Subhumans interview by Adam Perry

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I got into punk at a very early age, and remember a group of boys hovering over a cassette copy of the Misfits’ Walk Among Us as the spark. But getting deeply into the Subhumans (U.K.) albums EP/LP and The Day the Country Died in junior high was my first education vis-à-vis music that meant something more than love, hate, rage, or horror.

With songs like “Waste of Breath,” Subhumans singer-songwriter Dick Lucas (who also fronts Citizen Fish and Culture Shock) artfully and existentially entered the minds of young punks quixotically trying fit into in a culture of non-conformity, and described the twin terrors of Cold War hysteria and cold-blooded capitalism on “Parasites,” “Human Error,” and many more hardcore classics. My introduction to Lucas’s lyrics—and the band’s rebellious, unrelenting energy in general—was my introduction to questioning everything and everyone.

The Subhumans, which formed in Wiltshire, England, in 1980, broke up in 1985 after four full-length albums and reformed in 1998. When the band’s reunion tour that year hit Pittsburgh, I was a freshman in college, playing in numerous local punk bands, and attending the Subhumans gig at Club Laga—with Submachine serving as the opening act and seemingly the entirety of the Pittsburgh punk scene in attendance—was one of the great concert experiences of my life.

Now fifty-eight, Lucas’s passion for political punk and very loud, very energetic performance has not slowed whatsoever. Despite the very peaceful messages in Lucas’s lyrics, the Subhumans gigs I saw at Slim’s in San Francisco in 2005 and 2007 are still the only shows I’ve seen that had multiple ambulances parked outside waiting for mosh pit victims. The visceral, forthright group seemingly never stops touring, though its last studio album was 2007’s Internal Riot.

During an unforgettable trip through parts of England and Scotland this May, I not only got to see a Subhumans show at a small club in Glasgow called Audio, but also interview Lucas where a teenage Subhumans fan would’ve no doubt imagine British punk bands do interviews—in the wind under a bridge as trucks and buses rolled past.


Adam Perry:
When you started the band, what were you—nineteen?

Dick Lucas: I was about nineteen, yeah. Trotsky (drums), he was, like, fifteen when he joined.

Adam: What’s it like to play with the same drummer for so many years?

Dick: Great! I mean, we’ve had the same lineup since 1983, when we changed bassists, from Grant to Phil. We’ve grown up with each other. There’s differences in character that can wind you up, or make you happy, or both. You just get on with it. We basically tend not to argue about much… details about mixing songs or something really slight, but there’s never any fights or anything like that. Some bands say they have fights. It’s like, “How on earth do you ever survive as a band if you’re fighting?”

Adam: When you started the band did you think you’d still be doing this almost forty years later?


Dick:
Well, I sort of hoped so, but you never really sit down and think, “What am I gonna be doing in the future?” Is it worth worrying about? It’s not really worth worrying about. If you’ve got this week or next month planned on, then you just keep going on a near-future basis. Things, as it turned out, tended to work out. I mean, if people stopped liking us we’d be all screwed up. People still turn up at shows. People still like it. We still like doing it. And that’s the two vital things to keep going, really.

Adam: Were there bands in the ’80s that you thought would never last and are still around, and bands you thought would keep going for a long time that burned out too fast?

Dick: Again, I hate to disappoint, but I never really got into that perspective of “How is this all gonna pan out?” It was just, like, what was going on at the time, and when bands split up it was a disappointment. Most of those bands reformed eventually. A lot of them are still going. Flux Of Pink Indians is a big gap in bands that’s still going. They tried. They reformed for a couple of gigs a few years back but weren’t tempted to do it for any longer—just a one-off thing. Operation Ivy would’ve been good to keep going.  The Skids played at the Rebellion Festival a couple of years ago. Really almost everybody is back unless they’re dead, you know? [Laughs]

Adam: If there’s enough money it seems almost anyone will get back together.

Dick: Well, some bands unfortunately do reform for the money because it’s hung under their nose, I guess. Perhaps the Rebellion Festival, in particular, because they seem to do that and it’s not like they’re on tour for the rest of the year or anything. But most bands that play the Rebellion Festival are together for the rest of the year. It might be something like that which pulls them back together, because they enjoy it and then they just carry on doing gigs, keep it going and maybe do another record.

Adam: Now are you still writing a lot of Subhumans material?

Dick: Not at a lot, but we have recently been in the process of mixing the last few songs of a new LP, or the engineer is, because we totally trust him. But yeah, we recorded it all last month, and this month has been mixing it, as the time allows, between gigs. We hope to get it out in October on Pirates Press, at which point we’ll be doing a tour on the West Coast, preceding that with a split single with the Restarts, is the plan—also on Pirates Press—to come out for a September tour on the East Coast. It’s a long break since the last Subhumans record—Internal Riot was 2007 and our last record was twelve years before that—but the fact is our drummer lives in Germany and we don’t get to practice; we don’t get to form new songs except very slowly. Sometimes we go over there for a week between shows and spend three or four days at his place getting what we can get Together. Over the years we’ve built up to ten songs. But yeah, really slow process.

Adam: What’s it like to write Subhumans songs in the age of Trump?

Dick: Oh, there’s plenty of the same old shit to write about, if not more of it. The whole world is getting split down the middle. The right-wingers and all the racists and xenophobes have almost been given a free license by Trump and Nigel Farage and the Tory party to assume it’s all okay to be fucking racist because our leaders are. They’re setting the tone and it’s a really bad, divisive tone. Things are gonna get a lot fucking worse, the way things are going. There’s a lot of what they call “nationalistic” parties, which is basically racist, fascist, discriminatory parties coming out throughout Europe in Hungary and Holland and Italy and various places.

