There's scaffolding all over the place and pneumatic drills are going off in the background as Hooky tries to explain why he's got back into the club biz at the very moment when people have just finished reading his self penned best seller on How Not To Run A Club…
"I'm very good at applying nothing I've learned to anything" he laughs "it makes life very interesting."
Ironically, we're in the old board room of the Factory offices where the full overblown indulgence of Tony Wilson and co came to a head twenty years ago with a huge lavish board table swinging from the ceiling and a company accountant declaring that Happy Mondays next album might just pay for the windows. It didn't. Factory went bust.
And on the grave of its HQ, a new dance club, Paradise Factory, sprang up, fired up and went down, as did everything else that happened at the self contained building behind the BBC that was originally launched in a blitz of hype, its total exterior wrapped in Happy Mondays posters.
The iconic meeting place was about to be flattened - like everything else of any resonance in Manchester and Salford - before the recession took hold, allowing Hooky and his new business partner and owner of 15 clubs around the UK, Aaron Mellor, to take over the building. They're giving it another Ben Kelly makeover and re-launching it as FAC251 THE FACTORY with the proud assertion on the flyers…
`20 Years since the birth of Madchester, the building that started it all and ultimately destroyed it all…Built by Tony Wilson. Designed by Ben Kelly. Paid for by New Order. Broken by Happy Mondays…'
"Strangely enough" Hooky says "I did enjoy running a club – it's a great ego boost not having to queue up and all that crap…In all honesty I do know now how not to make some very basic errors and what interests and excites me about Aaron is that he has a lot of experience stopping us making errors…"
"He might be eating these words in a couple of years" he chortles "but it's a balance between realism and the wonderful unrealistic life I live. The way that we all ran the Hacienda and Factory and ourselves was that it was all very exciting. No-one cared about tomorrow, we all lived very, very much in the now. It was a very hedonistic and very narrow way of thinking, very self indulgent, you didn't care what happened around you as long as you lot were all off your tits having the night of your life…
"But those days have gone now and there's a healthy band of realism that's come into it" he adds "To me now, it's more important that things do last because if you put a lot of work into something you want it to last forever really – as a musician I was taught by Tony (Wilson) and Rob (Gretton) that the best thing you're going to do is the next thing you're going to do, and I think it's all about new music and new ventures…"
FAC251 THE FACTORY opens on 5th February with a one off performance by The Light, a supergroup featuring Hooky, Rowetta from Happy Mondays, Pete Wiley ("if he returns my calls") and Mani from the Stone Roses, who's sat next to Hooky today bigging up the whole venture…
"I see this in terms of how the old PSV Russell Club was" he says "A place where people come together with like minds and maybe use it as a springboard to start their own bands. It's got to be a melting pot of creativity.
"I used to go to the original Russell Club as a little 14 year old punk and it gave me the idea of wanting to be in a band, and I hope kids will come here and get the same idea" he adds "We've got to have cheeky wink to the past but we've got to embrace what we've got and move it forward 'cos Manchester is the king of music and we're here to nurture and encourage this generation…and move it on.
"It's a place for kids to hang out, come together, start their own bands and go take it…If the likes of us can do it why not anyone else?"
Mani and Hooky are still doing it with the imminent launch of a new band, Freebass, and there will be preview of a few tracks on the opening night of THE FACTORY. Other nights will see a mix of music, from live bands to Drum n Bass and Electro sprawled over the club's three floors.
All involved are totally adamant that this latest Hac/Factory incarnation is there to put something back into Manchester and Salford in line with the original ethics.
"We're here to provide a service for musicians just to make good music and have a good crack at the same time" says Hooky "Both me and Mani have talked about it and we're fucking unemployable - what the fuck am I going to do? I did think about buying the bass shop on Oxford Road but we came along with this idea and we thought we'd give it another go.
"What I don't want is that people make the same mistakes as us because those mistakes were heartbreaking" he adds "And what you can't hide is the fact that Factory and the Hacienda had very many bleak dark periods – it took a lot of people down.
"Luckily I came through it and you don't want that to happen to other people because nobody likes to be ripped of – as musicians we're here to help."
Hooky's been there, written the book and is now going for it again. For the first time in years there's a frisson of excitement around town…
Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton et al might just be spinning in their graves – with approval…
FAC251 opens on Friday 5th February
Further details www.factorymanchester.com
Any bands wanting to play can upload their music here
FAC251 THE FACTORY - NIGHTS
Mondays – FACT
Tuesdays – Missionary
Wednesdays – The Fuel Girls/The People's republic of Mani-cunia
Thursdays - Dyslexic
Fridays – Bulletproof
Saturdays – Stonelove/Hacienda Presents guest DJs inc Shaun Ryder, Tim Burgess, Little Boots and Hooky…
Photos by Jemma Cooper
See Jemma's You Tube clip of the Press Conference here...