Why do we exist? This July 20 at the Gorilla venue on Manchester’s Whitworth Street, a special event, The Universe: Explained, will try and answer this knottiest of poseurs. Attempting to illuminate current scientific frontiers, expect interviews with scientists from CERN and the Royal Observatory, poetry, film, an illustration of the elusive Higgs Boson particle using tennis balls courtesy of artist Michael Trainor, and finally a gig by reunited punkers The Membranes, with ex-Fall low-end colossus Steve Hanley on bass. “I met (CERN particle physicist) Joe Incandela, the head of the Higgs Boson project when we were both giving a talk in Salford last year,” says unsinkable polymathic boss Membrane John Robb. “Over dinner he explained the whole of the universe that they understood so far - an amazing talk about wormholes, dark matter, black holes, bending time, parallel universes and how they have got the big bang down to the first trillionth of a second but are still baffled by the bit before! I thought that all this would make an amazing event combined with music and art – a mindfuck of madness.”
As for the recruitment of Steve Hanley, Robb quips, “I can't sing and play bass at the same time, so I rang up Steve, who’s always been one of my favourite bass players and who lives a mile away from me. He said ‘why didn’t do this years ago?’ A soon as he plugged in it sounded great. He’s so damn solid and intense. Will he be permanent? Well that depends on the curve of time doesn't it. It’s more mind boggling than the Universe!”
But is punk a suitable soundtrack for the mysteries of existence? “If punk was about reality, you can’t get any more real than the universe,” counters Robb. “After all we are just another part of the universe and we are made of space dust - Joe said the matter that we are made up of comes from the very beginning of time, which I found fascinating! Is the universe punk? Well that does sort of broaden the definition but you can't get any more punk expressions than dark matter and black holes and wormholes, which all sound like the names of punk bands. Also, someone told that the universe hums to the key of E - that's the natural note of eternity, and also, a very punk chord. So the more you look the more you see.”
The Membranes release their new single, The Universe Ends In A Billion Photons of Brilliant White Light on Tim Burgess’s O Genesis Record Label soon. Get your tickets for the event here.