TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16th, 2012
Punks undead. Happy Halloween.
MONDAY, JUNE 17th, 2013
These kids rule. If more 6th graders had the courage to do whatever the fuck they felt like doing, the world would be full of rad 6th graders. And Justin Bieber probably wouldn’t have a career.
Meet Malcolm Brickhouse and Jarad Dawkins aka Unlocking The Truth, sixth-grade metalheads from Flatbush, Brooklyn.
MONDAY, MAY 20th, 2013
Herd, a local Ottawa-centric magazine, interviewed me and a bunch of other people involved in Ottawa zines through the years about zines. I probably could’ve found a way to write that last sentence without saying “Ottawa” and “zine” as much, but I don’t feel like it.
Since the article was a brief overview of three decades worth of stuff, they could only use a bit of what people told them. So here’s my full over-the-internet interview if anyone’s interested.
Describe your zine or your involvement with zines.
Well, my main involvement with ‘zines is with STANDARD ISSUE. STANDARD ISSUE was (is?) a punk rock ‘zine I started, and the first issue came out in April 2007, and the last issue came out in December 2010.
The content was equal parts punk rock (band interviews, album reviews, scene reports, punk concerns, etc…), funny bullshit (knuckle tattoo ideas, a Mad Libs suicide note, comix, etc…) and interesting real-life stuff (a Thai Hell Garden, snakehead fish, olde-timey street gang-style firefighting, how to shrink heads, etc…).
It was basically everything I wanted a ‘zine to be: no lame shit, tons of awesome shit. A focus on punk (mostly hardcore and garage) and gnarly, fascinating, real-life shit.
How did you get involved with zines?
STANDARD ISSUE started out as an online thing, but I never wanted that. I ALWAYS wanted to be a print ‘zine, before I even knew the (half) word ‘zine.’ I was influenced by THRASHER, BIG BROTHER, MAD and even NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. None of those are ‘zines, but, like I said, I’d never seen a ‘zine at this point.
I got sick of waiting around to figure out how the hell to make a print ‘zine, and decided to just jump into it. I laid the first issue out with scissors and a glue stick. (After that, I got my brother Adam to do the layouts in Indesign. Not much later, Adam Begin started sharing layout duties with my brother.)
We started out by stealing everything we could: photocopies, paper, one of those giant staplers, stamps, mailing materials… anything that would help us. By doing that, we got to the point where we were printing 2000 copies per issue, and distributing them (for free) to multiple cities in Canada and the States. The last three issues, we actually paid for printing, but we covered our costs through ad sales and benefit shows.
There were about 14 people who consistently contributed or helped out behind the scenes. After my first kid was born, though, I just couldn’t keep it up much longer. STANDARD ISSUE took a LOT of my time.
Now, my involvement with ‘zines is WAY more low-key. I do cartooning, and every once-in-a-while, I’ll release a limited edition ‘zine with my stupid drawings in it. I’m even back to stealing materials and photocopies. Full circle.
What do zines do that other media (blogs, for instance) can’t do or don’t do as well?
'Zines grab your attention WAY better than something on the internet. Anybody can throw their stupid opinion or their shitty art or whatever up on the internet — and everybody DOES. It's part of the reason the internet's turned us into such a low-focus, distracted society.
But if you actually take the time, and make the effort to put your words and pictures into a physical format, it grabs people’s attention. It’s much rarer than a blog post or a status update. I think when people see something physical, a lot of them go: ‘Man, maybe this person genuinely gives a shit about what they’re saying. I’ll flip through this for five seconds and see if I do too.’
Another thing ‘zines do that the internet doesn’t, is get people out in the world. One of the things I liked most about making a real live blood ‘n’ guts ‘zine in the everybody-has-a-blog age is that, if you wanted a copy of STANDARD ISSUE, you had to LEAVE YOUR HOUSE AND GET ONE.
