to a lapdancing bar in Manchester. I know this won’t be to everyones taste but I found it a fairly classy adventure. There was none of the expected sleaze and give us a feel from the admittedly mostly male clientele. The staff were amazingly friendly and the dancers put our group at ease straight away. It’s hard to ignore the cost but for a once in a while trip, it was an erotic adventure that more than delivered in the “different things to do on a night out” stakes. Our visit took us to Longlegs in the China Town district of Manchester.

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Page 9 sit, relax, have a brew Home of the lads night out no more it seems as we encountered couples of all ages, along with the expected group of lads on a stag do. We recommend going during the week if you really want to avoid the gangs, but if you like it crowded, a Saturday night down at Longlegs will certainly deliver. If Lapdancing really doesn’t float your boat and lets face it it’s not for everyone how about a leisurely trip down the bridgewater canal, but with a difference. Full Moon party organise monthly events and one off specials that promise more fun than a box of frogs. Set up in 2009 head honcho Mike Tracy is responsible for some of the most memorable nights out his customers have had. With free champage and a DJ spinning dance tunes on the lapping waves it’s a great way to enjoy a club atmosphere but meet people who like things done a little differently. Going back to the theme of dance I had occasion to nip into a few burlesque nights over the last few years. Burlesque offers a more theatrical approach to erotic dance and performance and pulls a very enthusiastic crowd whenever I’ve watched. Venues include the Tiger Lounge in Manchester and the xxxx in Birkenhead but there are loads I’ve not been to yet and touring reviews like the Polly Rae performance troupe Hurly Burley perform at bigger venues like the Parr Hall in Warrington.The dancers are never less than completely devestating and their routines are always done with a tongue in cheek flirtiness that never threatens but always excites. Now this really is something different...Given that singing competitions seem to be everywhere, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a go on the Kareoke after a few sambucas, here’s a real alternative night out that will even give you something to remember it by. If you’re one of us thousands tutting at the TV during X Factor saying, “How did they get through?” and, “I can do better than that give

this next suggestion a go. We decided to give singing a go at Frog Studios in Warrington. The idea is you tell them the song you want to record, their amazing producers put the song together as a backing track, and you go in to record it! Give the end result to your mum for Christmas or see the start of a blossoming recording career take shape. Either way it’s a real different night out and loads of fun. As they say the devil is in the detail, so how about taking a look at the start, and then the end of your evening, aswell as considering the main event. What about a luxury night out adventure? Why not rent a limo to ferry you to your venue and have a party on the way! I’m sure most of you reading this will have been in or seen these multi-coloured hummers, chevys and God knows what else patrolling the city centres, having just negotiated a tricky culde-sac three point turn. Who says you can only hire a limo when it’s your 18th, 21st or wedding day? On The Couch recommends Martini Cars of Newton-Le-Willows. They have two cars and take bookings on 01925 296 191. So that’s it, get down the salon, pop open a bottle of vino, sit and have your hair done, then get out there and enjoy. We’re a long time dead a friend cheerfully reminded me recently. Have fun!

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We all have our own reasons for wanting a tattoo. Some of us are inspired by others, some like the idea of enhancing our bodies, while others simply want to have a visual representation of something that is important to us. A love, a breakup, a dream, whatever it might be we are compelled to make a lifelong commitment to it and get inked.

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page 12 interview

as flip flopping between the more mainstream sound of The Libertines and The Cooper Temple Clause. However, with song titles like ‘Do you think you invented drug abuse?’ and ‘Just Give Me The Knife’ you veer more towards the style of the latter mentioned band/Do you concur? If so, do you think that it is a good thing at this stage of your careers?

Four angry young men from

Warrington are causing quite a stir locally at the moment with their infectious melodies and channeled anger. You hail from Warrington, can you describe what the Warrington music scene is like presently and do you feel that you fit into it? The scene in Warrington has got better over the last few months. We’ve seen a few venues start up nights and keep them going lately. There’s not a massive amount of support for local bands but there are enough bands around to make up a decent audience. As long as the venues stick with it, the scene can only get better. How did 13amp start tell us the story in your own words and would you say that you are still a band in transition? Our previous band had run it’s natural course by the end of 2003. We’d had a pretty much defined style that didn’t warrant too much in the way of experimentation. This caused some conflict at the time but the break was necessary. In terms of 13amp being in transition I think I’d be pretty pissed off if we weren’t. I hate the idea of treading water and writing songs on the basis of what we believe we are supposed to sound like. I don’t like living on the past. For the un-initiated your style can be described

