Not New Romantics!

A comment from someone so looking foward to a revival.

"I think it should be classified with neo-Brit-pop."

Dex Dexter
Sound like a Japanese pop band called Hide. The singer sounds like Simon LeBon wearing trousers that are too tight.

Sound like Strawberry Switchblade rip-offs with an annoying thumping 'Spice-Girls' (ugh!) beat.

Plastic Fantastic

More thumping techno-y mediocrity.


Had one tolerable song, but the other sounded like Orlando.

Minty's singers do sound exactly like B-52's (such a shame, the backing music had some potential.)

Reminded me of Nancy Boy, another 'Romo' band that I can't stand.


I think the main problem with most of these bands is their singers. All of them sound like really wimpy guys who probably have Beatles/Oasis hair cuts. (what's the point of trying to copy old haircut bands if you can't even get the hair right??)

I think that any 'real' new romantic revival is going to be in industrial/underground synth pop. I think it's safe to say that these new (or relatively), synth bands (Moulin Noir, Elegant Machinery, Psyche, Sphere Lazza to name a few) have more 'real' New Romantic/Wave blood in them than any of these RoMo bands.

I'm just disappointed - When I first discovered the original 'Neuromanticism' (Visage, Japan, Classix, etc) it was really exciting and cool!!! RoMo is such a let-down in comparison!

Pose Who Dares

An article in The Face December 1995

The Clubs


Wednesday at L'equipe Anglais, Duke St, London W1.
Music and clothes: most definitely Romo, bands every week.

The Cell

Thursday at Gossips, Dean Street, London W1.
Intimate dive on the site of the original Blitz club. Indulgent eighties nostalgia.

Club Skinny

Thursday at HQs, West Yard, Camden Lock, London NW1.
All things synth, and increasingly Romo.

Electric Boogaloo

Every other Tuesday, Royal Skate Club, Brighton.
Grandmaster Flash meets New Romance.

Sticky Youth Club

Every other Thursday, The Basement, Grand Parade, Brighton.
Weird, out-there Eighties German synth bands scratched with Shampoo.

The Bands


Challenging mix of early Roxy and late Japan.

Plastic Fantastic

Lead singer looks like David Sylvian and Theresa Bazaar's (Dollar) love child, cocaine Duranies high on their new Roland.


Dead poppy, ABC and Culture Club on a Mowtown tip.


"The Shampoo of revolution and futurism".


Melancholic synth pop.


Martin Fry meets Alvin Stardust. Yikes


'When I wor a lad 'twere all
synthesisers round 'ere.'

A review of the movement by China.

We're futurists, right? So that means were worried about being too nostalgic if we listen to anything that came out before last week, doesn't it? So did the advent of Romo [or Romantic Modernism for long] provide that long awaited chance to throw away all those '80s albums?

Erm, well it seemed like a good idea at the time, Britpop being so insular / isolationist, but for a music paper to force a minor underground scene into the spotlight prematurely is to invite disaster. Sure enough, disaster ensued - in the form of record company signings en masse and flopped singles en masse. Still, it seems most of them are still together and they shouldn't worry, after all, Japan took 6 years to have a hit. Here are my impressions from a Melody Maker promotional compilation from spring 1996, lots of reviews I've read and [very few] radio plays for your delectation, the most hyped ones first. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp said that it should have been called Romu for Roxy Music, which sums it up really.

The flyer for Club Skinny:

  • Club Skinny "18 Carat Music"
  • Every Thursday 9 - 2am
  • HQ's West Yard Camden Lock
  • (Behind Dingwalls) NW1
  • Camden Town

Popstars Bar 11 - 2am
Duran Duran, Blur, Pulp, Roxy Music, Elastica, Bowie, Adam and The Ants, Supergrass, Blondie, Soft Cell and beyond.......

Skynthetic Bar 11 - 2am
Electro / hiphop

Live on stage 9 - 11pm
See press....see listings

Selected beers 1.85 a bottle all night
Dress Code: Glam it up / Popstars
Entrance: 4 without flyer / 3 with

The playlist seems to have gradually shed its Britpop quota and eventually some of its early 80s quota too from what I can garner. The '18 Carat music' bit is of course an Associates reference and the logo had the three ABC stars as did the logo for Arcadia.

