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Blast From the Past: Thrillhouse Records

This ran in MRR #297  which came out in February 2008, you can grab it ...

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Record of the Week: Black Time

Record of the Week: Black Time

BLACK TIME – “Aerial Gobs of Love” LP All hail BLACK TIME, architects of the brutal ...

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New Blood! ESPECIE FALLIDA, CRIMINAL WAVE, and DEFIANT TEEN

“New Blood” is our weekly feature spotlighting new bands from around the world! See below for info ...

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Maximum Rocknroll #387 • Aug 2015

It’s time for Maximum Rocknroll #387, the August 2015 issue! Philadelphia's SHEER MAG discuss livin' in the city ...

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Photo: Mark Murrmann

Blast From the Past: Hex Dispensers

This originally ran in MRR #318/Nov ‘09, which you can grab here I’ve been buying punk ...

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Maximum Rocknroll #386 • July 2015

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It’s time for Maximum Rocknroll #386, the July 2015 issue! FLESH WORLD dish on their new record, out now on Iron Lung, and clue us into the secrets to surviving in a rapidly changing San Francisco. PISS TEST reflects on their hometown of Portland and talks some shit in advance of their upcoming West Coast tour. We’ve got two blasts from the past: Philadelphia’s YDI talk about their recently reissued records and THE WRECKS (featured on Not So Quiet on the Western Front!) give us a window into Reno’s early punk scene and the role of women within it. The producer and director of Here To Be Heard: The Story of the Slits clue us into the progress of the documentary, which was spearheaded by Ari Up just before her death. We’ve also got conversations with PDX rockers BITCH SCHOOL, Russian post-punkers SIERPIEN, Australia’s Homeless Records, and a massive London, UK scene report! Plus, a photo spread documenting many of the worldwide MRR Presents shows that happened on May 16th, 2015, new regular columns from Erika Elizabeth (of Dynamite Hemorrhage fanzine and Expressway To Yr Skull radio) and Sadie Switchblade (of G.L.O.S.S. and PEEPLE WATCHIN’), and all the record, zine, book, film and demo reviews that are fit to print. Cover art by Roz Adams!

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You can also order this issue by mail by sending $4.99 in the US, $7 Canada, $9 Mexico, or $11 worldwide to: MRR, PO Box 460760, San Francisco, CA 94146 USA or just SUBSCRIBE.

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Maximum Rocknroll #385 • June 2015

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It’s time for Maximum Rocknroll #385, the June 2015 issue! Victoria and Joey from Providence’s DOWNTOWN BOYS discuss their new record Full Communism and how their politics intersect with their brand of sax-punk and their electrifying live shows, UK anarcho legends PART 1 discuss the reissue of their long out-of-print catalogue and their return to performing, and Germany’s HYSTERESE clue us into the band dynamics in advance of their US tour. Plus, Toronto’s COLUMN OF HEAVEN‘s bassist Andrew Nolan provides a window into the changing landscape of Toronto, the team behind BAD DADDIES interviews Nottingham, UK’s SLEAFORD MODS, Russia’s MINEFIELD talk making music in the shadow of a famous arms factory, and the deep friendship that Olympia, WA’s SHARKPACT is built on is made abundantly clear. We’ve also got a reflection on the Loud! Fast! Philly! oral history project—dozens of interviews with Philly punks of all ages and stripes, and growing—accompanied by amazing portraits from Karen Kirchhoff. Farrah Skeiky takes our cover photo and documented DC’s Damaged City Fest for a photo spread, while Ochi Reyes brings us a photographic dispatch from London’s Bentfest. And, of course, we’ve got all the columns you’ve come to expect—including guest columns from Darryl Andrew Reid of Montreal and Sadie Switchblade of G.L.O.S.S. about their experiences as trans women in punk—and the largest record reviews section in punk print. Pick up your copy today!

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Maximum Rocknroll #384 • May 2015

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It’s Maximum Rocknroll #384, the May 2015 issue! Despite what we told you in our April issue, fools, we’re not abandoning the interview form… Cover stars G.L.O.S.S. took no prisoners on their recent West Coast tour and MRR sat down with them before their San Jose show for their first print interview—absolutely not to be missed! We also have conversations with Bay Area live powerhouse VIOLENCE CREEPS, Spain’s TRANCE, and Wu Wei, the frontman of one of China’s oldest punk bands, SMZB. Ian Svenonius interviewed FAT CREEPS in advance of their upcoming European tour, and Osa Atoe of Shotgun Seamstress talked to Monica Estrella Negra about Chicago’s Black and Brown Punk Shows. Sean Gray and Neve Bianco discussed Sean’s amazing new project, Is This Venue Accessible?, a crowdsourced website gathering information about accessibility of venues and DIY punk spaces worldwide, and more broadly, the experience of being disabled punks. Plus an interview with the director of the San Diego punk doc It’s Gonna Blow, a conversation with Finland’s VIVISEKTIO about their decades-long involvement in hardcore—based 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, they might be one of the northernmost bands ever interviewed in Maximum!—and, of course, all the columns and reviews you’ve come to expect.

