Tuesday, 12 June 2012

When I grow up, I want to be...

My mum came to stay a couple of weeks ago and with her help I had a bit of a clear-out.  While excavating under the stairs (how can I have acquired so much crap in the three short years I've lived here?!) I found a box of delights: my old fanzine stash!  Looking through them transported me back to being seventeen again, a time when I had two goals:
a) to be a music journalist, or
b) to be a glamourous rock star casualty, a la Courtney Love.

My fanzines were these two aims writ large; one was page after page of self-indulgent whining and nervous breakdown poetry, while the other featured really quite good music articles and interviews. 

The fanzine years were both the best and worst of my life.  I was miserable a lot of the time, as is de rigeur for a 16- and 17- year old (especially one living in Bradford), and spent rather too many nights hacking away at my arms, gazing at pictures of dead rock stars and mooning over my girlfriend.  But many happy days were spent trailing around indie record shops or trawling jumble sales for 70s shirts, satin nightdresses and corduroy flares, the best of which we'd wear and the bits left over, sell on our secondhand stall in Huddersfield Market.  Easy access to the PR companies of Britpop bands (a simple phone call introducing myself and my fanzine usually sufficed, "Hi, I'm Janet from Venus".  Took me a while to work out that that could cause misunderstandings) meant my postbox was usually bulging with promo CDs, free gig tickets and interview offers.  And so our evenings were spent in Leeds or across the Pennines in Manchester, watching every great new band the mid-90s had to offer.  And Sleeper.  It was a truly exciting time to be writing about music and I was lucky for the ease with which I gained access to my favourite bands.

When I got my A Level results I was shocked - genuinely shocked - that two years writing gig reviews and faffing around with page design didn't translate to good results.  In fact, I failed spectacularly.  When I came to Leicester to university I discovered alcohol, and boys and girls who were actually allowed to be seen with me, and clubs, and friends who didn't consider self-harm to be an enjoyable way to their spend free time.  I abandoned my ambition to be a writer and instead concentrated on my second goal: to be a rock and roll fuck-up.  My fanzines were abandoned and it wasn't until I started this blog last year that I began writing again. 

Now, 15 years on, I look back on the fanzine years with real fondness and nostalgia, so it was a surprise to me to realise, on looking through my old copies, how truly unhappy I was for much of that time. 

1. How great is this little cartoon?  Drawn by Mark, the bassist from Ash, of his bandmates when I interviewed them backstage in Manchester (and nearly passed out from fangirl nerves).
2. Does anyone still remember Strangelove?  I'm actually pretty impressed with the quality of the writing in this interview with their lead singer.  

1. My confessional zine, Release The Pressure, makes me cringe when I read it now.  Quite cool musings on riot grrrl, feminism and queer politics are, unfortunately, overshadowed by solipsistic teen angst about self-harm.
2. This page shows either the beginnings of some kind of breakdown, or a typical page from a teenager's diary: you decide.


  1. I remember Strangelove! I cant remember the names of any of their songs though!
    You teen years sound more interesting than mine! I had the same goal B! I gave it my best shot!

  2. Ah, from 13-16 my main occupation was gazing at my bedroom walls, it was only when I started my A Levels that things got more interesting (to the very great detriment of my education!). Then in pursuit of goal B I messed up my university education too!

  3. Aaaaah, I remember writing for my then-boyfriend's fanzine ("witty" pieces, not getting to interview Bis or anything) and thinking it made me ever so cool. I loved this post - it made me all nostalgic, even if I do mean for a time when I was fashionably miserable.

    1. Thanks! Is it sad that I *still* think writing fanzines makes/made me cool?!!