Hey there, here’s a bunch of record reviews to keep you warm for the next few days. We’ve been sitting on some of these for a bit, some are fresh out of the oven, and we have more leftovers that will be published real soon. Dig into them right here. We hope you found our 2014 Year End Lists helpful, I’ve wanted to revise mine a few times already. One glaring omission I made was leaving out the Sheer Mag 7″ as one of the top singles of the year. But I didn’t hear it until January anyway, by my own fault. Check it out, it’s a great powerpop/rock’n’roll hybrid. Their upbeat rockers have done a lot to keep the heavy gray skies and snow at bay and out of mind this brutally cold month. As a bonus, we also have the next installment of The Garbage Can, this time from our pal Ryan “Dinosaur” Bell, of GG King and Predator infamy. I think he did a great job (including a Venn diagram) and you can check it out here. If anyone wants to sign up for the Garbage Can, drop the editor a line, we have tons of crap to go around and the Can is on a roll – all four recent attempts have been successful. Are you up to the task? Serious inquiries only….On deck are some more record reviews to clean off the desk (blog-style), then demos/tapes and the definitive Mordecai story is forthcoming as well. Plus, Termbo Issue #2 should be seeing print in the month as well. Watch this space for more info…
I. Tape Delay//Demo Zone reviews for the Fall season are complete and available for perusal here. Record reviews are on deck, hopefully ready for you to enjoy over the Thanksgiving holiday.
II. GARBAGE CAN! People are really stepping up to the can this year. Here’s the latest installment from our pals Sketchy Nick & Biff, in which they take on a selection of tapes and singles and talk about gribnage. We currently have another can installment brewing down South which should be ready soon.
III. On the interviews front, the latest is with Chicago’s NONES done by our Midwest correspondent Troy. Check out the Nones LP on Hozac, it’s worth your time. On deck: the definitive Mordecai story.
IV. In a shocking development, our print department has finally finished TERMBO #1, hopefully the first of many (or at least a couple) issues. All exclusive content, including JIMBO EASTER, FNU RONNIES, WHITE LOAD, BLACK FLAG, FOLDED SHIRT, films, poetry and records. There’s also a limited package that includes a TERMBO: THE EARLY YEARS zine reprinting some of the early TB interviews for bathroom reading/reminiscing. Jay Reatard, Ryan Rousseau, Alicja Trout, Shane White, Black Time, Armitage Shanks and more with some new commentary and a Statics article from the old Rip Off Records site. It’s thick and was a pain in the ass to assemble so we only made a few. Future versions of this sort of thing might happen as well. It’s all for sale via our friends over at THE LOKI LABEL, where you can also purchase their tapes and other odds and ends (including the last copies of the Giorgio Murderer live tape special edition, last copies of the first press of the latest from COUNTER INTUITS, last copies of the SECRETS IN WELSH zine…).
That’s all for now. Anyone wishing to contribute to Termbo online or in print should contact the editor: termibore-at-aol.com.
Finally, I’ve managed to wrestle this reviews section into some kind of shape. Although there’s a lot more I would have liked to include, I had to cut bait here as we couldn’t delay any longer without feeling even worse about the editor’s tardiness. We still have a bunch more LP reviews cued up for use very soon. In the meantime, I have to edit an equally ample portion of demo/tapes reviews and get that organized. While you wait for that, we have an absolutely mind-blowing installment of the Garbage Can as well as an interview with Chicago’s Nones that you should see in the next week. Until then, take your time with the reviews section, sorry it’s so big…after a dozen years I’m still trying to figure out how to do this right…
Just a quick update before we shut the offices down for HORRIBLEFEST weekend – the best fest in the land, in the best rock’n’roll city of all time at the best bar in the country with some of the best bands in the world…yeah, we’re pretty excited for this year’s line-up. But before we go, we’re excited to have this look at the current state of the underground in New Zealand from our friend Michael who also does the excellent Live Exorcisms blog. Some very interesting stuff happening around the world these days. If you’d like to contribute a scene report in a similar in-depth format, please drop the editor a line (termibore-at-aol.com – yes, the address still lives!). We’ll be back for a Memorial Day update…if we survive Horriblefest…
Hey now. It’s been a while since we last rapped at ya. The past month or so has seen blizzards, snow, sub-zero temps and a vacation to sunny FLORIDA for Total Punk Fest. Huge thanks to Rich for putting on an amazing weekend of shows, all the bands were killer and it was great to see a lot of old friends (and the sun) again. There were numerous highlights, but let’s just say that GIORGIO MURDERER was worth the plane fare alone. The guy is no joke. Meanwhile, back at Termbo HQ we’re preparing for a whole bunch of updating/posting this month. We’re still catching up on the tail end of the 2013 reviews (sorry) along with all the incoming mail, so I cut off the reviews section here with everything we have edited so far. We still have another page to finish up, but I tried to include a bit of everything in this update. As always, thanks for your patience, please drop the editor a line with queries/complaints. We have a TON of LPs slated for the next section plus lots more hot singles action. Along with more reviews we have a new TV AS EYES update, the first installment of a series of “celebrity” GARBAGE CANS, interviews, movies, books and other special surprises coming sooner than later. Now that the thaw seems to be starting it’s time for some action. Lots of good stuff in this reviews section, and I have to mention that I’m impressed (even moreso than usual) that Australia is continuing to dominate. Frightening. We’ll be back soon, and let us know if you have any ideas for interviews/columns/features.
