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Razorcake 106, Punks and Mental Health

Razorcake 106

Razorcake 106, Punks and Mental Health: featuring Miguel Chen, Jonas Cannon, Jes Skolnik, Jamie Rotante, and Haleigh Buck

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Cover design by Haleigh Buck

Punks and Mental Health: Interviews by Kurt Morris

“…In late 2016 I threw myself into writing and speaking about my mental health. I began with comments on social media. It grew to me sharing my experiences at storytelling events such as The Moth and in articles for some websites such as The Mighty and Tonic. I’m not sure what caused me to want to share all this, but it’s been very rewarding and gives me purpose and meaning.

I knew there had to be a way to talk about mental wellness through Razorcake. The punk scene is not immune to mental illness. If anything, it seems to attract more people who deal with anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (to name a few).

One of punk’s many strengths is its ability to be straightforward with its thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Thus, it’s not difficult to find bands singing about mental illness. Since its first days in the 1970s, Joey Ramone sang about electroconvulsive therapy in “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment.” Keith Morris yelled about his brain needing some work on Black Flag’s “Fix Me.” But mental illness affects more people in punk than a person who writes lyrics for a band. Those who write comics or zines, put on shows, run record labels, and have their own punk podcast can all suffer from poor mental health. Schizophrenia or an eating disorder don’t care who you are.

Thus, when putting together ideas of whom to interview, I knew I wanted to get a wide range of ethnic, gender, sexual, and racial backgrounds. I also wanted people who are involved in the DIY scene in various ways. So, I interviewed people from all walks of the punk life: writer Jamie Rotante, musician and writer Jes Skolnik, zinester Jonas Cannon, musician Miguel Chen, and comic artist Haleigh Buck. Each of them brings their own stories with mental illness and all spoke with me about their history with their disease and how they’ve dealt with it.

Mental health is a complicated issue with many angles and opinions on it. Please don’t construe what is here as a suggestion on what you should do if you have a mental health issue. You are your own individual—what I and the various interviewees speak about are things that worked for us. Your experience doing the same things may vary.

At the end of the day, though, if there’s any message I want to get across, it’s that there is hope. As you’ll read in these interviews, not everyone has found the one answer about how best to deal with their depression, anxiety, or PTSD. But we’ve all found ways to continue living. I don’t think any of us would deny life is difficult—in fact it’s downright fucking horrible at times. And the bad times sometimes outweigh the good.

But there are people who care and people who love us, whether we believe it or not. There are people who would be sad if we weren’t around. But most importantly, our existence is good because we provide joy and happiness to others and to this world at large. I don’t want to extinguish that in myself, nor do I like to see it extinguished in anyone else.

I’m amazed the number of times I thought things were hopeless but after eating a meal or getting some sleep, I was able to turn things around. So if you’re reading this and feeling overwhelmed, I’d encourage you to go through the steps at this website: youfeellikeshit.com. And if nothing else, if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal and need someone to speak with, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.” —Kurt Morris

Haleigh Buck: Interview by Kurt Morris
“Haleigh Buck was born in New Jersey and has bounced around a lot (she lived out of her van for a while). She now proudly calls Baltimore home. Like many comic artists, she started drawing in elementary school. She did zines in middle and high school, and worked on comics in her early twenties, starting with an anthology of various short comics.

It wasn’t until 2011 she began to get serious about her work, creating entire comics with what she calls “legitimate plots.” Since then she’s created Cretin Comix, Herman the Hot Dog (“The dumbest thing I’ve ever done”), Cryptic Love, and an art zine called .003. She’s also been part of JT Yost’s anthology Bottoms Up, and Atomic Books’ Mutant Funnies. She regularly attends comic fests like Small Press Expo and has an adorable chocolate Lab named Frankenstein.

Haleigh and I spoke about the comic that brought her to my attention, I Feel Weird, in which she recounts experiences with her suicide attempts. We also spoke about finding reasons to live, therapists that lock you in their office in the dark (and ones who talk with you about tacos), the state of mental health care for lower-income Americans, and the stereotypes of women and mental illness.” –Kurt Morris

Miguel Chen
: Interview by Kurt Morris

“Miguel Chen is known by many as the bassist for the Wyoming punk band, Teenage Bottlerocket. What is less known about him is his dedication to yoga and meditation. Miguel is a yoga teacher who also owns two studios in Cheyenne and Laramie called Blossom Yoga.

