Thursday, November 30, 2017

Quote of the day

"In 2002, we owned the scene completely. If you look at the sales of NME, there's a long slow curve of downward sales from 1964. But there are two blips where they increased - '77 to '78, when NME had finally jumped on the punk bandwagon, and '02 to '05. It happened for us in a way that it didn't happen with indie in the 80s or Britpop in the 90s, and the difference was that we owned the scene. Britpop was owned as much by the tabloids as by NME - the whole Blur vs Oasis thing - whereas we owned a scene that nobody else could get inside. You suddenly had Kasabian, Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings Of Leon, The Killers, this explosion of really fucking great music, and nobody else could really understand what was going on, because it was based in the live experience. People say to me, 'Oh you were so lucky, because you had such a great scene, great bands and stuff'. We fucking built that scene. It doesn't appear by itself.

I ran it as a very visual paper. I basically said, 'I'm not interested in putting anybody into the magazine who doesn't have good hair and good shoes'. It doesn't matter how good the music is, I can't get excited about a band that doesn't look good. When Franz Ferdinand turned up at the end of 2002, they had fucking great hair and brilliant shoes. The conversation we'd had with record industries, the signals we'd put out, record labels know if they wanted to get into NME they needed to look fucking great. Putting that filter in place suddenly got bands like Kasabian rocking up. Whether it meant anything didn't matter, because you've suddenly got something to write about.

The idea of starting work at 10am is just nuts now, but that's what we had to do because most of them had been out the night before. You'd look at the gig listings, send out emails to PRs with minutes' notice and they'd get you on the guest list. Then you'd get cabs bouncing from one gig to another, and then all pile into the Marathon Bar in Camden afterwards. It was like living in some kind of rock and roll theme park. But the office could be a really brutal environment. I brought in very brilliant journalists and editors who just crashed and burned, because you can get rejected pretty fucking quickly. Some people are allowed into the clique, some people aren't. It is incredibly intimidating to walk over to the office stereo and put something on that everybody is going to listen to. That's the fucking job. If you can't do that, you shouldn't be on the paper to begin with."

Former NME editor Conor McNicholas, talking to Vice's Alexandra Pollard about his time at the magazine. It's long but worth quoting in full, as one of the most preposterous statements I've ever read. It's almost as if he's determined to give Donald Trump a run for his money in the self-aggrandising, delusional buffoon stakes, while also incorporating some Accidental Partridgisms.

It's genuinely hard to know what's the most ridiculous bit. The hubristic claim that he and the NME "built" and "owned" the scene? The even more mind-boggling assertion that "Kasabian, Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings Of Leon, The Killers" constitute an "explosion of really fucking great music"? The argument that establishing a "filter" - that bands had to have "good hair and good shoes" - should be considered a good thing because it resulted in "bands like Kasabian rocking up"? The suggestion that working conditions were "brutal" and that putting something on the office stereo could be "incredibly intimidating", which makes the office sound like some kind of warzone?

He's right about one thing, though: the fact that, under his editorship, the NME became "a very visual paper". In fact, it became a contentless comic for morons, one that's now distributed for free and comprised mainly of advertorials for branded sportswear. It would be far more credible and less hubristic if he were to claim to have played a significant part in the demise of music print media.

(Thanks to Luke for the link.)

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