how are you?
I'm very well thank you. I'm showered, awake and ready for an
exciting new day.
Singing Kitten - Rob Manuel
grew up in Wolverhampton and lived there until you were 23?
Tell us about it...
I'm very fond of Wolverhampton, and defend it to it's many mockers,
but I wouldn't really want to live there myself these days.
There isn't much opportunity for interesting work in the area.
Which part of Wolverhampton?
I grew up on a dividing line between Finchfield and Castlecroft.
As befits the stereotype of the west side of an industrial town,
it's all leafy suburbia really, brass door knockers and people
washing their cars on a Sunday.
Valley Park Railway is a disused railway track that pretty much
travels from Wombourne to Wolverhampton town centre. It's stunningly
beautiful and I spent much of my childhood cycling up and down
it. The canal is wonderful too, particularly idyllic in the
winter when the snow falls on the frozen water.
A good and a bad W-ton memory?
Hmm. I joined Zip - a local theatre group one summer and we
did a production called "Wolverhampton - The Musical." It was
utterly ridiculous but amused the hell out of me. Bad? I guess
that would be drunken townees shouting "Oi! Ginger!" every day
as I wandered about town.
Smestow Comprehensive School. Not a bad school at all. I was
quite proud to get consistent D's in P.E for 5 years running.
What part has Wolverhampton played in your rise to superstardom?
Er... I think you're confusing me with someone else from Wolverhampton.
Are you sure this question wasn't meant for Jass Mann of Babylon
Do you feel growing up in W-ton shaped your sense of humour?
Totally. My sense of humour hasn't moved on since the playground.
I still find "you're gay" jokes funny.
Love Kittens - Rob Manuel
you still have family in the area? What did your parents do?
What did they do to you to make you love kittens?
My mum lives in Ironbridge these days. In a lovely little cottage
next to the river. She works for the V.A.T and hasn't seen any
of the web stuff that I do. I've tried explaining it but she
gets a bit glassy eyed.
Kittens? Er.. there was always cats about the house when I grew
up. Both my mum and dad were big fans so I got a double genetic
dose of kitten love. I've got a cat now called Rocky - because
he's a fighter.
What do your family think of your work?
They don't really know about it. I've tried to explain but they
don't really get it.
Tell us about something traumatic that happened to you.
I once went to Amsterdam and got a bit paranoid after sampling
some of the local fun. I tried to find somewhere safe to chill
out in. Wandered into a building saying "Exhibition" - turned
out it was a sales conference of people from Dorset selling
caravan holidays to the Dutch.
Please list a few of your previous jobs? How did you get
to where you are now?
I've watered plants, been a barman, and framed pictures. But
then back in about '95 I decided I wanted to learn how to make
a website and in response to the BSE crisis I set up a site
called "Cow Liberation Front".
I was stunned when journalists started phoning me up asking
for my opinions on cows. I realised that I knew nothing about
cows, but I clearly knew something about websites. So I closed
down the site and got myself a job at a web agency working for
clients such as Greenpeace.
worked making client sites for a few years, and then realised
I was bored so I started perusing a few personal projects. I
met the guy who ran Popbitch, who thought I was onto something
and gave me a lot of encouragement. He then got me a job working
on "special projects" at Emap. We put together a little team,
me, a designer called Denise Wilton and a programmer called
Cal Henderson. And we started B3ta.
Emap didn't think it was right for them, so we took it away
and carried on under our own steam. This was about 2 years ago
and the site has grown from strength to strength.
thought I would end up a member of Duran Duran." -
(Photo by Weebl)
you expect you'd be doing this?
No, not really. I thought I would end up a member of Duran Duran.
Can't think why that never happened.
move to London?
Work. Pure and simple. There is a lot more work available in
the web field in London. And you get the chance to work with
bigger clients, rather than making a site for the local pie