Interview: Macclesfield's Phil Cunningham to play homecoming show for Sea Fever album launch

By Alex Greensmith

13th Oct 2021 | Local News

A world-renowned Macclesfield musician will be performing his first gig in our town since the pandemic.

Sutton-raised guitarist Phil Cunningham (46) will be bringing his new band Sea Fever to Macc on Saturday October 30.

Phil will play a full-capacity gig at Mash on 5 Back Wallgate, Macclesfield, with his Sea Fever bandmates.

Sea Fever comprises of Phil, his New Order bandmate Tom Chapman, Johnny Marr's bassist Iwan Gronow, Section 25's Beth Cassidy, and drummer Elliot Barlow.

"Me and Tom have quite a bit down time in New Order," said Phil.

"We're busy enough, but there's enough time to work on other musical ideas. So we just funnelled it into this new band Sea Fever and rounded up our friends really that are musicians in the area.

"We're really excited to get the record out and we are playing these small low key gigs around it including Macclesfield and we're gonna take it from there really.

"The Macc gig was my idea, I know Peter [Mason] and Jane [Birch] who run Mash and they are such great people. It is a cool little venue."

Tickets cost just £5 - however - and they can't be bought in advance. So those who wish to go to the gig should arrive well before Mash's opening at 7pm.

Sea Fever's debut LP will release on October 22.

It features contributors from New Order drummer and Rainow resident Stephen Morris, also formerly of Joy Division.

October 30 is Phil's first performance in Macclesfield since he headlined Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank with New Order in 2019. His first gigs were in our town as a teen in the early 1990s.

"[As a teenager] I went to two different schools in Macc," added Phil.

"I first went to Macclesfield High School which turned into the King's Girls School on Fence Avenue, [which has been shut since 2020 to become new homes].

"After two years that got shut down, and I then got moved to Henbury High School at Broken Cross, which actually doesn't exist anymore either they've demolished it into housing estates.

"Then I went onto Macc College after that and that was the time I was getting into my music more and as my band which predated Marion started - I won't tell you the name because it is quite embarrassing [laughter].

"That predated Marion [Phil's first recorded band], we had me and Jaime [Harding] out of Marion, and that was when we were about 16 to 17. We used to play all the pubs in Macclesfield - that's where I cut my teeth really.

"A lot of the pubs I first performed in are gone now, they've been turned into apartments but The Jolly Sailor was one that is still there on Sunderland Street.

"My other favourites [to play in Macc] were the George Hotel on Jordangate which is now flats, Reuben Stubbs used to be a great gig as well but that is no longer there.

"It was a pretty tough crowd back then, at one gig I plugged my amp in and then some guy unplugged the PA because he wanted to plug the fag machine back in. He totally pulled the plug on us."

After two albums with Britpop outfit Marion, Phil joined New Order in 2001.

This year marks 20 years with the rock and synthpop band, which also has two other members from Macclesfield.

He played New Order's biggest non-festival UK gig yet at Heaton Park last month, selling 36,000 tickets.

Sea Fever at Mash however, promises to be a more intimate affair.

"I've got the O2 coming up next in London [with New Order] the week after Macc [with Sea Fever] so it is a nice juxtaposition doing a small hometown gig and then a big one in London," Phil also added.

"My wife and two step-children are actually from Texas, and I did move out there for a while, but we're here now and they love it in Macclesfield as well. This is our home. And we've just had a Macc baby as well - our daughter Riley has just turned one.

"Please come down to the gig at Mash and check out Sea Fever - it is going to be a great night.

"We've got great support with Field Manual, who is the band of Chris Insley who runs AMP Guitars [on Macclesfield's Chester Road]."

Phil lives in the Macclesfield East & Hurdsfield ward with his family-of-five.

You can listen to his favourite Sea Fever song Crossed Wires at the top of this article, with the video taken from their YouTube channel.

You can pre-order Sea Fever's first album Folding Lines here.

You can also listen to Phil's new band on Spotify and Apple Music.

You can follow Sea Fever on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Macclesfield lad Phil Cunningham has over 10,000 followers on Twitter.

Merchandise of Phil's new band can also be found here.

If you have a gig to promote in the Macclesfield area, please consider listing it for FREE on the Macclesfield Nub News What's On section.

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