Happy New Year to all. To ring in 2014 we’ve decided to give you reviews of some archaic formats: books and cassettes! It’s not all MP3s and e-books and blogs just yet. You can jump into to the cassette section after you read the book reviews below. I’d just like to make the additional commentary that I feel that Xerox Ferox should be on every bookshelf and if you didn’t get it for Christmas you should go spend that $20 Aunt Ruth gave you on it now. And I apologize that this tapes/demos section was so long in the making, as I tend to dread tackling the mountain of cassettes that builds up next to the desk after a few months. But I have to admit that there are more than a few quality tape releases out there these days making the format seem more and more viable and the affordability is becoming appealing as record prices continue to rise. Maybe the resurgence of cassettes doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore…We’ll be back soon with record reviews and Best of 2013 lists.
XEROX FEROX: THE WILD WORLD OF THE HORROR FILM FANZINE (John Szpunar – Headpress)
John Szpunar’s Xerox Ferox was a long-awaited tome here at Termbo HQ. For as much as the world of music fandom (and fanzines) has been a time-consuming obsession of mine since adolescence, the world of horror fandom has been an almost equal passion and might have been my first true love. Subtitled “The Wild World of the Horror Film Fanzine”, Szpunar covers four decade’s worth of ground in a whopping 800 pages, allowing a story to spin itself over the course of forty-plus interviews with the men (and women) who created the self-published fanzines that built the foundation of horror fandom as we know it today. I was fully expecting Xerox Ferox to be a great read, filled with minutiae about magazines I’d never heard of and anecdotes about tracking down and interviewing obscure films and filmmakers, and there’s plenty of that. But as this thing unfolded I realized what Szpunar also created was something far more than just a collection of interviews. There’s a story told within that touches not just on the horror film genre, but talks to the wider subject of fandom in general, and what being a part of that community means to the individual. Every person interviewed in this book, no matter how obscure their zine, aspired to be a part of a larger whole and followed through on such aspirations in whatever way they could. Be that handwriting zines and running them off on the photocopier (or mimeograph in some ancient cases…) at work, contributing to mags that other people published or even writing for nationally distributed magazines with actual budgets and professional printing, these people did it not for money, not for acclaim, they did it to be a part of something they felt passionate about, something that they loved. I think every one of you reading this “review” knows that feeling – be it through releasing records, making music the music on those records, writing your own zine, taking photos, organizing shows, whatever it may be, all of us know this passion and have tried to do our own part to contribute to making our section of fandom prosper. Whatever thing it is that you’ve done, it might not seem like much, but the entire reason we’re all here right now is FANDOM. Reading this book I couldn’t help but think about the bigger picture we’re all a part of.
