Maximumrocknroll is a widely distributed monthly fanzine dedicated to supporting the underground punk rock scene. MRR’s 30-year plus history and large, obsessed, all-volunteer staff has made its punk rock coverage the most consistently up-to-date and reliable around. MRR maintains the values of the punk underground by remaining independent and not-for-profit.
“Maximum Rock & Roll” started in 1977 as a punk rock radio show—one of the first and best of all time. “Tim (Yohannan) and the gang” played the latest punk and hardcore sounds from across the world, the U.S., and from their home in the bristling San Francisco Bay Area punk scene. “The gang” included personalities like Jeff Bale, Ruth Schwartz, and Jello Biafra. Punk antiheroes regularly visited as guest DJs, and the roster of touring bands interviewed on the show reads like the track list on a classic old comp. The show was notable for the immediacy of the music, a dedication to international coverage (rare at the time), and for explicitly interjecting progressive politics into the dialogue of punk. The show became hugely successful in the underground, and eventually was broadcast from stations across the U.S. and abroad.
Maximumrocknroll, in its zine form, first appeared in 1982 as the newsprint booklet in Not So Quiet on the Western Front, a compilation double-LP released on Alternative Tentacles. The comp included 47 Northern California and Nevada bands, many of whom went on to ruin thousands of impressionable kids for productive civic life by releasing some of the best punk records ever. Today MRR has published over 300 issues and the message is more urgent than it has been in years. It’s still an essential read if you want to keep up with new record and CD releases. MRR also reviews a large number of zines in every issue, as well as books, films, and videos. Every month, MRR publishes tons of submission-based band interviews, from the latest buzz bands to the most obscure punx from the far reaches of the universe. In addition, scene reports from across the globe keep the worldwide scene connected.
The Maximumrocknroll columns section has served as the punk scene’s gossipy party line for decades, but also includes increasingly diverse voices from active punx with something to say, or at least some interesting way of saying it, or at least an oversized ego to stroke. To describe just a few: syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall has written widely from his trips to Afghanistan, while Mykel Board’s sexual analogies have, somehow, entertained people for years, and Felix Von Havoc writes love letters to early -’80s Italian hardcore, etc. The zine is also a vehicle for critical politics, via its articles and news section, at a time when many punk rockers are wondering how and when to act in response to a stormy political climate.
By remaining stable on the one hand, flipping the bird with the other, MRR’s controversial personality has affected—or infected—the history of punk rock for all time.