Recently, he wrote a book with Rod Meade Sperry called I Wanna Be Well. Miguel writes how he dealt with his depression and anxiety through meditation and yoga. The book also gives insight into lessons the reader can try if they want to find peace, as Miguel did. It’s a nice mix of self-help and memoir that’s a quick, fun read, which also manages to give the reader a lot to contemplate.

As Miguel writes about in the book, his sister and mother died while he was in his teens, leaving him with even more to overcome. Miguel and I spoke about the importance of his mom in his life, his experience with medication and therapy, the role of Latino culture in mental illness, and how yoga and meditation became salvation from his mental health issues.” –Kurt Morris

Jonas Cannon:
Interview by Kurt Morris

“Jonas Cannon has been making zines on and off for twenty-five years. Born in Chicago and raised in and around the city, he initially got into zines through friends in high school, but then took a break. In 2010, he visited Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago and seeing all the zines re-ignited his interest in creating them. Since then, he’s published numerous zines including: Cheer the Eff Up, Fixer Eraser, Srviv (about everyone’s reasons for getting out of bed every morning, which he edited and contributed to), Pops (about radical parenting), and several one-shot zines.

Throughout his writing, Jonas’s zines take a perzine angle that not only explores his daily adventures but also considers issues such as masculinity, anxiety, and depression. This is often done with a mix of fiction, which isn’t surprising, given his love of the genre. In fact, in 2013 he published his debut novel, The Greatest Most Traveling Circus, with Sweet Candy Distro.

Jonas and I spoke about his experiences with bipolar disorder, how the zine community has supported him, the importance of zines in helping him with his mental health, and the added struggles the black community has in dealing with mental health.” –Kurt Morris

Jes Skolnik: Interview by Kurt Morris

“Jes Skolnik was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and is a byproduct of hippie parents. Yet, Jes became firmly planted in the punk scene by their early teens. Since then, Jes has been involved in the scene in various aspects, launching the first of many zines at thirteen. Jes had a column in Maximum Rock’n’roll called Modernist Witch and has also written for Pitchfork, The New York Times, and currently serves as an editor for Bandcamp Daily.

Jes played in the bands Population and Split Feet after moving to Chicago in 2005 and is working to create an all-ages venue and community space in Chicago through their organization, Pure Joy Collective. In addition to establishing a venue, Pure Joy works with artists, musicians, and activists via events and educational programs.

Jes and I spoke about sexual assault and how it relates to PTSD and C-PTSD, realizing you don’t want to die, advocating for one’s self, and the relationship between mental illness and being intersex.” —Kurt Morris

Jamie Rotante: Interview by Kurt Morris

“Jamie Rotante is a writer who was born and raised in Yonkers, N.Y. As a kid, she loved reading Archie. After graduating from SUNY Purchase in 2010, she landed a dream job with Archie Comics. She worked her way up from intern to writing a series called Vixens, which spans ten issues and places Betty and Veronica in an all-women biker gang. Jamie currently has other writing projects with Archie in the works, too.

Jamie has also written for Razorcake since 2014. She writes live music reviews and updated intros to interviews on the website. In 2017 she began writing a bi-monthly column for Razorcake titled “One Punk’s Look at Social Anxiety, Neuroticism, and Other Fun Stuff.” She says the most rewarding part of the column is when people who never talk about mental illness tell her, “Hey, I know exactly what you’re saying there.”

Jamie and I spent time chatting about her anxiety, her fear of going to therapy, the importance of a good cry, not wanting to appear weak as a woman with mental health issues, and the power of punk to build community.” –Kurt Morris

Donna Ramone doesn’t want you to put garlic in your vajayjay. (instagram)

Jim Ruland rides the lightning. (instagram, website, twitter)

Lucky Nakazawa pops the trunk. (instagram, website)

Ben Snakepit is on Shellshonic Shag-o-vision and not an island. (instagram, website)

MariNaomi has supportive friends. (instagram, website)

Rev. Nørb learns about his questionable judgment. (website)

Designated Dale is listening and talking.

Art Fuentes learns to forgive. (instagram, twitter)

Puro Pinche Poetry: Gritos Del Barrio (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and Eugenia Nicole (instagram)

Sisters of the Plains
“We have four lungs
We have four eyes
The songs we have sung
will never die

We have two horns
We have one chance
Our clothes are ripped and torn
And on golden hooves we prance….”

