Monday, February 17, 2014


Maximum Rocknroll Number 4, Jan-Feb '83

A last minute news story makes for an interesting cover to this issue.  Not sure what was originally planned, but it was cleared to make room for a brief article about a recent punk riot.  A punk outside of a TSOL show in LA threw a bottle at a passing cop, who then escalated by calling in backups, including a helicopter, who sealed off Sunset Blvd in the area surrounding the club.  Punk was not new anymore but was at its peak threat to society — media exploitation, attacks from the Religious Right, police brutality all very real in Punk circa '83.  These themes all come up repeatedly in the magazine, alongside the editors' constant political guidance and challenges to their readers to have a coherent, radical belief system.

The cover also features the "Top 100 Records and Tapes (of) 1982", which takes the space of the typical shitworker top tens section that is absent.  Curiously, the list does not contain records/tapes but songs, democratically listed in alphabetical order and no band appearing with multiple entries. It's a great list which has plenty of not-quite ready for their own record but soon to be household names appearing via demo tape or compilation (Adrenalin OD, Butthole Surfers, Die Kreuzen, Poison Idea, etc).  

After the cover story, the first bit of content in the issue is this "Survey for Women" in which MRR is soliciting the opinions about women in punk.  The zine took a clear initiative to reach out to and embrace the full diversity of the punk scene.   Likewise, a priority was to address and confront any instances of sexism, homophobia, racism in the scene.  60+ pages later, the Record Reviews sectionfeatured no fewer than 3-4 records listed in this issue wherein the reviewer is taking the band to task for questionable lyrics (Lost Generation, Silly Killers, Descendents, GG Allin+). 

Issue four had a particularly great run of band interviews. Crucifix seem in early issues to be seen as a bit of a joke among locals for their love of Discharge and over the top punk look ("We feel that if you're going to be a Punk you might as well look like a Punk") but get a glowing review here after the release of their 7".  Code of Honor are one of my favorite bands, but so oddly professional in old interviews.  Their LP was probably a misstep, but certainly was not a mistake.  I dig their semi-schitzephrenic response below:

Also interviewed were a young Poison Idea, NY's False Prophets (from Avenue B!), Toxic Reasons, Reagan Youth, a very long and intense discussion with Articles of Faith, so many more.  Crucifucks has a pseudo-interview done in a questionnaire style that did include the following bullet from Doc Dart: "Cops: I hate them - there's no excuse for them.  I'd like to kill more than one.  They won't fuckin leave me alone".    But the centerpiece of the issue was V.Vale's conversation with Frank Discussion of The Feederz.  They discuss (and reprint) Frank's infamous "Bored of School" flyer which was allegedly distributed in Phoenix area schools, sabotage in the workplace, historical radical movements and parents.  It's a mandatory read.  The intro mentions their upcoming EP, Soon to be Picturesque Ruins, which I assume morphed into Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss?

There are scene reports galore, of course.  The most interesting bits were the complaints in the Northern California scene that there were too many shows going on at the time (12-14 the prior month!).  On the other hand, you had the Dallas/Fort Worth where HC was just starting to come into its own.  Hugh Beaumont Experience and Stickmen with Rayguns both got some serious column inches, which struck me as funny since both bands seem out of place in '83 but I guess the region was just running a couple years behind.  The issue had features on punk in South Afric, an intro to nihilism,  and another anti-punxploitation piece, this time about the Quincy episode.

As noted above, the reviews are commenting not only on the music but taking bands to task for questionable lyrics and attitudes. This issue had the now-legendary review of the Authorities single in which Tim Yo calls them out for use of the word "niggers" (or was it "piggers"?  Listen and decide...and read the comments where the debate was revived 20+ years later).

Hmmm, let's see...  issue had reviews of Blitz "Voice of a Generation", Cock Sparrer "England Belongs to Me", GG Allin "No Rules", Authorities 7", Big Boys "Fun Fun Fun" 12" (MRR did not approve of the funk!), Crucifix "1984" 7" ("unexpectedly great"), Dead Kennedys "Plastic Surgery Disasters" LP (approached by Tim with apprehension and respect), Descendents "Milo Goes to College" LP (called out for homophobic line), Flipper "Get Away" 7" (assholes who make great music), Husker Du "Everything Falls Apart" 12" ("even if they can't play Risk that well, they sure can play music!"), Negative Approach 7", Toxic Reasons LP, Tar Babies/Mecht Mensch split tape, plenty of regional comps/tapes.  Most of the "World" section was German and Canadian with the notables being Neos 7" & return of the Finns Lama & Kohu 63.

And last but not least, this fun lil' rebuttable by Tim & Jeff in response to a flippant comment made in a Flipper interview.  Can't we all just get along?