It’s a horrible rising tide of sludge coming up from the really nasty side of humanity and getting into positions of power because politics these days is now entirely run on emotional reaction and not facts or logic about economy or housing or how people are living. It’s entirely about personality, and personalities like Trump or Teresa May, they just poke at people’s underside and get ’em riled up about imaginary enemies. It just brings out the worst in people. It’s just a basic split in society between people who do care and people who don’t. Those who care about other people, like nurses and teachers, get paid the worst wages of the whole lot. But they don’t complain about it enough to make a difference, because their primary motivation is caring, and their secondary motivation is having enough money to live on, to get to work, and stuff like that. Whereas, people who are running the place, their prime motivation is profit and money at people’s expense, and they just don’t care about those people, and they have the two sides of humanity loosely split down the middle.


That’s the situation we’re in—those who care get shat on, and those who do the shitting on don’t give a fuck. It’s almost like the people who care should start giving a fuck about their situation more… but then you reach the point… do you want them to get more violent about it? Because, some people think the only way to beat the fascists is fucking get as violent as the fascists and get as nasty as them, but then they’ve won the fucking argument, where violence becomes the only method of getting any consensus. And that’s fucking so wrong it’s unbelievable.

On the other side of the same coin, it does seem that talking to the fascists and trying to persuade them out of their mindset is a really tricky place to go, because the nuance of arguments and words is not their forte. They just want what’s around them to be mirror images of themselves; they don’t want anyone around them to be different from them—different skin color, different religion, whatever. Find an enemy based on visuals and then use the dumbed-down language that they do to persuade people who liked being persuaded into that gang mentality that theirs is the right politics to support at the polls. It’s a fucked-up situation, and you could say it’s human nature, but the whole point of human nature is it should be evolving along with its achievements. If we can invent computers and iPhones, we can feed the fucking world and live in fucking peace.

Adam: What’s it like to see a song like “Parasites” maybe mean different things in different decades since you started the band?


Dick:
Well, the political perspective when you’re nineteen is really quite immature. The government were bastards, and the next government were bastards; all politicians are shit. There’s no sort of debate amongst those ideas— politics is boring and dull, and they’re responsible for us having no money. It’s an easy stance. Later on you start to think more about the nature of different parties representing different sorts of politics. You still know that the whole thing is largely a game where there’s people who control things and the rest of us. But when you get into Trump and Teresa May being in charge you have to start thinking beyond “All politics are shit. I’m an anarchist. Anarchy now. Fuck politics. Don’t vote” to thinking, “Well, maybe if I do vote against what’s going on now, it’s the lesser of two evils.” That mindset starts to set in out of desperation.

Adam: Do you feel like more people vote in the U.K. than in America?

Dick: It’s hard to get more than fifty percent of the people out to vote for anything. And the other fifty percent aren’t all raging anarchists who refuse to vote out of principle. They’re people who just don’t know and don’t care about politics at all. They don’t see it as a part of their life. Their lives are sport, television, entertainment, their kids, family, local stuff—and they don’t want to or like to look into the larger things of they way society is run. So we like to put a bit of politics into the songs, because if you’ve got a space to sing in you might as well fill it with something thoughtful.

Adam: I can honestly say that as a teenager in Pittsburgh, growing up with parents who hadn’t been to college or lived anywhere else or really questioned much of anything, your songs had a huge effect on how my friends and I started to care about larger issues, and maybe even saw right from wrong. Do you think about your impact and your legacy in that way ever?

Dick: It’s continually surprising. It’s good, obviously. It’s not really the intended effect. The intended effect is really just to spill everything out of your soul onto a record or into words, into a song, because it’s fun to sing, and it’s nice to sing your heart out and write about stuff that you think matters. If as a consequence of people getting hyped up by it and involved in the thought process behind it, then fantastic, and I totally appreciate that happening. Sometimes people give more credit than I’m worth, because I basically think the nature of influence with songs and lyrics on people’s headspace is just to wake up what they were already thinking, and put some words to they way they’ve been thinking.


People give credit to the writer of the words, but the credit should be shared with those people who just realize they’ve got a sense of affinity with what they’ve just heard or read. That sense of affinity comes from what was already inside themselves, so I think people should give themselves more credit and their so-called heroes a bit less. Punk rock never was supposed to be about heroes and hierarchy, ideally at least. That’s the way it came about, because the nature of music before punk rock was very hierarchical; you didn’t know how to get into the music scene. There were rock gods and sort of things like this; it was all so pretentious, and punk rock took the legs out from that completely and woke up a lot of people, myself included, as teenagers to go and do something. So if we’ve done the same thing to current-day teenagers or whatever, or those who came after us in terms of years, then ace—all well and good. But yeah, the strength to carry on the mindset is within the people who are hearing it.

Adam: Have you ever had a time where you just wanted to write a song about your girlfriend?

Dick: [Laughs] Well, I’ve written poetry towards my girlfriend and given it to her, but it’s not going out on record. I mean, that’s for her. There’s enough love songs in the world already—way too many, in my opinion. Definitely enough. That’s up to every singer and what they want to write about, and it might top the charts. But to me, that’s your deal, mate, and the way they express it is “Oh, poor me. My girlfriend’s run away.” It’s like, well…whose fault is that? Keep it to yourself. Go work it out. Phone her up. Don’t tell me about it. [Laughs]

Adam: One last thing that I’ve wanted to ask you since I was fourteen years old. What’s your reason for existence…?

Dick: …and do I believe in anything? [Laughs] That was me just questioning myself. A lot of songs are just self-questioning put on paper. Um, what’s my reason for existence? Good question. Just to keep questioning things, oddly enough—to keep wondering, to keep being surprised by things, both negative and positive. I like being surprised by positive things, like nature. My reason for existence is to make the most of what time there is and not settle back into anything I’m not happy with.

Deb Frazin Photo Column—The Stranglers

(click for full size)

In May, The Stranglers played a sold-out show at The Regent Theater. The show was so good that people were buzzing about it for a week afterward. Thanks to the opening band Rappresaglia, I was able to secure a photo pass and get into the pit to shoot some snaps and video.

