The Zinophile: See You in the Pit, Friends – Chickfactor and Rumpshaker Return; Generic Insight Rises

In 1996, the first issue of my zine came out. By 2001, I’d released six issues. I made some headway on a seventh issue, but never quite finished it up — the label a friend and I were running took up too much time, and soon, the job that I was working in those days began to occupy an even larger amount of my time. It was called Eventide, and it was one of the most satisfying experience of my life — both completing an issue and getting an issue back from the printer. Rather, getting boxes full of issues back from the printer. It was how I learned to do an interview; it was how I met people who are still friends today. Packages sent from a handful of record labels still say “Eventide” on their labels below my name; this makes me happier than you can imagine.

Three zines convinced me that I could make my own zine. Or, rather, three zines suggested a basic structure — some personal writing, maybe some columns; interviews with bands; and a whole lot of reviews. Norman Brannon’s Anti-Matter was one; Josh Grabelle’s Trustkill was another; and Eric Weiss’s Rumpshaker was the third.

A brand-new issue of Rumpshaker, the sixth overall, came out late last year. “[A]s an adult, hardcore speaks to me as clearly as ever,” Weiss writes in his introduction; while the cover is a little nicer than previous issues, the format is much the same as the first issue I ever encountered: honest personal writing, smart interviews with bands, and the occasional interview with a revered musician and his or her mother. (This time, Walter Schriefels, Chuck D, and Dan Yemin have the honors.)

There’s an occasionally tongue-in-cheek series of interviews with the members of Ceremony to be found here, focusing on everything from the legacy of Charles Bukowski to style tips. Interviews with Mike Judge (this would be Mike from Judge, not the guy who directed Office Space) and Fucked Up cover several years. And one of the most affecting parts of the issue is an interview with Tim Barry of Avail, which at times touches on the choices one needs to make in order to live modestly via music. (Alternately: living in a shed.) There’s a genuine sense of progression here, from personal evolution to music’s generational influence to the way the same album can affect you at different ages. It’s a welcome return.

The phrase “legendary indie nerd bible” graces the cover of Chickfactor no.17. That’s not inaccurate: the zine did inspire a Belle & Sebastian song, and their 20th anniversary shows last year attracted a plethora of terrific indie pop bands past and present. (I will admit to being up front at one of the Brooklyn shows, feeling incredibly lucky that I was able to see the Aislers Set again.) It, like Rumpshaker, made a welcome return in 2012, doing exactly what they did best. Joe Pernice and Black Tambourine are interviewed alongside Sharon Van Etten and Grass Widow; Maira Kalman also shows up, among many others.

There’s a sense of the progression of time here as well. The issue opens with an interview with Pernice, who seems weary at first, alluding to bad interviews he’s done over the years and his experiences as a parent. Families are also a theme: interviews with Black Tambourine and Grass Widow cover their members’ familial experiences with music, which in turn leads to some surprising insights. And there’s a piece on King Creosote, which never hurts. Dense with information and enthusiasm for the music it covers, this issue of Chickfactor offers much to recommend it.

The first issue of Generic Insight features a few musicians (notably, the excellent Californian hardcore band Comadre), its main focus is on the other artistic pursuits of people within the punk and hardcore scene, whether it’s filmmaking, poster design, or photography. Jeff Takacs of the Rocket Fuel podcast talks about fatherhood; Robby Lister of The Ghostwrite discusses a book he’s currently working on; and there’s a listing of members of assorted punk bands who have delved into creative fields outside of music. Barrie Cohn’s zine covers everything from the day-to-day experience of touring to having one’s messenger bags appear in the film Premium Rush. Reading it made for a timeless experience: except for the references to Tumblr, this could very well have been something I picked up at a hall show somewhere in north Jersey, or while seeing Avail at Wetlands. It’s a tried-and-true approach, and it’s given me plenty to check out in the weeks and months to come.

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