What's Mani's rant against Peter Hook all about?

Mani's Twitter tirade against the former Joy Division and New Order bassist was a great bit of gossip. But it also reveals growing tensions within the Manchester music scene

When blokey bands descend from pronouncements of fraternal love into public spats, the results are unedifying – and sometimes downright ugly. But you often can't help rubbernecking to get as much of an eyeful as possible. So it was when Gary "Mani" Mounfield of Freebass went on Twitter to launch a vociferous attack on his bandmate Peter Hook, effectively killing off the band.

During a prolonged outburst, Mani tweeted a series of increasingly personal statements attacking Hook's increasing involvement with memorial projects, such as his Evening of Unknown Pleasures spoken word tour, and his decision to perform the music of Joy Division. Here's a selection:

"3 things visible from space, great wall of china, peter hooks wallet stuffed with ian Curtis blood money, man citys empty trophy cabinet!"

"used to adore the man, now he's a self centred sellout reduced to hawking his mates corpse around to get paid. And he can't play"

"either personally or professionally. ever wondered why im universally loved, and another manc ex legend in his own mind is despised by most."

"we were all laughing behind his back watching the stupid wank struggle to do the same old shit he's done for the last 30 years !!"

Of course, the Mancunian supergroup consisted not just of the former Stone Roses and New Order bassists but also ex-Smith Andy Rourke (and singer Gary Briggs of the lesser-known Haven). The prospect of members of three renowned groups coming together caused no end of anticipation among music fans, but sadly Freebass's output spent a rather long time in gestation – five years, in fact, although their debut album, It's a Beautiful Life, is finally due on 20 September.

Rourke quit the band earlier this year and moved to New York, and this appears to have influenced Mani's decision to leave the group, which commentators – including controversial Manchester bloggers Fuc51 – have accused of being a vanity project.

However, the manner in which Mani has gone about flaming his bandmate is so strident you wonder exactly what went on. Acrimony doesn't begin to cover the level of hatred Mani expresses for Hook, and the public nature of the disagreement has shocked many. There has been a debate going for some time now within Manchester about the fascination with the city's musical past, which some argue is at the expense of current bands including Everything Everything, Egyptian Hip Hop and Delphic. Seeking to disassociate himself from such retrograde nostalgia, the former Stone Roses bassist also tweeted: "i've actually got an ongoing career, so I don't feel the need to exploit my past glories. I exist in the here and the now !!!"

It's understood that Mani has now returned to begin rehearsals with Bobby Gillespie and Primal Scream. Today Freebass' management responded to the comments posted on Mani's Twitter page in a highly diplomatic manner, releasing an official statement announcing the dissolution of the band: "Recent events have made Freebass entirely unviable as a band and with this in mind, it has been decided that the project should be shelved, rather than placed on hiatus while members pursue their other interests."

Apparently aware of a potential backlash, Mani seems to have retracted some of his vitrol: "Everything is ok. I shouldn't air my laundry in public. Meltdown time. I need to give this game up, I can't trust nobody any more."

But if anything, that only makes us more curious as to what really went down.

Abbas Ali

The GuardianTramp

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