I was clearing out my wardrobe today and found a little pile of A5 booklets stacked neatly at the back. At first I was confused, what were they? Then I realised, fanzines. 2001 has been the official death of fanzine culture. On it's knees in '99, coughing up blood in 2000, this year there are officially no fanzines. Okay, yes there are, but they're either centred on a single band (the ever present Manics contingent) or first-and-only issues punted out by enthusiastic teenagers who melt away as quickly as they arrive. Still, those that survived the unprecedented general shift from pamphlets to websites (what do you think Sean was doing before DiS, huh?) must be praised. Or at least reviewed and slapped on the wrist for being worthy-but-shit.
Andy (quirk)'s Top 5 Fanzines (from the back of his wardrobe)
The creation of Sid (who used to be in Inter) and his girlfriend Karina "Popart" is more mature than most. This is issue 9 after all. It's cut n' paste with a wide mix of music reviews, poetry, art, and interviews. Interviewees include Mainstate, PFS, Adjoujaparov, Attilla The Stockbroker (!), and the lead singer bloke from Spizz Energi - who did punk, ahem, 'classic', "Where's Captain Kirk". It's very varied and a good read. My only real criticism is that when the type turns to handwriting it can be very hard to read. £1+SAE from Sid, 40 Alma Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 0LH.
Another long runner (issue 8) this has August 2000 printed on the front so don't expect cutting edge up to the minute news (unlike DiS, fnarr fnarr). However, this doesn't matter because SP isn't like most zines. SP is completely honest about it's intentions. It's a fact all fanzine writers (and writers in general really) are egotists. Writers want you to know about them. Writing about music or whatever just gets in the way of this. So SP declares itself upfront as a personal zine. A personal zine about Sephine - who was someone else, but she changed her name through sheer boredom. Oh, you want to know what's in it? Everything from why her dad the vicar is great to the wonders of teeth...Trust me, it's compelling reading. I shit you not. Spiderplant is Sephine's fifth limb, give it respect. 50p+SAE from 47 Bentley Road, Nuneaton, Warks, CV11 5LR.
Vicki's second issue and one that gives views on feminism/riot grrrl and punk ethics, as well as the usual assortment of reviews/interviews - from the perspective of a girl in her mid teens. It's probably because I'm such an old git that I find it really interesting. Vicki is dealing with music debate that has been debated by generations of fanzine writers before her, yet completely unaware of the fact. The same arguments are presented and the same conclusions reached. In the grand treadmill of photocopied journalism it's a humbling experience to realise when you put thoughts to paper as a teenage fanzine ed that you were probably repeating what had come before. You were not cutting edge, sorry. Anyway, good interviews in here with, among others, The Lollies, Twister, and Twist. Just 20p+SAE from 23 Parkstone Avenue, Hornchurch, Essex, RM11 3LX.
4: The Original Sin
This is issue 31 (thirty one!) of Didiers ongoing Europe-wide unsigned bands talent search. This issue features ints with Beerzone, Sack Trick, and the very serious looking Wings Of Destiny. Didier has also gone on to reviewing records and fanzines now - half the zine being dedicated to it in this issue. It's very worthy and definitely worth reading if you're on the look out for new music. However, due to the volume of reading material it is more than a little overwhelming. Also the writing tends to focus so much on Q+A that you don't really get a feel for the editor's actual opinions. This makes an otherwise excellent zine somewhat flat reading. Send 3 IRCs to Didier at Jozef Guislainstraat 6, 9000 Gent, Belgium, Europe.
5: Velvetina Starlet
This is old skool in it's approach, kitsch and twee with plenty of pictures to complement the interviews (Belding, Scintilla, & Teflon Monkey). However, it appears to be constructed using Word so the layout is less than inspiring. Also, cartoon strips like Badly Drawn Boys Hat give the impression that Matt may be trying just a little too hard to be "fanziney". The record reviews don't tell you anything, but as with the rest of the writing this is probably indicative of the traditional fanzine writing learning curve (this is issue 1). Fanzines are only as good as the personality writing them and any attempt to fake up an image to fit in better cannot be a good thing. Once Matt is more comfortable with the whole fanzine ethic i'm sure it will get better. 50p + SAE from 230 Chester Road North, Kidderminster, Worchestershire, DY10 1TE.