This is being posted just in time for the New York’s Alright Fest. In anticipation of the fest and to let everyone know some happenings there over this next weekend, I thought I’d interview my old friend and fellow New Yorker Billy Bombs for Create to Destroy. I met Billy on St. Mark’s back when it was a sea of liberty spikes and before Coney Island High closed. We have both lived full lives over the past decade-plus, but we’re both still involved in punk when a lot of the cats we ran with are dead, in jail, or just went square. Here’s two New York locals catching up…
Shit man, it’s been almost a decade. You were one of the first punks I started hanging out with on St. Mark’s back in the day…do you still have your GOOD AS DEAD recordings?
Yeah its been forever, I still got all the GOOD AS DEAD stuff and my ZOMBIE VANDALS/GOOD AS DEAD split we put out back in 2002. It’s been forever since I met you at St. Marks!
Billy (left) and friends
What have you been doing for the past decade?
I tried the straight and narrow life, get a job, get a house, try to get married and children repeat. I realized how much I hated it when I realized I hated everyone around me who were just sports junkies with no basic interests other than television.
Well it’s cool you’re back in punk and actively involved. What is Atomic Punx magazine?
Atomic Punx is my comic/zine that I been planning to put out for a while. With upcoming artists and stories by myself and hopefully soon a few other writers/collaborators that want us to publish their work in our ongoing series. We started out in NYC, and we have new people working with us who have moved to NYC from Miami, Boston, Richmond and so on. We do a lot of demo reviews and show highlights and unfortunately we seem to have started doing some memorials for our friends who are no longer with us.
Why’d you start a zine?
I was going to shows and realized I’d like to contribute to the scene around me in some way and I didn’t wanna do a band again but I wanted to be part of this growing Nuke York Punk scene that was happening. It’s also a format for me to be able to write stories that popped in my head, we’ve put a few comics in there like Anarchy Mikkey and Rufio’s ongoing series Life Is Posers, hich people always write to us about on Facebook and Tumblr. I also had a few conversations with people over documenting the scene today and I’ve heard to many people say enough people are doing shows/zines/records. These people are completely wrong, its never enough. The scene is big and vast and now international so its ok to tell different aspects of one big story. It’s our lives. These pages, videos, and recordings will outlive us all in one way or another.
Our first cover art work has been done by Eugene, who’s in CRAZY SPIRIT and DAWN OF HUMANS. He supplies a lot of album and t-shirt artwork for his other bands as well as his own. He’s insane. Our second issue is where we brought in more people to it as Kirsten Flaherty did our cover, Peter Skullkid supplied our creature features and Y at El Boa did a splash page of art that were currently trying to get done as a black light poster. Our upcoming issues have artwork from Collin Claire from HEATHEN, which is a sick band, a creature feature by J.C. of Gelahmt zine which is sick and you guys gotta check out.
How many issues have you done?
We have done two issues so far with issues 3 and 4 ready to go. In between we wanted to start our documentary series of work starting with Sarja Ann’s photo zine.
Are you going to distribute at New York’s Alright Fest?
Yeah, we’ll be all over New York’s Alright Fest, plus we got a store right now in Bushwick, Brooklyn, called 2nd Time Around at 300 Knickerbocker. I’ll be there every day before the shows and we’ll have a table with local Nuke York Zines at NY Alright’s first Marketplace to bring a ton of distros to everyone coming to NYC for the fest.
Tell us about Sarja’s camera, the Atomic Punx photo zine and the fundraiser to help her…
Sarja Ann is pretty well known as the short punk girl that takes pictures and gets run over by big fat guys like myself at shows while trying to get great shots. I nearly crippled her at a HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS show which I still laugh about. I’m pretty pissed off that her camera got stolen at a show. That was a pretty big shock to us all and to be honest she’s my good friend and her losing this shit at the same time as the zine came out just meant one thing and that was to be honest with ourselves and be completely punk-over-profit and get her a new camera. We started an online donation that raised roughly a third of the money, and we plan on selling a third of the books to cover the costs of replacing her camera. She’s running around with a borrowed camera from this great punk chick Andrea who’s sticking up for a friend’s way of life. We’re hoping for next year to release a second issue of Sarja’s work. She’s the only one doing it for a while. I hope new kids who pick it up get to check out bands they haven’t seen before ‘cause punk rock is a Pandora’s box — you gotta have the right key in.
Crazy Spirit (photo by Sarja Ann)
How do you feel about the scene in NYC right now?
