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Factory

Back In Production

Written By Andy Gunton

Bands split and then get back together for any number of reasons, but it’s not often that an act reforms after very nearly 40 years! 

But that’s what Hastings band Factory have decided to do. Factory were one of the biggest local bands around in the 1970’s, playing on Hastings Pier many times.

We were naturally intrigued, so I spoke to Factory member Andy Qunta to find out why and how this reunion is happening. Andy now lives in the USA and has quite a story to tell. Original member Geoff Peckham has also added some of his own thoughts.

Andy Gunton: What was the inspiration and thinking behind a Factory reunion & why now?

Andy Qunta: I think at least Laurie (Cooksey), Tony (Qunta, Andy’s brother), Geoff (Jaffa) Peckham and I, had always had a feeling of "unfinished business" about Factory. We felt we never really fulfilled our potential. 

Last year I was talking to Tony on the phone about the recent Stallion reunion. We kinda of half-jokingly said "how about a Factory reunion?". We both thought it was a great idea! 

We decided to contact the others and see what they thought. Laurie was bowled over with excitement. Tony managed to track Jaffa down. None of us had been in contact with him since the early '80's, but he was all for it too! Steve Kinch, who had taken Jaffa's place in 1974, indicated he probably wouldn't have time, but gave us his blessing! So, we got the original four back together!

Geoff Peckham: We all got back in contact a couple of years ago through Facebook and the SMART meetings, discovered we still got on, and that each of us secretly nurtured a wish to do another gig as Factory. I remember when I left in 1974, Andy said he was sure we'd play together again; I don't suppose he thought it would take this long, though!

AG: When did you last play together, before the original split?

AQ: The last Factory gig was October 1976. The last gig with Jaffa was Sept 1974.

AG: How do you manage rehearsals etc, with you in the USA?

AQ: The other three, now referred to as "Factrio" have been rehearsing together for the last year, and have even done a couple of low-key gigs, including Beatles Day. I've been working on the songs over here. We all got together in France for five days' rehearsing, followed by a warm-up gig at a local pub, to see if we could still do it! We decided we could, and we had a lot of fun, so here we are!

GP: The two main problems were: (a) Andy living in the USA, and (b) remembering our old songs! My brother had made a rough recording on cassette of a concert we did in Peterborough in 1974, which we referred to. Tony and Laurie started making weekly treks to my place a year ago. After we'd finished the reminiscing, we got to work trying to figure out what we were playing forty-odd years ago. There were other unmastered studio recordings on reel-to-reel, some that we'd made with Roger Daltrey, and with these we started relearning our original repertoire. We sent stuff to Andy that he didn’t have and he worked alone on them.

The material is certainly "of its time", but I like to think it's quite unique and still stands up.  We've certainly breathed new life into it and I can't wait to air it in the place where it all began and to folk who may have heard it first time round!

AG: So what can you tell us about the reunion gig, which I understand is being filmed?

AQ: The gig is at The Carlisle in Hastings, on Friday 16th October. We will be giving it our all on the stage. Fortunately we are all still fit as fiddles, and have all been playing constantly, so we hope it will be pretty close to the Factory of old! 

We never filmed or video'd any gigs back in the day, as that wasn't something that could be easily done then. Consequently, this gig will be properly filmed, using a multi-camera set-up, and multi-track recorder. This is being done by Martyn Baker. Martyn is a friend from the early days of Factory, and came to many of our gigs. 

AG: Is this the start of a 'proper' reunion, or just a one off?

AQ: Before the gig, we're recording an album at Broadoak Studios. So we'll have an album, plus a film of the live gig. We hope that will lead to more.

We've been rehearsing for a year, and it's quite an undertaking, especially as we're on two continents! We wouldn't really want to do all that for just one gig. But if it does end up being just the one gig, and the album, it would definitely be worth it.

AG: For the uninitiated can you give us a brief history of Factory from 'back in the day'?

AQ: Factory was formed in May 1970 out of three local bands, (Rock Museum, Diversion and Static Emotion), by Laurie "Lol" Cooksey (drums & backing vocals), Geoff "Jaffa" Peckham (bass & backing vocals), Andy Qunta (12-string guitar/organ/lead & backing vocals), & Tony Qunta (lead guitar/electric violin/lead & backing vocals). 

Factory progressed to playing all over the UK, opening for many well-known bands, including Fleetwood Mac, Spencer Davis Group and Suzi Quattro. 

