In a series of 4 weekly features, we’ve challenged some of our favourite creative artists to think about exactly why they pour countless hours of their time into the music scene that they have associated themselves with and just what it means to them. Why do they do the things they do, in the way they do them? You’ll see that whilst it has its highs, it’s certainly not all rosy and comes with its issues too but despite this, the people involved still keep ploughing on with the upmost optimism.
In this third feature, we caught up with writer and editor Nick Mann, of the independent fanzine ‘A Short Fanzine About Rocking’ to get his thoughts on why a fanzine is as important as ever.
I’d be lying if I said I started writing A Short Fanzine About Rocking as part of an undertaking to help keep the DIY scene alive. The first issues were written long enough ago for me to still be aspiring to some sort of career in music journalism and, back in the deep, dark mists of time (i.e. 2001), writing a fanzine still seemed like a viable way of getting a foot in the door. Somehow, it’s now 12 years later, my dream of getting a music journalism career is long gone, but I’m still producing the fanzine.
It’s fair to say it’s gained a life of its own – simply because even though I often consider knocking it on the head, it seems impossible to stop. The fact that it’s introduced me to so many new bands, has given me the opportunity to meet so many awesome people and, of course, has got me into a few gigs for free along the way, all definitely serve as motivation for keeping ASFAR going.
So too does the knowledge that, now the fanzine has a decent readership, I am able to spread the word to people about awesome new bands which they might not otherwise have heard about. Because of that, I guess it is playing some kind of role in helping to perpetuate the DIY/underground scene. The fanzine is definitely still a DIY venture – anyone who’s seen it will know there are no professional designers involved!
Of course, a fanzine is a bit of an anomaly in today’s web-based music industry, where most people find out about new music online and get their fix of reviews and interviews via blogs. But I’d like to think ASFAR does still have a role to play, giving a bit more an in-depth look at things than instant fix websites might do.
In any case, for luddites like me there’ll always be something that little bit special about actually holding a printed publication. I’ve got no idea how long that will still hold true, but I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
Words by Tom Smith