'Fiddling while Romo burns...' compilation 96

Free with Melody Maker, 9 March 1996

  1. Dexdexter - Creature Feature [prod. Colin Thurston]
  2. Hollywood - Lights! Camera! Revolution![prod.Dave Ball]
  3. Plastic Fantastic - Complimentary Electron [prod.Chris Hughes]
  4. Viva - Now [prod. Marc Almond and Neil Whitmore]
  5. Orlando - Natures Hated [engineered/mixed - Darren Eskriette]


Orlando's singer Timothy Mark sings like Dr Robert of the Blow Monkeys or Boy George. I've heard two of their songs, 'Natures Hated' and 'Just For a Second'. 'Natures Hated' hangs together the best of the two. It is basically what Orlando say it is, an Oasis song without guitars [and without all the hamfisted, beery singalong value and bad lyrics]. I'd say it's what the Blow Monkeys would have sounded like if the Blow Monkeys had been better than the Blow Monkeys were - if you see what I mean. Their fans are die-hard and write loyally to Melody Maker to declare it, they havent hidden in the studio all year like their contemporaries - on the other hand they demanded entry to an Erasure after-show party and told the bouncer, "Dont you know who we are?" to which he apparently replied "Yes, thats precisely why I'm not letting you in".

Orlando have treated us to several singles this year and their Magic EP was one of Melody Maker's singles of the year in spite of it not charting. Andrew Smith, the Sunday Times music critic gave them a glowing review. Signed to Company Communications.

  1. Just For A Second
  2. Magic EP


Minty aren't so much a band as an event. Their shows include lots of dressing up, sometimes nudity and always bodily functions and are as a result very shocking indeed - even for the likes of hardened Melody Maker journalists. The music? Think of the rawest synthpop - Warm Leatherette, The Some Bizzare Album - 'That's Nice!' and 'Plastic Bag' are their most publicised singles so far - and pretty good they are too. They are a favourite of Radio One's Mark Radcliffe. They were founded by the late Leigh Bowery, who worked with The Fall on Kurious Oranj.

  1. Plastic Bag CDS
  2. That's Nice CDS. There was a video for this.

Plastic Fantastic

Started off playing Michael Jackson and S-Express covers in Brighton, then moved on to sound like Eno period Roxy Music. The song they contributed sounds like a proforma early Roxy number sung in a Brian Ferry voice. They say in their commentary that the song was of their earlier oeuvre and represented where they were coming from rather than where they were going to. Their first single 'Fantastique No. 5' flopped in spite of rave reviews, not just in Melody Maker. It was about shooting up Channel No. 5. Don't try this at home kids!


These guys are, roughly speaking, an 'Eno-Sylvian car crash' or rather they sound like Roxy Music. They're called after the character in US soap Dynasty. Several of them are Basque. They look very strange, even for futurists. They keep putting off issuing their debut single called, incidentally 'Another car, another crash'.


Marc Almond produced the song on the compilation: 'Now'. Its got an Almond influence alright. HiNRG suavepop with a falsetto. As for live reviews I here's what Kristy Barker said:

"Associates-style extravagance: Duran's The Sound of Thunder, Viva are ... pulling someone you never thought would look at you twice in a million years.....etc. etc. [She carried on at length]. 'Now' doesn't sound anything like either the Associates or Duran Duran, nor does it have the self assurance you got [or, should I say, get in the case of the Durans] from the recordings of both.


Well, its about time synthpop had a little sex equality and these two girls have a pretty reasonable number in Lights! Camera! Revolution! Mind you, Dave Ball produced it. It's about a girl that falls in love with herself and lives happily ever after. Neat or what? One of them is from Sweden [no surprises there]. Simon Price says they are more Propaganda than Dollar, more Flying Lizards than Strawberry Switchblade and more Sparks than anyone. They had a single out a few months back.< P>


Inaura featured Dave Formula, of Magazine and Visage, on keyboards. They had two singles out early this year. I was impressed by their first - as were quite a lot of people in London according to a few friends at university there. The Maker slated them, but they had one very good song called Soap Opera which shouts an early Duran influence - no - rips off Duran Duran. It's an uptempo discofied number with riffing of guitars, a lot of swagger and extremely sadistic lyrics delivered in a suitably gothic style. The follow-up 'Coma Aroma' I gave away because it was not so hot. Abusive lyrics over pass-remarkable House. They had the support slot on last year 's Human League tour of the UK which they pulled out of 'because it didnt feel right'. Signed to EMI.