–CJ Miller

Rhythm Chicken got hitched! (facebook)

Hannah’s New Year’s resolution is for more dogs, less boobs.

Martin Wong remembers Steve Soto (RIP). (instagram)

And photos from the lovely and talented:
Dan Monick (instagram, website, twitter)

Chris Boarts Larson (instagram, facebook, website)

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Aretha Franklin and the marriage of The Rhythm Chicken and Mrs. Hen.

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Razorcake 105: Kathleen Hanna, Chris Dodge, MariNoami, Steve Albini

Razorcake 105

Razorcake 105: Kathleen Hanna, Chris Dodge, MariNoami, and Steve Albini

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Cover design by Lauren Denitzio
Cover photo by Chynna Monforte

Kathleen Hanna: Interview by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and Todd Taylor
“Let’s look back at the late ’80s. It was largely a grim time for punk. The first two waves had crashed and much of its initial groundbreaking diversity had been washed out. Punk on a national level was definitely out of vogue; very few clambered to participate compared to earlier in the decade. Violence was prevalent, expected.

A strident, explicitly feminist punk band called Bikini Kill formed in 1990 in Olympia, Wash. Confrontational and unrepentant, it brought out the best and worst in punks. Misogyny, sexism, and patriarchy responded with ugly reactionary displays, calling into question if punk was truly an alternative to the worst aspects of mainstream culture. Was this just the same shit with a different haircut? Bikini Kill was a lighthouse and safe harbor, fore-fronting women, making space for those traditionally pushed down and aside (including, but not limited to, circle pits, workplaces, and on the street). At a time when very few bands were having conversations about gender and sexuality, Bikini Kill used a bullhorn.

I’m not one for heroes or icons, but it’s historically accurate to state Bikini Kill was at the center of the riot grrrl movement and served as an important voice in feminism’s third wave. It’s not an overstatement to say riot grrrl saved lives. A large component of Bikini Kill was its singer and literal mouthpiece, Kathleen Hanna.

Near Bikini Kill’s end in 1997, Kathleen began recording a solo record in her bedroom. Julie Ruin is personal work. It’s both interviewer Ever’s and Kathleen’s mom’s favorite—electronic, intimate, sample-heavy—and provides the sonic bridge to Le Tigre, a band whose stock trades on bouncy, feminist rump shakers. Violence at shows plummeted. LGBTQ inclusion—reminiscent of punk’s first wave in L.A.—skyrocketed. I can’t help but think Emma Goldman is smiling from her resting place. Le Tigre had picked the lock. Finally, an inclusive, glittering revolution that was truly danceable.

Le Tigre unfortunately ended due to Kathleen’s health issues. She suffered and almost died from shamefully-undiagnosed-for-too-long Lyme disease. Thankfully, she recovered. Looking to flesh out the unrecorded songs from her solo record, The Julie Ruin was formed in 2010, reuniting Kathleen with Kathi Wilcox of Bikini Kill. Goddamn it, this band is really good. More than that, the music’s relevant.

There are two versions of punk in my book. There’s the contracting punk universe which becomes a dark, cynical, self-parodying, collapsing shell and there’s the expanding universe that reveals subtle new spectrums of light and pervades a sense of infinite possibilities. The Julie Ruin is the latter.

This interview, at its essence, is about the courage to restart several times—through darkness and light, through sickness and health—and continue creating truly meaningful work. Kathleen Hanna is responsible for some of my favorite music. I celebrate her entire catalog and love her voice.” –Todd Taylor

Chris Dodge: Interview by Juan Espinosa (instagram) and Todd Taylor

“Chances are you’re familiar with the name Chris Dodge if you’re at all into powerviolence, hardcore, punk, or thrash. After all, he only founded Slap A Ham Records, the premier powerviolence and hardcore punk record label of the ‘90s. The label released works from movers and shakers such as Man Is The Bastard, Crossed Out, Capitalist Casualties, and Spazz, in which he played bass and sang. Chris has also been invited to play with several of his own favorite hardcore bands including Despise You, Lack Of Interest, and Infest.

