The Podcast


   

Latest Episode #41


Ralph Santolla's Stench Of Redemption

● Working with Deicide
● Steve Asheim plays Tchaikovsky
● New band with Steve DiG!

More Episodes


#40 - Ralph Santolla's Individual Thought Patterns

#39 - Artificial Brain & Chthe'ilist

#38 - Pagan Altar & Cirith Ungol


Must reads:    All Albums Of The Month   ●   From The Vaults!   ●  The Forums Hall Of Fame   ●   Irish Metal - Reviews Archive
Matty Moore – War On All Fronts Zine | Interview


There’s a new zine on the block, and in an era where there’s less and less of them, it’s one you should take the time to read.

Matty Moore has put the latest installment of his War On All Fronts zine together with care and attention to detail – not to mention a lot of time and effort.

He tells us a little bit about it here. Plus you can download a PDF of it at the bottom. Make sure to pick up the printed article!

***

Making any zine is a labour of love. People may be surprised though at just how hard it is. What has been your own experience and what have been the biggest setbacks or challenges?

“A labour of love” is exactly how Danny from Pariah Child described it to me when I started Northern Blaze issue #1 years ago and it’s still the most accurate definition I’ve heard.

You have to set yourself up for a lot of disappointments, financial being the major one, but also knowing that things won’t always pan out exactly as you want.

One thing I’ve learnt over the years is always contact twice as many bands about interviews as you plan on including.

I’ve had a few interviews I’d spent a long time on coming up with questions for bands I really love never come back to me, but you have to just take it on the chin and move on with creating the best product you can with what you have.

The whole zine-compiling process has definitely gotten tougher, partly because the quality of other zines out there has risen so much, but also because my criticism of myself has become a lot harsher.

Northern Blaze was a very haphazard and amateurish affair, mostly because at 16 I barely knew what I was talking about or what I was doing.

Nowadays I wouldn’t put something out unless it matched my own high standard I set for myself, and it takes discipline to meet that standard.

The last couple of weeks before a deadline are the toughest because I find myself turning down a lot of social engagements (including good gigs) to sit at home and proof-read or add to reviews.

Like you say most people don’t quite fathom the level of work that goes into it, but I see it along the lines of writing a good essay or academic paper- the time put into it could be the difference between a first and a 2.1, or in the zine-writing case between a good product and a shit one.

That’s maybe the the best analogy I can use to anyone who’s never done something like this before- in terms of how much work that goes into it I find writing a zine tougher than anything I wrote at uni, and I put more effort into it than most people probably put into their dissertations.

Even to me it still seems strange that something that I have accepted will probably lose me money should be treated with such life or death seriousness.

Like I said before that realisation is probably the most obvious disappointment you’ll encounter writing a zine, and it’s something I’m finding tougher with WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 than with any issue I’ve done before.

In the past I’ve always had a student loan or some source of disposable income to fund printing and it didn’t make too much difference that I’d probably only see about half of that money come back to me. These days that’s just not a possibility.

I simply don’t have the funds to print 200 copies and hope they sell, which is why this time I’m relying on advance orders and selling advertising space to make it work.

Pre-ordering a zine might be a bit of an alien concept to some people, but this time with WOAF it’s a necessity.

By the time it goes to print most copies will be accounted for- there’ll be very few spare to sell afterwards so if anyone is interested it getting one I seriously recommend you pre-order one or get some distro to take a wholesale order- I can’t guarantee you’ll get a copy otherwise.

There’s also the possibility that if I don’t get enough interest within a reasonable time frame then the printed edition will simply be cancelled.

That would be the ultimate disappointment, for me and for people who’ve pre-ordered already, but it’s the way of the world now.

For a lot of artforms we’re having to revert to a system of patronage, and some people seem reticent to do that, even though it’s a system that’s probably more beneficial to the creator and to the customer.

As much as I loathe these unrealistic Kickstarter things it does seem to be making fans more involved in the product than ever before and that’s something I think is a good thing.

