“Here in Peru, the previous generation, our parents, they didn’t know too much about the word 'punk.' They don’t know that that exists.” –Fernando, Mørbø
Cover by Jessee Zeroxed
Photo by DF State Of Mind
Mørbø interview by Todd Taylor and Rene Navarro
Mørbø’s so fucking snotty and sneering, yet celebratory. Let the raw panq bashings wash over you like a warm beer shower the first couple of listens. For my money, it’s the melodies, roughly stitched—like thick threads fastening patches on a sweat-encrusted battle jacket—that somehow keep it all together and keep me thirsting for more. I’m recommending this band if you’re a fan of punk that comes at you simultaneously from multiple angles and hasn’t willingly locked itself into a subgenre’s closet. If you react favorably to oi’s martial thrusts and stomps, to post-punk’s tightly-wound trouble and treble, and hardcore’s crazed energy, I’d say Mørbø’s a good bet. (It’s also fun to think of Rixe, Wire, and Long Knife sharing the same musical body.) Rub some slimy scuzz into the mix for good measure. Because, why not? Both vomit and chandeliers can glitter, depending on the lighting. One person’s ugly is another’s beautiful. One person’s mistake is another’s masterpiece.
Or how about this take? Angels and devils pissing in your ears as a rock is chained around your waist, toiling under a black sun that looks like a bullet hole in the sky as a skeleton lounges nearby, hoisting the final beer of a six pack, joyfully mocking your suicide attempt to escape this unrelenting human existence. That’s an interpretation of the cover artwork of Mørbø’s album ¿A Quién le Echamos la Culpa?, one of the finest punk records to come out in the past five years.
Mørbø’s based in Lima, Peru. They’ve been a band for over twenty years, over half the life spans of two of the founding members—and brothers—Bruno and Fernando. They were joined by Jesús for this interview. Rene and I talked to them via video over the internet. –Todd Taylor
Viva Mørbø subte!
Middle-Aged Queers interview by Rosie Gonce
Oakland-based queercore party band Middle-Aged Queers consists of four seasoned survivors of the Bay Area punk scene. These band members—and best friends—are more than comfortable singing and performing the ironically-teenage-angsty words to their theme song: “We are the Queers, the Middle-Aged Queers! We’re the fucking queers! Go fuck yourself!” And I may not be queer myself, but when I hear this song, I want to sing along! I fall in a category some may consider middle-aged, and the kind of punk music they play feels nostalgic to me. I listen to their record and I’m taken right back to throwing my teenage body around an L7 pit in the ’90s.
Whether it’s because of the style of punk, the queerness, or the age relatability, they’re a band that connects and inspires people—without trying to—just by being themselves. The way they celebrate queer culture, make fun of everything, and behave like teenagers with their minds in the gutter while also acting like cool school counselors is hilarious and intriguing. Perhaps it’s the wisdom that’s come with age. They’ve mastered the art of cathartic punk, creatively and emotionally engaging with topics that are important to them, keeping their sense of humor front and center, and expressing it with highly honed punk rock skills. Simple chord progressions, driving eighth notes switching from the hi hat to the ride, gang vocals on the chorus—all the traditional punk roots—but a breath of fresh air with the kind of unapologetic joy everyone needs to have more of in their lives. (Cue the bubble machine!)
Joking aside—which is hard to do with them—there were times during this interview I felt my chest tighten up hearing about some of the experiences they’ve had to endure and some of the common issues they face because of how dangerous homophobia is. In one moment, we were reflecting on how far we’ve come. Next we realized we still have so far to go. The fears and challenges they face in this way is not something I can ever fully understand as a cis-het woman. I’m grateful that, after the little time I spent chatting with them, I feel more aware, more knowledgeable, and more emboldened to take action in situations where homophobia arises. But I also see the privilege I have since I have a choice. That’s one reason Middle-Aged Queers aren’t just a band. They’re an act of defiance. They’re symbols of survival. They’re signs of hope. But mostly they’re self-proclaimed international gay rockstar icons on a mission to make punk gay again.
Hammered Hulls interview by Michael T. Fournier
Hammered Hulls dropped their debut single before the pandemic to little fanfare. I didn’t stop thinking about it throughout the months of lockdown, because of the Dischord way: release a single, then a full-length. The prospect of an entire album of Hammered Hulls songs heartened me through dark days, such was the promise of that initial record, with its mix of jagged, melodic, and driving, Alec MacKaye providing deeply poetic lyrics and vocals. MacKaye hadn’t been in a band for almost a quarter century, since The Warmers, one of the most underrated groups on the Dischord catalogue.
