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Martin Hannett (born Manchestermarker, Lancashire, England 31 May 1948 – 18 April 1991), sometimes credited as Martin Zero, was a record producer who helped develop Joy Division and was an original partner in Factory Records with Tony Wilson. Hannett's trademark sound, most apparent on Joy Division's debut album Unknown Pleasures and its follow-up, Closer, is sparse and eerie, complementing frontman Ian Curtis' baritone vocals.


Early years

Hannett was raised in a working class, Catholic family in Miles Plattingmarker, Manchestermarker, attending Corpus Christi school and Xaverian Collegemarker in Rusholmemarker. In 1967, he began to attend UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) where he earned a degree in chemistry but chose not to pursue that profession.


After he graduated, he began to learn to play bass. He was bassist with Spiderman King and as member in a band called Paradox, in 1973, alongside Paul Young, later of Sad Café and Mike + The Mechanics.

His production work began with the cartoon show All Kinds of Heroes soundtrack, which also was produced by Steve Hopkins (with whom later worked again). By the time, he also began to mix at pub gigs. Another early production works included Greasy Bear material, Belt & Braces Road Show Band's eponymous album, in 1975, and five songs from Pete Farrow's repertoire, later included on that artist's compilation album Who Says There's No Beach in Stockport, in 1977. However, he first came to musical attention the latter year, when, as Martin Zero, he produced the first independent punk record, The Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP. Under the same moniker he produced early records by punk poet John Cooper Clarke, whose Salfordmarker monotone was complemented by drum machines, simple synthesiser motifs and Hannett's own bass playing. As Martin Zero, Hannett appeared on Top of the Pops playing bass (actually an acoustic guitar with four strings) on Jilted John's eponymous single, which he also produced.

Hannett became closely associated with Joy Division. Hannett's production incorporated looping technology to treat musical notes with an array of digital filters and both Melos analogue and digital and AMS digital delay units. The first synths Hannett and guitarist Bernard Sumner both used were Transcendent 2000s and then ARP Omnis. Hannett also liked to feed sounds through his Marshall Time Modulators; he had two of these and Strawberry Studios owned a third, which he used.

As a producer, Hannett obsessed over drum sounds, never being content until they completely coincided with the sounds in his head. Legend has it that he once forced Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris to take apart his drum kit during a recording session and reassemble it to include additional parts from a toilet. He also reputedly had Morris set up his kit on a first floor flat roof outside the fire escape at Cargo Recording Studios, Rochdale. The studio was used for the recording of "Digital", "Glass", "Atmosphere" and "Ice Age". Hannett's unorthodox production methods resulted in drum sounds mixed with synthesisers that were both complex and highly distinctive. According to Hannett: "There was a lot of space in their sound. They were a gift to a producer, because they didn't have a clue. They didn't argue. A Factory Sample was the first thing I did with them. I think I'd had the new AMS delay line for about two weeks. It was called 'Digital'. It was heaven sent." Hannett was instrumental in the early development of these particular AMS delays asking the engineers in the company to try and recreate within the electronics the sounds he was hearing in his head.

Hannett's production can also be heard on Basement 5's album 1965 - 1980. Hannett remixed some of the tracks from 1965-1980 for In Dub, which features dub versions of Basement 5's material.

In 1981, Hannett was name checked by the Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra on their track "Nazi Punks Fuck Off!," which appears on the In God We Trust, Inc. EP. Biafra introduces the track by saying, "This is 'Fuck Off', overproduced by Martin Hannett, take four." The comment was tongue-in-cheek; Hannett never produced for the Dead Kennedys. A similar quote precedes the song "Fuck Me" by "Mihi" as appears on Regret, the first volume of the I've Girls Compilations.

Hannett worked briefly with U2, New Order, and Factory Records band Stockholm Monsters.


A rift formed with Factory and he sued them in 1982 over a financial dispute; the matter was eventually settled out of court. At this point, Hannett's career had spiralled into decline due to his heavy drinking and drug use, especially his use of heroin. His weight eventually doubled (to roughly 26 stone, or 364 pounds), and he died of heart failure in 1991 at the age of 42 in Chorley, Lancashire. Hannett is survived by a wife, daughter and a son.

Fictional portrayals

Hannett was portrayed by actor Andy Serkis in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, which was based on Tony Wilson's career as the co-founder of Factory Records and The Haçiendamarker nightclub. In the DVD commentary, Wilson notes a review that described Hannett as Serkis' "strangest role," and points out that Serkis is best known for his portrayal of Gollum in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wilson concludes that the reviewer's implication is correct, that indeed, Hannett was far stranger than Gollum.

Hannett was portrayed by Ben Naylor in Anton Corbijn's film Control.

Selected discography

Albums produced

Singles produced


  • Martin: The Work of Record Producer Martin Hannett (Factory Records, 1991)
  • And Here is the Young Man (Debutante, 1998)
  • Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977-1991' (Big Beat, 2006)

See also


  1. Simmonds, Jeremy. The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars. Pag. 272, Chicago Review Press, 2008. ISBN 1-55652-754-3, 9781556527548
  2. [1]
  3. Interview (...) although we (he and John Cooper Clarke) both come from the Catholic working class in Manchester.
  4. [2]
  5. Simmonds, Jeremy. The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars. Pag. 272, Chicago Review Press, 2008. ISBN 1556527543, 9781556527548
  6. Savage, Jon, "Faster, but slower", Mojo, May 2006

External links

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