The Stranglers set list was just about perfect. I would’ve liked to have heard “Who Wants the World” and “Sometimes,” but unfortunately, they were a no-go. Instead, we were treated to “Golden Brown,” “No More Heroes,” “Get a Grip on Yourself,” “5 Minutes,” “Always the Sun,” “Walk On By,” “Peaches,” “Duchess,” “Tank,” “Bring on the Nubiles,” “Hanging Around,” and many other favorites. You just can’t complain about a set list like that!

The sound was surperb. Baz’s vovals were on point, I felt JJ Burnel’s driving bass rumbling hard through my chest, and Dave Greenfield’s trademark keyboard sound was cranked up nice and loud (as it should be). The crowd was very enthusiastic throughout the set, and I caught a drumstick after the last song. That show was just what the doctor ordered.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the soothing sounds of “Hanging Around”!

Deb Frazin Instagram

Louis Jacinto Photo Column—The Screamers

(click for full size)

Tomata du Plenty, Paul Roessler, K K Barrett, Tommy Gear.  The Screamers.  A Band. When a band has a powerful lead, the other members can sometimes be pushed to the side—not in a dismissive way but because the lead is so dynamic.  But like all bands, it’s the entire entity that gives that lead singer their sound to build their style upon. Yes, Tomata du Plenty’s performance was like no other punk from the Los Angeles scene of the 1970s. But it was the tightness and sound explosion given him by the other three band members which made The Screamers unlike any other band. Their mystery and power continues to inspire to this day!

www.onodream.com

Razorcake Podcast #649 with Mike Fournier

See this tree? It’s gone now. The root system was so close to the surface that we worried it’d fall either on our house of the neighbor’s. Rather than waiting for it, we were preventative.

Same thing with all this music. Rather than waiting for announcements, emails, I’m always snooping band pages looking for trouble. Seeking it out. Trying to be active, shake of the winter doldrums.

All right!
Xo
Mike F.
4/18/2018

Tracklisting:
Martha, “The Void” (Love Keeps Kicking LP)
Corrode, “The Burial” (Live At Dead Air 2019)
La Tuya, “Nothing Times Two”
Institute, “Dazzle Point” (Readjusting The Locks)
Rong, “Moving On” (digital single)
– – –
Tuffy, “Everybody’s Best Ex-Girlfriend”
Angry Cougars, “Stay In Your Lane! (self-titled single)
Priests, “Control Freak” (The Seduction of Kansas)
FCC, “BFH (Big Fat Heart)” (Seeya, dudes)
AwkWard, “Anti-” (In Progress)
– – –
Uranium Club, “Grease Monkey” (The Cosmo Cleaners)
Wire Lines, “Volume” (2019 demo)
Glazer, “Crystal Probe” (split w/ Spowder)
TK Echo, “Era” (digital single)
– – –
Pile, “The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller” (Green and Gray)

Featured Zine Reviews Razorcake 110—Koreangry, 13 Poems, Behind the Zines, Gooberbutt?!, Minor Leagues

Illustration by Becky R Minjarez

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KOREANGRY: AN ANGRY KOREAN WOMAN
, $10, 5½” x 8½”, Laserjet, 32 pgs.
The anger many of us people of color feel can either be hard to express, or a little too easy in the “shout at everyone at this bar and get kicked out of happy hour” kind of way. It can be a thin line, as many of those who do not understand this anger just see it as aggressiveness and/or whining. A way I never thought I’d see as a way of expressing these feelings is using clay figures. Using a clay figure as your personal icon is brilliant, and the emotion and power really shines through the figures. The passage and ravaging of emotions sometimes come out as physical ailments in Eunsoo’s avatar, and the representations of stress and vice comes in physical forms. It works so well in this form, and makes it a bit more accessible to some when words don’t work for them. Seeing all the perfect miniature recreations of household items and food is fascinating as well. Plus, it came with stickers of Eunsoo courting some fried chicken. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Eunsoo Jeong, instagram.com/koreangry)
koreangry_q_2

koreangry_q_3
13 POEMS, $5, 5 ½” x 8½”, copied
Taking a nod from Fugazi’s 13 Songs, 13 Poems is a subdued red statement on Rhine’s subversive and sweet America that weaves its way through regret-tinged Applebee’s karaoke bars and punk basements, Indiana Jones fantasy-scapes, rhythmic invocations, and meditations on skateboarding. I actually love this zine; it’s one of my favorite poetry zines I’ve read in a while, maybe because I’m a weird sad nerd drummer poet too. Maybe because it’s speaking directly about Rhine’s experiences as a New Jersey punk, and the sadness and out of step-ness and hope and dirty carpet and critical nostalgia that binds that experience together. It’s hard to not feel connected when someone is sharing so much in ways that feel familiar and honest. Fast read. Bound beautifully. 10/10 for me. –Candace Hansen (JR Rhine, jrrhinepoetry.bigcartel.com)

BEHIND THE ZINES #7, $3, 5½”x 8½”, copied, 38 pgs.
The always-engaging Billy who writes Proof I Exist, and Last Night at the Casino, and other titles has put together this zine about zines. The first piece is by Billy. It’s about zines and anti-capitalism and how he refuses to let go of the old school punk ethic of making zines and being a bit alienated from new school zinesters who now boast of how much they can sell a zine for rather than how many copies they were able to scam. He also shouts out Razorcake in that piece. Thanks, Billy. We do our part! There are articles about creating a graph to keep track of where your zines go, a story from a reluctant zinester who overcame their perfectionist tendencies to embrace zine culture, reviews of zine events, a zinester interview, and some reviews. As I write this, I’m sitting on the Amtrak, drinking alone, sad for a time when people would hang out in the lounge car drinking together instead of staying in their seats looking at their phones. I recall a time when I handed zines out to people I met. A few of them wrote me emails telling me how important my words were and I’ll never forget that. Don’t let human connection die. Quit looking at your damned phone and call somebody on it. Talk to strangers. Read zines. Sit down and order a fucking zine.  –Craven Rock (Billy, PO Box 22551, Baltimore, MD 21203, Iknowbilly@gmail.com)

