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The Blooding

Having been involved in the UK fanzine ‘scene’ for a good number of years, it did seem that zines were dying out once the teen-c/glitter era started to fade. There seemed to be a long period of emptiness after – the internet became the new thing and only the hardcore (in both senses of the word) punk zines still seemed to carry on as normal, headed by the semi-professional Fracture. But a year or so ago, there seemed to be some new zines bubbling up from those random neglected areas of the UK, where boredom often inspires creativity. And that’s what we’re focusing on for our Talentspotter profiles.

First up is The Blooding, a joint effort based round the music scene of Exeter though also looking outwards to some of the new and established bands from further afield. Although only two issues old, I’ve been struck by both the intelligent and interesting writing and the excellent design which manages to be ramshackle and eye catching while still remaining clear and readable. My questions are answered by Jamie.

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

I’m not sure really. Robin, the other half of the zine, and myself both enjoyed zines like ‘Organ’, ‘Two Steaks’, ‘Emancipation’ and ‘Fracture’ years and years ago. It wasn’t the singular influence of any particular zine that made us want to start our own, it was more the realisation that we could make something in a bedroom or on a kitchen table that people would read (however minuscule the readership!). What’s great about fanzines is that because they are not made in the pursuit of personal gain and they have no formal restrictions or conventions, people can do what they want! The fanzine is in a sense, the only ‘pure’ and truly ‘free’ print medium.

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

It’s difficult to say really, for lack of a better cliché I’d have to say it’s an eclectic mix. Basically we feature any bands or related people that one of us finds particularly interesting. I guess the regular content would range from music that is typically typecast under the banner of either punk-rock, post-rock, math-rock or any of the associated sub-genres – be that a particularly broad spectrum, I know! It is indeed bound by the punk-rock ethos but I don’t think it’s a ‘punk-rock zine’, simply because the content does not strictly revolve around punk-rock music.

There is an editorial policy of sorts, but it doesn’t so much relate to the actual textual content as it does to the overall approach. The agreed provision dictates primarily that it must adhere to the traditional DIY ethics of fanzine culture and also that we will only interview persons who can be contacted directly (no middle-men!). Also like most zines, it must be of non-profit motivation. However, we’ve tried to take this a little further through a policy of anonymity regarding our own roles within the zine. Within the zine, featured interviewees are obviously formally credited, as are guest contributors (should they request it), but credit for ourselves is restricted to outside of the actual publication (with the exception of occasional image credits relating to individual photographic pieces). It’s supposed to make it more informative and less personal. There are a lot of zines with personal agendas, providing an interpersonal address to the reader. I think that sometimes this can come across as being a bit off-putting. Although the personal approach does indeed work with some zines, albeit rarely, I don’t think it would work with this zine.

Oh yeah, and we haven’t done record reviews because it would be too opinion-orientated and contradictory to the impersonal approach. Overall though, it’s all not quite as serious and regimented as I may have made it sound – we’re not militant or anything!

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 new zines?

Not sure. There’s always amazing zines out there I’m sure, its finding them that’s difficult. Zines are seemingly being pushed into further obscurity and isolation at the moment. However, recently we’ve been in touch with an Irish zine called ‘Unfit For Consumption’, and also ‘Stereo Sanctity’ zine, which comes from Pembrokeshire.

How important is the layout and design to you?

Very important. That’s the fun part! This zine has a neat-appearance due to the structure of the layouts, I guess this is a factor which could evoke accusations of pretentiousness. The only comeback we could have for this would be to highlight that the zine’s visual outcome has been achieved through the same methods of production as the more purist punk zines have. It’s a 100% cut and paste affair and the photographic set-pieces are manually developed. There’s stacks of dirty-looking punk-rock zines out there, not to say that’s bad at all, but the only way fanzines, in a broader sense, will survive is if they evolve and produce diversity between each other.

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

Not sure, they seem to have gone surprisingly smoothly so far! (Wood being knocked..)

Who would you most like to interview?

Hmm.. I guess anyone who we deem interesting at the particular time of producing an issue.

How much does the internet affect fanzines in general and particularly your own? Do you have any plans to put the fanzine online?

There’s definitely been a rise in web-zines and a decline of printed matter. It is a shame, as inevitably web-zines cannot reproduce the tangible outcome of the handmade publication. There can be a happy medium between both formats for sure, as both have their various qualities, but it seems a waste if the only zines that kids read in the future are through a computer screen. There are some great web-zines that are updated regularly, but personally I much prefer the traditional print variety as they don’t come with a read-by date. As for sending this particular zine through the wires – to be honest we wouldn’t know where to start!

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

They’re great, what else can be said! They serve an important purpose. As long as they don’t eclipse the smaller publications, they can act as an excellent gateway to other stuff. However, I’m not sure whether I’d class CTCL as a fanzine.

With NME losing readers by the shovelfull and new magazines such as 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?

I have no idea. I haven’t bought a music magazine for probably about four years and hence, I’ve never actually read Bang or X-Ray so it wouldn’t be legitimate for me to comment on them. The faults of the mainstream publications are well documented. The substance will always be diluted, except they’ll just increasingly be owned by fewer and fewer people. Nothing will change, that is, unless profit is made illegal! It’s best not to worry about it too much, I guess.

What bands are you excited about just now?

New bands? I dunno, my finger has long been removed from the proverbial pulse! Erm well.. Save the Badgers! Paper Cut Out! The Unit Ama! The Broken Social Scene! San Luis Obispo! Berg Sans Nipple! Bullet Union! Woe! New Black! Trapdoor Fucking Exit! Birds of Display! K-Line! Rilo Kiley!

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

Best bits – Well it’s certainly relinquished much bedroom boredom. It’s also played an integral role in the continual reinvention of the kitchen table! Also, it’s much fun trying to explain to relatives (often during the christmas feeding regime), friends and various acquaintances why a zine isn’t necessarily the big waste of money they assumed it to be. (“You seeing any hard cash from that venture yet, boy?”).

Worst bits – The overwhelmingly worst bit is reserved for the revenue, which runs at a consistently gapping loss. Also, when people don’t want to buy a zine, but then proceed to ask for a free one.

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

Erm.. I’m not sure, except that I’d recommend doing it for sure. It is a lot harder work than it often appears to be, but it is ultimately a rewarding process. Any sub-culture is worth becoming involved with, and the great things about zine-culture is that it has so far pretty much escaped a bastardisation! Oh also, remember that the zine’s nature of freedom permits you to do whatever you want – so do it!

What have you got planned for future issues?

Well, as you can tell, we’re far too slack when it comes to securing any form of regularity! Whenever the next one does eventually surface, I’d like to think that it will be better than previous efforts. I hope it will incorporate a broader spectrum of musical interest in the future. We are thinking of changing the format a little, to possibly accommodate a complimentary CD. However, as always it’s restricted by that familiarly looming bank-balance!

For more information or to buy a copy email the_blooding@hotmail.com