And where would you get it? At rad places where you do rad things! We’d leave them at record shops! At skate shops! In tattoo parlours! In independent galleries! At punk shows! At house parties! And that’s awesome! To get a copy of STANDARD ISSUE, you’d have to haul your carcass from the warm computer glow of your mom’s basement, and go someplace FUN, whether you like it or not.
'Zines rip people's eyes off those damn computer screens every once in a while. Also, I'd MUCH rather read paper than a screen. ANY day.
Now, none of this is to say there are no good blogs out there, or nothing worth reading on the internet; there ARE. I’d just rather read them in a physical format.
What do you know about the history of zines in Ottawa?
Not as much as I should, probably. But here goes:
There was NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN, back in the early-to-mid ’80s. Classic punk ‘zine.
And it should be mentioned that all three dudes who started VOICE/VICE were from Ottawa; no matter what you think of VICE today, that’s a BIG deal.
DIRTY DONNY, the Ottawa-raised lowbrow artist now killin’ it in San Francisco had DIRTY ZINE back in the ’90s.
And then, I’m pretty sure Jo from GERM ATTAK/IRON DOGS/SCHIZOPHASIA/BLUE CROSS had a ‘zine in the early 2000s called BORN TOO LATE? Or 20 YEARS TOO LATE? I think. Jo’ll let me know if I’m totally wrong.
Ian Manhire from the WHITE WIRES put out a couple issues of his GOING GAGA ‘zine as part of his Gaga empire (the record label, the fest, the line of colognes). He started it when he was living in Calgary, but put out at least ONE more issue after moving back to Ottawa.
More recently, Spencer Allmendinger had a ‘zine called WE ARE PRETENTIOUS ASSHOLES that were packaged with 7”s, which is awesome.
And then Matt Finner and Sterling Healey started up the BLANK STARE ‘zine, in conjunction with their hardcore record label of the same name. That lasted at least two issues, maybe three… I don’t know if they’re still gonna keep it up. Good shit, though.
Those guys are also running PERMANENT SLEEP outta Toronto (Matt moved there). It’s an off-shoot of BLANK STARE, where they’re publishing books and ‘zines and releasing some tapes as well. They published the Way Bad book.
Craig Proulx and Pierre Richardson are putting out a monthly newsletter called SMALL TALK; it’s a collection of reviews and interviews of bands that are on their cassette label, BRUISED TONGUE.
That was off the top of my head, so I guess I knew a fair bit. I know I’m missing a TON, though. Mostly from the ’90s, I think, from what John Birdman’s told me.
What would you say about the current state of zines in Ottawa, and why do you think it is that way?
There aren’t as many ‘zines in Ottawa as I think there should be. It’d be easy to say it’s because no one’s willing to put in the time and effort, but that’s a pretty dumb thing to say about a city (and a punk scene) where every guy I know is in five bands and running record labels and promoting shows and organizing fests and printing pins and designing flyers and offering their basement as a venue.
I think it’s just not where people’s priorities lie.
If Herd wanted, would I be able to reproduce a page of one of your zines for this article?
Yeah, go nuts.
FRIDAY, MAY 10th, 2013
I got interviewed on my favorite radio show, City Slang, the other day, to talk about Standard Issue and my big fat “art” “career”. Check it out, that show rules. I also brought some of my favorite shit the magazine got sent recently to play on air. Did YOUR band get chosen? I bet it didn’t, but listen anyway and see.
We interview Ian Thompson of LTW, Human Shield, Deal Breaker, and the CRICKET CEMETERY label! We talk about the punkest monuments in DC, and spending time with your Dad!
Plus tunes from Trauma, Dinos Boys, Manipulation, Bloody Gears, Human Shield, Thick Skin, The Shirks, and Homeshake!
Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes.Originally aired: May 6 2013
Happy May Day, Seattle! — at De Acción Nacional Pro-Reforma Migratoria/National Day for Immigration Reform.
Yeah, yeah, I’m reblogging this from my own art Tumblr, but I figure there’s some cross-over appeal here.