BLEACHED POLAROID PROJECT, $?, 5¼” x 4”, Laserjet, 20 pgs.
This collection of bleached Polaroids is quite beautiful. Whether or not there is a story to these is up to debate. Since these are all assumed to be images from the lives of the photographers, it gives itself some meaning as snapshots from small moments they’ve lived. Bleaching the Polaroids creates this color distortion that’s interesting. The color saturation is boosted to a maximum, and most of the time creates a pastel look to them. Damn, the colors really bring my eye holes a great joy. It makes me wish I could frame these and put them on my walls, so I can look at them and vomit rainbows out of my eyes. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Desilu Muñoz and Stephanie Segura, lachambapress.tumblr.com)

CREATING SAFER SPACES FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 8 pgs.
A great beginner’s guide for those who wish to be respectful to those with disabilities, because, honestly, you were probably an asshole about it. This zine by Rep Tilian is great, as it’s very blunt, which is a tone that’s needed since lots of people are so condescending in how they act with disabled folx and don’t realize it. It’s like a wake-up call, and slam!—something to open up your eyes. Pick this up if you want to know if maybe you are being a douche without knowing it, and you can try to be a better person. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Rep Tilian, no address listed.)

DEEP FRIED, $1, 8½” x 11”, copied, 28 pgs.
When I imagine the pure, Platonic ideal of a digest-sized fanzine whose raison d’etre revolves around the mirth and woe of fast food, what I imagine is something fairly crappy looking, with hand-scrawled headlines, large, uninterrupted blocks of small text, and an occasional accompanying image of a BK Broiler® cut out of an advertising mailer. Startlingly, Deep Fried is actually pretty well-written, with reasonably slick graphics, proving once and for all that “value menu” and “quality” need not be mutually exclusive. Brief, fast-paced interviews (generally revolving around fast food, natch) include Mannequin Pussy and Joe Pickett of the Found Footage Film Festival; other tastefully McNugget®-sized articles include an explanation on how one used to be able to wax a ledge for skateboarding purposes with a Wendy’s soda cup, and the origin of Jell-O® Instant Pudding™. As the Descendents once said, “eating is believing.” –Rev. Nørb (2901 Yosemite Ave. S., St. Louis Park, MN 55416, videophobia222@hotmail.com)

DON’T BE A DRAG, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 16 pgs.
Hell yeah! You gotta love some dope-ass queer weirdo art. This collection of some work by Anthony Hurd is a good, compact collection of aggressive, trashy artwork which combines political and sexual themes into a great gravy mash. There is great detail in each drawing from scales to skin, and its crass look is very appealing. There’s even a very unnerving drawing of human teeth with its own pair of teeth. Anything that terrifies me or makes me uneasy is a winner. It’s in-your-face and awesome. –Iggy Nicklbottum (Anthony Hurd, instagram.com/anthony.hurd)

EARTH FIRST!: THE JOURNAL OF ECOLOGICAL RESISTANCE
Winter 2018, $6.50, offset, 8” x 10½”, 56 pgs.
If I’m being honest, I’ve always had a disconnect with environmental issues. This longstanding journal from one of the world’s most prominent radical environmental groups does a solid job of tying ecological matters to radical politics generally, piquing my interest. Questions addressed in this issue include how environmental issues affect refugees and how art is intrinsically related to environment. Nicely laid out, well-written, and thought-provoking, the Earth First! publication has the potential to exact change beyond simply preaching to the choir. –Art Ettinger (Daily Planet Publishing, PO Box 1112, Grants Pass, OR 97528)

FOREVER: A COLLECTION OF LOVE LETTERS, $?, 5½” x 8½”, silkscreened cover, 32 pgs.
Alright, okay, I’m a hopeless romantic. This zine pulls selections from the “Love Letters Anonymous” archive on Tumblr, which I’d seen before, but never in a physical form. Seeing these digitally is a wholly different, arguably commodified experience, where seeing them physically adds a weight I wasn’t prepared for in picking this up. Some of the letters are apologies or unrequited, some wax poetic, where others are completely straightforward. The oldest are between a husband and wife during World War II. All of them are striking; this zine is almost overwhelming in the sheer range of emotions. This might, too, be because all of us experience love, and it’s one of the strongest, stupidest things we feel. Either way, Forever has me dabbing away a tear, and I’m glad for it. –Jimmy Cooper (Natalie Woodlock, Sodapops Shop on Etsy)

GOOBERBUTT?! #2, $?, 5½” x 4”, printed, 10 pgs.
Inspired by a love of physical media (CDs, records, books, et cetera), this mini-zine is about cassette tapes; specifically four prominent ones that changed one person’s life. Everyone can relate to discovering your first favorite bands and the styles or genre of music that really spoke to you. The tapes that did that for the writer were from bands Faith No More, Burnt Toast, Vivian’s Lunch, and Rugby Mothers. Each has a little back story and memory as to how the tape opened up a world of music, made them want to start a band, and began the journey into digging for similar bands and music. Definitely relatable for any music fan, especially those of us who still collect physically instead of digitally. –Tricia Ramos (Gooberbutt?!, gooberbuttzine@gmail.com)

GOOBERBUTT?!, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 20 pgs.
Jason, the author of this zine, writes of his life in Flint, Mich., back in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Specifically, he tells of what it was like to be part of the punk scene with his band, South Bay Bessie. He also recounts tales of living in a punk house, the band’s initial gigs, and playing at a nudist resort. One of the main venues in Flint at that time was the Local 432, a club where my friends’ band played in the early ’00s. I liked the space and the audience had a good vibe, so I understood some of what he was talking about in Gooberbutt?! There was even a sweet ending to the zine about how he met his wife. The final page is a list of things Jason wished he learned while he lived in the punk house. There was some nice stuff, but then the last one was, “Jesus was way cool.” I read that and thought, “Wait, did I miss something? Because that’s a serious plot twist.” There was nothing about religion in this zine at all. So I did some digging and found that the author of the zine used to be a pastor. That put it into context, but why even mention that? Otherwise, this is a solid zine that was a good trip down memory lane for me. If you interacted with the Flint scene or are just interested in reminiscing about ’90s small town punk, then check this out. –Kurt Morris (gooberbuttzine@gmail.com)

