Unsent Text Messages & Neglected Friendships

Notes from a downward spiral: Alan shares a relatable tale of the numb listlessness and anhedonia that comes with a bout of depression.

This article written by Alan Corcoran is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. Trigger warning: depression.

Mostly I just feel paralysed. If my head was in a better place I’d probably think that sounded melodramatic, but for now the only feeling is a lack of feeling. Options stack up in front of me. Impossible options. I cannot make any decisions today.

I know there’s work to be done. Life admin. Basic stuff. Exercise would be good. Shaving and a shower are definitely on both a mental and physical list. Relationships of every kind are going untended. Texts. Gigs. Invites to celebrations. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

A gnawing in my stomach reminds me that I’m at least still capable of some feeling. Anxiety, like a snake in a particularly on-the-nose fable, sidles up to wrap itself around in an embrace. Breathing exercises can get fucked, I can’t breathe. A headache fog fills my brain. Continue reading “Unsent Text Messages & Neglected Friendships”

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”

The Human Project Tour Diary: Driving 24 Hours For A 40 Minute Set

Why drive all day to play one set? The Human Project make a trip full of in-jokes and good times go quickly, en route to Coral Springs’ album launch in Leiden, Netherlands.

Article by Sarah Williams. Gig photos by Mia Weerdesteijn.

05:15 and I’ve accidentally set my alarm for 5pm, so Luke Yates, guitarist in The Human Project has to knock on my door to wake me up. I have one job (to get out of bed on time), and I’ve failed it.

It’s an early start, as are many of these trips. Loading merchandise into the back of a van at 5am, after staying in Luke’s spare room in Leeds the night before, I start considering why we bother. As a teenager, I imagined going on tour would involve a big Nightliner – a tour lorry with bunks beds, big screen TVs and a bar. As an adult I look forward to jumping in the back of a Mercedes Vito to travel in boredom for 10 hours, just to watch a band play for 30 minutes.

There’s an acceptance to it. It’s not glamorous, but it is fun. Luke jumps in the drivers seat of the van and we taxi round Leeds in the pre-dawn darkness to collect the rest of the band.

Continue reading “The Human Project Tour Diary: Driving 24 Hours For A 40 Minute Set”

A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart

Diabetes, heartbreak and depression have changed the life of Marie from Punk Rock Avenue in 2018, but she’s brave enough to share the tale.

Guest post written by Marie-Line Cyr, who runs the fabulous French-Canadian blog Punk Rock Avenue. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

Last year, when I was thinking about my 35th birthday, I pictured myself on Vancouver Island. My plan was to drive across Canada all by myself and celebrate my birthday by the Pacific Ocean. Actually, I celebrated my 35th birthday last September alone and crying on the couch, with a dead pancreas and a broken heart. Here’s the story of my downward slide to the bottom.

2018 has been the worse year of my life. I started having health problems on January 4th. Something wrong in my right eye directly linked to an immune system disorder. Which disorder? Nobody had a clue. I was so scared of what they would find. Finally, they found nothing but prediabetes. So I stopped eating sugar and crap and took care of my health. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the disease. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June. That’s when I started being super sick and had to stop working. I was so weak and tired and I was literally melting while doing nothing at home. There was something wrong. My blood sugar became so high that I spent a couple of nights on the verge of a diabetic coma. I was going to bed at night so scared of not waking up the morning after. It became obvious that I needed insulin and that I was in fact a type 1 diabetic.

I started insulin on July 18th and I will always remember that day. I was in my bathroom, staring at the needle while being too scared to put it in my belly. But I knew I had to do it to stay alive. Just like I knew I would have to do it for the rest of my life. My pancreas was dead and I had no choice but to do its job to survive. So I played Survive from Main Line 10 on Spotify, my diabetes anthem as I call this song, and put the freaking needle in my belly. My diabetic life had just started. Continue reading “A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart”

We Are Just Like You, We Just Don’t Have Instruments

Simon Widdop explains why punk poetry is worth your attention.

Guest article by Simon Widdop, a punk poet from Wakefield. Simon’s debut poetry collecton is Sending A Drunk Text Whilst Sober is available from simonwiddop.com.

