Circa 1991, as Simon Dudfield, just out of my teens, after a hot year at NME, i-D and The Face, I briefly quit journalism … but not to become a pig farmer. Myself and photographer Martyn Goodacre had met at the NME (we often did jobs together) and fancied our chances. We were soon joined by two NME others, photographer Russell Underwood and Features Editor James Brown. We felt if we looked the part, made a racket (and kept it short) and worked all our contacts, we could con a major record label into giving us a million quid (and also, somehow, in the process, destroy the music biz). Big Ronnie Fabulous, our bassist, talked Heavenly Records into releasing a promo single [NME Single of the Week] and it snowballed. Ronnie also threatened to bulldoze EMI.
We did come very close to a million quid (twice) but blew it. The tragedy, really, was that, following a deluge of (mostly rigged) media attention, the joke quickly backfired and we began to believe we were a proper band, falling prey to every rock cliche in the book. Although still faintly embarrassing to look back on, the band are recalled by media watchers of the era.
I put some clippings up on Tumblr and Pinterest but these below give a taste:
For anyone still interested, Malcolm McLaren (I interviewed him for NME when we first started the band, Martyn took the photos) advised us that if we wanted to make any real impact we ought to sign to Pete Waterman.
McLaren posed by the Fabmobile (as it became known) for the NME feature. The car was mine: an Austin Maxi painted by Paul ‘Screamadelica’ Cannell. Paul also did the band T-shirt, which also caused a stir (and was predictably banned).
Roger Sargent, then a student photographer, followed us on the road and used the shots for a college exhibition and to get his foot in the door at the NME. He came in handy too when we jammed with Keanu Reeves. Yes, that is him…
We took McLaren’s advice (turning down Heavenly’s offer of a second single to be produced by Andy Weatherall plus advances from several major labels ) and signed with Pete Waterman (I interviewed him for The Face). It started out positive, with the band being handed its own label to record on – PWL Rock – but was not a good match up (a disastrous appearance on his TV show, Hitman and Her brought it to an end). One trip to Los Angeles later, to sign to Warner Bros, and it was over.