The Next Big Thing: 40th Anniversary

Lindsay Hutton started his seminal fanzine The Next Big Thing as a punk Xerox sheet in 1977. He went on to found the world’s first ever Cramps fan club The Legion of the Cramped along with a certain Stephen Patrick Morrissey…We invited Lindsay to guest blog for us to celebrate the 40th anniversary issue. Thanks again Lindsay!

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In April 1977, I kicked off a (badly) photocopied fanzine called THE NEXT BIG THING. An entity that exists to this day mainly as a blog however, for the first time in nudging 20 years, there’s an actual print edition to mark four decades of activity.

What on earth possessed me to do this? I’m not sure there’s a straight answer to that but I’m certainly way old enough to know better. It all just kind of came together. From the consideration of preparing something symbolic to it evolving into an actual issue of the fanzine in the format it was last seen. “It happened again” to paraphrase the Twin Peaks giant, tempered with a smidge of an urge to recycle some polythene bags.

Another consideration at the back of my noggin was that printers don’t work with old style cameras anymore (as far as I’m aware). Artwork is provided as high res PDFs. The good old high contrast zine style is almost possible and using Photoshop, you can approximate it but it’s just not the same. In my opinion, all the image manipulation software in the world will never match the raggedy-ass cool of paste up. I was able to work with this to an extent but then had to come up with them pesky files. The end result looks OK though and the main and most surprising thing is that it actually happened.

In addition to a Brigadoon style return to fanzinedom, it was also time to put out another record because NBT morphed into a label too for a wee while. This is not just any record though, tis a brand new 45 by The Dahlmanns (from Moss Rock City, Norway) that features two brand new Andy Shernoff songs. He’s the guy who wrote the tune that kicked off The Dictators Go Girl Crazy that subsequently gave NBT its moniker. Things work so much different now. It’s a bit like being in suspended animation and waking up in a whole ‘nother world. The old infrastructure is gone but the bush telegraph – or social media as the young yins refer to it – is doing a reasonable job of getting the word out.

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The notion that this THING is a magazine with a free record is entirely misguided. If anything it’s a free magazine with a (very cool) record. You can get ‘em individually but they’re better enjoyed together. A friend asked me if putting it together was fun. I wasn’t sure how to answer but I suppose it is, especially as folks seem happy with it. Any misgivings I have are entirely down to the ongoing OCD. Why didn’t I mark the 30th anniversary? I never had the inclination or the wherewithal. Things sucked around then into the bargain too. So why 40? Time moves on (doesn’t it though). It’s as much a reaction to loss as anything else. Friends and inspirational characters that you expected to be around forever suddenly weren’t. I have an inkling that I (perhaps) won’t be around for 50 – or even if I am, in no position to put anything like this together. I’m unlikely to ever find another combo that is as good as The Dahlmanns for starters. They are my favourite pop ensemble on the planet.

Despite this jaded exterior, there’s music, stuff and most importantly people that it’s worth sticking one’s napper above the parapet for. That’s something that I’ve tended to do over the years and I see no reason to deviate from that mode of practice. Stick with what you know, even if it means cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s even more important to have an opinion now than it ever was because we live in an age of blah. Circumnavigate that condition at every opportunity.

NBT 28 is available now and in addition to featuring the aforementioned combo from Moss, you also get The Schizophonics, a story by Amy Rigby, Reine Laken and a repro of a letter received from one Stephen Patrick Morrissey just prior to his group playing Night Moves on Sauchiehall Street back in the year Nineteen Hunder and Eighty Three. Contact lhnbt@hotmail.com for details.