The self-described “cave dweller” currently fronts the band To The Point, is co-founder of beer snobs Trappist, and collaborated with Olav and Paul Van Den Berg of Seein’ Red/Lärm fame. We lured Chris out of his cave and into our podcast station with the promise of beer (which we fully delivered) to discuss his past achievements and current obsessions.” —Juan Espinosa

MariNaomi: Interview by Todd Taylor

“Cartoonist MariNaomi creates full worlds on the page, which is no easy feat. Largely working in autobiography and memoir, Mari employs emotionally honest storytelling and clean line work to tackle both the weighty (death, family, spirituality, misogyny, racism), and the everyday (crushes, work, food, clothes, friends) with a through-line of engaging readers as part of the conversation. Reading her work, I always feel I’m in capable hands. Her power is increased because she’s very careful with what she does and doesn’t present on the page. It’s a deceptively simple presentation.

Those of us who create know that simplicity is rarely simple. I’ve zoomed through Mari’s graphic novels Dragon’s Breath and Turning Japanese, but instead of her themes and characters evaporating quickly like cleaning fluid swiped on a pane of glass, they stuck with me in almost invisible and smoky ways. Much like smells trigger deeply embedded memories, Mari’s personal work is resonant, intersectional art of what it’s like to be human. She’s not only developed an enviable crisp craft on the page, it’s masterfully imbued with large doses of heart and humor.

My memory is total shit, so I thought it’d be fun to reintroduce younger versions of Mari to her 2018 self by researching what she’d said in the past. It turned into an unintentional episode of This Is Your Life.” –Todd Taylor

Nardwuar The Human Serviette (website) vs. Steve Albini (website)
Nardwuar: Why didn’t you like MDC? I’m just curious.
Steve: They were stupid and bad.”

Tony Kinman Obituary by David Ensminger

Donna Ramone thinks borders are bullshit. (Instagram)

Jim Ruland attempts to fulfill the dreams of a ghost. (instagram, website, twitter)

Lucky Nakazawa ain’t a free bird . (instagram, website)

Ben Snakepit is Satan’s copilot with a basket full of feminine hygiene products and clean water. (instagram, website)

MariNaomi has the jitters. (instagram, website)

Rev. Nørb leers behind the green door. (website)

Designated Dale somehow connects the invention of chocolate chip cookies with the Ramones.

Art Fuentes gives kudos to Sumos. (instagram, twitter)

Puro Pinche Poetry: Gritos Del Barrio (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and Eugenia Nicole (instagram)

“To be a survivor is to be an earthquake.
Ergo there will be aftershocks.
Ergo there will be small tremors.
Ergo you are fault lines. You are fault. You are blame. You are lines.
You are borders. You are multiple boundaries. You are cones and
roped-off areas.
Ergo there are plates, hard embedded places shifting inside at all
times, even when you’re not aware, they are slowly chipping away at
something that at any moment, for no apparent reason, will quake.”

–Meliza Banales, aka Missy Fuego

Rhythm Chicken is spotting punk shirts in the wild. (facebook)

Jennifer Whiteford is keeping it simple; less is more.

And photos from the lovely and talented:
Dan Monick (website, twitter)

Chris Boarts Larson (facebook, website)

This issue is dedicated to the memories of Steve Soto (Adolescents), Tony Kinman (Dils), Nick Knox (Cramps), and Mike Ventura (Black Jax)

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Razorcake 104, featuring Caves, Kitten Forever, The Elected Officials, and One Punk’s Movie Guide

Razorcake 104

Razorcake 104, featuring Caves, Kitten Forever, The Elected Officials, and One Punk’s Movie Guide

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Cover illustration + screenprint by Calimucho
Cover photo by Nicole C. Kibert Basler

Caves: Interview by Kayla Greet (instagram)

“I visited Ireland for the first time a few years ago. My friends there took me all along the Northern coast and it was one of the most gorgeous sights—lush greens, waves chopping at cliffs, rainbows stretching across the skyline. In Ballintoy Harbour I came across this opening in the coastline: a serene cave all to myself. As I walked farther in and my eyes adjusted to the darkness, so much beauty was revealed in the stillness of this cavern. There had just been a heavy downpour and the streams were sending ripples of sound throughout. I realized I was reaching an unsafe distance from the beach outside so I just stood there and took in the experience.

Caves can be scary symbols of isolation and cutting one’s self off from the outside world. They can be echo chambers where you find yourself circling and becoming disoriented. But they can also be incubators of safety until something’s strong enough to emerge, or until a storm passes. That reverberated noise can be layered upon to create wonderful melodies.

