Of course, back in the days before the internet, and before the music press realised it was cheaper and easier to copy out a band’s press release than to pay a professional journalist to stick it in the bin and come up with opinions and words of their own – or to stick the record in the bin too and write about the latest single by someone they’d be having a drink at the Dublin Castle with later instead – the only way to let people know about a new bit of vinyl was to pay for an advert. And it cost a fortune, something like three grand for half a page in Melody Maker or NME. Though this was partly because we hadn’t realised you were supposed to haggle, not simply pay the price on the rate card. Basically, we single-handedly kept the music press going for some time longer than it deserved, which is quite funny when you think about it. Isn’t it?
The problem with Sarah, of course – as the music press insisted on telling everyone every week – was that we had no ambition; we were just happy in our bedrooms, mailing out 50 copies of everything to people we knew personally. Sigh. This is a quarter-page ad from the NME, 9th Feb 1991. The thing below it is a quarter-page ad for My Bloody Valentine’s Tremolo EP on Creation. Ah, Creation – they wore leather trousers and did drugs and had a photocopier and everything, just like a proper label (James Brown – journalist, not Godfather of Soul – once mocked us, to our face, for not having our own photocopier). Is Tremolo one of the good ones? – I can’t remember.
Half of a quarter page strip ad from NME and Melody Maker, September 1991 – the other half was an ad for Glass Arcade. I think what we can all conclude from this is that artwork based on a purple and yellow sleeve doesn’t tend to reproduce that well in black and white newsprint. It cost us a couple of grand to learn that; you can have it for free.
I’m always surprised by how many adverts we actually did, considering how expensive they were (this was a quarter-page in both NME and Melody Maker, so we’re talking four figures) – though clearly we were trying to cram in as much as possible, including a list of “recommended stockists” (not sure what the thinking behind that was, but I’m sure it made sense at the time). Note that Feral Pop Frenzy was a “mid-price LP/CD”, despite having 17 songs; that’s because we were feeling guilty about breaking our usual rule and including both the band’s last two singles… which we did because the singles hadn’t been available in their native Australia, and there was a vague chance that the album might actually make it down there…
A quarter page ad in NME and Melody Maker from October 1991. The railway platforms are at Clifton Down, our local station in Bristol. The last date on that list of gigs – 21st November at the Dome (Boston Arms) in Tufnell Park – turned out, of course, to be the Field Mice’s last ever performance.
This was the advert we took out to celebrate our fifth birthday; I think it amused us to use a quarter of a page in NME and Melody Maker to write the words “seven inch single” and “CAPITALISM” as big as we could, though in retrospect “seven inch” should have been hyphenated.
We took out half-page adverts in NME and Melody Maker to announce SARAH 100 and the end of Sarah. It was also the first time we’d used the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol’s most famous landmark, on artwork. Given the price of half-page ads, you’d think it would have stopped people saying we’d gone bust… sadly, it didn’t. Clare was nineteen when we started Sarah, in case you’re wondering.