Through a recommendation, Factory were asked by Roger Daltrey to be the test band for his new home studio in Burwash. He liked us, and we were asked back several times, and Mr. Daltrey also came to see Factory play, and was quoted in the music press, saying "Factory were very good". 

Hastings Pier was like a second home to Factory, and it was a sad day when it was destroyed five years ago. 

Jaffa left Factory in Sept '74, his place was taken by another Hastings resident, Steve Kinch (formerly of Stallion, now with Manfred Mann's Earth Band). 

Factory also toured in Holland, and did residencies in Munich and Frankfurt. Factory finally broke up late in 1976.

AG: After Factory split you then joined Australian band Icehouse. Can you tell us a bit about that?

AQ: I moved to Icehouse's home base of Sydney in 1987. After I left Icehouse in '88, a company approached me to make a solo album, “Legend In A Lounge Room” , which I decided to record in Los Angeles. I had a lot of fun doing it, and my brother Tony came over and played on it, as did my former Icehouse bandmate, bassist Guy Pratt, who was playing with Pink Floyd at the time. 

Things on the business-end were a little shaky, so the album was never really promoted. But on the bright side, I liked L.A., and had a lot of friends there by this time, so decided to stay and try my luck there!

AG: How did you come to become a member of Icehouse?

AQ: The original Icehouse band went their separate ways after the tour for their first album. The second album was recorded almost single-handedly by singer Iva Davies. When it was time to promote the album, he had to get a band together. He came to London in 1982, looking for a keyboard player and a bass player. He asked his record company and his agent etc. Fortunately for me, they were people I knew from my days with Hazel O'Connor and Cockney Rebel, so they recommended me. Guy Pratt got the bass playing job, in similar circumstances.

I got to travel the world, be on TV, have hits, meet all kinds of interesting people, rub shoulders with many of the top bands of the day, and, above all, party like a rock star!

AG: Possibly your most well known moment must be writing the worldwide hit ‘You’re The Voice’ for John Farnham, a song that is still gets regular airplay today. How did that happen?

AQ: In 1985 I was signed to Rondor Music as a songwriter. The following year, when I was next in Australia to work with Icehouse, I met the people from Rondor's office in Sydney, and found out they didn't have copies of my songs. I contacted the office in London, and they had them sent overs. A couple of weeks later, they called to say that ‘You're The Voice’ was being recorded by John Farnham, ex-Little River Band. I didn't really know who he was, but I soon found out! ‘You're The Voice’ was Number One in Australia for seven weeks!

AG: Do you do anything musically in the USA these days?

AQ: Yes, I play keyboards and occasionally some guitar, with several Classic Rock "tribute" bands, the most successful of which is Double Vision, a tribute to Foreigner. We were recently featured on the TV show "The World's Greatest Tribute Bands. I also play with Deepest Purple, Badass Co, and others.

AG: Back to Factory, why did the band never release an album?

AQ: We recorded four songs early on, one written by each band member, and Tony's "Time Machine", plus my "Castle On The Hill" were released as a limited edition single. Due to its rarity, a copy of the single was sold at auction in 2008 for over £400! 

We wanted to feel we were ready to make an album. When we got to that point, record companies had become more focused on having a "hit single", and we were less interested in that, so it just never happened. That is one of the main reasons for us re-forming now, to finally make that album. I can’t wait.

AG:  Anything else you'd like to add?

AQ: Whatever I've done, and there's a lot I'm very proud of, Factory is what's closest to my heart, so this is very exciting, and dream-like! 

It's especially great to be playing in a band with my brother, Tony, again. We're lucky that we're all healthy, and have been involved in music all along, so not too rusty. Except Jaffa, who had been playing other instruments like accordian, but not the bass. He had to re-learn it, but seems to have eased right back into it. 

For a band to get back together after almost 40 years, that's not something you would expect!

GP: Apart from the music, it's been a lovely experience getting back together with some great friends and enjoying their company again. We went through lots together, strove for a common goal, and (as far as I can remember) never fell out. We each had a role within the group and we were pretty democratic. And it all seems to have carried on exactly how it left off!

Well, they certainly took their time, but Factory are finally back in production. 

 

Don’t forget that reunion gig at The Carlisle on Friday, 16th October. I’m sure there will be many people there on the night reliving past memories and remembering old times, why not join them? 

You can find out more about the band via Facebook: facebook.com/Factory-677552145651766 

To learn more about SMART, which was mentioned above, go to: facebook.com/groups/smart70s

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