  1. Soap Opera [radio edit] / A Redhead and an Hourglass 7" and 2 diff. CDs with various mixes.
  2. Coma Aroma - Tape with Perfecto mix and a b - side

Add N to X

Jarresque instrumentalists. First album, Vero Electronics, did well in the indie charts. Signed to Blow Up.


Simon Price said he heard Associates, Scritti, Thieves, Bowie's 'Lodger' but only because he wasnt listening properly. This band has a black male singer called Alexander who sings and screams and an oddly multinational personnel list. I still havent heard them. They had a MM single of the week beating 'Born Slippy' by Underworld, so they must be good. Signed to Radar.

  1. 'Hate'
  2. Sexus

From Manchester. They signed to ZTT. Their first single flopped. It sounded like something off Frankie's Liverpool.


These guys are basically fairly lame synth goths. The low - rent Cure its OK to sip Tequila to. Apparently. They've had an EP out.

Nancy Boy

Donovan Leitch son of Donovan - yes THAT Donovan folk pixie type - and a load of other well heeled New Yorkers with famous dads. Their best song is supposed to be the Duran influenced 'Johnny Chrome and Silver'. Two albums so far:

  1. Promosexual
  2. Nancy Boy

A few more names: Absinthe, Aura, I Dream Of Wires, Elizabeth Bunny, Nightporter, de Milo, Persecution Complex, Designer, System Addict. There were loads more but I cant remember them all.

My Life Story

These guys should have their own NWC site. did not align themselves with Romo, but they have so evidently been reading the Lexicon Of Love that it is hard not to mention them. Right down to [His real name] Jake Shillingford's red waistcoat and metallic suits, right down to the string section, right down to the fact that '12 reasons why I love her', their first UK hit, is 'Valentine's Day' crossed with Fun Boy Three's 'Tunnel of Love' and is absolutely brilliant, incidentally. They must have a website somewhere - so check it out. Mr S is adamant about making credible pop music rather than the so called indie of recent times which has become pretty tired sounding of late. I second that emotion.


The aftermath of Romo has seen more synthpop bands, notably Peach, who supported Erasure and whose singles are continuously feted; "St Etienne without the attitude problem". Komputer, who have also supported Erasure, have a Kraftwerk fixation and whose single 'Looking down on London' got a good review - for being great in a Pac-Man and Space Invaders retro-futurist way.

I have to talk about Mansun here. They're a guitar band and they've had lots of UK hits but they show a willingness to mix and interchange genres, techniques and influences that is really refreshing. Their singer and songwriter, Paul Draper tends to cite New Romantic and Grunge as his prime influences. 'Wide Open Space' which went top twenty recently, mirrors Roland Orzabal's angsty singing without the aspects that sometimes irritate, Radioheads 'Creep', U2's 'With or without you'. It's much more engaging than any of the latter. Check out also an 'Open letter to the lyrical trainspotter' a fantastic track with early Japan keyboard effects. Great voice, great songs - if you have a reasonable guitar tolerance threshold.

A little more about these bands - (not so) in-depth interviews:

A-ROMO-THERAPY - no longer - see below

Thanks QT.

Plastic Fantastic

Romo-art or artifice?
-Definitely. Artifice of the music press.
-Plastic Fantastic are Romo artifice.
-We're not, we're Romo terrorists.

Where do you think you'd be without Romo?
-Supporting Pulp.
-At fuller venues, playing gigs with an audience.
-Yeah, it tends to scare people away quite a lot.
-Less stigma.
-But that's alright coz we like to see ourselves on the outside.
-Less DJs playing Duran Duran records afterwards.

