This was posted on Pete Fij’s (Pete Fijalkowski) facebook profile here.
“A lot of internet chatter about the demise of the NME magazine which is about to finish publishing it’s last print edition, so just thought I’d share some of the pivotal points in my early career involving the paper which kind of sums up the highs and lows of my career and relationship with the print press of the time.
It’s hard to emphasise now just how influential and important the NME was. It was Facebook and Twitter. It was the internet. There were maybe 3 or 4 roots to your audience – the NME, Melody Maker, Radio One (evening shows with Mark Goodier or John Peel) or maybe SNUB tv. That was it, but top of the pile, if you were to have just support from one of those, it would be the NME every day of the week – it led the way head and shoulders in terms of importance for all things indie/alternative
Adorable first got came to wider attention back in late summer of 1991 when a white label we had pressed up got picked up and got a rave write up in the NME from Simon Williams which led to us coming tantalizingly close to signing with Rough Trade.
A few months later in January 1992 we got invited by NME to be part of their ‘NME On For 92’ showcase gig at The Venue in New Cross, London which brought unsigned or very new bands to the attention as ‘ones to watch’ – it was I suppose what the BBC’s ‘Sound Of’ is these days, often these showcase nights would feature bands who would go on to be huge, so the public and industry alike would come to see the next big thing. There were 8 bands over the 2 nights – we played with Suede on our night, both of us unsigned at that point, PJ Harvey was headlining the following evening. We went on stage knowing this was a pivotal moment, our one big chance, and we played a blinder of a show. I recall coming off and saying to others, “if we don’t get signed after that, we never will”. The next morning our manager Ed Connelly was struggling to keep up with all the offers coming in, he kept ringing us back every couple of hours with updates (“Cherry Red have made an offer, and RCA have left a message, and Chrysalis want a meeting tomorrow”) – we had probably a dozen offers, including several major labels, but Creation Records was the one that mattered (though we flirted with the idea of signing to Blur’s Food Records as well).
Our debut single (take 2) ‘Sunshine Smile’ got Single of The Week in NME (again reviewed by Simon Williams who said it was one of the best things since The Railway Children….hmmm), and this coupled with topping the NME indie charts was for me a real feeling of arriving. I remember opening the paper in a small side street in London outside the venue we were playing and seeing we were #1 in the NME charts and thinking “YEEEESSS!” I’d bought the paper every week, and used to pour over reviews, interviews, and the charts, so achieving these two milestones with our first release was a massive achievement. What I wasn’t to know that the first week of my career would be the high point and it’d be down hill from then on. Probably just as well.
Wil and myself did the interviews, and our attempts to distance ourselves from the attitude-light shoegazing movement, and align ourselves more to our outspoken heroes such as Morrissey, Julian Cope & Ian McCulloch, pushed us too far in the eyes of the press the other way, and we were considered pretentious arty know it alls (although there was more than a grain of truth in that!), and seen as egotistical and arrogant. That we had managed to achieve this image in 2 interviews that ran in total for just over a page means we made quite an impression, but sadly for us the wrong one, and we never got interviewed again in either the Melody Maker or the NME for our entire career after our debut single.
To make matters worse, our 3rd single ‘Homeboy’ (which I think was our best release) didn’t even get reviewed in the NME, despite the fact that our first two singles were hanging around the top end of the indie charts. ‘Sistine Chapel Ceiling’ got another single of the week, but still no interview feature piece.
I knew we were in serious trouble when in a small written 1/8th page Q&A piece in the NME to coincide with the album, they substituted my written answer to a question with a quote from a previous interview taken out of context and deliberately chosen to paint me as an arrogant tosser. I was advised by my press officer not to complain but I was furious that something so clearly black and white as a written answer to a questionnaire could be ignored and so openly manipulated, and how a persona was being created for me by the press (there would be a slow drip of casually referencing our egotism in the reviews of other bands etc all the while) over which I had no right to reply apart from the wingey “woe is me” single ‘Kangaroo Court’ (“I know I’m losing my appeal / cause I was hung, drawn and quartered before my trial / and every single thing that’s not real / was put before the jury without the privilege of denial”).
Our debut album ‘Against Perfection’ came out in March 1993 and the review in the NME described it as “a flawed classic” which I rather liked , though the 6/10 score seemed to go against the largely positive write up. We were later told by the reviewer that he had given it a higher score, but the reviews editor who didn’t like us had marked his score down, and it was at that point I realised that the stakes were stacked too high against us and it would be a miracle to turn this ship around.
By the time our second album ‘Fake’ came out in the autumn of 1994, we were on the ropes. The NME review finished us off mercilessly, complaining the album was “drenching us with tawdry non-songs and dashed promises that are anodyne and limp-wristed” with a 5/10 score (that probably DID reflect the reviewer’s opinion this time). Battered and bruised we called it a day realising that without support of our label (who had been distant from us from the word go), or the most important player in the music business at the time we were pretty much sunk.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
So a genuine thanks NME, and an equally genuine no thanks.”