Create to Destroy! Sam Lefebvre


October 15th, 2014 by

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MRR started as a radio show but is mostly known as a written publication.  I’m unsure if many of its contributors who write often or periodically consider themselves writers, but I consider Sam Lefebvre a writer.  In addition to MRR, Sam has been published  everywhere from our local papers to major magazines. I wanted to know more about what he does outside of our seemingly insulated world of writings from the underground…

Have you always been a writer?
Sure! I remember entertaining the idea of becoming a writer when I was a kid. Then I lost a spelling bee. The defeat rattles my writerly self-image to this day. I wrote a Russian alcoholic story in fourth grade, a psychosexual analysis of Dr. Strangelove in fifth grade, and a paean to the wind in sixth grade. Somehow, I have yet to exhaust embarrassing writing topics, thus my focus on punk.

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When did your writing mix with music such as doing zines? What zine are you currently working on?
I wrote lyrics in my early teens, notably a conceptual protest opus about Karl Rove for my first band, and started a zine when I was about seventeen. I felt inspired to make a zine because nothing like that was happening in my peer group. The impulse sprang from a void. I worked in a record store, consumed music voraciously, and felt possessed to try to express how songs made me feel and examine them in their cultural context, which is the same thing I do today.

My main zine project is Degenerate (aka Etrenegade/Degenetrenegade/ Appendegenerate), though I prefer to call it a “mag” and tend to think of it as more of a persisting sickness than a “project.” As an ongoing endeavor, making Degenerate is equal parts self-harm, penance, exercise in writing style, and feverish outpour.

How’d you wind up getting involved at MRR and Alternative Tentacles?
I discovered MRR at the Che Café in San Diego, where I’d take the bus to from the suburbs a lot. On visits to the Bay, I’d call MRR HQ and come over to green tape records. Mariam Bastami encouraged me to move and become a shitworker. Before moving, I also went and saw Jesse Luscious play in his then-reunited Gr’ups and interviewed his bandmates. He mentioned that he ran Alternative Tentacles, I stayed in touch, and he offered me an internship once I moved. I haven’t volunteered at AT for years, and only contribute to MRR sporadically nowadays, but those opportunities initially inspired me to move.

How did you start writing for the SF Weekly and East Bay Express?
A friend passed a copy of Degenerate to the music editor at SF Weekly, who got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a concert. I started contributing to the East Bay Express to diversify my outlets, where I became the music editor earlier this year, which ended my Hidden Agenda column and contributions at SF Weekly.

How’d you wind up contributing to Wondering Sound, Spin, and Consequence of Sound?
I pitched to national outlets because contributing to the weeklies mostly limited my scope to local music. Amusingly, one opportunity came after I felt like a well-known publication poached some of my reporting and angle on a local artist for their own story. Instead of getting mad, I reached out and pitched.

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How do you feel about bringing the underground to the masses? Do you feel that you’re doing any of the bands you cover a disservice by inviting people who are more mass consumers into the mostly non-corporate DIY world you cover?
What an accusation!

The traditional under/above-ground musical divisions are increasingly flimsy, definitely in the eyes of what music writers decide to pitch. Beyond that, once a recording is released, it’s severed from the artist’s intentions and enters into conversation with the surrounding culture. That’s the case for punk and pop and chip music. I try to engage in that dialog. I write about other genres, but punk is particularly resonant with me on an emotional and physical level, so my coverage skews towards it.

About doing bands a disservice, no. I actually don’t have that much power. Bands disservice themselves by acting foolishly.

As far as the “more mass consumers” bit, I don’t think we should pretend that punks somehow consume less or with more discernment than non-punks. People who just download pop music use a lot less plastic/paper/oil/trees than people whose apartments are full of records.

One of the coolest things about punk, to me, is that it reveres collective, ritualistic activities, like shows. Punk shows can be these amazing environments for celebrating deviance and momentarily subverting the power dynamics that mar the outside world. But a rare balance of venue, people, and sound is needed to make that happen. When punk shows are full of tourists, they’re less likely to tap that potential. I don’t think my writing has invited many tourists into punk shows; regardless, I hope that it has extended conversations instigated by punk to tourists.

These questions have an air of “what we do is secret” ho-hum. Recently, I interviewed a seventy-some-year-old theater organist. He’s played his entire life. He’s never been recorded. He performs with his back to the audience and doesn’t turn around. He’s always the opener. What he does is secret. What punks do is ego-driven and flayed on Tumblr, just like any other niche sort of music. It’s cool that punk retains regional character and homespun scenes despite that, but let’s not be precious.

What zines do you read?
I like some zines because they look great, others because I discover new things, and others because they have provocative ideas. As for recent publications, issues of Distort, Accept the Darkness, Ratcharge, Nuts!, and Make-a-Mess have combined all of those qualities. Honestly, I mostly read magazines lately. While I’ve never been very interested in perzines, I have tremendous respect for writing and self-publishing as a way for people to tell their story in their own words.

What music writers do you follow? 
To paraphrase Cranked up Really High, an unjustly ignored book about punk by Stewart Home (who’d maybe prefer to be plagiarized), I tend to reject the list as an organizing principle. I’ll take this opportunity to recommend Fvck the Media, which sort of falls outside both the zine and music writing camps, The Quietus for essays, and Collapse Board, where I look for good contrarian takes on hip bands.

