Sunday, January 19, 2014


Vol. 1 No. 2

Volume 1, Issue 2 of Maximumrocknroll takes some small but logical steps from the premier issue, expanding on its political coverage and building more of a presence as a national magazine.  In a series of articles & interviews, the staff further establish themselves as the elders and they are heavily invested in using their status to steer the young punks toward DIY, ethical behavior, leftist politics, anti-goonery.  It was a pivotal moment—media sensationalism was simultaneously publicizing the scene as the place to be for boneheads and giving media bigwigs dollar-sign eyeballs as they schemed over "the next big thing" and looked for bands to sign or punxploitation media to produce.  And here are the elders, some old enough to remember the hippies and their eroded idealism, with boots firmly planted in the ground saying over and over again, "Not on my watch."  

I was laughing to myself reading through the Top Ten lists and noting that every single list included "Not So Quiet on the Western Front" in the number 1 or 2 slot.  This was not even the case in the first issue(!) and my cynical side (do I have another?) stepped in to wonder if they were capitalizing on an expanded national audience to give themselves a plug.  Then at at the bottom of the page I noticed good ol' Tim Yo was one step ahead of me:  

Well, it is one hell of a record.  The lists are still very US/UK-centric1, just a lone appearance by Lama on Ruth's list, Terveet Kadet on Jeff's, and some non-punk (SPK, Birthday Party, Heino) scattered throughout to represent the rest of the world.  John Silva lists Grandmaster Flash "The Message" in his list and Ruth doubles down on the Black Humor LP, having reviewed it in the first issue and been called out in the letters section of this one for promoting a reactionary band.  She expands her view in the letters as well, declaring the band brilliant.  Agreed.

Scene reports have expanded beyond Northern California and have reports from Boston, NY, DC in addition to the local scene.  Hüsker Dü and the Rejectors have featured interviews alongside some by locals Rebel Truth & Deadly Reign.  Hüskers were still a new band and talk a bit about the reactions they receive from dumbfounded audiences on their tour. They were in the heart of their play 30 minutes non-stop at full intensity phase2 and no one knew what to make of them. They interviewed a local sheriff, Mike Hennessey, who was a big supporter of the scene ("I like watching Flipper but sometimes listening to them is a chore").  In so many of the early MRR interviews there is an intense curiosity from the interviewer to learn what it's like out there in other scenes.  It was a chore, even for the most dedicated to track down and hear all of the bands they'd heard of and these interviews tend to display an element of that.  With today's instant gratification, it's barely an issue anymore but that feeling of discovery is such a brilliant thing and nice to see it emerge as a theme in these early issues.

The most insightful interview presented was with Dirk Dirkson, local punk promoter who was involved in the SF scene from day one.  He adds yet another elder statesman voice to the chorus when discussing the changes the scene has undergone over the years.  The initial scene had a great knack for the visual, due in large part to the SFArtInstitute punks present in the first wave.  As younger kids came in, 13-14 year olds they could not bring the same level of maturity (aesthetic & otherwise) that the first wave of SFAI punks did which was a marked change.  Dirkson also gets into some bottom line economics for the kids—when shit at his clubs get fucked up, he has to fund their repairs and that comes out of the door; when half the audience sneaks in, it's harder to meet overhead; etc—and notes that he's $30K in the hole from years of running the club.

This issue features a series of articles that tackle world-issues from the zine's punk/left standpoint —"Media Distortion", feminism and punk rock, punk as dada, an anti-corpotation/anti-Bechtel scribe,  a short column from Bale about the Israeli occupation and subhuman treatment of Palestinians, and a Ruth Schwartz breakdown on different financial models of the band/label split (and which are exploiting the band).  Mindblowing stuff that really takes you out of last night's show and places you into the real fucking world.  In the comments of MRR's archive of this issue, Jerod Poore notes that he was the cover model on this issue, taken at a Tim Yo organized protest.  The photo was done in one shot and that's all they had as bank guards rushed out to break it up after seeing his pose.  Even the most topical issues written about herein are still more or less relevant; some names & details need updating but themes still extant, sadly3

Reviews were a bit thin on this issue, perhaps having stocked up for an impressive and robust section in issue#1.  Jeff's opening screed responds to those whose feelings were hurt by criticism in the first issue. Still very few non-US/UK releases and for the most part (a lone Lama single, some SPK), the UK releases tend to be bigger distributed titles by older bands still hanging on (Blitz/Chelsea/Chron Gen/Lurkers/etc).  Notable reviews of the Beatie Boys (loved it), Conflict (AZ)'s demo ("great value"), Die Kreuzen demo ("formerly The Stella's"–who knew?!?!), Ejectors "Hydrohead", Faith/Void split (Void described as "SOA meets Led Zeppelin"...dingdingding!), Nihilistics 7", Replacements "Stink", Toxin III, "Unsafe at Any Speed", "NY Thrash" (Tim Yo called Timmy Sommer to task, "No excuse for including macho Misfits-clones like THE FIENDS and leaving the great REAGAN YOUTH off this compilation").

1I always think of MRR's beginnings in an explosive 3 issue arc.  #1 is intensely local.  By issue #2 they are getting more submissions and exposure to a wider slab of the US.  And then—a fucking missile arrived from Finland in time for issue #3 and really, really made it an international zine.  Of course, it was always local but became a worldwide platform for punks to meet, exchange ideas & music, so on. 
2Their best phase (see: "Land Speed Record" & "Ultracore" bootleg).
3Jerod's comment on the MRR website by reiterating that the issues they were protesting continued far beyond that time; the issues Tim Yo & friends were protesting in 1982 are still every bit as valid now. 

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