We need to talk about this book first, before I start going too wildly off topic. So, the premise of Xerox Ferox is that Szpunar tracked down just about everyone who printed or wrote for a horror fanzine that was read by more than 50 people over about the past forty years. The list is immense, packed with names and titles that I’d heard of and just as many that I’ve never even heard mentioned, and I like to think I’m somewhat immersed in this sort of thing. He talks nuts and bolts with all of the editors, which is fascinating in itself – how they laid out their zine, how they got it printed, how it was distributed. As someone who has labored over my own pages, hearing the old school tales of guys typing around images, typesetting by hand and stapling zines together in their bedrooms are always enjoyable. Every interview somehow connects with the next few via various degrees of separation – this guy wrote for that guy who traded with this guy who found about his zine via this other zine. The type of bloodline we’re all familiar with – you put on a show for a band, who give you a demo tape from their friend’s band who is on a label that this other guy runs where you find about another record he put out that this other guy you know did the artwork for, etc…it’s hard to not relate these stories to music fandom. It’s also fascinating to see where the horror crowd overlapped with punk rock. A lot of these zines would cover music as well as films, like Nick Cato’s Hardgore and Stink which covered the NYHC scene and sleaze/horror at the same time. Or guys like Nick Burrell, who started with the legendary punk zine Into the Void before moving on to horror. Or tidbits like the fact that Bill Landis was Patti Pallidin’s cousin. Musicians themselves were in on the act: Cecil Doyle of KBD legends Toxin III also did an amazing photocopied zine called Subhuman which counted none other than Rob Zombie as a subscriber. Stefan Jaworzyn is a name you should recognize from playing in Skullflower and Whitehouse and from starting the Shock Records label, but he was also the editor of one of the best European horror mags in Shock Xpress. And it wouldn’t be a book touching on the NYC underground without a Johan Kugelburg reference – yes, the Kuge himself gets some credit here for getting Mike McPadden distribution for his Happyland zine through Matador back in the Nineties. It all connects, man.
There are recurring threads/questions that run through the interviews, aside from the standard “How did you get into horror…” track of questioning. Szupnar and his subjects have an appreciation for the history of the horror zine and make sure to acknowledge it. Just about every conversation touches on the influence of the giants of horror zinedom: Forrest Ackerman and Famous Monsters (the godfather of horror fandom, who essentially sets the story of this book in motion), Chas Balun and Deep Red (who changed the game in the Eighties with his personal writing style and attitude), Bill Landis and Sleazoid Express (one of the greatest zines of any genre, a printed documentary of the glory days of Times Square/42nd Street and a zine not just about sleaze films but about sleaze as a lifestyle) and Rick Sullivan’s Gore Gazzette (the “other” NYC grindhouse zine, which seemingly made it a point to talk shit about everything and everyone, other zines/writers included). These four monsters of horror were an immense influence on their peers both as writers and as enablers for others to get printed. Their work was as much about their own voices as it was propagating and growing the zine community and voices of others as well. Sadly, Ackerman, Balun and Landis have all passed on, and Rick Sullivan basically dropped off the face of the earth after ending Gore Gazzette’s run, but their unique visions are what kept the horror fanzine afloat and their impact is still felt today.
With over 40 interviews, you’d think things would get redundant, but these individuals have distinct enough voices to give different spins to the same topics. The concerns of zine writers in the UK during the Video Nasties era were far different than their US compatriots for example. Writers from different eras dealt with available technologies in different ways and the VHS boom of course changed everything. The most impressive segments are an interview with Balun before his untimely death, artist/writer Steve Bissette spilling his guts on his decades of work, getting to hear the story of Tom Skulan of Fantaco, the Albany comic shop that printed and distributed many of these zines and organized one of the first horror conventions (and whose ads in Fangoria allowed me to mailorder hard-to-find stuff like Deep Red, Slimetime and more), talks with Jim Morton who authored the Incredibly Strange Films Re/Search book, Uncle Bob Martin (the man whose efforts made Fangoria’s glory days worth reading), the heavily opinionated Stefan Jaworzyn of the essential Shock Xpress, Jimmy McDonough (author of the Andy Milligan book The Ghastly One which is one of the best bios ever – and he’s also the author of Shakey and the best Russ Meyer bio), and Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog, perhaps the longest running and most academic of all the zines here. Some of the more fascinating segments also come from obscurities like Michael Helms (of Australia’s Fatal Visions) or Tim Mayer’s Fear of Darkness – super small print zines, often done by teenagers or isolated fans in an attempt to connect with the rest of the world.