WAR ON ALL FRONTS is my baby and I’m proud of my creation regardless of whether I get to produce a physical product of it or not, but I also know that by wanting to share it with people I’m creating a sort of collective ownership of it.

It’s like when you buy an album you become a part of what the band or artists does- anyone who pays towards the printing of WOAF for a piece of it becomes a part of it too.

It’s also largely assumed that the world has moved on a bit from zines. Why would someone 1 – write a zine and 2 – buy a zine in 2013?

I think it’s sad that the world should ever move on fully from physical products, whether that is print media or records, CDs and tapes.

Maybe that’s just me being a technophobe, but for me digital representation can’t beet the sensory experience of “the real thing.” I don’t own a Kindle- I still have shelves bursting with books, and although I’ve sold off most of my vinyl now I still prefer to listen to music from a CD or tape. In fact the only download music is if it’s a digital promo.

There’s just something cold and disattached about the whole digital age.

Terry Hooley said vinyl has always been sexy, John Waters said don’t fuck anyone if they don’t own any books and I agree on both accounts.

Who has ever got the horn over downloading an album or an e-book- where’s the excitement in that? Can the computer age ever replicate that simple excitement of getting a something in the post (cheers to labels who still use physical promos for giving me this buzz!), or can browsing on Amazon ever give the same mental stimulation as the sights, sounds and smells of getting lost in a good record store or bookshop?

With zines it’s slightly different of course.

There’s that demand for immediate dissemination of information to contend with, and there’s no way to combat the internet for that.

I’ve accepted the digital revolution a little bit more this time with WOAF A.D. 2013 by doing the free e-zine edition, but to me printed zines are still timeless, and that’s why the .pdf version is not the full completed product.

To me you don’t get the full experience of an album unless you have a physical copy of it so why should it be any different with zines? My business model I guess is based pretty closely on Bandcamp.

There’s so much out there on the market these days that you have to give people a taste for free, even if that is allowing them to stream the whole album.

In the print media world there’s been a debate about that going on for the past decade, particularly in newspapers.

I always get put in mind of a quote by David Simon who said “how much more contempt for your product can you have other than to give it away for free?” but I don’t see it like that.

Yes newspapers made a mistake by giving everything away free online and giving people no reason to keep the industry going financially any more, but that’s where the idea of saving the full product for those who pay for it comes from. Giving away a reduced version is essentially a form of advertising.

It’s not greed that motivates this idea of making people pay for the full thing- it’s wanting good writing and creativity to survive. You can’t expect there to be good journalism or good music to be made if you don’t support the people behind it.

When it comes specifically to music magazines I think it’s the mistakes of the mainstream press, especially the Metal press, that makes print fanzines the best source for music reviews and interviews these days.

Pick up a copy of Terrorizer now and compare it to 10 years ago and the difference in quality is shocking.

You can find almost all the content from glossy music magazines online now, so naturally the amount of readership has fallen and those magazines’ response has been not to improve the standard of their physical product but to make it even more disposable.

The length of your average album review is now half of what it used to be, which is wholly inadequate to give a reasonable insight- and that’s before you factor in the fact some magazines now require a label to take out an ad before they’ll even give their promos a review, or the financial motivation for pushing certain bands as cover stars.

I’ve even heard of one particular rag in Germany trying to extort extra CDs to share around the office before they would print any reviews of a label. Would you really expect any integrity or honest insight from these people any more?

With the mainstream Metal press I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.They’ve nobody to blame but themselves for being in decline. [Matty references an apparently fabricated review by one person in particular – ed].

I’m not saying fanzines are infallible of course, but at least most of us still respect Metal enough to not treat it with contempt like that, and as they are mostly one-man operations we can take responsibility for every word that goes to print.

The only mistake I can recall ever being printed in WOAF was when I got your man out of Watain’s name wrong once- compare that to most of the mistakes that you’ll find in the average issue of Metal Hammer or whatever and I’m the one who is supposedly the amateur? It’s laughable.

There are some terribly written fanzines out there too, but there is a select few who have it down tight, and some whose physical product is a thing of artistic beauty too.

