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Month: November 2005

The Five Rules of Writing a ‘Zine

The Five Rules of Writing a ‘Zine

There’s nothing I love more than reading someone else’s ‘zine. Some people would call other zines competition, but I don’t. If anything, I would call them inspiration- they alert me to new bands, give me ideas for design, and let me be a consumer instead of a reporter for a while. I love it. Straight-up love it.

That’s why it hurts me so much to see ‘zines that fail. I cringe when I go to a ‘zine that has one writer who absolutely loves music but doesn’t have time to keep up the site. The few articles stored there may be simply amazing, but if there’s not a drive to keep it going, the site crumbles.

That’s why I’ve put together this checklist of “Things to Know and Do Before You Start a Zine.”

1. Dedicate yourself to the zine. Priority number one is this: do not give up on your ‘zine. Dedication is key- if you love your ‘zine, you will keep it going. If you love other stuff more, your ‘zine will fall by the wayside, and you’ll lose all of the money you put into the design and the hosting and the domain name. Dedication isn’t just a mindset, though- it’s committing to a plan of action. Figure out what you want to accomplish before you start and work to get there. Do not just start a ‘zine to start a ‘zine- that’s a sure recipe for failure.

Here at the IC we pretty much love everything about our ‘zine. We love writing, we love the bands we write about, we love contacting the bands we write about, we love the design of the site we eventually put our writing on. We just love everything about this ‘zine. That’s not to say it’s perfect or that we couldn’t love it more, but at the moment we take great pleasure in what our ‘zine is.

2. Have a focus. If there isn’t a specific genre or subculture that you consistently want to keep reporting on, there’s a good chance you’ll lose interest and the site will fall into disarray. If you just love music, but you love all types of music indiscriminately, you might be better off writing for an already-established zine or cultivating your interests in music more.

Here at the IC we focus on bands that have received little or no exposure- we have a passion for bands that haven’t been heard and it’s that passion that keeps us going. 3. Make the zine operate on a schedule that you can consistently make. If you say that you’ll have a CD review every week, have a CD review every week. If you’re going to post stuff every month, post every month. If you don’t, then people will start to wonder what happened. If you’re consistent in posting material, there are people who will be consistent in reading it. If things fall through, but you really were planning on it, just post a note on your site that says “Vacationing in the Swiss Alps for a month” or “Broke all fingers on right hand, can’t update” or “Carrying 24 hours this semester due to computer error.” Your readers will understand, and you’ll probably retain some of them. Always post something, though- if you don’t post regularly, you will lose readership. It’s that simple.

Here at the IC we update in the last week of the month. Our goal is the third Sunday of the month, but usually it’s sometime in the last full week of the month.

4. Have promotion ideas to reach your group. If you’re a punk ‘zine, hit up the punk shows, the skateparks, and the skateshops. Posting flyers at a coffee shop for your punk zine is not going to be very effective, let me tell you. Then again, an indie-kid leaving business cards at a body-piercing joint isn’t going to work very well either. Find where your audience is and advertise there. Don’t waste your time in the wrong places. And trust me, even if there are 1700 people there, spreading flyers for a bisexual folk singer at a Christian pop-punk show is not going to increase the amount of people at the coffeehouse (I wish I was kidding).

Here at the IC, we hit up the purevolume.com general promo boards pretty hard. It’s basically the first stop for bands with recorded music, seeing as posting three songs is free and promoting yourself on the message boards is as easy as having an e-mail address and a name. We find a LOT of new stuff there. We also make ourselves known in the local scenes, getting the word out to bands that haven’t made it past the local ‘converted-shop’ venue (every scene has at least one).

5. Get some people to help out. Once you’ve got the idea going, make it bigger. Post an all-call for writers. At first you should take whatever applications come your way, but eventually you’ll be able to get selective. Once you have turned those applications into staff, you’re ready to take some of the load off of your back and spread it out amongst your writers. At first you won’t have any more pages than you already did, but you’ll have a lot less work on your back. All things grow, though- and soon you’ll be putting out way more than you ever did on your own, and you won’t be as heavily taxed as you were in the beginning.

The IC has pretty much the best staff in the world. From top to bottom, I’m pretty thrilled with the staff we have collected over the years. Hardworking, talented, and in tune with the IC’s vision, they pretty much can be counted on for anything I give them. That’s not to say that we couldn’t tighten up a couple spots and maybe add a few more staff, but right now, we’re thrilled.

And that’s the five steps to rocking a zine. Whether it be punk, metal, emo, grind, folk, indie-pop, electronica, guitar, bass, drums, whatever floats your boat, you can make a zine work if you know what to do. And now you know. So go do it.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

Bricks for Shoulders-You Are, Therefore I Am…EP

bricksforshouldersBand Name: Bricks for Shoulders

Album Name: You Are, Therefore I Am… EP
Best Element: The complexity of a single guitar.
Genre: Political hardcore/metal
Website: www.myspace.com/bricksforshoulders
Label Name: Far Between Records (www.farbetweenrecords.com)

Band E-mail: astronautrobbins@hotmail.com

I will always maintain that this band could use a bassist, but that may be because I am a bassist looking for a band. Bassist or no, this EP hits you like a kick in the teeth. It’s brutal, heavy, thought-provoking, and beautiful- all in one fell swoop. Steve D really took this two-piece to a new level with You are, Therefore I am….