Fittingly, Caves from Bristol, U.K. does all of that in spades. This duo takes metaphorical wounds and hibernates them, creatively nursing them to health until they’re ready to strike out on their own. Their songs have an intrinsic tenderness to them, while at the same time flexing their strength in various stages of healing. This pair would sound totally amazing in an actual cave, but I’m just as happy hearing them blaring through my speakers.

Having been lucky enough to see them stateside once, I quickly fell in love with their multi-layer harmonies and the dual male and female vocals. On record and in person, the drums come through strong and powerfully, while distorted, fuzzy bass, and sharp guitar leads perk my ears up. For being only a two piece on record, the sound is incredibly full. They’ve been compared to Lemuria, Discount, and RVIVR (just so happens that Lou is their current tour bassist), as well as gigged with Leatherface, Muncie Girls, Shit Present, and made some Fest appearances. If your interests are anywhere near that ballpark of sounds, Caves is a home run.” –Kayla Greet

Kitten Forever: Interview by John Ensley

“Kitten Forever has been playing their riot grrrl-inspired punk rock since 2006. Switching instruments and lead vocal duties adds to their exuberant live show, while highlighting their musical compatibility and mutual admiration. The Twin Cities trio deliver pop hooks screamed through a distorted telephone microphone, accentuated by stomp beats and bouncy riffs. Crunchy bass lines and frenetic drumming create a chaotic harmony of simple yet dynamic explosions that make you want to dance, yell, slam, and laugh. From basement shows to national tours and festivals, the band is focused on having fun while creating an inclusive atmosphere where rock, art, and feminism can merge.

I met up with Kitten Forever in their south Minneapolis headquarters where they graciously provided insight into their friendship and band. During our chat, we discussed politics, pop music, and dumpster diving for musical equipment.” –John Ensley

The Elected Officials:
Interview by Dave Ensminger
“The Elected Officials are a brash, potent, hectic, and fervent anarcho-political force with members culled from over a dozen previous bands, straddling Texas and New Mexico. Their typical targets are not just the machinations and madness of greedy, toxic corporations, consumer society, and not-so-hallow religion—they also focus on everyday DIY efforts to rebuild the future based on both resistance and participation, by encouraging talk but lionizing action even more. In doing so, they’ve also tapped into modern media with energy and focus, creating videos not just of band life and their products, but broader issues, including Native American social justice and beyond. In Trumpian times, when sides have been polarized, moods darkened, and lurking violence potentially possible around every comment and glare, the band harnesses discontent, hooks some humor to it, and places it into a global vision of people struggling for change, like an actual thousand points of light emitting a soundtrack of punk that extends well beyond borders and fears. It is the sound of empowerment unfolding.” –Dave Ensminger

One Punk’s Movie Guide by Mike Plante
“I owe everything to movies. Film festival work pays the bills and making a film is fun. But punk rock movies taught me about the world and let me know I wasn’t insane. To be fair, cinema has always been proud of its rebellion, but you connect most to what was around you as a kid. I wish something like the guide below was around then, but if you want something that doesn’t exist, you have to create it. I tried to keep this relatively easy to find the films (in our sad, sad age of no video stores besides the odd, lucky holdout). Many of the films are available for streaming, rent, or sale online. Some are just underground enough to pop up for free in places. And don’t get rid of your DVD and Blu-Ray players.

I wanted to make an overview that’s a fun mix for any generational fan of punk. If you’re old and creaky like me, you know most of the golden oldies, but there are always one or two great discoveries that slipped through, ready to finally check out. This is a compilation of films that don’t have punk music, but a punk ethos. I tried to fill it with lesser-known gems you might not have seen that will either reestablish or uphold your faith.

And if you’re younger and know there must be a huge archive of cool shit from the past to check out, this is a great diving board. I generally stayed away from concert films. Those are pretty easy to find if you’re searching for a band you like. I tried to stick with movie-movies and documentaries.” –Mike Plante

Donna Ramone ain’t guilty of being white, and she’s only served nearly thirty-five years to life. (instagram)

Jim Ruland pulls you into a cab with Bob De Niro and doesn’t clean the seats. (instagram, website, twitter)

MariNaomi is looking for that doggie collar in the window. (instagram, website)

Ben Snakepit gets into non-reptilian costumes. (instagram, website)

Art Fuentes knows that our teachers can let us down. (instagram, twitter)

