Originally published in ‘zine issue #17, 1997
A few thoughts looking back on the last five years …
I started Disposable Underground ‘zine in 1991 after writing for a few other ‘zines, Curious Goods for example, and finding myself having my own ideas on how a ‘zine should be. So I stopped writing for those and kicked off my own in the fall of ‘91. I had them done up bi-monthly at a print shop and made between 250 and 400 or so each time, and I focused on featuring informative, fair, and timely reviews, various opinion columns by a number of people I knew, and interviews that weren’t the usual bullshit that you read in “professional” magazines. After a short while I strived for more innovative interviews, that is, asking intelligent and original questions of the bands I liked, ones they didn’t hear before.
I eventually got tired of dealing with distribution hassles, so, starting with issue five, I began photocopying the ‘zine and only printed small amounts at a time, and put limits on review lengths to conserve space. That attitude of mine continued until, in 1995, I ceased promoting the ‘zine and I stopped selling it altogether. I only printed enough copies to distribute to the bands and labels that sent submissions for review. I was still getting quite enough mail for each issue just through word of mouth at the labels and from the tons of ads I’d distributed through the mail over the years. The issues themselves became shorter and shorter as well.
The slant of the reviews ended up being less and less concerned with being “fair,” but yet remained 100 percent honest. I, nor any of my various writers, never bothered to look for something, anything, positive to say about a band anymore, nor would we go to the effort to listen to the entire release before writing the review if we decided we hated it enough by then.* The reviews became very direct and even mean, because I was sick and tired of the proliferation of rock stars with huge egos in the scene that took a negative review, constructive or otherwise, as a personal attack, because they couldn’t believe anyone had the audacity to publicly express dislike towards their shit band. I made a lot of enemies that way, and became more and more jaded towards the scene, especially locally, and felt like a tired old man, even though I got into the scene at a late stage in the game (the late ‘80s to be more precise).
I’ve felt like giving up on more than one occasion, but for some reason I kept it going. I hope some of you people got as much satisfaction out of it as I have at times. Bye. ■
*Looking back now, it’s more accurate to say this sentence applies to most of the reviewers, but not all of them.