For me the likes of Devilment, Kaleidoscope, Cimmerian Codex, Hell Bent For Metal, Pariah Child, Horrible Eyes and a few others are the cream of the crop when it comes to zines and with this issue I like to think WOAF has joined them.

Many zines have a central theme, even if it isnt ever explicitly stated. A raison d’etre if you like. What’s yours?

With WOAF A.D. 2013 I suppose I have returned to having a theme of sorts with a zine for the first time since I put Northern Blaze to rest, and I think it was really the impetus I needed to give the project some life again.

After aborting WOAF #2 in 2012 I didn’t really have any desire to go into the breach once more, but about halfway through 2013 when I realised just what a fantastic year of Metal releases we were having I felt like I didn’t really have any choice but to do it again.

In my opinion 2013 was the best year in Metal we’ve had in the past 20, maybe even 30 years. It has just been absolutely staggering.

It’s a slightly autistic trait of mine (but one that I think a lot of Metalheads will be able to empathise with) but the desire to codify and make sense of this cascade of amazing albums and demos that was the real impetus behind WOAF A.D. 2013. So if there is a theme I suppose that is it.

Certainly that was why I chose that particular name rather than simply making it issue #2.

That being said, I don’t think themes are all that necessary.

What’s wrong with just putting together some interviews with bands you like, ask them some really probing questions you wouldn’t get from anything on your local newstand, throw in some reviews of recent releases, make the artwork interesting and stapling it together? I don’t think fanzines need to be much more complicated than that.

The best zines, like Isten, stay in the mind long after they’re sold out. Whats the core quality of a great zine?

In a nutshell, it’s quality and passionate writing.

Fanzines are timeless because they have that great historical fascination element, that ability for you to go back and read about a band at a certain snapshot of time, or to see what albums someone was raving about back then. In fact probably my favourite thing with old zines is to scan their reviews sections for forgotten gems.

The visual side has always been less important to me but I’m taking it a lot more seriously now as I think it can really add something.

I don’t think there’s an overall aesthetic to the artwork I’ve used, the aim was just to make it fit to each particular band being interviewed in some way, and I suppose the front cover was intentionally neoclassical in style.

To some extent I was trying to make a point of this being a new classic era of Metal, but more importantly it just looked cool so I went with it.

I guess the fact I’ve decided to print the zine like an A5 paperback novel with a stitched and glued spine rather than stapled is part of that too. Yes it was also the cheapest option to do at 120 pages, but it also just will look better and I wanted to do something that will stand out.

The mark of a classic fanzine is that it is something you’ll still enjoy taking off your shelf 20 years from now and I hope I’ve achieved that.

Will you do another one or is it all just too much?

Well I think after I caught the zine-writing bug again it’s not going away any time soon. January has still being busy trying to complete all the extra content I’ve promised for the expanded printed edition and the list of upcoming releases and promos I’ve already been sent for 2014 releases is pretty damn irresistible too.

The tentative plan at the moment seems to be to keep my model of free .pdf zines first and printed ones later for those that appreciate them- maybe a quarterly .pdf and a yearly compendium.

As long as bands keep giving me great material to write about then I suppose that will continue.

Right now I’m just focussing on getting WOAF A.D. 2013 printed though. It’s tough work convincing people to come round to the idea of pre-ordering but hopefully after some more promotion there’ll be enough to get a first print run done and have them ready for the Into The Void anniversary on the 22nd.

Interview by Earl Grey ::: 03/02/13


5 Comments
  1. Hope this all goes peachy for you.

  2. Cheers. All going according to plan this should be going to the printers early next week. There should be a few copies going spare for sale at the ITV anniversary gig but not many so anyone who wants one is probably better off pre-ordering.

  3. Pretty obvious a shitload of work went into this. Well done. The album reviews section is especially excellent IMO.

  4. Larl Keavey Says:

    Fair play to ya Matty, some admirable shit

  5. Great job on the zine. A few small issues include the huge number of typos and the pixelated graphics.

Post your comment
Name

Mail (will not be published - required)