TUESDAY, MARCH 26th, 2013
Tattooing’s pretty hard to do. It’s almost like it should be left to the professionals. In fact, it SHOULD… except when it comes to stick ‘n’ pokes. Those are supposed to be shitty and funny.
But there’s a fine line between ‘shitty and funny’ and totally regrettable. So, if you want a little help, here’s the first official Way Bad Stick ‘N’ Poke Flash Sheet. Many more to come, hopefully.
Also, I will personally tattoo ANY of these designs on you for just $5*.
*Plus travel expenses, accommodations, dining expenses, and additional expenses (such as lost wages).
DEATH CRISIS/DIATRIBE - split EP (Too Old To Die, San Diego)
(Written by Ben Jensen)
This is a split EP between two San Diego crust bands.
The DEATH CRISIS side starts its three-track run with some fairly by-the-book crust. A pretty cool, drawn-out (by which I mean like 15 seconds), instrumental intro revs things up into a pretty standard-fare, beat-the-shit-outta-the-drumkit, make-as-much-distortion-as-fast-as-possible, Cryptkeeper vocals rampage. Totally decent, well-played, fairly stoke-worthy but not EXTREMELY mind-blowing. The second track is along the same lines, and just as good as the first. DEATH CRISIS really takes off with the third track, though. The first half is a gothy, sorta atmospheric take on crust that EXPLODES in the second half with crazy guitar noise and speed. Cool shit.
DIATRIBE’s side is apparently the first thing these d-beaters have released in over 20 years. Their two tracks are cool, rowdy, fun, crashing, barely-controlled, speaking-in-tongues, lunatic sessions… but there’s a really long audio sample between them. C’mon, dudes: I’ve got CRASS records I don’t listen to because of that; what makes you think YOU’RE gonna get away with it? That sucks. It’s like skits on rap albums. Or more like a losing game of solitaire: NO replay value.
I bet both of these bands are fun as shit live. NOT SHITTY (I came SO close to giving this a ‘KINDA SHITTY,’ though, mostly cuz of the audio samples)
A review of the album’s artwork: I like it when splits give each band one side of the cover, and TOO OLD TO DIE RECORDS was good enough to hook these two bands up. I recognize the artist who did DIATRIBE’s side; I’m not sure from where, though. It’s signed ‘Shadow’ with an anarchy sign for an ‘a’. Anyway, good art everywhere, lyrics sheets are included, and I like the Jesus graphic on DEATH CRISIS’s half of the liners that says “JESUS IS COMING… AND HE DOESN’T PULL OUT.” NOT SHITTY
REVIEW: SUPREME COMMANDER - PAPER TIGERS LP (Basement, La Habra, CA)
(Written by Ben Jensen)
Fuck. I lost the press kit for this one. I HATE when I do that. Anyway, this SUPREME COMMANDER LP is rumbly, bottom-heavy hardcore with tough guy vocals peppered with the occasional bit of melodic hardcore singing (by the same dude).
The production’s a little slicker than I like, but then again, so’s the music. Most of this album kinda rides the line (for me) between ‘yeah, this is okay, I guess’ and ‘I dunno about this.’ And then some shit like a ‘funky groove’ or random cookie monster vocals comes in and just missile dropkicks me over the ‘I dunno about this’ edge and sends me tumbling down the ‘no, I definitely don’t like this’ cliff, hitting every ‘I got a lot of shit I’d rather be listening to’ branch on the way down.
This isn’t a bad record, but it’s not my shit. Sorry, dudes. SHITTY
A review of the album’s artwork: It sucks that I’m shitting on these dudes TWICE in this review, but there’s only so many times I can review the same old black & white, ‘stencil and photocopy’ punk package. It’s just not your day, as far as getting reviewed in this one piece of shit ‘zine is concerned, SUPREME COMMANDER. SHITTY
SUNDAY, MARCH 24th, 2013
52 bands have been announced for OTTAWA EXPLOSION WEEKEND 2013! If there’s nothing in here to get you stoked, you might as well… I dunno… something bad and drastic.
Here’s the list!
