David Bennun interviews Plastic Fantastic, 9th March 1996

Firstly thanks to the comments from Pavemental and Robin regarding ROMO from when I posted the cover featuring the infamous “Fiddling while ROMO burns” compilation tape. As promised here’s the David Bennun interview with long forgotten ROMO band Plastic Fantastic from 9th March 1996.

I was going to write ‘justly forgotten’ just then but checked myself. I realise that if I had ever heard any of these ROMO tracks I’ve long since forgotten what they sounded like. Even if I could remember I want to hear them again with a fresh pair of ears. I’ve been searching hard for some mp3’s without much success – can anyone help? I still feel pretty confident that they were justly forgotten though.

However the comment from Robin got me thinking. I remembered nothing of the scene except, as I said previously, that I remembered ROMO as the tipping point where I gave up on Melody Maker. I was probably too old by this time but I’d grown so tired of the endless conveyor belt of hype. And ROMO felt so desperate, so utterly contrived, so pointless. I only had to see a few of the pics or read some of the de rigeur ‘manifestos’ and I just knew, “I’m not having that. No way”. But this makes it seem like I still cared….like I still felt passionate enough to love and hate new bands. I didn’t. It all just bored me. Melody Maker became an irrelevance to my life.

Did ROMO come before or after S*M*A*S*H and the “new wave of new wave”? It’s so hard to remember. By the time Elastica had broken I hated most of the bands I read about in the press. Nothing excited me. It was just more of the same. And again. And again. Menswear, Gene, Echobelly. Gay Dad was somewhere in the mix too. I forget. All I remember by the mid 90’s was that the latest scenes just kept coming and coming and none of them worked.

Oh Mac-onie, so much to answer for….look what you went and started with Britpop. In retrospect I do admire the (possibly noble) intentions of Price and Parkes, the desire to move us on from Britpop in a less laddish, more feminine direction, but it just led us from one dead-end to another. No excitement. No challenge. With Britpop and the Maker so mainstream I craved to hear music that was most definitely NOT mainstream and with the internet still finding its feet, the music press was still the only real viable communication channel I/we had. I wanted to discover music the mainstream would dismiss out of hand not more mainstream acts in the making. I wanted music that would surprise me. Music that I couldn’t ignore. Music that I might not like, but that would make me think. In short I wanted the journalistic equivalent of Mixing It, or failing that, a less genteel Late Junction. I suppose in many ways I still do. The closest thing I’ve found to date comes out via http://wfmu.org because while I admire Resonance FM I find it works better in theory than as an actual radio station.

But enough of my pathetic attempts to try and articulate what I once wanted, here’s a brilliant, MUST READ piece from Simon Reynold’s that perfectly encapsulates the end of the MM and the part Britpop and ROMO played in its own downfall. It would be really interesting to know how Simon Price and Taylor Parkes feel about ROMO today and if they agree that it unwittingly contributed to the papers rapid decline. Let it be said that both of you were two of the brightest and best writers left along with Kulkarni so I’m not blaming you. I’m just interested to know more now that the dust has settled. Can I tempt either of you into leaving a comment?

Would ROMO have been called Nu-Romantic today? Will we live to see New Labour rebrand themselves as Nu-Labour for the jaded voting youth that grew up in the 90’s?

UPDATE: 6th June 2009

Came across this advert for the Fiddling while Romo Burns tour so thought I’d add it to this post. The dates also match the number of people that attended.

Fiddling while Romo burns tour dates ad, 2nd March 1996

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