Indie Originals: The New Hormones Story

The story of New Hormones records 1977-1983

Archive for the ‘Fifty Newton Street’ Category

“An open house to derelicts”

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Richard Boon began renting the office at 50 Newton Street when he was managing Buzzcocks. “I was living in a shared house and it didn’t seem appropriate to be working from it. So I found a cheap office,” he recalls.

“The offices were hardly salubrious. You knew they weren’t exactly rolling in it,” remembers Lawrence Fitzgerald. “Looking back, it could have been the 1930s, the architecture of the building and our maverick but impoverished lifestyles somehow became blurred,” says Ian Runacres.

“Chaos,” is Paul Emmerson’s memory of the New Hormones HQ. “Just insane really,” says Lix Naylor. “Random was pretty out of it quite a lot of the time.”

Boon had invited Naylor and Cath Carroll to run their City Fun fanzine from his office. “Richard’s invitation of free rent and phone was not just generous, but a great opportunity to perch and gripe whilst watching the scene go by,” says Carroll. “We liked drinking as well. And Richard liked drinking and speed and they were probably the things that bonded us,” believes Naylor.

“Richard Boon’s kindness” is Carroll’s favourite memory of 50 Newton Street: “He used to buy us halves when we were broke, even though he wasn’t too far behind owing to a failure to put out Wham!-style records. Least favourite memory but still entertaining was the incredibly bad tempered lift operator, Tommy. He seemed to be well past retirement age and had a grudge against the world that going up and down in a lift all day did nothing to wipe clean.”

“He was a complete cunt,” says Naylor. “A one-armed armed, belligerent Irish ex-soldier.” “Grumpy old sod. Probably had a very interesting story,” says Boon. Was he a potential New Hormones signing? “I didn’t have Bob Last’s wit.”

To add to the general mayhem, Boon also let out a large connecting room to self-styled doctor of theology, Alan Wise, and Nigel Baguely (“his waster sidekick” – Naylor). Together they promoted a lot of new wave and art rock gigs under the banner of Wise Moves. “Alan Wise is one of the most bizarre people you’ll ever, ever encounter,” reckons Naylor. “The James Young book about Nico is fantastic on Alan Wise – it nails him exactly.”

“Ideally they were supposed to be there to pay half the rent, because I couldn’t afford the whole rent,” explains Boon. “Did they pay? Now and again.”

By 1982, Wise was also managing Nico. “She was an extraordinary presence,” says Naylor. Boon’s favourite recollection from Newton Street involves the German chanteuse: “She comes in the office to wait to be picked up by the road crew – the van’s running late. She’s sat reading this book, she keeps bursting out laughing: Nico, what are you reading that’s so funny? And she says, ‘Bleeeak Houuuuse’.”

Another bohemian figure lurking in the shadows was Steven Patrick Morrissey. “He just used to sit in the corner ogling Linder – Starstruck,” laughs Eric Random. Lawrence Fitzgerald recalls seeing the future Smith in a “trilby and long trenchcoat.” Others have no recollection of his being there at all. “In those days Morrissey was a bit like Zelig – he was present at all these major events – at the Russell Club, at the New Hormones offices – but no-one noticed him,” says Runacres.

“He was in and out the office quite a lot, because he was big mates with Linder,” says Boon. “He gave me a cassette of him singing very quietly fragments of songs. And I’m sure some lyrics ended up on Reel around the Fountain and the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. And there was a Bessie Smith song, a blues called ‘Wake up Johnny’. And the trope, which I quote myself on endlessly, is a couple of months later Johnny knocked on Morrissey’s door and woke him up.”

The tape may still exist: “If only I could find it,” says Boon. “He would kill me if I put it on Ebay!”

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm