You're from Bega... did you get in to making zines there, or when you pulled up in the teaming metropolis of Canberra? How did it all start?
I didn't really know about zines when I lived in Bega. I used to however, when I was still fairly young, do a lot of the things you will find in zines. I would fill exercise books with my top 50 or 100 songs, and write my own album reviews and things like that. So these were really handwritten 1/1 zines when you think about it...
I lived in Sydney for a while and I picked up a few zines, I always picked up anything that was free or really cheap in some of the different music shops, but once I was in Canberra I helped do a zine with a couple of my friends, it was called Can I Scream (the name was from the Refused song New Noise, and it got a lot of criticism in the reviews)....we made it for free, we did three issues, I think we actually printed more than 500 of the first one. When we were doing that I was thinking, I would like to do my own zine, but it was a couple of years before I actually went and did that.
Your zines feature a lot of band interviews. How influential would you say zines are in Australian punk & hardcore these days (promoting, finding new bands, etc)?
Within Australia, particularly in the punk and hardcore scene, or all scenes I guess, people are getting their information online. It's instant and you can listen to the music straight away. For information about what's on immediately, I guess the street presses can be ok, although not everything is in there. The whole zine thing is a bit more fun, I guess.
Some people may read about a band and get into them from there, particularly this “bigger” zines like Pee Zine, which has been going for ages and is up to issue number 40 something, or Unbelievably Bad, though that doesn't seem to come out much anymore, those sort of zines have a good chance of giving you some ideas about new bands, whereas a lot of the smaller zines, I guess it's just a look at some punk rock dudes life with a few interviews of bands they like, which you may want to check out.
There are not that many punk/hardcore zines around, maybe one or two in each city, but I always love to pick up any zines when they're at shows.
Before I left Canberra you were the only other zine person I knew there. Now, it seems like the nation's (spew) capital has exploded in ZINE FEVER! Is this correct? How's the zinescape (yeah, zinescape) looking these days?
I'm not sure if these people were around already, or that it's just getting more organised. There seems to be a lot more zine fairs, there's one coming up at Gorman House next week, and zines were even featured in the National Gallery of Australia, now isn't that Art.
I think a lot of these people were already around previously, but basically you just had to know them if you wanted to get a zine, whereas there are more outlets to have your zines, Smiths Bookshop is selling a whole lot of zines now these days.
You're writing a zine blog now, right? How's it going? Have you ever given a zine a bad review?
I have a blog which I kind of use as a zine blog, I mainly use it to put up the old interviews from previous zines, or I put some of my other writing in there, mainly travel stories or comments about the Canberra Raiders season (currently going very badly) in there. I have been doing some zine reviews. I mainly write about ones that I like from these piles of zines sitting in my loungeroom so they are mainly good reviews, but not all zines are great!
Have you legally deposited your zines at the National Library (that is, donating one copy of each to the National Library for posterity)? My friend who works at the National Library says legally depositing your zines is not only important (for archiving media history etc) but COOL!
I think there are a couple of mine in the collection at the Library. Some of the ladies got a few of my issues at the last zine fair. I have been meaning to put a copy of the rest in there, but I'm trying to track down copies of all the previous issues somewhere around my house.
You went to Papua New Guinea, whoa! My dad, who btw is a badass, told me a story one time from when he was in PNG (he is a geologist/rock star. geddit? Haw!) & got robbed for everything he had on his back – including his undies - & had to walk back to Port Moresby naked.* Did anything like this happen to you?
I remember reading a story about your Dad in one of your zines, maybe it was a letter from him from China and it was mainly about pandas, he sounds like a good guy. We didn't have anything bad happen to us, we went on a surf trip which left out from Kavieng, which is in the north of PNG. Port Moresby airport seemed like a very sketchy place, but on the advice of the people who took us on the trip, we took a taxi to some rich guy hotel and ate lunch while we were waiting for the next plane. Not very “travel guru”, but better than being robbed. The trip itself was awesome, all the people we met in the islands were so friendly to us. For those playing at home I wrote about this trip in Issue #7 of Capital Eyes.
You're moving to Chile! Have you sussed out the zinescape there?
I'm looking forward to going to Chile. I don't really know too much about the Chilean zinescape actually. There is a girl that gives updates on the Sticky newsletter so I will have to get in touch with her before I go. I just got married this year and my wife is from Chile, so we will head over there for around two years. I guess I will make some zines about my experiences of being a gringo over there.
When the uninitiated ask you “what's a zine?”, what do you usually say?
I usually tell them it's a home made magazine, made by cutting and pasting and photocopied at your work or some other place cheap. Then they look at me and wonder why somebody would do such a thing.
I picked up this A4 folded thing at a gig the other night labelled “FANZINE” & it turned out to be some promotional crap about some crap sponsored by the EU. I felt a tinge of the same outrage that an African-American rapper maybe feels when their subculture is used to hawk mass-produced sweatshop corporate sportswear. What do you think? Do you think it's kinda cool that zines are considered so significant a medium as for their POWER to be harnessed by Big Money, or is it a contrived insult to our collective intelligence?
An interesting question really. Generally if a “zine” is made by some “big, powerful organisation”, it loses the touch of the zine world. It's all formally presented, the staples are nicely in place, the paper is suspiciously high quality. However, zines could be used as a massive promotional tool in any situation, and I guess it's up to the reader to interpret it as they will. In countries where the state runs all the TV, newspapers etc, making a home made “zine”, though it may not be called that, is a way of getting your message to people.