I’m like 13 again and I’m almost 30. I love this scene right now. It’s evolved so much from NY street punk which kinda dominated the scene around me, I’m not a colorful clothes guy and I’m not too into songs of love. What really brought me back to going to shows was Chi from ANASAZI who I love dearly and he never gave up on the scene ever even when it was a horrible splinted thing back in probably 2004 or 2005 when it was everyone just worshiping and talking about the bands from the 80s and not really doing anything special for themselves. I think the biggest point of the scene today is the bands and people making it their own, its hardcore but it’s not just NYHC, its post punk, or its political, or its straight up American Hardcore at its finest, its dudes (and ladies too) in their basements printing posters and album covers, its people doing their own businesses in their living room printing t-shirts, printing zines, pressing buttons getting horrible carpel tunnel syndrome. It’s awesome. The one group that has done the most first and foremost is Toxic State Records cause in my mind theirs a void between the last good street punk record i got and the first Toxic State record that was put out and everything branches off from there. I know that shows have been playing all along but I don’t think a blasting cap on this scene would have blown up this big if not for them. It’s so good it’s got its own name for this generation. It’s Nuke York Punk.
What about zine culture?
Zine culture is amazing right now, freedom of speech and the art thats going out in all these new zines is incredible. Im a huge MRR fan and a Guillotine magazine fan from the ’90s into 2000-whatever last issue went out. I think the more writers out there putting shit out the better. It’s your voice and your opinion in the zines. It’s what defines you. There are people who talk and say they do things and then there are the ones who go out and bang out a new issue, bang out a new song, new artwork. Zine culture is interwoven with the music and it’s supposed to be like that. I plan on putting out more stuff with art by new people ‘cause I want punks to see what other punks are doing and let them be inspired by what you can do with a zine.
Limp Wrist (photo by Sarja Ann)
I think freedom of speech is crucial and censorship and fear kill punk. Are you reading any other zines right now?
Of course I’m addicted to finding new zones. Nuke York has a great array of people putting out awesome issues like Gelahmt, which is a sick art zine with stuff that you’d want tattooed on your body and on shirts. NUTS, which is done by this complete nut named Ben, has been around a while now putting out awesome issue after issue with posters and intriguing art that only someone on Adderall would understand how it’s done. Others I’m checking out are Radical Domesticity from NYC, and a great one from a native NYC punk who’s now up in Baltimore is SanPaKu. I just started hitting up a few distros from out in Portland, OR, and one in Austin, TX (Ryyvolt zine is amazing). I hope to get a few zines from them that will be awesome as well. A zine that’s awesome is the ANASAZI/SURVIVAL tour zine, which is filled with awesome stories and beautiful art.
Where do you print your zines?
We do it all over. We started off with using a Risograph printing machine from Jess Pop who does some amazing art prints with it (she’s also singer of SURVIVAL — get their flexi at NY’s Alright Fest). Now we got the store and the guys we work with do some photograph stuff for issue 2, but we’re hoping we can do a mix up in issue 3 and bring back the awesome Riso prints for my zine.
How much does one cost to make?
It runs me a few hundred bucks for 500 of them and I do it for punk not profit ’cause I don’t make shit and I’m happy with that. I pay all the cover artists a fair price for it cause every single one of them breaks their ass to give me quality work on a short time frame.
How much do you sell it for?
Issue 1 & 2 are 3 bucks each, but for the Sarja Ann photozine we’re going to charge $5 ’cause now it’s double the size, so printing and paper is costing us more. But we plan on giving better and better quality as posters to rip out and little games we come up with.
Why do it?
Why not? I’m happy with being able to voice my opinion to my fellow punks and hardcore kids (which is the same thing). I love the feedback, I love people who shit on my narration in my stories in issue 1 and come back after reading #2 and say I get it now. One guy told me he could do better and I’m happy to say I asked him to write for us, but let’s see if he gets a deadline.
Are you doing trades with other punks?
I love trades, we also do Beserker Badges, our punk buttons, and we don’t charge shit we just make some for the bands and some for us. We know it’s hard times and everyone is trying to save dough. I love trading a bunch of zines so we can spread the word of all our zines.
Do you talk to international punks?
Of course. We just sent out a bunch of zines to Australia for this distro from Lewis of the VAGINORS and RULES OF THIRDS called No Patience Records. If your on that side of the world, find him, grab up some sick records/zines/cassettes, and if you’re here, pay the postage, whatever it may be, ’cause those bands are putting out some amazing tunes and time flies and you’ll miss it.
Lewis has always done right by me, too. How can we stay up to date?
We have a Facebook page — facebook.com/Atomicpunx — with events and shows and whatever else we put in our store, atomicpunx.tumblr.com, Big Cartel to order all our stuff, and a physical store called 2nd Time Around at 300 Knickerbocker Ave in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s between Hart and Suydam—look for the store blasting punk all day, and probably me yelling for stapling my hand…again.
Any last words, punk?
Yeah, all you punks out there hanging out with your friends thinking of leaving your hometown ’cause the scene ain’t so great or just dull. Why don’t you go and do something with it? Go start a band or start a record store or a label, get a zine going. Make your voice heard. It’s easy to go check out new places and stay there and just be the kid in the crowd but it’s one thing to make your city your own, make your scene something bigger than what it was. Giving up sucks, giving up on your friends sucks more. I’ve been friends with the same guys for half my life—15 years or more. I love seeing other scenes, but my hometown and my friends and my beginnings will match up with my ending as well. Peace or Annihilation.
There my friends, is the mission statement of Create to Destroy. ANOK4U2