Dating all the way back to the late ‘70s, A Certain Ratio are one of the most influential Manchester bands of all time. As one of the first to work with Tony Wilson’s Factory Records, the post punk band set a template for generations of future musicians. Their musical style, which incorporated funk, disco, and Latin influences, is still as groundbreaking today as it was more than four decades ago.
Please, introduce yourself.
My name is Jeremy Kerr, which I shorten to Jez Kerr because I don't like Jeremy. I’m a musician; a bass player and a singer.
How has Manchester affected your artistic growth as a musician?
I think Manchester's a peculiar kind of place. Somebody once said that the people in Manchester have the best record collections. I think that's true. I don't know where it comes from, but I think it comes from working in a factory five days and then going out at the weekend. That was very important to people, and so the music was very important to people. I think that's where it stems from. They work hard and play hard, and music is really important to them as an escape from the drudgery of the nine-to-five, five days a week.
Do you remember the first time you saw a G9 Harrington Jacket?
I do remember, yeah. It was a guy at school. He was a bit trendy, we called him Ronnie Omelette because he once had the eggs thrown at him. It was a trendy jacket. Everybody wanted one. They were called Suede Heads, the people that I knew, and they'd all have the Harrington jacket. If you had a G9, you were in the crowd.
So how is Baracuta’s G9 related to the music industry or the music in Manchester?
Through the Suede Heads, Skinheads, Mods, it was a fashion thing and fashion, and music are really closely entwined. I think the Mods were the people who made it fashionable and so modern music was associated with it. But if you went to classical music, I don't think you'd wear a Harrington jacket.
As the G9 is an iconic piece of British heritage, what does Britishness mean to you?
We invented a lot of things. We're clever people, basically because of the weather. You know, you have to stay inside. When the weather's keeping you indoors, I think you come up with ingenious plots and ideas. I think the weather's got a lot to do with it.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Martin Moskrop, and I play guitar, drums, and trumpet in A Certain Ratio.
Can you explain how Manchester has affected your growing as an artist and as a musician?
Manchester is a very industrial city. It's not as industrial now as it was in the ‘70s when we were growing up. In the ‘70s, it was a very grim, dirty city, with a lot of poverty and empty buildings, and there was a big recession at the time. So, when we started as a band, it was quite dark and industrial, and our music sort of reflected that, in a way. And then, as Manchester grew out of that, we grew out of that with it, and we went to New York for the very first time, and it opened our eyes to lots of different cultures and different types of music. So, as well as us growing with Manchester, I think Manchester grew with A Certain Ratio as well, and we helped bring a lot of different music and cultures to Manchester, which really helped.
Do you have a special memory of the first time you saw a G9 Harrington jacket, and do you perhaps recall who was wearing it?
Yeah, it was Steve McQueen in the film The Thomas Crown Affair, in 1968. I was eight years old when it came out, and Steve McQueen had a pair of fold-up sunglasses, and I thought, “I want some of those glasses.”
When I saw the film later on in life, I think I might have been about 18 or something, was when I first noticed the jacket. I'd seen it loads of times before, but it was Steve McQueen that really made me take notice of the jacket.
As a musician, do you feel there were any specific connections between the G9 Harrington and music? Yeah, it's related, especially in Manchester. I think the jacket is original, and music from Manchester's quite original. It's quite iconic, and I think Manchester's quite an iconic place, and the music from Manchester. In a way, it's quite eclectic, because you get so many different styles of music that have taken the style of the jacket on board over the years. And I think that makes the jacket fit in with the eclectic nature of music in Manchester, which I think is important, that diversity. The jacket has never just taken one route. It fits with loads of different styles of music, and I think, especially in Manchester, where there are so many different cultures in the city, it really works. And of course, the jacket is from Manchester.
Could you describe what Britishness is, in your opinion?