Rev. Nørb reflects on the fact that progress isn’t always progressive. (website)

Lucky Nakazawa definitely isn’t serving sea lion for dinner. (instagram, website)

Michelle Cruz Gonzales thinks Dystopia is more than just a band. (website, twitter)

Puro Pinche Poetry: Gritos Del Barrio (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and Eugenia Nicole (instagram)

Negrita Cucurumbé

“If there was one important virtue I learned from my abuelo, though, it was to appreciate the luxury of traveling. Two years ago, I embarked on a backpacking trip throughout Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. I sunbathed on the beaches of Oaxaca and went snorkeling in shark ray alley and the coral gardens of Caye Caulker in Belize. The sun loved my caramel skin and I loved it back. I even burned and turned a nice crispy brown soon after. The sun melted so much of that stigma I held onto as a child and young adult as La Morena. When I hear my grandmother’s voice call me Morena now, I love it. I love the way the r rolls off her tongue and how her face brightens up with a toothless smile as she pulls me in for a tight hug: “Ayyy mi Morena.” Most of my tias and tios who used to call me Morena, Morenasa and Morenita, are dead now, and it makes me sad knowing that I can’t hear their voices calling out my name. La Morena.” –Eugenia Nicole

Rhythm Chicken will forever be serving up big bowls of weird. (facebook)

Designated Dale wasn’t the designated driver when the T. Rex hit the Moon.

Jeff Schroeck explains the lack of motor-loving themed Ergs! songs. (twitter)

And photos from the lovely and talented:
Rachel Murray Framingheddu (instagram, website)

Chris Boarts Larson (instagram, facebook, website)

This issue is dedicated to the memories of Beth Zafranovic and Julia “Jules” Keskin-Lanfeld

The best way to never miss an issue of Razorcake is to get a reasonably priced subscription delivered to your door. Click the link below.

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Razorcake 103, featuring ONSIND, City Mouse, Pony Sweat, and One Punk’s Guide to the Ramones

Razorcake 103, featuring Onsind, City Mouse, Pony Sweat, and One Punk’s Guide to the Ramones

Razorcake 103, featuring ONSIND, City Mouse, Pony Sweat, and One Punk’s Guide to the Ramones

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Cover illustration + layout by Marcos Siref
Cover photo by Nathan Stephens-Griffin

Onsind: Interview by David Littlefair

“Acoustic two-piece One Night Stand In North Dakota have been a fixture of the U.K.’s underground and DIY punk scene for over a decade. The band hails from Pity Me, a little ex-mining village in the Durham suburbs in the North East of England, with new album We Wilt, We Bloom issued by Specialist Subject in the U.K. and Salinas in the U.S.

They’ve played the “leftfield” stage at Glastonbury, hand-picked by Billy Bragg—and they kind of sound a bit like Billy Bragg—but with more hooks, more frantic guitar shred, and Pit Yakker accents. They used to share a label with AJJ, which is a good music launching point, too.

Both are members of Martha—the queer pop punk five-piece that also includes Nathan’s sister Naomi and former label buddy JC as songwriters. Where Martha are much better known, having sold out shows around the U.K. and been issued as a centerfold poster in U.K. rock mag Kerrang! ONSIND remain a smaller prospect; touring the U.K. with just two people and their guitars.

ONSIND have carried themes of social justice through several albums and EPs. The songs go straight for the throat in terms of vividly showing how illness or poverty can blight lives. Yet, lyrically the songs aren’t just about transmitting a sociology textbook to chords, or fitting a Jacobin article to a melody. The tunes are couched in stories of real experience. They are full of beautiful anecdotes and moments described with painter-eyed clarity: taking the belongings from a home of a person hospitalized with mental illness; listening to an old relative at a funeral hold forth on their political convictions; watching the leaves fall from a houseplant season to season and ruminating on mortality. ONSIND are brave enough to look at some of the darkest parts of modern life in the eye, but they’re also brave enough to make something beautiful, funny, and profound from those same dark parts.

I caught up with the band in Nathan’s offices where he works as an academic at Durham University. We talked about how a person can cope with the wilting and blooming periods of life and about how DIY has changed since ONSIND first picked up a pair of guitars.” –David Littlefair

City Mouse
: Interview by Emma Johnson

“City Mouse made me fall in love with melodic, sing-along punk rock again. They reminded me that, even though I’m well into adulthood, I can still be struck by a song the same way I was when I was a teenager. I can still experience that sudden realization that I’m not alone in the world, that other people are feeling the way I’m feeling, and it’s fucking okay. This is a band that has been honing the art of soulful, heart-on-sleeves punk since 2001, just bouncing around the country from their current home base of Lansing, Michigan, playing shows everywhere, working their butts off and not making a big deal about it, even though that level of perseverance and commitment to making rad music seems like a big deal to me.