ASILE (Ottawa, ON)
ASTRAL GUNK (Sackville, NB)
ATTENTION! (Toronto, ON)
AVERAGE TIMES (Ottawa, ON)
BIG DICK (Ottawa, ON)
BLACK TOWER (Ottawa, ON)
BOYHOOD (Ottawa, ON)
CHIT CHAT (Detroit, MI)
THE CREEPS (Ottawa, ON)
CRUSADES (Ottawa, ON)
DIG IT UP (Montreal, QC)
FERAL TRASH (Moncton, NB)
HASSLER (Toronto, ON)
HOLY COBRAS (Montreal, QC)
THE ISOTOPES (Vancouver, BC)
THE KIDNAPPERS (Hamburg, GER)
KREMLIN (Toronto, ON)
THE MANDATES (Calgary, AB)
MOTHER’S CHILDREN (Ottawa, ON)
THE MOUTHBREATHERS (Sackville. NB)
NEEDLES//PINS (VANCOUVER, BC)
NERVOSAS (Columbus, OH)
NEW SWEARS (Ottawa, ON)
NOISE HOUNDS (Sackville, NB)
NUDE BEACH (Brooklyn, NY)
PREGNANCY SCARES (Ottawa, ON)
PREVENGE (Montreal, QC)
PRIMITIVE HEARTS (Oakland, CA)
THE RAGING NATHANS (Dayton, OH)
ROBERTA BONDAR (Ottawa, ON)
ROBOTS EVERYWHERE! (Ottawa, ON)
SILVER DAPPLE (Montreal, QC)
SOLIDS (Montreal, QC)
SONIC AVENUES (Montreal, QC)
THE SOUPCANS (Toronto, ON)
STEVE ADAMYK BAND (Ottawa, ON)
STRANGE ATTRACTOR (Sudbury, ON)
STRAIT As (Minniapolis MN)
SUGAR STEMS (Milwaukee, WI)
TEENANGER (Toronto, ON)
THALIDOMY KIDS (Moncton, NB)
THEE NODES (Montreal, QC)
TYVEK (Detroit, MI)
ULTRATHIN (Montreal, QC)
VACATION (Cincinatti, OH)
VALLEY BOYS (Toronto, ON)
THE VISITORS (Ottawa, ON)
VOICEMAIL (Ottawa, ON)
WHITE PAGES (Cambridge, MA)
WYLDLIFE (New York City, NY)
YELLOWTEETH (Sackville, NB)
THE YIPS (Ottawa, ON)
FIND MORE INFO AT OTTAWAEXPLOSION.BLOGSPOT.COM!!
REVIEW: DINOS BOYS - PLAY DEAD b/w SCAB 7” (Die Slaughterhaus, Atlanta)
(Written by Ben Jensen)
It’s not often I find myself thinking that a buncha priests and redneck politicians might’ve been on to something. But when I listen to shit like this 7” from Atlanta’s DINOS BOYS, I can kinda see how rock ‘n’ roll maybe DOES have the power to corrupt the youth and turn ‘em all into roving packs of feral hooligans.
DINOS BOYS’ late ’70s punk sound — with its vocal harmonies, bouncy basslines, and effortlessly fluid guitar hooks — is plenty catchy enough to grab young ears; and it’s snarly and gritty enough to lead those poor, helpless kids to an awesome life of back alleys, hooky, booze, and jean jackets.
DINOS BOYS reminds me of early NYC punk (and also THE DEAD BOYS) mixed with SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS. Anything that balances swagger, menace, grit and bubblegum as well as this 7” does is a slam-dunk in my books. Can’t wait to hear more from these dudes; I’m addicted to this one. NOT SHITTY
A review of the album’s artwork: I would’ve liked some liner notes, and I always prefer a live photo to one of the dudes standing against brick wall. It’s a pretty cool presentation, though. NOT SHITTY
TUESDAY, MARCH 19th, 2013
Our Vancouver powerpop/garage/punk buddies NEEDLES//PINS have a new video out. This one’s for ‘Shaker’ off their last LP.