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Maximum Rocknroll Vol. 1 No. 3

The issue that MRR went global.  Until this point, the gang has clearly embraced the international appeal of punk but the scope of coverage lived in a funnel that was roughly Regional>National>UK National Acts ('77 hangers on/Disorder/Crass)>International DIY(very little covered until this issue).  But with issue #3, the folks in SF received a care package from Finland that must have blown minds.  International DIY records had, until this point, no worldwide distribution network, no magazine to promote to likeminded folks 5000 miles away — by and large, they existed only in the scenes that bore them.  And Vote's care package to MRR may have changed all of that.  Suddenly, the MRR folks were exposed to a large chunk of records that were as good or better as what they were doing at home; that, as best as they could tell, existed with the same Leftist leanings; that existed as a DIY enterprise.  A thriving, brilliant hardcore scene.  The Top Tens gushed all over this stuff, rightfully.  It is pretty funny that MRR tries to claim the Finnish sound as their own despite the Finn's claim that they were primarily influenced by UK bands: 

And if this is was going on in Finland, what else was out there?  If they weren't already, this is where MRR becomes the public record for hardcore releases — the place where every band in every country could go to let the world know they exist, and where their peers could throw $2-$3 in the mail to the other side of the world to check them out.  

The anti-MRR backlash that will never die begins in the letters section of this issue.  Maybe there was some of it in prior issues, but the first letter here is classic and could have been written at any time over the last 30+ years.  Dave Insurgent writes in that he is psyched to find the magazine as left-coast kindred spirits.  True to their word in the first issue Tim posts the magazine's finances showing that it is, this far, a break even endeavor.

In this lil' corner, they manage to slip in some art (a nice Winston Smith graphic) and some humor.  Not just the dry old folks at the protest anymore, eh?

Besides the Finnish spread and additional record review section, this issue is fairly similar to the previous issues with other content.  Bale has a two-page article advocating for DIY as the solution to "rockstaritis".  The Desperate Bicycles legend has surely grown over the decades but as documented elsewhere, their influence was immediate and Bale quotes them within — It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!  He was writing at a point when major labels were starting to look for a hardcore breakout and bands like the Misfits and Damned were beginning to mimic   a classic rock touring structure and others like Dead Kennedys and Black Flag were trying to find something more ethical/equitable/sustainable.  His five point plan to combat rockstaritis: 1) Realize that punk musicians are people, therefore anyone can do it. You can do it. Kill the pedestals. 2) Abandon groups that lose touch of DIY roots. 3) Transfer your support onto newer groups who are in touch.  4) Pay no mor3e than $5 for a show*.  5) No fixed guarantees — a percentage of the door is the ethical thing to do.
Clearly, the zine was doing wonders for the SFHC marketing department.  The scene report here is a who's who of bands moving to or thinking about moving to the Bay Area.  NOTA writes in with a one-band scene report for Tulsa ("We have one hardcore group (which is me and the boys)...").  Plenty of locals are interviews: Intensified Chaos, The Lew, Capital Punishment, The Afflicted, plus near locals 7 Seconds and The Wrecks.  I should mention this pretty funny review of a Crucifix/Discharge show:

But let's throw out everything mentioned so far, the real gem of the issue is the NY scene report which was a review of a show by Lucifer's Imperial Heretical Knights of Schism / Blood Clot / MDC / Reagan Youth.  The openers were an unknown act featuring singer Mike (Beastie Boys), drummer Dave (Reagan Youth) and friends and were clearly there to provoke.  Named after a Rastafarian principal, their set began with Mike reading from a pamphlet entitled, "What is Rastafari?" while the band made some noise behind him.  Not too thrilled with this act, members of the Bad Brains emerged to announce that Schism's set was over.  Dave Insurgent and the Bad Brains contingent argued until Dave MDC joined in to call out Bad Brains for their shitty treatment of Texas punks among other indecencies (their actions directly led to the demise of 171A Studios and Rat Cage records).  At this point Dave and Schism were pelted with eggs thrown by the Rastas.  Where the hell did they get eggs from????  

There were no shortage of demos reviewed in this issue as kids around the country were beginning to see the magazine as a vehicle to expand their hometown into something more visible.  Great, great bands coming out of the woodwork this way: Crucifucks, NOTA, No Thanks, Poison Idea...  Also one for The Gerbils "GM Working Man" in Detroit described as thrash with Screamers-like synth.  A total unknown to me, but I NEED TO HEAR THEM NOW!!!!  Finland reviews include Bastards, Kaaos/Kadgers, Kohu 63, Lama, Riistetyt, Rattus, first 3 Terveet Kadet records.  We also see that Anti-Cimex have submitted their first single for review (and get compared to SF's War Zone!) as have Jezus & the Gospelfuckers.  Some devestating stuff.

The zine ends with a punk's story of going to the movies to see "Class of 1984" and the audience reaction to them.  The move, starring Michael J Fox among others, is perhaps the most exploitative of any movie from the era, painting punks as racists, rapists, a new organized crime family.  I saw this movie very recently and was shocked...I can't even imagine seeing it as a punk in '82.

*That's about $12 today.