The only drawbacks: no Rick Sullivan or Michael Weldon (Psychotronic) interviews, which Szpunar admits, as both refused to be interviewed. And the Landis chapter is an interview with that is reprinted from Creeping Flesh (also a Headpress title at least), but still bears inclusion here for anyone who hasn’t read it before. Any shortcomings are quickly forgotten within the massive international scope covered, anecdotes about everyone from Quentin Tarantino to Gene Simmons and a great layout that pays tribute to the photocopied layouts of the zines discussed. There are plenty of great pictures and the reproductions of the amateur zine covers are amazing. There’s also a bonus section that prints lost interviews with three of my favorite underground directors: Jim van Bebber (Deadbeat at Dawn), Roy Frumkes (Street Trash) and Buddy Giovinazzo (Combat Shock), which would be worth the price of admission alone.
The state of modern horror fandom is brought up often, particularly the change from print to online publishing. Many of these authors now have their own blogs, but many simply stopped writing when print ceased to be an option. I can appreciate both perspectives. The online vs. print debate is something I’ve considered quite a bit, and like many, I think there is room for both. The real question becomes the quality of the writing/content and passion of the people behind them. A shit print zine is just as useless as a shit blog and vice versa. The horror magazine itself seems to be in good shape for now, and even if much of it is still crap, you can find a lot out there – Shock Cinema, Screem and Video Watchdog can still be found on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and are all still worthwhile. Fangoria has been garbage for ten years or more now (the Entertainment Weekly of horror), and their attempt to re-launch Gorzeone as subscription-only seems good natured but ill advised – hopefully their constant Chas Balun namedropping will actually make for some writing befitting his legend. Famous Monsters has been re-booted once again, in a slick-as-shit and expensive style regrettably. Rue Morgue seems to be written by the “cool nerd” crowd that thinks post-Danzig Misfits are cool, yet still has some good columns even if you know these guys wear costumes on days that aren’t Halloween. Only Horrorhound offers a mainstream zine you can count on for some actual fanzine-style passion, and although it also suffers from some amateurish pitfalls, it’s that semi-pro attitude that lends it some real charm. There are smaller zines still out there like Lunchmeat and Weng’s Chop that offer up treats for serious fans as well. As always, the deeper you dig, the better your returns will be. It raises the possibility that now, with the over saturation of information on the internet making everything turn to white noise, is getting smaller the way to go again?
Xerox Ferox is obviously essential for the true horror fanatic who probably owns actual copies of some of the zines involved here, but I think even those not that familiar with much of the subject matter will be able to appreciate the story it tells. Those interested in zines and self-publishing in general will enjoy the journey. Even casual horror fans will appreciate the recollections of years spent growing up watching midnight movies, reading old horror comics and renting VHS tapes. Fandom is all around us these days and much like the mainstream has watered down and corrupted much of what the horror community was built upon, we can see parallels in music fandom as well. This story could have easily been told with a collection of music zine writers: Greg Shaw isn’t far off from Uncle Forry, Balun could be a Lester Bangs substitute, with folks like Byron Coley or Gerard Cosloy acting as the Landis & Sullivan. Shit, that would make a pretty good book. But I think the real message of Xerox Ferox, and something that we should all think about, is that fandom is what you choose to make of it. You get as much passion out of it as you put into it. All of the people Szpunar spoke with here made a difference, made fandom a better place or at the very least kept the blood flowing and the community alive for the next generation. It’s something to both admire and aspire to in our own lives.(RK)
(You can order directly from Headpress, who offer both a hardbound special edition and the regular softcover,alongside dozens of other recommended books and journals. You can also follow John Szpunar via the Xerox Ferox page here.)