HEADWINDS #3, £1, 5½” x 8½”, 24 pgs.
This is a great zine out of the U.K. that covers reviews of records, podcasts, live gigs, zines, and festivals, as well as featuring in-depth interviews. In this third issue there are interviews with the band Blankets from Münster, Germany, and Trophy Jump from Zagreb, Croatia, as well as one with the head of a zine and distro in Malaysia. The interviews cover the general sound and history of the bands, while also culturally coloring them in. I appreciate there are as many questions about their songs, feelings concerning football, and opinions on each country’s politics. This zine helps to paint a very full picture of people engaged in DIY in many parts of the world. The bulk of it contains well-written reviews, including one of our own Razorcake. Kinda funny when reviews get a little cyclical like that, right? The only thing I didn’t care for was the front and back cover design. Had I passed this zine in a cafe or bookshop, I’d likely overlooked it because it features a fox in a fez playing a clarinet. Far as I can tell, this is just one guy putting all this together, which is pretty impressive. Overall, I really enjoyed it and would be interested in seeing the first two issues as well. –Kayla Greet (headwindszine@gmail.com)

ICH WILL NIX ALTER WERDEN, $5, 5½” x 8½”, screen printed cover, 28 pgs.
This is a fictional story based on events from real life, so I suppose a way to categorize that would be realistic fiction. Written by Arielle Bungdorf, the story is told through a series of letters that one character is writing to her lover. It follows two teenage girls in 1979 who are involved in a relationship, though the Berlin Wall separates them. Peppered throughout are factual, historical accounts of life in Germany during the Cold War, as well as black and white photos from the time period. Anni tells her lover Micki that she no longer likes The Beatles and that punk is the new god. She dyes her hair turquoise and makes mix tapes featuring the Ramones and German punk bands for her partner trapped on the other side of the wall. Eventually, Anni reveals that she never sends these letters, as they would be intercepted by the Stasi and might just put them both in danger. I won’t spoil the ending for you, though it is heartbreaking. A well-written and beautifully laid out zine that I definitely recommend checking out. –Kayla Greet (a.charamoy@gmail.com)

JOHN CAGE: BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS ABOUT THE AMERICAN COMPOSER, $1, 8½” x 11”, copied, 24 pgs.
Spiritually more akin to a pamphlet than a proper zine, this is, as advertised, 161 factoids represented as pertaining to avant-garde composer John Cage. Said factoids were typed up in 12-point Times New Roman and printed out, then apparently cut out and individually rubber-cemented on the page, without conceit of graphics, illustrations, or embellishments of any kind. These “facts,” if you will, range from the factual (“He pioneered a new conception of music based on the use of chance and other nonintentional methods.” “For work, he once washed walls at a Brooklyn YMCA.”) to the yeah-I’m-pretty-sure-that-wasn’t-him (“He has a cameo in every Marvel movie.” “His song ‘Born to Run’ is written as a love letter to a girl named Wendy.”) to what appear to be random lines taken from mysterious short stories (“He watched his wife chisel white chocolate into a bowl. It looked like glaciers.” “He made his way by slow movements, nudgings of growth, like his own plants and flowers.”) to straight-up tongue-in-cheek buffoonery (“He is a species of ground beetle in the subfamily Orthogoniinae.” “He is a species of flowering plant found only on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines”). As pointless as this all sounds, this unusual work holds up disturbingly well with repeated readings, and I am using it, I Ching style, as the basis of my spiritual hygiene from this point forward. –Rev. Nørb (raincloudzine@gmail.com)

MAXIMUMROCKNROLL #430, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 96 pgs.
Sigh. By the time you read this, Maximum has come to an end. You know how it works: columns, reviews, interviews. Really wild to recently come back to this one after years away and see a loosening of the arch-ideologies that scared me away for a while: new diversity of coverage. There was no way, during the Tim nineties, a more freeform/organic band like Come Holy Spirit would have gotten coverage. I’m sad to see it go. –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146)

MINOR LEAGUES #7, £6, 9” x 8”, printed, 114 pgs.
On the English side of the Welsh border sits a county called Shropshire. Minor Leagues is a personal work of a father’s cancer diagnosis, living in Shropshire, and the memories of living in a small village. It is beautifully written with anecdotes, drawings, and a little bit of history of the area thrown in. This thick zine is a touching, running memoir-of-sorts from one person working through their grief of their father’s death twenty years later. –Tricia Ramos (Minor leagues, smoo.bigcartel.com)

MINOR LEAGUES #7, $7?, 9” x 10”, copied, 114 pgs.
This is a continuation of the long form “Where?” which began in issue #6. In this installment, Simon continues to solidify the link between geography and family, linking his dad’s untimely demise to the Shropshire region of England. A mix of prose and drawn art throughout—it doesn’t feel quite right to say this is a comic; if anything, it’s a graphic novel. I feel redundant when I review Simon’s stuff here because it’s hard to come up with new ways to explain how consistently thoughtful and dazzling each new issue is. Seriously, if you’re not checking this one out yet, you need to be. –Michael T. Fournier (smoo.bigcartel.net)

