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At one point Tasty seemed to be the most prolific zine in the UK with new issues dropping through my letterbox on at least a monthly basis. Covering the best in indiepop worldwide, it was generally packed with interviews and reviews and then an article on the current situation amongst the Guatemalan working class or an interview with someone from the Socialist Alliance. Although never a political zine as such, in that they didn’t constantly badger bands about their political beliefs, Tasty always had a strong left-leaning thread running through the issues, something sadly ignored by many zines. The most astonishing thing about Tasty though was that it cost absolutely nothing at all though sadly this couldn’t last forever. Luckily they’d discovered the internet by then so we can still get our indiepop and politics fix on a regular basis. I talk to head boy Sam here about fanzines, technology, music and politics.

How did you first discover fanzines and what made you want to do your own?

Umm…I think the first fanzine I read was This Almighty Pop!, which was run by Stephen Maughan, who’s now in the ace Kosmonaut. Then I used to buy A Chance to Shine – the Morrissey fanzine religiously. After that I ran Atomic fanzine with a friend. Atomic got quite big – we printed about 10,000 each issue at its peak. But then my friend got all soft on a girl, and she got pregnant, so he had to go and get a proper job. But thinking about it now, doing Atomic was great. Although trying to run it using our dole money wasn’t ideal, it seemed that is was everything that I wanted to do was happening at the age of 20. Of course it wasn’t…but..y’know…

What kind of stuff do you cover in the zine? Do you have any kind of editorial policy on the subjects you cover?

With Atomic we never really got an issue out that we were happy with, because we’d always cave in and say to press officers that we’d interview their new signings, because we were a bit soft. With tasty it’s been different. I’ve always covered all sorts, but it’s pretty clear the sort of stuff I like – indie pop, jangly stuff. I cry into my sleeve a lot. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Did you make a conscious decision to seek out contributors? how do you find your contributors? What differences does this make to writing all the content yourself?

Just lately my friend Shane has helped in getting more and more contributors. This has led to a bit of a diversion from the jingly jangly route that I’ve always wanted to tasty to cover. But don’t worry. I shall wield an iron fist. Well, when I get time I will…

Tasty is one of the few zines I’ve come across covering socialist politics when most zines seem to ignore politics completely. How did you get involved in politics? Why do you think zines are so apolitical these days?

Why are so many *people* apolitical these days? The mainstream parties wouldn’t have it any other way. They don’t want you to vote…else people might actually start thinking and realise that there’s no difference between the tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee approach of Parliamentary politics. It’s difficult to say when I first got involved in politics. Growing up the Yorkshire tv region, I was very aware of the Great Miner’s Strike of 1984-85….but I was too young to really understand the gravity of it all. I started work on an oil refinery when I was 16 and joined the T&G, and eventually ended up buying Living Marxism magazine, which – looking back at it now – was bloody awful. I joined the CPGB in 1999 and left last year. I’ve just joined the Respect Unity Coalition – something I don’t really hold out much hope for, because it’s headed up by George Galloway and run by the SWP. But, well, we’ll see what happens with it…

UK zinedom seems to have been a bit quiet of late. Do you think things are starting to pick up again? Do you feel any kinship with other zines?

In think probably the best zine, particularly in the UK at the moment, is In Love With These Times in Spite of These Times. It’s ace.

How on earth do you manage to produce Tasty so that you’re able to distribute it for free?

Ah, well, it got too expensive in the end. I stopped doing the paper version at the beginning of last year, because I was sending too many overseas, and yeah, it was becoming expensive. But work’s photocopier and mailing system came in handy now and again…

What good/bad/hilarious experiences have you had doing interviews?

I don’t think I’ve ever had any bad ones. Oh….hang on….The Flying Medallions at Rock City about ten years ago was really annoying. Or scary. Or both. They kept circling me on skateboards. Jon Spencer once stormed out of an interview because I asked him a question about the bass guitar. Or lack of one. Miserable git. I think the less famous a person is, the more interesting the interview. They don’t have to feel as though they’re having to live up a certain image. I remember doing a really interesting one with Dick Preece of Lovejoy. I mostly do e-mailers these days though, cos I’m too shy and/or lazy.

Who would you most like to interview?

Musically – Morrissey. Otherwise, Thatcher. That’s Margaret, not Ben.

How much does the internet affect fanzines in general and particularly your own? What differences do you find between the paper version and the website?

Well, web-based fanzines mean that more people can access the what’s written in tasty – whether that’s a good thing, I dunno! I do miss the paper fanzine…and hope to bring it back some day. Having someone to help who knows about html programming – I think the kids call it – helps, coz I’m a complete spaz when it comes to things like that.

What’s your opinion on the big league fanzines such as Punk Planet, MRR, Careless Talk Costs Lives and Fracture?

To be honest, I’m only aware of CTCL, which was ok, but, in my opinion, not as good as people made out. I think the praise it got just showed how much people are desperate for a break from the NME. A lot of the fanzines that profess to be the ‘alternative’ to NME cover exactly the same stuff. It’s a joke.

With the NME losing readers by the shovelfull and new magazines Bang and X-Ray folding, what kind of future is there for the mainstream music press? What would you like to see in a new music magazine?

To be honest, I’m not really bothered. I think a lot is made of the rush for a new, breakthrough magazine or whatever. Do we really need one? People can find out themselves what some big publishing house telling them what to like through the pressure of advertising revenue. Sorry, I sound angst ridden now. I’m not really.

What bands are you excited about just now?

I think the Liberty Ship are really coming good after a shaky past year. I also adore the Lucksmiths and Pipas. Matinee Records can do no wrong to be honest. Outside of that, the last Fall lp was fantastic, and a friend told me about Bishop Allen, and I’ll always be thankful that he did. I also reluctantly liked the last Camera Obscura album, and look forward to Tender Trap’s next move.

What have been the best and worst things about running a fanzine?

The best thing is getting to find out about new bands. I dunno where I’d be without all the Matinee bands that have come my way. There are no bad things at all. It’s not a job – I don’t depend on it – if I didn’t like doing it, I’d stop.

Have you got any advice for anyone thinking of starting a fanzine?

Yeah, if you give 110% for ninety minutes, I’m sure you can do a job in the Second Division.

What have you got planned for future issues?

Planned?! Good grief. I don’t plan these things…

Tasty Website