There was so much more to the mid 90’s than the indifferent swagger of Britpop bands. Talking as a fan I hold my hands up to being the clichéd ‘Britpopper’, from my Fred Perry polo shirt all the way down to my Gazelles – but the diversity of that year, 1994, captured me like nothing I’ve ever heard since. Whilst Manchester and London played host to the working class/middle class divide that became the platform for mainstream Britpop, Brighton and Welwyn Garden City gave us the underground sound that became NWONW.
Ask Britpoppers where the sub genre fits in in this cursory moment in musical history and the reaction is mixed. Some say it doesn’t; it was a hiccup, a brief dalliance with eyeliner and attitude that didn’t quite come off. Or you are like Adam Foley (and myself) in the belief that it merged beautifully with the indie, the trip-hop, the grunge and the pop that made 1994-1996 so bloody perfect.
NWONW was a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ love affair. Its transitory existence has left us with a back catalogue that can be scripted on the back of a fag packet with These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H championing the movement – but what an album (come on, join), The High Society was. Raw, dynamic, sexy, like nothing else I’d heard in the 20 years previous. Picking up from where it’s counterparts dropped the punk baton at the end of the 70’s and putting a fist through the mundane dirge that had circulated since the beginning of the 90’s – or as Adam so eloquently puts it “Like someone throwing an entire bathroom down the stairs at you”.
Being a teenager in 1994 was pretty magical, he recalls “I had a bit of an epiphany during a single week in 1994, I went off to see The Wonderstuff one evening and I looked around to see hundreds of kids wearing t-shirts with ‘idiot’ emblazoned across them. I felt something had to change. I went home that night and tore all my posters off the wall. I’d seen TAM playing Speed King briefly on The Chart Show and that was it. I went through all my old music papers and dug out everything I could find on S*M*A*S*H and TAM, got a haircut and some disgracefully tight Adidas tops and that was it, I was ready”.
“Gradually more and more people started to dress the same as Oasis got bigger and the top ten hits started to come. But S*M*A*S*H and TAM started to fade away. We all got addicted to the idea of success. I loved it when bands had top ten hits, it felt like supporting a football team, but I was sad to see the press had turned on NWONW. I still think the first S*M*A*S*H EP and (come on, join) The High Society are two of the best records of the whole 90’s”.
Everyone has that ambition that sits dormant, normally for a lifetime. The ‘if I won the lottery’ or ‘if I had more time’ pipe dream that is normally quashed due to apathy as opposed to lack of funds or time. Adam’s road to Damascus moment 20 years prior inspired him to put pen to paper, his first book – Straight Outta Cullompton was released in 2012 and diarises the life of a teenager in 1994 living in a small West Country town.
“The book is a fairly shambolic memoir about growing up and finding an identity in a provincial town during the Britpop era. It felt like a suitably grandiose thing to do – to write a biography about someone no-one had ever heard of – the literary equivalent to forming a band and immediately telling everyone you’re the best band in the world.
Through that I got in touch with Julian from TAM and Ed from S*M*A*S*H to ask them for their side of the experiences that had such an impact on me. We stayed in touch and then one morning I just woke up thinking ‘someone should make a film about those bands’. I went back to sleep, then woke up about 5 minutes later thinking ‘I should make a film about those bands’”.
Armed with nothing more than a heart full of love and an unabashed desire to share it, this project officially got underway in July 2013. It’s clear listening to Adam speak about the film and the motivation to get it moving that it is his heart and soul. Working a 9-5 and having a family haven’t stopped him grafting every night since the seed was set.
“I have never picked up a camera, no editing experience, I didn’t know much about sound recording, lighting, anything. All I wanted to do was shine a light on this forgotten period. The passion and support from the fans of the bands is always mind blowing and gets you through the moments when you realise you forgot to press record on an interview. I have been lucky enough to meet so many inspirational people throughout – obviously all the band members who have been very generous with their time and possessions, plus people I hung onto as a kid – Matt Everitt (Menswear), John Robb (Louder Than War), Simon Price and Ben Myers (Melody Maker) to name a few. It’s been a pleasure to get to know them all, not to mention everyone else who has given their time. There’s a real desire from people to help get this made. I just want the bands to know the impact they had and to see the love is out there for them”.
“They need to get their dues. I think they have had a vast invisible influence on rock music in this country. This may sound like the words of a very out of touch old man but I wonder whether they might be able to inspire people over again. Maybe new bands will see the film and see how cool these bands were and start dressing up, writing wild manifestos and kicking off a bit. Either way, if I can get anywhere close to doing justice to the brilliance of both these bands at their peak then I will be absolutely delighted”.
With the wheels now firmly in motion Adam has May 2015 down as a release date.
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Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z47uhNiZxg