The old adage of, “Here’s three chords, now go start a band,” can be translated into, “Here’s a pen and paper, now go start a poem.”

Poetry ain’t dead, far from it. It’s alive and beating hard in books, at lit fests, on TV adverts and at gigs. Yeah, that’s right. But not to be cliche, the poetry you’ll find at shows isn’t the same as the stuff we were forced to recite in grey tones in GCSE English lessons.

But where does all this tie into the punk scene?

Let’s rewind to the initial explosion of punk. You’ve just entered the Mayflower Club in Manchester, waiting for The Buzzcocks when suddenly a matchstick legged, drain pipe jeans clad, backcomb rocking John Cooper Clarke takes to the stage. 20 minutes later (or shorter, depending how ‘Ramones’ he was feeling that night) you’ve just experienced the godfather of punk poetry. Fast delivery, sharpshooter word play and a right hook to the senses. At the same time, across the pond and in the belly of CBGB, Patti Smith was reciting her kitchen sink realism and strong feminist works to an audience of fellow New Yorkers at the height of the New York Scene. Continue reading “We Are Just Like You, We Just Don’t Have Instruments”

17 Hours In A Sweaty Tin Can On Wheels

There’s a romance to tour vans for the punk rock fan. A sweaty, uncomfortable, seemingly endless journey is in itself a part of the fun.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Recently, travelling home from Nuremberg to Manchester, I opted to join Fair Do’s in their van for the 20 hour drive, rather than making use of the flight that I’d booked. They thought this was completely insane. It kinda was.

In fairness, I was travelling home from an overwhelmingly good weekend at KNRD Fest, my flight was absurdly early (and would probably have caused anxious, hungover Sarah to have a morning panic attack about missing the plane) and I love hanging out with Fair Do’s. There’s no doubt that 20 hours in a cramped tour van is no piece of cake, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to everyone and it meant that I could party hard on Saturday night, now that the worry of impossibly teleporting to an airport wasn’t weighing on my mind.

That said, there’s a romance to tour vans for the punk rock fan. A sweaty, uncomfortable, seemingly endless journey is in itself a part of the fun.

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As I write, I’m now locked in a hot tin can on wheels, driving with some of the Lockjaw Crew from Brakrock Ecofest in Belgium to Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia. It’s 17 hours in total, taking in a pick-up in Cologne and an obscure mission to collect a PRH ticket from a friend in Salzburg. We’re flying through the alps at 120kph in blazing sunshine with fuck all air conditioning, no stereo and so much merch (buying 500 Lockjaw compilation frisbees seemed like a great idea at the time…), vinyl and camping gear that there’s zero space for your feet in the footwell. Continue reading “17 Hours In A Sweaty Tin Can On Wheels”

Guest Article: How To Prepare Your Merch for Festival Season

Guest Article: Random Hand’s Joe Tilston gives valuable advice on how to prepare your band’s merch set up, to make the most of summer’s festival season.

Guest Article by Joe Tilston, originally published at Merch Stall.

The weather is getting better, this can mean only one thing: festival season is upon us once more. Are you ready?

Is this your band’s first year playing a festival, or are you on your 10th run through the circuit? No matter how well versed you are, you need to give your merchandise preparation some serious thought. Too often I’ve found myself two weeks before the first big festival date of the year, and we haven’t got any new designs drawn (never mind ordered!), once again making an already stressful situation far more complicated than it needs to be.

So learn from the mistakes of those that have made them before you: prepare!

Keep it simple. It’s easy to get carried away on a merch stall at your own show or a support gig when there are only three bands, but at festivals all the pins, badges and lighters, bumper bonza deals and mega collections should disappear. You want to get through the queue as fast as you can, so show some restraint. If someone wants to haggle or make a deal, let them, but keep the options for people to look at. Simple: t-shirt price, CD price, vinyl price. Done.

Do you have a merch person available to join you? Have you made sure there is space for you to sell your merch; do you need to book it? Make sure whoever is selling your merch is able to spend most of the day there. People will be looking to buy merch all day, not just right after your set. That said, some festivals will only give you a small window to sell, so be prepared for that and communicate it on stage!
Continue reading “Guest Article: How To Prepare Your Merch for Festival Season”