As 2011 dwindled pathetically to its natural end (let’s face it, that was nobody’s finest year, was it?) I noticed my floor was littered with piles of new zines. It took me a while to get around to reading them all, but I’m just about there.
The thickest zine was called FIX MY HEAD. This is the second issue, put together by Aussie by way of London/Berlin lady Anna Vo. from the front, it looks like it could be a hardcore fanzine in the traditional sense. Double-underlined header, pretty bold and simple design, etc. Far from it, though, as this is actually a bumper compendium of carefully conducted interviews with women in bands or involved in projects that editor Anna Vo is into, asking them all manner of questions including but by no means limited to their experiences of punk as a female-identified humanimal. The focus is international, and includes words from women out of PETTYBONE, DEATHRATS, PUNCH, AMPERE and a bunch more, including, I disclose, some responses from me, too. As well as these in depth interviews, there are words from Anna on aspects of race politics within punk, and an interview with Transformative Justice EU, discussing the project and the services this group offers around community accountability for Sexual violence. The intent with zines that include this kind of content is almost always a positive one, however the result can sometimes be a kinda dull and not always that immediately inspiring read. What helps a lot with FMH is that Anna’s voice and humour in the face of all the shitsystem bullshit comes through everything. A quote from her piece ‘Things I love to hate to hear’: ‘”That’s so great that so many people of colour could come today’” – Yeah, we crawled out of our caves to make your event more exciting.’ The other big thing that comes out through the interviews is the extent to which the different women in punk have different opinions and attitudes to community and its characteristics, which just goes to show there is far from any homogenous party line for punk rock women and their lives today, nor should there be. I would honestly heartily recommend that anyone who has a vague interest either in the state of the nation as far as punk rock feminism goes, or for allies and potential allies who want to read first hand what it’s really like to operate as a female in a band / world of dudelords, but are too worried to broach the subject with their female friends, for whatever reason. You will definitely learn something. Get it from email@example.com
The newspaperiest zine I read was called NUTS. You probably know it. This is probably the best issue of NUTS to come out so far, and I suspect the editor and contributors know it. I hope they’re patting themselves on the back right now, infact. I have long felt that a music fanzines primary purpose should be in putting the reader into a frame of mind of total awe. NUTS also absolutely paints a picture of a vibrant community of super talented humans doing their thing fundamentally on their own terms, enlightened, wild, free, trippin, and makes the reader wanna go there. Whether overexposure usually tramples a little the seeds of such scenes is a debate for another time, but when the coverage is coming from an organ like NUTS, with active participation from the humans in the bands, perhaps there’s an exception to be made. Naturally, this NUTS is as large format as ever, but ideas and references still seem to spill off the pages and delight in a cool and fizzy manner. The poster that accompanies this zine (previously its come with one of those flexible records, the flaccid penis of musical formats, so clearly the people behind this are of some ambition, which is no a bad thing.) The sense of different voices and a loose editorial approach never really dampen or contradict in too a jarringly incongruous a way, even when Milk Music’s roadie is proselytizing through a big man drugs haze about ‘beautiful black women’ a few pages away from Broken Water’s drummer discussing accountability processes in abuse situations. Still, it all gels somehow. Left with an overwhelming urge to hang out with everyone involved in the making of this, which, as I said, creepy as it may be is exactly what I want out of a zine. They may well be aloof drugs people but I don’t care. I read somewhere this might have less and less text in it in the future, hope that doesn’t happen. Still, awesome! Get this from PO 7302 Olympia WAHHHH 98507
The best zine I read this month was called LIMITED READERSHIP. It is a fanzine from the UK, and because I’m biased and because this is a small island with not many people with good opinions actually publishing their opinions, that makes this the best. That, and the fact that it’s a stonking good read. This has clearly taken a while to compile, and Rob’s writing here is funny, frequently sarcastic, and always on point even when I disagree with a review. The breadth of his music knowledge is summed up in the intro: “Hopefully I can provide a conceptual place where fans of Hawkwind and Breakdown can unite.” The section entitled ‘Things I used to think but now think the opposite’ is very funny indeed, he creates a new way of writing the date (AF – After Flag) and perseveres with a Condominium interview despite the somewhat smarmy disinterestedness of the response. There’s also a good mix between stuff like that, and the Milk Music interview, and then an interview with a band I had never heard of (Spike in Vain from Cleveland, that I am certain I need to hear having read it – No Trend meets Flipper?!?) that again impress that this is far from some of the hype-baiting shitrags out there. One of his differentiating factors is that Rob also includes writing about marginalised movies and underground cinema, which I find cool and exciting, firstly because its something I know nothing about, and secondly as it puts LR in the category of another thing I think a fanzine should strive to be; no more than a vessel for talking about anything that excites or stimulates you. Get this from firstname.lastname@example.org
A little note: In my last column, I referred to the kinds of people that buy No Idea records as the makers of rape jokes, and I got a dejected letter from Florida about it. I’m sorry! In my experience this statement is roundly true, but of course the world is bigger than England, and I’m very happy for you if that’s not your experience! Cleanse gruff punk of misogyny, if you like that sort of thing! Raise your fist and your beer koozie! I am sure the men putting out those records would like me to remind you to keep buying their records if you don’t make or laugh at rape jokes, too, cus in reality it’s far from the worst subsection of punk when it comes to hating women. Also, I love punk because I can get a letter calling me out for things such as this, that still include a free sticker. Send more.