PUNKS AROUND VOL. 3: THE STORY OF MINOT NORTH DAKOTA PUNK 1989-2000, $3, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, printed, 31 pgs.
Minot, N.D. is a small, remote Midwestern city most well known for its Air Force base. This is the first of a two-part history of the development of their punk scene. Fueled by isolation, a small group of creatives banded together to create a community focused on fostering happiness rather than fashion, lifestyle politics, and virtue signaling; all of which are far too prevalent in the scenes of any major city. “When you’re isolated, you turn inward—a perfect catalyst for the creative side of people.” Chronicling the struggles of maintaining a DIY venue space and combating alcoholism, this history details how the punks of Minot, N.D. built a largely straight edge, progressive community centered around acceptance and friendliness. –Lorien Lamarr (Microcosm Publishing, microcosm.pub)

SLINGSHOT #128, free, 11” x 14”, newsprint, 20 pgs.
There’s some comfort in checking out the new issue of this long-running anarchist paper at the same time that Maximum is going under—these cats have been at it for years, and are still going strong. Tons of well-written articles throughout: resisting climate change, Brazil’s recent swing to the right, white fragility, and— just in time for gardening season—composting and human poop. –Michael T. Fournier (PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703)

subTERRAIN #81, $7, 10” x 12”, printed, 80 pgs.
subTerrain is Canada’s premiere literary magazine, featuring the best in “outlaw literature.” This issue features Lush Triumphant Literary Award winners in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as work from a few contest winners from the Vancouver International Writers Festival. The featured pieces in this issue all evoke emotions of struggle and burnout, of bleak childhood memories, and dystopian landscapes. subTerrain is always a treat to read, even if it is a bit of an emotional drain after you’re all done. –Tricia Ramos (subTerrain, PO Box 3008 Main Post Office, Vancouver, BC, V6B 3X5, Canada)

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These reviews and many, many more are printed in a handy-dandy zine that you can subscribe to at a reasonable price, delivered to your door. Click the link below.

Student Teaching Journal + Illustrations from a body of work titled, I Like Making Art With You, by Elly Dallas / Available now in the webstore!

Student Teaching Journal + Illustrations from a body of work titled, I Like Making Art With You is a collection of thoughts and observations relating to the role of a student teacher in a Midwestern public school forced to spend hours upon hours with an undesirable mentor teacher while confronting the challenges of teaching in a low socio-economic status school.  Alongside journal entries are illustrated portraits of children and adults engaging in the art making process: necessary, rewarding reminders that outweigh the day-to-day frustrations.

20 pgs.

 

Webcomic Wednesdays #385 by Silas Haglund

Click for full size! And see more from Silas at www.silashaglund.com

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Do you or your friends make webcomics that would fit well here at Razorcake? Send an email (and comics or links to comics) to our editors: msiref@alum.calarts.edu or donna.ramone@gmail.com

Escape Room, a short story by John Miskelly

Illustration by Steve Thueson

Susie did a little shimmy to dodge a dog turd on the pavement.

“Whoops! They’re supposed to pick that up.”

“Sorry?” said Stewart.

“The dogs. They should pick up their mess. I mean the owners, the dogs couldn’t… opposable thumbs, et cetera. I guess maybe with their mouths? Ew. No.”

Sorry?” he repeated.

She flung a gesture back towards the dump.

“Ah,” he murmured, and raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement.

“It’s not a great part of town,” she said, slightly apologetically. “But it’s the only place where we could get a warehouse big enough.”

They both checked their soles for any shitty traces.

“You mentioned there’s a bus, though, yes?” said Stewart.

“There is. We’re actually in contact with the council about a possible express route from the train station to here.”

“The train station? So you’re expecting out of towners?”

“Well, if it takes off…” she crossed her fingers and made a show of putting on a hopeful face, like a child watching a penalty shootout. “We’re pretty sure no one else has had this idea in this county, maybe even the country.”

“Well,” he said, pushing his sunglasses up onto his gelled hair. “There might be a reason for that. But there are routes from the town centre, presumably. I mean, from your business plan, I imagine the market to be students, stag– and hen-dos, young people.”

“Yeah, there’s a couple of routes. One late night one.”

They walked on through the industrial estate in silence.

“They used to have illegal raves down here,” he said.

“You were a raver?” she asked, immediately regretting the undisguised surprise in her voice.

“It’s where I made my first few thousand,” he said. He took his sunglasses off his head and stuck them down the front of his pink shirt. “I wasn’t always a soulless city boy.”

She swallowed; “I never… I never would have—”

“Just joking,” he said, without any trace of humor.

“It’s this one,” she said.

The warehouse was nondescript, and no different in its apparent dilapidated shabbiness as any of the others on the estate.

Susie met Stewart’s eyes for the first time since she’d met him in the café a half hour before. “Just bear in mind it’s not totally finished. I mean hardly at all. There’ll be details.”

“I get it,” he said hurriedly.

She flung the door open and he stepped into a New York high rise open plan office.

“Fuck,” he said, and went to take off his sunglasses like people did in moments like that, then remembered he wasn’t wearing them. “It’s… it’s so real.”

“Well, almost,” she said. “We actually got the exact office plans of—I forget the exact floor, but the shape of the warehouse isn’t quite the same as the tower itself. It’s definitely a floor below the level of where the plane hit. Just to give the teams more of a chance I mean.”

He wandered over and looked out of the “window,” peering across the Manhattan skyline.

“So what’s the scenario then?” he said, regaining some of his dryness. “Other than the obvious I mean.”

“So, basically they need to get out—”

“‘Escape,’ one might say?”

“Yeah. Sorry. Obviously.” She took a breath and started again. “So there’s gonna be an actor playing a fire fighter. Henry actually reckons we can get a guy with a proper New York accent and everything. And he’ll be like a kind of guide. The phones are down, but there’ll be a mobile, an actual old Nokia from 2001, in one of the desk drawers.”

“Nice touch,” he said.

“There’ll be a message on there. Then we left a bag of bagels in the fridge with a key in it to the—” She threw up some air-quotation marks. “—‘back stairs.’ The main stairs are going to be blocked. Obviously, there’ll be other steps between. They’ll need to find the janitor’s jacket. Find a notebook with a computer password on it. It’s all in the file we sent.”