Can you justify having major interviews in the music press before you've released anything?
-Well, if people are interested in you they tend to write about you, don't they?
-It's a bit rude, if someone wants to talk to you, just to say 'Hang on, we haven't had a single out yet, so we can't talk to you.'
-The journalist has to justify his decision to want to interview us really.
-We don't ring up the journalist and say 'Can you interview us please?' They ring us up.

So why do you think they want to interview you?
-Because they're bored and there's nothing else to write about.
-When they haven't got something to write about they'll invent something.

Is your preferred method of keeping lipstick from smudging blotting with tissue paper or dusting with powder?
-Neither, lip coat's blooming great and it stings your lips which is quite a nice feeling sometimes.
-Actually I blot and powder and lip coat.
-We don't wear lipstick anyway, what are you talking about?
-Shadric does sometimes.
-No, Shadric's lips are naturally glittery and silver, aren't they?

What do you think of 'The New Underground Movement'- Bis, Kenickie and people like that - which seems to be the NME's alternative to Romo?
- Oh Bis, I've heard of Bis, They're sort of guitary and energetic and things aren't they?
-They're beary and huggy. Riot Grrl type stuff.
-I think they should get real drums and then get machines to play the drums. They should build a machine that can play a drum kit.
-Like a robot.

What's your favourite- number seven or number seventeen?
-Number twenty-three.
- Seven's supposed to be lucky, but seventeen's actually my mum's house number, so I think I'll go for seventeen.
-Why do you ask that question?

Boots, make-up.
-I thought it was to do with what age girls we like...
What age girls do you like?
-Three million.
-Girls...make-up....definitely number seven, both answers.
-Terrible- you're a disgrace!


Romo- art or artifice?
Xav- Both. When you start talking about things like art and artifice the world hasn't sorted out what they mean by those terms, so to contrast them against each other is tautology. So you can't really separate them.

How would you define Romo?
Gee- Romantic Mother Fuckers. [Laughter] It's about being different... a bit more colourful- not so much against mainstream, but just the dullness that surrounds pop music these days. There's a lot of good pop music about but nobody seems to want to be interesting.

Can you tell us any gossip from the Romo tour so far?
G- We got broken into last night, our bus got raided by some...raiders, probably... and they nicked loads of our stuff, but we went out looking for it and came back with it all.
X- It did not necessarily have to include walking around Manchester at 3 o'clock in the morning getting "Duran Duran" shouted at you, but it did.
Stephen- We've also got a Burger King tree on the bus.
G- There is a pot plant on the bus- a large pot plant from the service station, and we can't be quite sure how it got there..

Who would be your ideal snog?
X- I sometimes use a mirror.. erm.. Her. The Girlie Show... Rachel Williams. She's quite nice.
G- Somebody with big lips, I suppose. Mick Jagger or somebody.. Frank Bruno... Steve Tyler...
S- I know the girl but I don't remember her name.
X- Describe her.
S- Erm...Winona Ryder.
X- That's a great description; it's actually her name. It gives you a good picture of her.

What's your relationship like with the music press in general?
G- Well, it depends- If it's Melody Maker- they love us. If it's anybody else but Melody Maker, they hate us.
S- That's not necessarily true. In fact it's not true at all.. Select like us. I-d liked us - once.
X- We are the press, actually. We're just tired old journalists who decided to form a band. This is another lie, but.. it's fun!
G- We thought we'd form this whole scene coz we knew how to do it, having been journalists for so long. We get together, write all the songs, then share them out between the bands.
X- We decide which band should fit which category because that's usually the way that movements work, you've always got your Sex Pistols and your Clash. So we gave each band an identity. It's a bit like role-playing - you force yourself to live out the role daily, but when no one's watching we just turn back into, you know, our usual...
G- Britpop selves.
X- One of us is actually Jarvis Cocker, but we can't reveal who. He's not actually in Dexdexter, but it's one of the bands here tonight.


Romo- art or artifice?
Stacey- Art, definitely. It's just a group of people who've got together in clubs in London and a lot of good music's come out of it, and the media have decided to take certain aspects, like make-up and imaging, to publicise it.

