Top 10 Tips For Writing A Fanzine

“The biggest and best thing about a DIY zine is having the freedom to do and say exactly what you want. There are no rules and nobody to answer to so the possibilities are endless.”

Rob Stone has been working tirelessly on the brilliant Positive Creed Fanzine since 2001. In that time, he’s experienced the joys and harsh realities of DIY publishing, and he’s kindly shared this guide… for punks who aren’t afraid of a few papercuts.

Before I begin this article I would just like to make it clear that I do not regard the following list as any kind of rule book or structure to writing a zine. It is merely a catalogue of things that I have learnt over the twenty years that I have been involved in DIY publishing. I also do not consider myself as any kind of authority on the subject. I have made a lot of mistakes during that time, discovered some utterly fantastic music and made contact with some extremely talented people. I hope that the following will help people out and perhaps inspire some of you to produce your own fanzine. Good luck.

10: Safety In Numbers

It’s important to carry enthusiasm but don’t allow yourself to get carried away whilst organising your first issue. Start off small and get a good feel for the potential sales that are possible. Perhaps begin with 50 copies and then gradually work your way up with each issue.

9: Research

When I use the word research, I am coming from the angle of putting together interview questions. I have read more zines than I can remember over the past twenty years and have come across many interviews where a zine editor has managed to arrange an interview with an interesting band/musician, only to ask the most basic and mundane questions.

If your approach to writing questions is lazy and soulless then there’s every chance that the answers will return to you lacking in substance. With the internet and social media now at hand, there is no reason why you can’t delve into the history of a band and construct in-depth questions. This will not only get you a better response, but it will also give your readers a far better insight into your subject. Continue reading “Top 10 Tips For Writing A Fanzine”

Punk Rock Coffee: A Hungover Tale of Lockjaw Records’ Latest Creation

Rick Delaney taste tests Lockjaw Records’ Coffee midway through Manchester Punk Festival. The result is this hilarious, hungover story, that’ll resonate even if you don’t have the slightest interest in coffee.

Lockjaw Records (Sarah Shout Louder’s other love) recently teamed up with Sham City Roasters to create their own bespoke Lockjaw Coffee. They challenged Rick Delaney, who usually writes serious stuff for Dying Scene, to take it for a serious taste-test. 

Bravely, Delaney chose to do this early in the morning, halfway through the liver-crippling marathon of Manchester Punk Festival. He’s a true hero; here’s his (inebriated, tangential, absolutely hilarious) story.

In screaming sunshine, I hotfoot across Manchester with a photographer on the verge of alcohol-induced paralysis and a shopping list of accoutrements and crucial equipment for a coffee morning. The goal is a double review – the latest compilation and a custom coffee blend from the hardworking and frankly spectacular bunch at Lockjaw Records.

Surprisingly minimal fucking around in shops later – camera operator Josh Sumner [Shout Louder’s resident photographer] sweats outside – we get the gear and head for an apartment on the North side of town. We call Carly Ashburner – one of many truly magical humans attending Manchester Punk Festival 2019 and literal bench-presser of band members. She meets us on the street in typical high spirits. We head upstairs.

In the swankiest of weekend rentals, overlooking a spectacular Manchester cityscape and the Peak District National Park, I find a scene of absolute mayhem. Continue reading “Punk Rock Coffee: A Hungover Tale of Lockjaw Records’ Latest Creation”

Perfect Women Are Imperfect

…and every woman you perceive to be perfect hates themselves anyway. Millie Manders explores the impossible beauty standards we face, and how that affects her as an artist.

Guest article written by the marvellous Millie Manders, of Millie Manders & The Shut Up Fame. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. Trigger warning: eating disorders, body dysmorphia.

Perfect women are imperfect and every woman you perceive to be perfect hates themselves anyway

It’s true.

I hate myself. I’m not perfect. I am very, very imperfect and I hate myself. And seeing as I have been given the honour of this platform to share about mental health, I want to get right to the bones of something people are petrified of truly admitting is a problem.

I believe, as a musician who gets to do some of the coolest things ever, I should be helping people to see through the lies we are sold and to love themselves better. And I really do try to do that.

I teach young impressionable students at a music college, a huge proportion of whom have body image issues and other anxieties that I talk to them about. I share good practise and self-love resources with them and signpost them to other sites/forums/centres wherever I can, to help them be more positive and kind towards themselves.

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The problem is that I feel guilty for it. I feel like a fraud. I have bought into those same lies for as long as I can remember and I punish myself every day. Continue reading “Perfect Women Are Imperfect”

Solidarity Not Silence: We Must Win

Five women are standing against Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox in defamation case he’s raised for speaking up against his behaviour and actions. Guest writer Em Johnson explains the importance of our solidarity with those women.

