The first zines I read were about music, and were invaluable in pointing me towards a lot of the bands and music that have become essential to me over the years. The three zines covered here are, in their own way, a return to basics for me — three zines where the primary focus was music, even as each of them has their own thematic and aesthetic concerns as well.
The seventh issue of Translate (one of the current projects of Hanging Like a Hex editor Ryan Canvan) focuses broadly on the theme of remaining a part of the punk/hardcore scene as you get older. Part of the opening essay reads, “You think you’re some weird lonely outcast when you’re 17? Try fitting the world into your lifestyle at 35.” That theme is echoed in many of the issue’s interviews, which focus on balancing music and day jobs and (in some cases) families. The likes of Restorations, Iron Lung, and Doomriders & Converge’s Nate Newton are among the interviewees, and there’s an impressive candor in their interviews. As someone who’s begun to become aware that he’s generally the oldest person in the room at a lot of DIY shows, there was plenty to ponder in here — and I was glad to see such a thoughtful discussion of that situation.
And it reminds me that I really need to order Restorations’ LP2.
Issue 41 of Distort opens with a quote from a Harry Crews interview, which is a great way to get my attention. There’s a lot of talk of hardcore in here, as well as an interview with Aaron Aspinwall and Night Prowler. The incredibly detailed review section is also a plus. This is terrific reading about punk and hardcore, with the occasional nod to Denis Johnson thrown in. (As well as a J.G. Ballard reference on the inside back cover — again, you can’t go wrong in my book with references like these.) I can’t really argue with a zine that lines up pretty well with my own interests — or which has done a fine job of inspiring me to look up a half-dozen artists and records.
On the same trip to Academy Annex when I picked up Distort, I also decided to pick up a black metal-centric zine — a genre I know a lot less about. (And, to be honest, feel less affinity for — but I figured getting a different take on it would not be a bad thing.) The interview questions and reviewed in Nocturnal Emission Vol. V delve into the intricacies of black metal. There’s abundant discussion of how musicians got into it, where they see it going, and how it compares to the scene in past years/decades.