Suffice it to say that Careening, Hammered Hulls’ long-player, delivered on all the promise and then some. Live, the band was a revelation. Drummer Chris Wilson (also of Titus Andronicus and Ted Leo And The Pharmacists) made intricate beats look easy behind the kit, buoyed by Mary Timony (also of Helium and Ex Hex) on bass, with Mark Cisneros (of Deathfix, Medications, Kid Congo And The Pink Monkey Birds, and a zillion more) on guitar adding edge to the proceedings—sometimes jagged, sometimes gentle. All the while, MacKaye led the band with flights of anger, spontaneity, fancy, frustration—all of it real, all of it immediate. Our interview shared the same honesty. Alec was thoughtful throughout, a great person to talk to about the band and his path back to the stage after so long.
The Groans interview by Josie Wreck of Aural Displeasure, and Daryl
The first time I met The Groans was in the basement of The dA Center For The Arts in Pomona, Calif. circa 2015. Pomona is one of the cities that comprise the region east of L.A. known as the Inland Empire, from where they helm. My three-piece punk rock’n’roll outfit—Popsical—shared a bill with them organized by homosexual underground IE icon Manny Sifuentes, and even in the band’s infancy, their presence and rage instilled a sense of hope. There is a vibrant urgency to The Groans’ message and sound—especially amidst the rise of anti-trans legislation and violence—and they deliver it in biting, queer, gutter-glam fashion. Their music thematically covers topics such as identity, self-image, community empowerment, mental health, social pressure, and collective injustice faced under capitalism, all while maintaining a defiant optimism. Annie funnels their frustrations into a furious vocal delivery paired with dynamic finger bass-ing; Dewie stomps on their pedals, with platformed heels and a glittery mustache as their guitar shredding crafts a story in each song; and Nadine pummels her kit with nuanced ferocity. With two albums, one tour, and the new single “Lights Out” under their belt, The Groans are here to call out your bullshit, empower their community, and be the grungey queercore bursts of color you need in your life. –Josie Wreck
Oginee “OG” Viamontes interview by Daniel Makagon
Making Community Memories through Photography
During the past few years Oginee “OG” Viamontes has been producing some of the most interesting photographs of the diverse DIY punk scenes in Los Angeles. Her show photos, taken from unique angles that capture the communal chaos of seemingly ordinary backyard or warehouse shows, are complemented by larger punk events in parks and under bridges. And she’s building a portfolio of interesting portraits that document the personalities of the people who pose for her.
In some sense, what I describe is also happening in other towns and cities around the globe. Photographers are documenting their scenes and building relationships with bands to help visually narrate those scenes. However, OG’s personal narrative shows that her regular output of exciting work might not have happened. There were stops and starts with photography, tied to being unhoused for many years and a lengthy period of drug and alcohol addiction. Larger life challenges should’ve derailed opportunities to develop a keen photographic eye, but photography was often a grounding force for OG amidst the chaos of her everyday life. Once she was sober and had started to figure out who she was, her connections to punk were reignited. The intersection of community-focused DIY punk and photography became a creative outlet and provided a new sense of purpose as well as opportunities to develop new friendships. Normally, prolific artistic output doesn’t start when someone is in their late thirties, but as we all know, what makes punk culture unique is that there is no normal.
“I just don’t want kids…. I can truly admire moms and enjoy kids but I wish it was easily understood I don’t want that for myself.” –Donna Ramone (instagram)
“How to plan your punk-adjacent book tour.... If you find the right community of people, the physical space where you hold your event doesn’t really matter.” –Jim Ruland (instagram)
“New place, new tools…. I feel like I was thrown on to this planet to feel everything.” –Lorde Destroyer
“A little piece of the pie.... you start contemplating the great injustice of a world where we all know all the lyrics to at least one godawful Rolling Stones song, but almost no one knows The Arrivals’ ‘Simple Pleasures in America.’” –Sean Carswell (instagram)
“Vinyl: are we done yet?... Is vinyl’s much-ballyhooed authenticity just a convenient lie implemented by the current generation of snake oil salespeople?” –Rev. Nørb (instagram)
Puro Pinche Poetry y Cuentos (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and RoQue Torres (instagram)
From: “cease to exist ”
“But what is life if not a series of small moments where we make immediate decisions about enormous things?”
–Ingrid M. Calderón Somoza y Collins
“The Exorcist Exor-quiz. The Exorcist is turning fifty at the end of this year, so keeping in true fashion, I’d like to take this opportunity to hopefully inform and entertain you with a quiz I’ve put together to celebrate the film’s golden jubilee.” –Designated Dale
A transphobic GOP elephant is terrified of diversity and malignantly ignorant of America’s fraught history is drawn by Art Fuentes. (instagram)
“Seeing exceptional live music in a quality record store is a little slice of heaven. It’s a place with soul and purpose.” –Rhythm Chicken (instagram)
“My baby’s all grown up…. I’ll never biologically reproduce but I do have a baby. That baby is L.A. Zine Fest.” –Bianca
And photos from the lovely and talented:
Chris Boarts Larson
This issue is dedicated to the memories of Brian Qualls, Vince Simpson, Frank Kozik, Teresa “Nervosa” Taylor, and Daniel Ellsberg
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