The Null Device

C86: an oral history

With the release of an extended reissue of the NME C86 cassette (which gave its name, fairly or unfairly, to a genre of shambolic/jangly guitar-pop by predominantly white people in their early 20s, and/or was instrumental in the redefinition of the term “indie” from meaning non-major-label recorded music in general to meaning a certain style of guitar-based pop), there is an interview with members of several of the bands on the original compilation, where they talk about their creative motivations and what they were getting at in their songs:
Greg Keeffe (Big Flame): Punk happened, and then there was this incredible accelerated culture. ’78 was new wave, in ’79 you had the Specials, by ’80 you had Postcard [Records] and Gang of Four and the Slits. It was an incredible period of time. And then this goth thing happened, and I absolutely hated goth. I thought it was like heavy metal — a return to the bad old days. We were the antithesis of goth. Our raison d’être was to kill goth.
David Gedge (the Wedding Present): When we were in the studio recording our third single, we ended up with two versions of a song called “This Boy Can Wait” — a short version and an “extended” version. There was some discussion as to which version to use on the single. The C86 invitation actually came at the perfect time, because it meant that we could use both. I think it was our drummer, Shaun, who came up with the idea of calling the extended version “This Boy Can Wait (A Bit Longer).”
Kev Hopper (Stump): For “Buffalo,” I came up with a bass line that was full of discords and slides. Mick had this silly idea that Americans were buffalo reincarnated, and ["Buffalo"] was a satire about Americans in London: “How do I get off the bus,” “Does the fish have chips.” I remember David Thomas from Pere Ubu disliking it.
Nikolai Galen (the Shrubs): Every generation is unique, and every generation is less unique than it thinks it is.

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