“Okay.”

“There’s also this,” she said, pulling out a remote control. Suddenly, the sounds of panic, alarms, flames, and destruction filled the room. He listened like an A&R man listening to some rough cuts.


“Very nice, proper surround sound,” he said. “What’s that one noise? It’s, like, quiet then loud, then quiet, like a passing motorbike or something?”

“That’s people. People falling,” she said.

“Jesus,” he said.

“Too much?”

“We’ll think about it,” he said.

“The next one’s through here,” she said.

She opened a door at the far end of “the office” and they walked into a prison cell.

“Welcome to H-Block.”

“Jesus!” he said again, as he put a hand up to his nose and retreated back into New York. He took a handkerchief out of his back pocket and put it across his face, then crossed the threshold back into Northern Ireland.

“It smells like fucking shit!” he exclaimed.

“That’s great!” she said.

He shot her an indignant look.

“It’s human shit,” she continued, “I mean, not actual human shit, but we got a chemistry student from the university to mix some stuff with some brown paint. Took ages to get the consistency right. We had a nice team bonding session smearing it on with our own hands. He said you can actually eat it if you want.”

“I’ll pass.”

One wall of the cell was covered almost completely in brown smears. He peered into it for a moment, deciphering some lettering. “’Bobby Sands forever’” he read out loud, “Teeac… tiacho… tiacfadee…?”

“Tiocfaidh ár lá,” she said, “It means, ‘Our day will come’ in Irish. I can’t say I haven’t learned a lot putting all this together.”

“Fuck. And they actually did this?”

“Yeah. Dirty protests. It evolved—if that’s the right word—from the blanket protest. In fact, what we’d really like to do is get customers to sign off on actually stripping off and just wearing blankets.”

“Will there be an actor in this one?”

“A sympathetic prison guard from East Belfast, but with a Catholic aunt in Kerry. Or something—he has a backstory to explain his motives. This one will be more interactive; they’ll have to persuade him to help. The actor we’ve got has a couple of arguments that when he hears, he’ll give them clues to finding items hidden in the cell. Eventually they’ll get hold of a set of car keys.” She grinned. “Hey, have a closer look at the shitty wall, under the ‘A’ in IRA.”

He advanced forward tentatively, keeping the handkerchief clasped against his face.


“It’s definitely not real shit?”

“No. I absolutely promise it’s not real shit.”

He squinted, reached out, and began to pick at a particularly thick globular of dissident, Fenian “faeces.” With a tinkling sound something dropped onto the stone floor. He bent down and picked up a key.

“It’s the key to this cell,” she said.

He didn’t exactly smile, but something in his eyes changed. “That’s actually almost brilliant,” he said, flatly.

She took the key from him and turned away to hide her own satisfied smile. She opened the cell and let him leave first. “End of the corridor on the right,” she said.

***

“Christ, it’s boiling in here,” he said.

“What do you expect,” she said. “It’s Cuba.”

“Don’t tell me—Guantanamo Bay.”

“Yeah.”

The space was long and thin. The floor was covered in sandy, rocky grit and chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire covered each wall. Two huge lights at either end lit the room in a dazzling glare. There was a crude metal contraption in one corner, something between a wheelbarrow and a gurney. On it was a hooded body in an orange jumpsuit.

“This mannequin looks a bit unrealis—”

Suddenly the mannequin sat bolt upright, and Stewart stumbled backwards in fright, his sunglasses flying from his head and landing with the faintest crunch on the bone-dry gravel floor.

“Fuck’s sake!” he said, trying to disguise fear with righteous annoyance.

The jumpsuited figure pulled off his hood to reveal a grinning fair-haired young man with a beard and electric blue eyes.

“Sorry about that, mate! I was honestly just taking a nap.”

“This is Henry,” she said. “He’s supposed to be at a meeting with the town council.”

“I just hung around to put up the last of the wire; must’ve dozed off.” Henry hopped off the metal stretcher thing and enthusiastically shook Stewart’s hands. “You must be the London investor. Whatdaya think so far?”

“It’s very…”

“Sorry!” Henry raised both hands in apology. “Sorry—shouldn’t put you on the spot like that. But just bear in mind that there are some minor details to iron out.”

“No, no it’s all very… convincing,” Stewart said.


Henry didn’t appear to have heard. “This one for instance, we’re still not sure about whether we should have it in one of the actual cells or this kind of outdoor prison yard thing we’ve got going on now. I mean, it’s fucking hard to convince people we’re outside when we’re actually totally obvs inside a bloody great warehouse. You know what I mean, dude? Suspension of disbelief, et cetera. Cynical adults and whatnot.”

“It’s not open for kids then?” said Stewart, dryly.

Henry looked baffled for a moment, then burst into a bellowing laugh.

“Good one! Could you imagine? But seriously—prison yard or prison cell?” He scratched his head and gave Stewart an inquiring look, as if hanging on Stewart’s opinion and his opinion only.

“Well,” said Stewart. “I mean, a cell could work.”

“But we’ve already got the H-Block cell.”

“Right.” Stewart felt on his head for his sunglasses again.

“They’re on the floor, mate,” said Henry, and bent down and picked up the sunglasses. He dusted them off and handed them to Stewart. “But anyway,” he continued. “I’d best be off. Should probably change first!” he said, looking down at his jumpsuit and giving a belly laugh. “And—I mean, I don’t want to, you know—but I personally reckon all this is a massive goer. It’ll twist the assholes of some people, but there’s always a market for something a bit edgier. I’ve worked in a couple of the normal places and they’re fucking boring, ’scuse my fucking French. We just need a bit more money.”

Henry and Stewart stared at each other for a second. “But anyway, yeah. Good to meet you,” said Henry, then gave Stewart a firm pat on his shoulder, leaving a dusty stain on his pink shirt. He strode out of the prison yard through a door Stewart hadn’t noticed.

