Three days into my new job, I wandered into the gents toilets and stood three urinals down from The Fall’s Mark E Smith.
The following day, in the same loo, I entered to hear the tapping of a typewriter coming from behind one of the cubicle doors.
Back in the office, I sat down, with an obviously quizzical look on my face.
“Anything wrong?” asked one of my new colleagues.
I think there’s someone in the toilets…typing.
“Oh don’t worry about that, it’s only Dele.”
Years later I ran this story past said writer Dele Fedele and he denied any knowledge of writing reviews in the loos. But if it wasn’t him, it was someone.
Because that was my introduction to working at the New Musical Express.
It is 30 years ago this autumn that I left the er, cut and thrust of the Harlow Gazette Sports Desk to join NME on a three-month trial period, as a junior Sub-Editor, finessing reviews, checking spelling mistakes (I can’t spell for toffee, but you know, I had a dictionary) and writing headlines for features.
I mention this because, in that time I have accrued quite a lot of crap (surely, “priceless and fascinating memorabilia” – Ed). I became acutely aware of this the other week, when I had to have a new boiler installed. I know, its just rock and roll all the way in our house. The new boiler had to go in the Cupboard Of Doom in what had previously been the front room, but is now a shambles of an office.
Emptying out said cupboard I came across a few things which might, tenuously be of interest, so we’ll be posting about some of them here.
To start with, it is indeed back to my early days at NME and possibly a good reminder that the music weekly (which is what it was) used to be a very different magazine to the free sheet that’s given away today (it has 60 pages for a start!)
Dated August 6, 1988, this is my first ever cover story: a double page spread interview with Richard Butler, frontman of the Psychedelic Furs (and as everyone kept telling me before I went off to do the interview, a notoriously touchy interviewee).
Butler, however, proved to be polite, but elusive: too clever to be caught out, too intimidating to be really tested by a fanzine-editor-turned-junior-writer. Timed to coincide with the release of a Best Of album and a back to form single ‘All That Money Wants’, Butler talked a good fight: about feeling disengaged with New York, even though he lived there; and how the last thing he wanted the Furs to become, was the sort of dinosaur rock band he despised: “I’d like to think that all the things I hate about Phil Collins I can steer clear of.
“People have said that we sound old fashioned, but what are we supposed to do. We’d look like a right bunch of c—-s if we started using samples.”