How can we best keep up to date on your writing?
Well, I have articles basically every week in the East Bay Express. My freelancing activity varies, though I have pieces appearing in Wondering Sound pretty consistently, a site I recommend in general. Otherwise, I’ve capitulated to the usual social media platforms.



Record of the Week: P.I.G.Z. Bloody Belgium EP


October 14th, 2014 by

PIGZ_EP“Belgium is a mess. And that’s not half bad!” spits Yves Lafere before an anthemic guitar creeps in, finally breaking out into what can and should only be considered a Punk with a capital “P” classic! From the catchy riffing to the biting, emphasized vocals and jittery drums that seem to want to race ahead, “Bloody Belgium” is to P.I.G.Z. what “Blitzkrieg Bop” was to the RAMONES: an emblematic magnum opus epitomizing their sound and aesthetic. “Is this Democracy, or is this blindness?” he chastises and squeals, everything sounding charismatically shambolic but utterly electrified. On the flip, “Stooges” slams in with an attitude-filled riff, not unlike the way “God Save the Queen” does, and has a distinctly heavy tone akin to that of the STOOGES or MC5, with steel-hard chords and Lafere snarling, “Too many problems in my life, too many problems ’cause I wanna be me!” Closer “Shall I” is the snottiest of the lot, a short, severe, hand-clapping reaction to societal expectations and identity frustration—timeless teenage rampage! JW’s Records originally pressed these three crown jewels of Belgian punk to a 12″ after the band won first place in 1978’s First Belgian Punk Contest, and they were rereleased once again by German Payola Records that same year. Both are apparently rare as fuck, so Ugly Pop has done us all a massive favor and made these three perfectly p-u-n-k masterpieces available yet again; remastered and packaged beautifully, with pictures, reprints of newspaper clippings and an intro text framing this seminal, absolutely essential record.
(Ugly Pop)



Monday Photo Blog: John Cates


October 13th, 2014 by

Thanks to Ryan Cappelletti for sending these photos from John Cates to the Monday Photo Blog. All these photos are of local Grand Rapids, MI bands, taken earlier this year. For more from John, check out kratss.tumblr.com.

Pagan Piss at the Bunker, Grand Rapids, MI, August 1, 2014 (photo by John Cates)

Dropped Calls at the Bunker, Grand Rapids, MI, May 24, 2014 (photo by John Cates)

​Mudwitch at the Temple House, Muskegon, MI, March 25, 2014 (photo by John Cates)

Trinket at the Bunker Grand Rapids, MI, May 30, 2014 (photo by John Cates)

Send your tour photos, bands that have come through your town, the best of your local bands, etc. to: photoblog {at} maximumrocknroll(.)com. Include your name, a link to your website (or flickr, Facebook, or whatever), and the band (or subject), date and location of each photo. Just send your best photos — edit tightly. Three to seven photos is plenty, and it’s best to send pictures of different bands. Please do not send watermarked photos. Please make your photos 72 dpi and about 600–800 pixels at the longest side. Not everything sent in will be posted, and a response is not guaranteed, but we do appreciate all of your contributions. Feel free to submit more than once. Thanks!



MRR Radio #1422 • 10/12/14


October 12th, 2014 by

Francesca hands the homework in late as usual: “What I didn’t do on my summer vacation.” Fall into the void. There is no such thing as time.

Play
Zru Vogue, San Francisco 1981

Zru Vogue, San Francisco 1981

“Pronto?”:
KLAXON – Senza Meta

“God is infinitely small.”
PLATZA – Kontrolle
ZRU VOGUE – Nakweda Dream
MIKE REP & THE QUOTAS – “…And Idols”
BRILLIANT COLORS – How I Solved the Problem of My Pride
VENOM P. STINGER – My Hole

“They made me wear a catheter, they fed me baby food.”
MORBID OPERA – Sledgehammer
LES TURDS – Shithole
THE NOTS – Dust Red
SUB DEBS – Picture Phone
AV LINTON – Scenesters, Hipsters, Teenstars & Fakers

“Att kunna spela? – Jag säger: “äsch”
NOISE ADDICT – Loner
KSMB – Jag Vill Dö
THE FALL – Lucifer Over Lancashire
STEPHAN EICHER – Noise Boys
YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS – The Clock
MECCA NORMAL – Water Cuts My Hands
LUNG LEG – Maid to Minx

“OK bye, I’m leaving now, no really.”
DARK LION – The Poor Get Prison
CREMALLERAS – Caras Decompuestas
LOWEST FORM – Negative Ecstasy

Maximum Rocknroll Radio is a weekly radio show and podcast featuring DIY punk, garage rock, hardcore, and more from around the world. Our rotating cast of DJs picks the best of the best from MRR magazine’s astounding, ever-growing vinyl archive. You can find MRR Radio archives, specials, and more at radio.maximumrocknroll.com. Thanks for listening!



MRR Presents: Friday Fuckin’ Funnies! #56


October 10th, 2014 by

It’s Friday Fuckin’ Funnies — the best comix section on the whole interwebs! Each Friday we have a selection of comic strips from punx like you… You make funnies? Send em to funnies {at} maximumrocknroll(.)com and maybe you’ll see yer comic here next Friday!

NOWHERE CITY by Vickie Smalls!

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More great comix by Vic at nowherecitycomix.tumblr.com

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LIFE IS POSERS!

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Loads more at lifeisposers.com

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COMICS OF MASS DISTRACTION by Chris Minetree

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See more by Chris at facebook.com/OfficialComicsOfMassDistraction.

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