IF YOU LIKE THE RAMONES…(Peter Aaron – Backbeat Books)
For those unaware, aside from fronting one of the finer of the Nineties NYC outfits in the Chrome Cranks, Peter Aaron is also an award winning journalist, writing for numerous Upstate NY newspapers and magazines alongside work for the Boston Herald, Village Voice, allmusic.com and more. He also did a zine called Suburban Muckraker back in his Ohio days. The guy’s credentials speak for themselves, have no doubt. I was unaware that there is a series under this premise, that “If You Like…” say Metallica, Bob Marley or even The Sopranos(?!), one of these books will show you “over 200 bands, CDs, films and other oddities that you will love” as well. In The Ramones case this will of course guide you to girl groups, bubblegum, garage rock, cartoons, heavy metal, comic books, the rest of the punk rock canon and various B-Movies and TV shows. I respect the work Mr. Aaron has done here, but let’s just admit that this book is of little use to anyone except maybe a eighth grader who just got his first Green Day record. This is introductory level pop culture for anyone with even a fleeting interest in anything remotely “rock’n’roll”. Said eighth grader might need a little help finding out about The Pagans or Death Race 2000 and could use the overview of US and UK punk and hardcore. He should probably already know about South Park and The Beatles, I imagine. Perhaps the listing of Fifities/Sixties television shows and films is something that I grew up with that the kids of today are missing out on. I can understand that inclusion. There is some pretty obscure stuff here for the uninitiated and plenty of obvious entries as well. When I was a kid I remember getting Gene Sculatti’s Catalog of Cool and tracked down stuff like Lord Buckley, Esquerita and Terry Southern after reading it. While If You Like The Ramones is a far more mainstream effort than Sculatti’s somewhat subversive book, I hope it will be of some use to youngsters out there trying to find their way. If you’re reading this website, I can guarantee you already know everything this book has to offer. But, your 12 year old nephew might need some help…
Update = four interviews from four different contributors. Round One: Chuck Barrels vs. Buck Biloxi in a hard-hitting no holds barred slugfest. Round Two: our old pal Dinosaur Mahaffey is outfoxed by the far younger and far better looking Haley Fohr aka Circuit Des Yeux. Round Three: guest contributor Cooper Bowman tangles with Jason “Nerve City” Boyer (and I’d like to add that new LP on Sweet Rot is a keeper.) Round Four: closing out the card, our own Erick Elrick goes Australian Rules against Cuntz. Follow the links above and below or on the pages. We’ll be back soon with reviews. Stay warm.
A good chunk of reviews here with more to come soon as we attempt to keep up with the incoming pace. We have a bunch more ready to go soon, but I had to cut the cord on this batch as it was getting late. As usual. More blogging and interviewing soon. Labels and bands, thanks for being patient and drop us a line if you want to chat. More soon.
There’s no question that Dry-Rot were one of the better (if not the best) hardcore bands of the past few years, on both a musical and even a purely aesthetical level. As smart as they were punishing. Bands that good don’t tend to last long but by the end of their tumultuous existence the had at least managed to give us more than a few EPs, a phenomenal LP and a “controversial” MRR interview to remember them by. Post-DR bands started to spring up soon after, still on their own Cold Vomit label, including the excellent Heavy Air flexi (and tape) and some demos by a band called Uranium Orchard. Last year UO released their first LP, which became one of my most listened-to records of the past year. Expanding their hardcore agressiveness to a much wider sonic template made for intriguing listening, but the real hook were the ideas. These were songs that actually had something to say, songs with ideas, songs with intelligence behind them that beckoned you to figure out their intentions or motifs. I suppose this is the point where religion comes into the conversation, but much like Dry-Rot was never a band who preached overtly through their music, the same goes for Uranium Orchard. Talking about religion or God is no different to talking about love, sex, or death in rock’n’roll as far as I’m concerned. I’m much more interested in this band’s reasons and process for creating such incredible music than I am worried about their stance on abortion. But anyway, I’m veering off topic…the LP became an obsession for me and I wanted to try an decipher some of it’s codes so I e-mailed Jordan of the band to ask him a bunch of questions, as I’ve done to him repeatedly since the Dry-Rot days. I figured that since I was asking we might as well turn it into an interview for Termbo, which was something I had been meaning to do with him since Dry-Rot was still functioning anyway. In the meantime, the band had also released the “Unchurched Shithead” EP early this year, songs I had the privelege of hearing in demo form and were thrilled to see on vinyl so quickly. It packed the same wide scope into a smaller frame, six songs of powerful music and engaging themes that is one of my favorite records of 2013. I’ll warn you in advance, if you haven’t given this band a chance you are missing out, and you should probably dip into the waters a bit or at least listen along while you read this interview. There aren’t many bands making music this interesting right now, and I urge you not to miss out. Click below to enter. (Ed: I know we promised some reviews first, but upon editing I realized half of them were bullshit, so we’re still working on it. they’ll be up soon.)