Speaking of NEEDLES//PINS: read our interview with them.
REVIEW: TRAUMA - 10 SONGS EP (Bulkhead, Portland)
(Written by Ben Jensen)
Holy shit! I got an EP featuring two members of TRAGEDY (Billy and Todd) in the ol’ STD PO box! So — SPOILER ALERT — it’s pretty much guaranteed this TRAUMA EP’s gonna land itself STANDARD ISSUE’s super-coveted, fabled-in-story-and-song, best-rating-anyone-can-get-from-us, ‘NOT SHITTY’ rating.
But goddam if these members of TRAGEDY, FINAL WARNING and LONG KNIFE (haven’t heard them, but I know they toured with MEAN JEANS… am I totally blowin’ it?) haven’t earned it.
TRAUMA is blistering d-beat that never lets its heavy bottom slow it down, and the late Jeff Paul’s vocals put most younger guns to shame; nobody on earth can dress you down and make you feel about two inches tall like someone’s burly dad can, and that’s the kinda power we see on display here from the FINAL WARNING veteran, as he tears his throat apart to bellow at us about war for profit and the corrupt political machine.
And holy shit if the instrumentation isn’t EXACTLY thick enough to back those powerhouse vocals. The rhythm section lays a foundation substantial enough for a city of castles, and the guitar sounds like its strings could strangle god.
This is a wider release re-formatting of a self-released demo cassette from 2009, and, in my opinion, BULKHEAD RECORDS should get a charitable tax return for re-releasing this gem. First that ORGANIZED SPORTS LP, now this. I’m liking this new label. NOT SHITTY
A review of the album’s artwork: It’s pretty by-the-book punk graphic design. If you were illiterate, you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from anything else in the crust/d-beat section of the record shop. It’s a classic look, but nothing to get any kind of excited about. Full lyrics (almost; one track’s lyrics are ‘lost’ apparently), band roster, live shots, and recording information, though, which is good. KINDA SHITTY
[Rest In Peace, Jeff Paul.]
REVIEW: STEVE ADAMYK BAND - THIRD LP (Dirtnap, Portland)
(Written by Ben Jensen)
Punk this catchy’s gonna get labelled pop-punk, but I don’t think that’s really accurate. Ottawa’s own STEVE ADAMYK BAND specializes in a style of punk that was just called ‘punk’ in the late ’70s. Back when you were allowed to get within brick-chucking distance of “radio friendly” (before heading back to the comfort of the alley you left your beer and your friends in) and you could maybe even wear a t-shirt that was a brighter color than light black. Crazy, misguided times.
So, yeah, there are hooks and harmonies flying all over the place, but there’s also an intensity and a “no bullshit” approach that completely rips the “punk” you can find in any mall to shreds. The SAB guys recognize that over-producing and over-thinking and over-polishing this turd would completely ruin its awesome turdliness to the point where it wouldn’t be the perfect soundtrack to doing stupid shit during drunken hang-outs with your degenerate friends anymore. But don’t get me wrong: this isn’t sloppy, either. These are tightly-played, lean-and-mean tracks written by a dude who KNOWS how to make a solid punk song.
If anybody ever wanted to hear the BUZZCOCKS and THE CARBONAS get so drunk they can’t remember who’s in which band, but can magically still play well, this is probably pretty close.
On a personal note, good to see ‘Satellite,’ one of my favorite SAB tracks finally get the LP treatment.
If DIRTNAP’s not careful, people are gonna start thinking they’re some kind of unstoppable, awesome party punk factory. Shit, too late. NOT SHITTY
A review of the album’s artwork: “Huh? You want art for this STEVE ADAMYK BAND LP? Okay, let’s see…. Throw a shitty photo of a puddle on the front, then fuck up the band’s name till anyone who doesn’t already know what it is probably can’t read it. Huh? What should we name it? I dunno. It’s their third album, right? How about ‘Third’?” NOT SHITTY