I spent a lot of money on these magazines so you'd better look at them!
Some rock magazines I bought. For "research."
Hello and welcome to REPLY ALT, the greatest email newsletter about music in the world. Just a reminder that I’ve got a few events coming up, in NJ (this Sunday!), Philly, and Chicago. They’re free and it will hurt my feelings tremendously if you don’t show up! But anyway I didn’t come here today to talk about my events or my feelings. Today I want to talk about my precious magazine collection.
One perk of writing a book about rock music is you get to buy a bunch of old magazines for research and write them off on your taxes. I spent a good amount of time (and money) on eBay, tracking some of these down. Here are a few mags that were invaluable when putting SELLOUT together. Very grateful to the writers who came before me who documented these times and the little freaks who are unable to throw anything in the trash!
Punk Planet, Sept/Oct 2000.
Many years ago in the back of Bar Matchless in Brooklyn I told Jeff Rosenstock about an idea I had for a book. He said, “Oh like that issue of Punk Planet?” And I said “Uhh excuse me, what?” He dug through a huge stack of old issues he just happened to have lying around for some reason and produced this relic from 2000, which documented a few bands going to major labels in the wake of Green Day. Extremely well researched by writer Kyle Ryan. It’s a funny piece to look back on because many of the stories of the bands in it were still unfinished. The article painted Jawbreaker and Jimmy Eat World as failures. Failures! Didn’t work out for those guys whoops oh well. Of course, the next year JEW would write a hit record and 20 years later Jawbreaker would make their triumphant return to headline Riot Fest. Makes me wonder what still awaits and what stories have yet to be written.
The Face, February 2004.
The Distillers’ infamous cover story in UK style mag The Face in which Brody really opened up and wailed. Lots of mud-slinging about the dissolution of her marriage. Very turn-of-the-century gossipy British tabloid journalism. You don’t wanna know what I paid for this thing.
Alternative Press, July 2003.
Sort of a foil to the previously mentioned issue. Originally intended to be Rancid’s comeback interview about Indestructible, it became one side of a divorce tell-all. Just an ugly situation all around and a weird time in punk history.
(Funny enough, in this issue there is also a little blurb about how to get signed to a major label from the late A&R rep Craig Aaronson, a side character in SELLOUT who is secretly the main character.)
Alternative Press, February, 2003.
The last of the Distillers Trilogy in my collection. I love that reader poll at the top. A great encapsulation of 2002: Tony Hawk, The Used, Jackass, Green Day.
(And funny enough in this issue there is a little Q&A with Adam from Jawbreaker about how the band had just bought back their misunderstood Dear You from Geffen after the label punted on it. A great foreshadowing of what was to come.)
Alternative Press, November 2006.
Rise Against’s first Alternative Press cover. After years of grinding it out and making incremental gains, they finally graduated to the cover after “Swing Life Away” unexpectedly took off and transformed them from underdogs to headliners.
Alternative Press’ My Chemical Romance collection.
I admit to starting in a bit of a knowledge hole with this band. There was a lot of critical documentation of them that I had to catch up on. Fortunately AP put together this collection of the magazine’s MCR coverage over the years. Leslie Simon deserves a lot of credit for being one of the first, if not the first, to document MCR in their early days. Most of the stories in here were written by her. It’s funny how the coverage evolves over time in it, from check out this scrappy Jersey goth punk band blurbs tucked into the back pages to rolling out the red carpet whenever they so much as breathed and were guaranteed at least one cover story.
SPIN, February 2004.
SPIN’s The Next Big Things issue, in which the magazine touted Thursday and the Distillers as hot new artists to watch (along with Interpol and the Darkness). The following year, in their next Next Big Things issue (in which they’d placed their bets on the Killers, LCD Soundsystem, and M.I.A.), they wrote that Thursday and Distillers “released remarkable albums that have suffered less than spectacular sales. We hope we didn’t curse them and that they’ll return to make even more compelling music.” Ouch! Unfair, in my opinion, but time makes fools of us all.
I asked both Brody and Geoff about this photoshoot and they had such different recollections. Brody remembered being stuck in a heated struggle about the skirt on the cover, which she really didn’t want to wear. This setting ended up being the opening to their chapter in SELLOUT. But when Geoff told me his account he said something like, “I remember the photographer told me to hike up my pants to show a little sock and that was it.” That’s that old school rock mag sexist double standard for ya. (In hindsight though I think they both look very cool.)
Cometbus #54, In China with Green Day.
I said this in an interview I did about SELLOUT, and I’ll say it again to anyone who will listen: Aaron Cometbus is the greatest to ever do it. I avoid most modern music journalism like the plague. I think it’s perpetuated by a sad group of people who have mistaken a circle jerk for an orgy. But this is in a completely different category, the best example of what good music writing can be, both in its prose and its delivery. A genre unto itself. Very aspirational.
Maximum Rocknroll, June, 1994.
And lastly, the one that started it all. The infamous MRR anti-major manifesto. “Some of Your Friends Are Already This Fucked.” Just to drive home what a looming spectre this issue cast over punk, when I interviewed Jim Adkins for my book, he cited the title verbatim, 25 years later. Like it was etched into his brain. A pretty vicious, militant issue that drew the line in the sand that shaped the next decade of punk. I might frame this one. It essentially mapped out two years of my life.
Also, here’s a little tip: The entire SPIN archives are available on Google Books and the entire MRR archives are on the Internet Archive. For free!
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