Before I go any further, I better point out that this is a guest posting. It’s from SWC, and if you want to read what I was intending to put up here today, then you’ll have to navigate your way to No Badger Required.
It was SWC’s idea. His brilliant pitch was “Can we do a blogging exchange like two parents dropping off our sprog in a rundown motorway service station?”
How could I say no? Over to SWC:-
Why I stopped buying the NME Vol. 1
Fabricated Lunacy – Terris (2001, Blanco Y Negro Records, Taken from ‘Learning to Let Go’)
At the turn of the century, the NME was hanging on by its fingernails at the cutting edge of cool. Despite having several talented writers, who knew one side of a banger from the other, the once brilliant paper had become shallow and very much in the pockets of companies who promoted style over substance. Their once legendary awards shows became nothing more than a big advert for hair gel and styling mousse.
Desperate for an edge, the NME came up with a new concept, a series of front page covers featuring bands and acts that they considered to be ‘Stars of the New Millennium’. The first band to feature on the cover of the NME in the new millennium, were Terris.
The band that the biggest selling rock weekly decided would be the perfect band to herald in a new era and the next thousand years of music, were an indie pop band from South Wales, who had a singer called Gavin. Terris had played a few shows where singer Gavin Goodwin would spout bollocks from the stage, and the rest of the gig saw reviews featuring the words “Incendiary” and “irascible” aplenty. In that very issue the NME described Terris as, and I am typing this exactly as they put it just to really hammer home the point: –
“a 21st Century Joy Division, fronted by a young, totally wired, Welsh Tom Waits, strapped to the front of a speeding train with no brakes.”
In that one sentence, the NME broke music, almost beyond repair.
Its fair to say that Terris divided opinion. The NME thought they were great, everyone else thought they were dogshite. Goodwin’s voice was an acquired taste, it was raw, gravelly, hence the Tom Waits comparison, but it was nowhere near as good as Tom Waits, and they sounded more like Bon Jovi than they did Joy Division. They made ridiculously over the top statements about other Welsh bands, the Manics were
“Shite plastic nobodies”, (Pot. Kettle.)
“as embarrassing as Shirley Bassey after a bottle of wine” (ok, that is quite funny)
and as hard as Terris tried to be cool and appeal to the masses, they looked more like they were going to fix your washing machine than they did the future of rock music. Not one note of Terris’ music was going to set the establishment on fire, as the NME predicted it would. Terris were not even as good the 60ft Dolls, let alone the future of rock.
Happy Shopper – 60 Foot Dolls (1996, Indolent Records, Taken from ‘The Big 3’)
In 2001 the NME were still championing Terris, in a way that only a mother, whose child had just stabbed Santa Claus to death in front of an entire school, could. In a simpering review of their debut album ‘Learning to Let Go’ (of which ‘Fabricated Lunacy’ is the only real highlight), the NME wrote and I’m quoting exactly here again.
“Only one band want to make records that blow holes through the limits of what we currently meekly accept as sonically reasonable in the field of rock. Only one band can. And that’s Terris”.
‘Fabricated Lunacy’ reached the giddy heights of Number 42 in the UK, and then, after the release of ‘Learning to Let Go’, Terris vanished. Sonically reasonable acceptance remained hole free for another year.
Cannibal Kids – Terris (2000, Blanco Y Negro Records, Single)
6 thoughts on “WHY I STOPPED BUYING THE NME : VOLUME 1”
I left NME behind in the mid 90s – by which point I’d been buying it most weeks for 15 years. It began to dip in quality in the late 80s but not enough to put it on the naughty step. Also, the gig ads and guide were one if only a few places to find out about gigs – albeit that, more often than not, Scottish gigs didn’t appear in ads.
In the end I felt like an unsatiated addict hoping that the next fix would make things better – it never did.
The NME rather than report on the music industry attempted to become that industry and, to be blunt, it became utter shite.
I’ve never heard of Terris. The NME strikes again.
As Flim says, NME began to die in the late 80s. From about 78 until 82 it was essential to me, shaping my opinion not just on music, but film, books, TV, politics. From 82 onwards I was dismayed by its rabid enthusiasm for what seemed to me like shallow disposable pop (ABC, Frankie, Haircut 100, the sort of thing that fills the retro stations’ airwaves 40 years on) but the writing was still diverse and spiky enough to make it a weekly buy. Into the 90s it was a joke, a kind of laddish, dumb and shallow rag creating scenes that lacked any substance. It didn’t help that it was showcasing mouthy Britpop luminaries who lacked much real intelligence and dealt in provocative soundbites.
Terris are typical of the arid post-Britpop era. I think I lumped them in with another bunch of losers at the time called Cold Play, a name obviously destined for landfill obscurity.
Was ‘The New Wave of New Wave’ – S*M*A*S*H, These Animal Men etc before this? Was that dreamt up by NME or Melody Maker? That was what did it for me – creating ‘scenes’ out of shit bands – at a time when it was hard to actually hear the music.
Like Flimflamfan I was buying the NME for the gig ads too by the time I stopped.
The music press stopped being interesting when actual criticism of music stopped – they became too much in the pocket of record and pr companies who wouldn’t allow them access to the bands unless they said nice or hyperbolic things about them.
I’d forgotten that Terris even existed – and on listening to them again now I can see why!
“a 21st Century Joy Division, fronted by a young, totally wired, Welsh Tom Waits, strapped to the front of a speeding train with no brakes.” OUCH! That sounds absolutely ghastly! This American remembered the NME in its glory days since my friend religiously bought the NME [and Smash Hits] and I would read her copies in the ’81-’84 window since my limited budget always went towards actual records instead! But I never did any more than casually skim the mag.
But it was in the early 90s that she bought me an air mail subscription to it for one year, and I actually got to see the NME hype machine unfurl in real time on the Suede campaign! Praising them as the rightful heirs to Roxy Music in advance of any recorded music from the band! The Brett/Bowie interview issue was a watershed moment; priming me for delirious levels of accomplishment, but when I actually saw the video for either “The Drowners” or “Animal Nitrate” on MTV’s 120 Minutes in 1992, I was incredulous at the obvious level of hype that had me utterly discounting Suede for seven years!
All thanks to the hype factor of the NME. And this was a band, I’d discover by 1999, which was actually one of the few UK acts in the 90s that was worth a damn for me! But they were ill-served by the NME’s penchant for breathless hyperbole. This Terris band I’ve never actually heard of seem utterly pointless!
Like PPM I had a subscription to the NME for a few years in the mid-80’s. There was literally no way to learn about new music from the UK without it: pre-internet, no coverage in US music mags, no radio play–nothing. In the states you couldn’t listen to new releases in record stores, either, as was possible in some shops overseas. The indie charts in the back pages of the NME were invaluable. It’s where I learned what labels to watch for and which unheard of bands arrived there. Gave up the subscription in the late 80’s and am disappointed but not surprised about the way it turned out. Never heard of Terris, either.
I think “they looked more like they were going to fix your washing machine than they did the future of rock music” is one of the best comments on a band I’ve read in ages. Thank you for that.