Do you think it's seen as a predominantly male form?
Hannah- I think indie music is quite male-dominated anyway... It's interesting- in this scene there's no female-fronted band. There's us, but we're totally female; there's only two people in this band- you don't get three normal blokes and the girl's at the front singing.
S- There's a few more female bands coming up now- every week at Club Skinny they surface.
Why do you think there's been so much media interest in Romo?
H- It's because it's something different. The media's always trying to find new things, things have to move on, it might be the natural reaction to Britpop and everything that's gritty and down to earth and this scene is more of an escapism into music and fantasy really. The thing that maybe unites the scene is that it's basically everything that isn't normal and simple and boring, then within that frame you can do almost anything.

Who would you most like to snog?
S- Liam Gallagher maybe. Also various members of Menswear I find quite attractive as well...
H- Oh dear, oh dear!

Which ones?
S- Chris Gentry, alright, it's out! His nubile buttocks are a great turn on of mine. His young pert cheeks. He's close to my age as well, so I feel a close link with Chris Gentry, I think we were meant to be together. Hannah?
H- No one really. I think I'd like to snog an alien. I dream of being visited by an extremely attractive metallic-coloured alien with long-flowing black hair. I really look forward to a future where you can swop lonely hearts ads with other planets and maybe other solar systems. That'd be quite fun, wouldn't it? I really see that. Something like the internet that could go inbetween the galaxies and you wouldn't know what you'd get. You could put in a description, somewhere out there there must be one fitting. Yeah, I think I'll have to wait till then really.

Have you got any gossip about any of the other bands?
S- Not really.. erm Timothy from Orlando wears red jogging trousers in bed...
H- What about the plant?
S- Trevor from Plastic Fantastic did actually thieve a pot plant from the services last night, but that's not very gossipy is it really? Er no.. we share a bus with Orlando so we just get the Orlando info and they don't really get up to much.


Why not Mrs. Dalloway?
Tim- Because we're not named after the Virginia Woolf book! There's many places we're named after but the main one is a book Dickon read as a child called Orlando: The Marmalade Cat. And also, Mrs. Dalloway would be a silly name for a band.

How does it feel to go from a relatively obscure indie label to the front cover of Melody Maker in a few months?
-"relatively obscure indie label"- you're referring to what?

Sarah records.
Ahh- this is strange that everyone knows about it. When we did that record no one seemed to buy it, no one reviewed it...
[at this point sad hack interviewer produces a copy of aforementioned record- really Orlando's first single, but released under the name Shelley, on Sarah Records, a year ago]
...Oh my goodness, you have one! Orlando already existed when we did that record. Literally we got the chance to collaborate with someone and put out the single. But we always knew we wanted to do Orlando, and on a major label, because it just becomes extremely frustrating, no matter how good the small indie label, you just can't reach as many people as you want to.

Orlando sound completely different from most other bands classified as Romo, so why do you think you've been lumped together with these bands?
- Probably something to do with us having the same manager as Hollywood. I like all the bands but there couldn't be two more different bands than us and Plastic Fantastic. Probably nail varnish is our only uniting factor. We all came along at a time when Britpop ruled and were such obvious reactions to that I think that's why we were all grouped together. I don't throw off the term Romo cause I'm quite happy to be part of a gang if they want me.

What's your preferred shade of nail varnish?
- Well, I'm gold at the moment, but I had a really nice baby blue earlier. But I broke a nail last night so I'm hiding it now coz I haven't got any false ones that fit.

Romo- art or artifice?
Both, unfortunately. But I think the motives of some people are probably more artifice than art. You'd best tell that if you came on the tourbus with each of the bands.

Any gossip?
Aw- there's plenty of gossip. There's a definite reason why we have two tourbuses. It's to do with the fact that some bands just won't tour with each other, not because they dislike each other, they just have different... living styles.And the drummer from Plastic Fantastic stole a pot plant last night. That's so far the most rebellious thing that's happened, unfortunately.

Who would be your ideal kiss?
It was Anna Friel for a very long time... Sonya from Echobelly ranks pretty high... still very fond of Kylie.. There's a very long list... Joanne Whalley Kilmer, even though she's old.. Yeah, it would have to be one of those.... Although my crushes are fading now, I think I'm growing up.

Plastic Fantastic, Orlando, Hollywood and Dexdexter were talking to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Alison, in May 1996.