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I Think We Need To Hear That Again

(Jazzy intro fades out. Jimmy Simul grins.)

“Tonight on Fix Your Sim we’ll be listening to the Jonny Real Show, a crowd-sourced radio programme created by Billy Putrid, lead singer with the Wastrels and self-styled kingpin of the NuPunk movement.”

“Thanks for inviting me, Jimmy.”

“So, Billy, am I right that NuPunk is a reaction to AI-created music?”

“Yeah, we fucking hate that shite—”

“Um, Billy, no swearing, please.”


“So how did the Wastrels get started?”

“NuPunk’s slogan is ‘singles not singularity!’. The music is raw and real. So we home-printed guitars and drums, released our songs on vinyl, promoted them through word of mouth. Proper punk spirit! But…”

“No joy?”

“Nobody played our single.”

“What did you do next?”

“I realised we needed a radio show that would play our singles when we sent them in, so I created a DJ based on John Peel. Back in the 1970s, John championed Punk in the UK. He seemed like the perfect fit. I changed the name of course.”

“Lawyers, eh?”

“Yeah! Anyway, I programmed a chatbot with all the personal data I could find online and seeded the sim with every track John played on his show.”

“So what went wrong?”


“When we submitted the first single, Jonny ignored it!”

“Did you send him another?”

“We did! That’s when the sim started looping.”

“Right then, I think we’d better listen to the Jonny Real Show.”

A blast of perfect pop music erupts: all pounding drums, thrashing guitars and yearning vocals.

“You know what? I think we need to hear that again…”

Drum intro; fuzzed-up guitar; a young man with a tremulous voice starts singing about teenage lust.

“Sounds kinda retro, but the song definitely has something. Who’s it by?”

“It’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ by the Undertones. That’s all Jonny ever plays now.”

“Okay, Billy, let’s FIX YOUR SIM!”

(Brief interlude; more jazz.)

“Hi there! I need to ask – for a friend – why don’t you play the Wastrels’ songs?”

“All I ever wanted was to hear music that I like – and play it to my listeners.”

“There’s your answer, Billy. He doesn’t like your music.”

“But we programmed him with everything he ever played. He must like NuPunk!”

“Tell me, has he heard any new music that isn’t NuPunk?”

“Well, no. We thought—”

(Rolls eyes.)

“I reckon you need to open up the sim to all new music, Billy.”


“And you guys definitely need to raise your game.”


“So that’s it for this edition. Next time on Fix Your Sim…”

(Jazzy outro.)


(Jazzy intro.)

“Hi Billy. Still no joy?”

“We took your advice and opened up the sim to everything, but he still only plays that frigging song!”

“Do you mean everything?”

“Well, not that AI shite, obviously!”

“Cos you hate that stuff, right?”


“But does Jonny?”

“Oh, come on!”

“I’ll tell you what, Billy; I’ll buy the sim from you. Maybe you could use the money for guitar lessons.”

“Let me think about that…”

(Desert wind noises.)

“Next time on Fix Your Sim we’ll hear what’s new on the Jonny Real Show.”

(Jazzy outro.)


A bleep-storm lasting a microsecond ends in a crescendo of synthetic desire.

“You know what? I think we need to hear that again…”


Originally published in the “A Punk Rock Future” anthology (Zsenon Publishing, October 2019).

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