“He’s a bit full on sometimes,” said Susie. “So anyway, in this one, all the clients will be in orange jumpsuits. We might keep the bags over some of their heads just to give some members a disadvantage—”

“The details are all on the file you sent me, right?” said Stewart.

“Yes. Yeah. It’s all there,” said Susie, taken aback by Stewart’s brusqueness.

“And what other ideas do you have?”

“Ideas?”

“Yeah. I mean you’ll need to rotate, right, once they’ve been solved, word gets around, I imagine.”

“Ah, yeah, of course. Well, we’ve got a whole file of them, actually. There’s Chernobyl. Vietnam. Maybe something with a claustrophobic element, like those tunnels they dug. A whole load of natural disasters, although they might be harder to pull off. The Holocaust—”

“Jesus jumping fuck,” whispered Stewart, kneading his forehead.

“Yeah, that one we’ve for sure ruled out. We’ve also considered a kind of historical fiction type thing: a soviet nuclear strike on Manchester or something. Like, did you ever see that movie Threads? Man, that really got to me. But yeah, we’ve got loads. They’re in the file, too, I think.”

Stewart sat down on the metal gurney. “Do you really need the full fifty thousand?”

Susie sighed. “Would you like a beer?” she offered.

***

Stewart spun the bottle in his hands, took a swig, and felt a bit of life and confidence returning to him. He observed the space around him. “This place is actually really nice,” he said.

“We’ve got a deal with a local microbrewery. And we want to have a kitchen, maybe even a pizza oven, so people can wind down and chat about their experiences. There’s a cloakroom, too. And toilets. I mean, obviously there’s toilets.”

“I was—”

“We’re thinking about merch, too!” She blurted out.

He fiddled with a beer mat advertising an artisan beer from Barcelona.

“I mean, we’ve made investments in things like this before. Serial killer tours of London. We’ve got a bunch of shares in a marijuana retailer in Vancouver. Loads of dirty board games.”

“This is a little like a board game,” said Susie. “I mean, if you really think about it.”

Stewart didn’t reply.

“We know it’s a little on the nose,” she continued.

“Just a little,” said Stewart with a smirk.

“But we’re not arms dealers. We’re not Saudi Arabia.”

“To be honest, public outrage doesn’t really work like that,” said Stewart, “Otherwise we’d be lynching global food market speculators from every lamppost.”

They both drank.

“Could you tone down the shit stink in the IRA one?” he said, finally.

“H-Block. Yeah we could do that.”

“Maybe the jumpers in 9/11?”

“Well… I suppose we could at least put it lower in the mix.”

“I mean, it’s fucking sick. It’s fucking deranged! I mean Guantanamo—those guys are still in there, right? I mean wasn’t Obama going to… What else is on the list? Fucking Princess Diana or some shit?”

Susie looked pensive for a second. “I’m not sure how we’d do that one.”

Stewart laughed despite himself. “And like I said, students and stag dos and young people—there’s a definite market. There’s money here, for sure.”

They sat in silence and finished their beers. “I need to catch my train back to London.”

“Of course, I’ll walk you back to the station,” said Susie.

“It’s fine. I remember the way.”

They emerged back into the English summer sunshine. Stewart put his sunglasses on and took a deep breath. “We’ll get back to you,” he said simply. Then he shook Susie’s hand and strode off.

Susie turned to re-enter the warehouse, then hesitated. “Look out for the dog mess!” she shouted after him.

///

John Miskelly is thirty-three and lives in Asturias, Spain.

Deb Frazin Photo Column—The Avengers

(click for full size)

On May 26, The Avengers were joined by The Alley Cats and The Dils at The Echoplex in L.A. for a very special show to celebrate the life of their longtime band member Jimmy Wilsey, and to raise money for Wilsey’s young son Waylon.

The celebration started off with the MC for the evening (Bruce Moreland) introducing friends of Jimmy’s, who came onstage and shared some touching personal stories about their friend. When everyone was finished speaking, The Alley Cats took the stage and played a powerful set. I noticed some new songs peppered throughout the set, and they sounded great. I dig The Alley Cats (they were the first punk band I ever saw in 1980), and I’m really looking forward to hearing the new album they’ve been working on.

Next up, The Dils hit the stage and just about blew the roof off of The Echoplex! I’d recently seen them at the Save Music in Chinatown benefit show, and they were fantastic, but the set they played this night was ABSOLUTELY BLISTERING! When you see The Dils, you get non-stop, high energy from Chip, Giuliano and Brian. I was standing on the stage and Giuliano was hitting his drums so hard my feet felt airborne with each slam. They played every song you’d want to hear (including “Sound of the Rain” and a rowdy cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died”).

Finally, The Avengers hit the stage. I’ve been a huge fan of The Avengers since the beginning (I’ve always believed that their “Pink Album” was the greatest punk album ever recorded). I hadn’t seen them play in a few years, so I was super excited for this show. Of course, they did not disappoint. The band was tight! Hector Penalosa on bass, Greg Ingraham on guitar, Daniel James O’Brien on drums, and of course, my favorite female punk icon Penelope Houston on vocals. Unfortunately, Penelope was suffering with a bad cold that evening, so her vocals weren’t at 100%, but she still did a great job belting out all our favorites like “Car Crash,” “Money,” “The American in Me,” et cetera. It was a top-notch show all the way through, and it will probably take the #1 spot on my “Favorite Shows of 2019” list. A great evening for a great cause.

Four days later, Bruce Moreland and I both caught Penelope’s cold! But how could I be upset about it? It was an honor to catch her cold!

Deb Frazin: Instagram

I filmed The Avengers playing “Money” for your viewing pleasure—enjoy!

Webcomic Sundays #384 by Marcos Siref

See more of Marcos’ art here, follow them on Instagram, and click for full size here!

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Do you or your friends make webcomics that would fit well here at Razorcake? Send an email (and comics or links to comics) to our editors: msiref@alum.calarts.edu or donna.ramone@gmail.com