Guest article written by Em Johnson.

Do you know what bores me? The left fighting the left.

Why do we burn our calories about Corbyn vs Blair and then sleepwalk into a Boris Johnson cavity of hell?

Why do punk kids bicker between themselves about sub-genres when the entire concept of ‘influencers’ has been allowed to become a thing?

Why do vegans turn on each other about honey and palm oil in Facebook wormholes when corporations are burning the planet?

This week The Guardian brought to public attention the defamation claim brought against five women by Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox of The King Blues, a band who were the darlings of the punk scene soon after their formation in 2004, but latterly shunned by many due to persistent rumours about Itch’s behaviour and character – often in relation to women. Five women now stand accused of a ‘persistent campaign of harassment’. Continue reading “Solidarity Not Silence: We Must Win”

Everything Is Probably Fine

Pre-Gig Anxiety: made worse by day jobs, traffic, hunger, other people or flaming Volkswagens. Lucias Malcolm gives us an amusing account of a problem every band will be all too familiar with.

Article by Lucias Malcolm, vocalist/guitarist in Call Me Malcolm. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

It’s 12:17 and a car is on fire.

Chris, our drummer, and I are on route to pick up our bassist Travs from the deepest, darkest wilds of west London. We are currently at a standstill on the A-something-or-other and the (thankfully) empty car next to us is on fire. Firefighters look on with the helplessly professional nonchalance of people that are sure, “Yes, that is definitely a fire.”

We’re due on stage in Stafford at 7:30, with a requested arrival time of an hour before. When a promoter asks you to arrive at 6:30, you can extrapolate from that the options available to you:

  1. You need to arrive at 6:30
  2. 6:00 if you want to be in any danger of being invited back.
  3. 7:29 if you think you should actually be higher up the bill.

I am haunted by a teeny, tiny, soul crushing anxiety every waking minute, so I’ve plotted our arrival for 5pm. And even then, my anxiety thinks we’re cutting it fine. An atypical 3-way argument ensues whereby Chris insists everything will be fine, my anxiety scoffs, and I sit in the middle trying not to annoy either of them.

But it’s 12:17 and a car is on fire. Continue reading “Everything Is Probably Fine”

There Is A Bear On Stage

Lucias from Call Me Malcolm discusses the constant pressure of anxiety and panic that haunts him on stage.

Written by Lucias Malcolm, vocalist/guitarist in Call Me Malcolm. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

We have a gig in less than an hour and there is a bear on stage.

I’ve been a musician for just shy of twenty years and an outwardly functioning human being for almost double that; functioning in the sense that in that time I’ve somewhat miraculously kept myself fed, watered and free from major scarring. I even tie my own shoe laces (though I do wonder if there’s a statute of limitation on this – I’ve been wearing the same Etnies for as long as I can remember and I’ve not re-tied the laces since day one). The point is, outwardly, as far as society is concerned, I function.

Inwardly it’s a different story. At current count there are thirty seven different warning lights flashing, smoke is billowing from several important looking dials and the rabbit that usually steers the ship lost the manual in 1996. The point is, I get anxious.

As I said, there is a very real, to me at least, bear on stage. Continue reading “There Is A Bear On Stage”

The Thriving Culture of DIY Publishing & Fanzines

“DIY publishing is anyone who has ever taken an idea and made it a reality.” Martin Appleby shares a love of punk fanzines and independent publishing.

Guest article written by Martin Appleby. Martin is a Hastings-based poet and writer, and the founder of Paper & Ink Literary Zine: a high-quality collection of fiction and poetry. Catch Martin performing at Manchester Punk Festival at 13:00 in The Thirsty Scholar.

Fanzines are as old as punk itself, and have always been an integral part of the scene, especially in pre-Internet times: an open and unbiased resource for spreading the word about new bands, albums and gigs. A cheap and easy format to make and distribute.

You may think that the format is now obsolete and unnecessary, what with the world wide web at everybody’s fingertips, but zines and zine culture is thriving, and the internet has not hampered that.

If anything, it can act as a formidable marketing tool for zine makers, now able to reach a far wider audience than they arguably could have ‘back in the day’ when zines were only shared at shows and amongst friends in their own scenes.

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Many punk zines have come and gone over the years, but a personal favourite of mine, Lights Go Out, has been consistently putting issues out since 2008. I recently caught up with the dude who runs it, Mr T, and asked him about his zine:

“For me it’s an important part of the scene; it’s an honest opinion. It’s a way to find new bands for people and also for me, with the amount of stuff that comes in for the team to check out, I always hope that every record is going to be my new favourite. Continue reading “The Thriving Culture of DIY Publishing & Fanzines”