Almost every problem I found in their first demo has been addressed in this release. The vocals range from spoken word to screams to something that verges on melodic singing, and each vocal style is used in the correct spot each time. Save for a few spots the album flows, with each song seeming to be an extension of the previous song. The album finally culminates in a final statement by the band that really leaves a lasting effect on the listener.

The thing that surprised and impressed me the most about this album was the complexity of the guitar parts from the BFS’ previous release. Steve D seems to have personally grown as a guitarist a great deal. He has really molded a truly individual style as he pulls from different styles including grindcore, hardcore, and metal. As he uses these styles he creates a sound that really fills out the album, making it seem like there are 2 guitars and a bass playing.

The drums were and still are great. The toms could be turned down slightly but there is no question about the quality.

If you were to put a gun to my head and force me to compare BFS to another band I would say they sound like Terror stripped down to vocals/guitar/drums, but I would say that is it best to not compare BFS to anyone- they have a truly distinct style.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new face of hardcore: stripped down and brutal. These guys are just a few steps ahead.

-Scott Landis

redbassist66@comcast.net

Blake Jones and the Trike Shop-Pop Songs and Kyries

Band Name: Blake Jones and the Trike Shop

Album Name: Pop Songs and Kyries

Best Element: Untainted retro-pop joy.

Genre: Indie-pop

Website: http://echomatic.home.mindspring.com/ts/core.html

Label Name: n/a

Band E-mail: whispermaphone@hotmail.com

I used to have a friend who loved 60’s rock and roll bands such as The Kinks and the early Beatles- bands that played Fender guitars and wrote fun pop songs. I remember the day I went over to my friend’s house and found that his father (who had been in various bands in his youth) had bought him a new, shiny, red Fender Stratocaster for Christmas- a total 60’s guitar with a red body and maple neck. I was in instant awe of that instrument. And there’s something about Blake Jones and the Trike Shop that reminds me of that guitar.

The music on Pop Songs and Kyries is fun, retro pop with coy lyrics and great harmonies. It doesn’t have one distinctive style but instead sounds like a lost radio station from 1965 playing the Beatles, early Who, and early Kinks. Upon hearing Pop Songs and Kyries, Moms and Dads everywhere will rejoice and reminisce about the good ol’ days back when they used pay only 10 cents for gas and kids actually went outside to play. The funny thing about Blake Jones and the Trike Shop is that they also remind me slightly of Belle and Sebastian, a band that is somewhat retro-pop but still quite contemporary.

Belle and Sebastian (as well as Blake Jones) would have been twice as popular as they are now if they had existed 40 years ago. Instead, they are lumped into a genre so quaintly titled “indie pop.” It’s a perfectly fitting title: It’s indie because no Major can sell that kind of music anymore and pop because it’s easy to listen to and sing along to.

Blake Jones is a band that exists in an alternate universe in which the following events in pop music history never happened: The birth of hip-hop, heavy metal, and Pro Tools. Everyone who misses or is infatuated with the 60’s (I’m guessing most people reading music reviews on the internet were born after the 60’s) should check out Blake Jones and the Trike Shop for a good time. It would be great for a Shins/Belle and Sebastian dance party!

-VicA

Jsonmusic@hotmail.com

4th Order-13

4thorderBand Name: 4th Order

Album Name: 13

Best Element: The mindset behind the music

Genre: Grunge

Website: www.4thorder.net

Label Name: n/a

Band E-mail: questions@4thorder.net

4th Order’s music is a mainly derived from two sources: Creed and Alice in Chains. While I could see the latter being a suitable option for imitation, the former is not- and unfortunately for 4th Order, Creed seems to be the main pool of inspiration. From there, the band constructs an album that, for the most part, sounds like mediocre covers of someone else’s much-dated work.

While the vocal harmonies are tight and give the music another dimension, the harmonies are blatantly influenced by Alice in Chains, the lead singer sounds like he’s doing his best Scott Stapp impression, and the music often has clean guitar parts in minor keys reminiscent of early Metallica. This band reminds me of the bands that usually play at bars and clubs around town, mostly playing covers in the set along with a few originals that sound like covers. These guys often play radio-friendly rock music that steers clear of any innovation or creativity.

If I seem harsh in this review, let me make something clear: this band isn’t out to be the biggest band in the world. 4th Order is made up of guys with families and wives who are making music for the sole purpose of loving to play. They just want to play the music that they grew up with and don’t really care if it’s cool anymore. I feel that in itself is respectable- but the recycled grunge is just not listenable anymore.

-VicA

Jsonmusic@hotmail.com