I can go out and have a Japanese meal in the evening, followed by seeing a band, maybe from Finland or the USA or Japan in the evening, and then I could maybe go to a club night that's playing British garage music. But to me, Britishness is all those different cultures and the diversity of the country.
Please introduce yourself.
My name's Donald Johnson, and I play drums in A Certain Ratio.
How has Manchester affected your growing as an artist and as a musician?
In a really good way, because it means that while growing up as a child I was infused with a lot of different cultures. One of the great things about meeting the guys performing in a band is that there were different cultures, and then there were different musical directions to look at. Manchester's pretty much like that. It's got a lot of eclectic mixes of all different cultures, all different music. And you just infuse all that in.
When was the first time you spotted the Baracuta G9 Harrington? And do you remember who was wearing it?
The first time I saw a G9 jacket was a friend of mine called Anthony Talbot. He was a couple of years older than me, had a job. We were out somewhere, and he came, and I saw him with this Prince of Wales check G9 he’d bought with his first- or second-week’s wage. When he walked into the pub, we were in it absolutely shut down, because that jacket was the absolute bomb. He would go on then to buy more Harrington jackets, and I wasn't anywhere near being able to get those for a few years, because I hadn't started work. But it made me really want the Harrington jacket, seeing Anthony Talbot in one.
How would you relate the G9 with A Certain Ratio being both from Manchester?
I think A Certain Ratio actually sit with the G9 really well, because it's iconic, it's eclectic, it's different, it's stood the test of time. It has its own design within it, but when it's framed by different people, it looks different again, which is what we do with our music. Different people do different things, play different instruments, do all that kind of thing. I think it's that big cultural thing that's different, that stands out, like a great building. It's clothing, but it's like great architecture. It's there forever.
Hearing you describing the G9 jacket, referring to the music, it’s almost like you were speaking about an instrument.
It's not the instrument, it's who plays the instrument. It's what the instrument does. Yeah, it's what the instrument does. Like Martin said, me and him both play drums, but we play drums in a different way, but in the same band, and it sounds great, because we do things differently.
What do you think makes a design timeless? I think it's the very simple lines and the fact that it can stand the test of time. For instance, we're now in 2023. When I first got into wearing the G9, it was the early 1970s, and it's exactly the same shape, the whole design of the jacket has stayed pretty much the same. But like I said, the thing that works with things that stay timeless is the people and things around it that are getting used.
Thinking about it as architecture, how I see it is that when you've got a great piece of architecture that's been around for, you know, 100 years or so, let's say, like, a great building like our town hall, which is a very ornate and beautiful building, it doesn't become ornate and beautiful until people use it, which is pretty much the same as this jacket. The fact that Steve McQueen, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, all those different guys, wore it. Those are all different shapes, all different actors, all different times, but wearing a Harrington jacket, it's just iconic. It's the people that make them iconic. The design's there, but when it's framed on a person, that's where I think it works.
It was an ordinary person wearing it when I first saw it, but it looked beautifully hung on that person. It's always made me want to have that beautiful jacket. later on in life I was able to have one, but it was just that understated elegance. I think that's the supreme thing that works with this jacket.
What is Britishness to you?
Britishness is all different things to different people. The culture I was brought up in is about understanding, being open to all different things, open to all different cultures, open to all different languages, open to all different foods, open to all different religions, open to all different things, because when you're open, it makes you more receptive towards other things, and it also keeps you learning.
So, the great thing about Britishness to me is being open and understanding in the same way that my parents as immigrants came here in the 50s, and they were looked after by good people. There were still some bad people, like there always is going to be. But they came here in the ‘50s and they found nice people here, and they built a home, they built families here, and they built all those things because they had people that were receptive and wanted to be open and understanding. We've still got a long way to go with that, but I think the strong element of Britishness that will always, hopefully, prevail is being able to understand others, being able to mix into other cultures, and just don't think that there's one dimension to one culture. Britain's not that anymore. Britain's favourite food is not fish and chips anymore, it's more based around other cultures.