Quickfire Intros: Martin Hannett, The Mad Genuis of Manchester

by D I Hughes


Music August 9, 2017

Known as The Mad Genius of Manchester, Martin Hannett was the kind of music producer that didn’t just break the mould but took the mould, smashed it against a wall several times, took a piss on it, then put it back together upsidedown.

Now, Mr ‘Mad’ Hannett was responsible for crafting the sound of a number of groundbreaking records during his relatively short but potent career, but he was perhaps most-revered for his work on Joy Division epic Unknown Pleasures.

If you listen to any track from the album you’ll probably agree that sonically, it’s an airy, intense, striking assault to the ears – and this is largely down to mad Martin’s techniques. These included…


  • Smashing a bottle

  • Someone eating crisps

  • Backwards guitar

  • The sound of a studio lift with a Leslie speaker inside

  • A flushing toilet

  • Vocals recorded down a telephone


Yes, no preset sounds, no sterile ambient techniques, just a series of outlandish efforts that made Unknown Pleasures one of the most one-of-a-kind LPs ever made.



“Again, I was trying to do things, and the engineer was turning them off when I looked round. ‘You don’t put that kind of echo on a snare drum!’” – Martin Hannett


In addition to Unknown Pleasures, if you’d like to get inside the head of Manchester’s mad genius, you should also listen to these three records…


  1. New Order – Everything’s Gone Green

  2. Happy Mondays – Bummed

  3. Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch

Martin Hannett achieved a great deal in his fleeting existence and although he was considered difficult at times, he dared to step outside the box and delve into new realms without giving one single shit – and in all honesty, I can only thank him for it.


Featured image VIA

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