I asked City Mouse founder Miski Dee Rodriguez to pick me up at Chicago O’Hare after my flight back from Minneapolis. Not only did she agree, but she took me out to a fancy restaurant, where our meals were on the house thanks to the City Mouse fan running the kitchen. We ate by a big fireplace and talked about music and life.” –Emma Johnson


Pony Sweat: Interview by Bianca and Daryl

It’s a pretty universal thing to come home after an exceptionally shitty day at work, turn on your current favorite song, crank it up, and thrash and jump and punch the air until you’re breathless and suddenly much more calm. Now, there’s an aerobics class that basically takes this whole scenario and puts it into a one-hour session, and—bonus—plays some of the music you might already be using when you have that cathartic slam dance for one in your room.

Daryl and I sat down with Pony Sweat founder/instructor Emilia Richeson and instructor CJ Miller to talk about their particular brand of aerobics—a brand that reminds you to be weird and not get too caught up in doing all the moves correctly—and does it all to an eclectic soundtrack that incorporates a broad range of music including Bikini Kill, Prince, Princess Nokia, The Cure, Killing Joke, L7, Madonna, Vacation, and Peaches.

It should be noted that, somehow, these two balls of energy also find the time to make music. CJ plays in the pop punk band dimber, and Emilia is in the post-punk band Object As Subject. Emilia might be a familiar face to those who’ve seen Wreck Of The Zephyr’s video for “The Rolling Over Process” (she plays an out-of-control and ultimately murderous dog) and the Shark Toys video for “Something Something Else.”] —Bianca

One Punk’s Guide to the Ramones by Rev. Nørb

“One summer’s day finally flush with babysitting cash, I took my bike downtown, summoned up my nerve, and gamely tiptoed into the local head shop. Apart from a love of rock’n’roll, I was about as nerdy as it gets and had no interest whatsoever in bongs, clips, or rolling materials—but they had records in there, thus in I went. After a bit of nervous shopping, I made my selection: In my hands I clutched a shiny new copy of Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever album. I wasn’t that nuts about Ted, but the title track was kind of all right, and I really felt like buying a new album that day, so the Nuge it would be. As I headed towards the counter, some buried prehensile memory suggested I first check to see if the Ramones had any albums there.

And there it was, in all its black, white, and hot pink glory: Rocket to Russia, the album with “Do You Wanna Dance?” on it. In a grainy black-and-white cover photo, the band leaned against a brick wall in leather jackets, ripped jeans, and T-shirts. Sold.” — Rev. Nørb

Donna Ramone weeps for professional wrestling. (Instagram)

Jim Ruland has a spectre haunting Bay Ridge. (instagram, website, twitter)

MariNaomi reflects on the motorized May-December relationship. (instagram, website)

Ben Snakepit offers a guide to the world of Ursula K. Le Guin. (instagram, website)

Art Fuentes is a monkey boy abroad. (instagram, twitter)

Rev. Nørb studies the Descendents or the hero with a thousand farts. (website)

JV McDonough is playing Russian roulette with her immune system.

Puro Pinche Poetry: Gritos Del Barrio (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and Eugenia Nicole (instagram)


“…A feral cat is proud but he is not stupid
A feral cat is always on the lookout for trouble
He doesn’t usually gang up with the other cats
He doesn’t need anyone
He doesn’t bother anybody
A feral cat is a loner
But don’t you forget that he still has to eat…”

—Sean Dunne

Rhythm Chicken celebrates his birthday with a special ‘Tute of ruckus chili. (facebook)

Lucky Nakazawa really shouldn’t anger the kitties, but every dog has its day. (instagram, website)

Designated Dale talks about Stryper and that’s all you really need to know (yellow and black attack!).

And photos from the lovely and talented:

Amina Cruz (instagram)

Dan Monick (instagram, website, twitter)

Chris Boarts Larson (instagram, facebook, website)

This issue is dedicated to the memories of Peter Eichhorn, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Mike Carroll.

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