I don’t really know much by either band to be honest. I don’t mind having comparisions made but can’t really relate their sound to ours. It’s probably not advisable to make comparisions with song titles. We’ve also got very short ones. How is work going on your debut album and how would you summarise the sound of it? Hopefully it’s not going to sound too self indulgent but when you think about putting together 10 or more songs, that hopefully will fit together and reflect our lives now, it’s hard not to become completely self obsessed. We’re riding that storm at the moment! All of us had a pretty shitty year in personal terms last year. I’d like to write something that expressed that, but it would make a pretty miserable listen. We’re being fairly open about it and taking our time. I want to make something lasting though so it won’t be rushed. What are your current musical influences? I think the last Goldfrapp album is fantastic and I really like the new Sleepy Jackson album. I’ve always got Talking Heads, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Clash to rely on.

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Thank you for the days

Kirsty MacColl: The End of a Perfect Day On December 5th 2009 the Kirsty MacColl fan community was stunned into silence when Jean MacColl (nee Newlove), Kirsty’s mother made the rousing statement signifying the close of the Justice for Kirsty campaign. The vast majority of the British music-listening public will no doubt be aware of Kirsty MacColl as a singer. For those rock-dwellers out there, she was best known for her novelty hit ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’, her established and celebrated cover hits of Billy Bragg’s ‘A New England’ and The Kinks’ ‘Days’, not to mention her infamous duet spot with Shane MacGowan on The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’. To those closest to her, Kirsty will be remembered for her beautiful mind, beautiful voice and razor sharp wit. Kirsty’s life was tragically cut short at the young age of 41 on December 18th 2000, when, during the happiest days of her life, she was struck by a speedboat whilst scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. Her last act was pushing her sons, Jamie and Louis from harm’s way. Friends, family and fans emerged to pay their respects, numbed and bewildered by the horrific loss. It soon dawned that there were certain discrepancies concerning the events that took place on that day. Questions soon arose: Why was this speedboat travelling in a segregated area reserved for divers? Why was this speedboat travelling at an estimated speed of 20 knots instead of the 1 knot limit? Who was driving the boat? Why has no public apology been given? Kirsty’s mother, Jean, took it upon herself to start the Justice for Kirsty campaign to bring the criminals responsible to justice. For money? No. Jean has stated countless times that the aim of the campaign was simply to enforce a public apology to bring about closure for her, Kirsty’s

grieving partner James Knight and of course, her two children. The man held accountable for the reckless use of the speedboat was José Cen Yam, who worked for wealthy multi-millionaire mob boss Guillermo Gonzalez-Nova as a deckhand. He was fined a pittance to cohere with his wages – about £61. Surely a deckhand with no license who, quite literally, couldn’t tell left from right wouldn’t be left in charge of such equipment. In fact he was discovered drunk in a Mexican bar, claiming that Gonzalez-Nova would make him “a very wealthy man” for taking the blame. Unsurprisingly, when Gonzalez-Nova failed to deliver, Cen Yam quickly requested to change his statement. However by this stage he was denied his request, and Gonzalez-Nova, conveniently, “could not be found”. This is merely a taste of the innumerable injustices that plague this tragic tale. The villain responsible walks free with no hope for justice. Jean MacColl is using the remaining campaign funds to erect a monument in memory of Kirsty at the site of the “accident”, as a warning to others and a reminder to that man. For a heart warming and heart breaking account of Kirsty’s life and death, look to Jean MacColl’s rousing book: Sun on the Water to learn more. All we can do now is keep the memory of Kirsty alive. Her music is still timeless, and is still strong enough to strike a chord even today. Her signature wall of sound still resonates with the biting wit of her lyrics, which are still a breath of fresh air all these years later. The majority of her back catalogue has been remastered and reissued and is now available with a wealth of added tracks to keep fans happy, despite the fact that her first two albums, ‘Desperate Character’ and ‘Real’ remain out of print and unreleased respectively due to Polydor’s unfathomable apathy; another injustice. Whether you listen to Kirsty as a singer, a songwriter or a backing vocalist, it remains clear that she truly was the one and only.

page 15 sit, relax, have a brew Kirsty’s sons, now young men, marvelled at the crowd that formed in Soho Square on what should have been her 50th birthday last year, saying “It’s unbelievable, after nine years!” It seems that Kirsty’s star still shines bright, and the memory of the time we were blessed enough to have her will never die. So to Kirsty: a daughter, a mother, a partner, a singer, an angel: Thank you for the days. words: Rik Dawson

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