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Maximum Rocknroll #383 • April 2015

mrr_383_cvrIt’s time for Maximum Rocknroll #383, April 2015, the Comics and Art special issue, guest coordinated by famed MRR columnist Monsieur Alex Simon. Featuring a cover by everyone’s favorite Mexican miscreant, Abraham Diaz, we threw over the written word for a full-on visual extravaganza, featuring art by Jim Shomo, Sara Abruña, Reuben Storey, Teodoro Hernandez, Tara Bursey, Payton Lower, Diane Maltesta, Andrew Scully, Ben Fordree, Juarma Lopez, J.M. Bertoyas, Shiva Addanki, Eugene Terry, Grimoire, Emma Kohlmann, Jack Hayden, Hector Sudor, Chico Félix, Ivan Brun, Robin Wiberg, Anna Vo, Alexander Heir, Craoman, Christopher Nhdiystrec, Anna Haifisch, Luca Tetraite, Maren Karlson, Suzy X, Matt Crabe, Jeffrey Mahannah, Freak City, Heather Benjamin, Dustin McChesney, Julien Dupont, Laura Pallmall, Ruben Dahlstrand, Nathan Ward, Mar Estrema, Sapiens, Mengzhu Fu, Karissa Sakumoto, Pyotr Mulinov, Jyriki Nissinen, Luiz Berger, Luiz Gustavo Vargas, Yecatl Peña, Zoe Burke, Annie Mok, Marissa Paternoster, Emma Maatman and Rudy Loewe. CLICK HERE for bios and links for all of the artists in this issue!

Of course, we’ve still got all the columns and reviews you’ve come to expect, and special online content rolling out all month. Plus, a few April Fool’s surprises!

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Create to Destroy! with Larry Livermore


January 7th, 2015 by

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I met Larry Livermore through Mike Berdan in Brooklyn right before I moved to the MRR HQ to be the distribution coordinator. It was one of those, “Oh, you have to meet Larry”-type meetings. He had some funny stories about what it was like living in the old MRR HQ with Tim Yo and was definitely a wealth of history for early Bay Area punk. Whatever your opinion of Larry is, from Lookout Records to his involvement with MRR and Punk Planet magazines, few of us can touch the volume that he has contributed to punk over the years. And after 30-plus years, he’s still at it. Here’s Larry Livermore…

Would you consider yourself infamous?
Is that better or worse than being famous? I don’t even know anymore. I think it depends on who you ask.

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What were you doing before punk? I want to see those hippie pictures…
Well, I was always involved in some subculture or another. First I was a greaser and a teenage hooligan, and then, after narrowly escaping prison a couple of times, decided to become a peace-and-love hippie and take a lot of drugs, and then later a glam rocker. But at least in the early days of hippie, before the hairdos and the beards and the self-absorbed delusions got out of hand, there wasn’t as much difference as you’d think between us and the punks of a couple generations later. We were scruffy squatters getting by any way we could and trying to destroy society. Sound familiar?

Where’d the name Livermore come from?
From a mediocre — okay, bad — pulp novel I wrote in 1979 about a nuclear accident at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. People who’d read the manuscript (it was never published, so don’t bother looking) started calling me Lawrence de Livermore (my birth name is Lawrence) to make fun of me, and later, when I needed a pseudonym because so many people were mad at me about Lookout magazine, I turned it into Lawrence D. Livermore. Dropped the D after a while, and then at Gilman, Jesse Michaels and some of the other smart alecs started calling me Larry instead of Lawrence, thinking it would wind me up. Well, the joke was on them, because I’ve been Larry Livermore ever since.

You’ve done a lot in punk — why do you think you have accomplished so much and still continue to do so? Is it a DIY attitude? Perseverance? How have you stayed active for so long?
Done a lot? Maybe. Accomplished a lot? It’s probably too soon to tell. DIY? Well, it was never a religion or an ideology with me, just the way it was. My friends and I were weird enough that no one was going to do stuff for us, so basically if we didn’t do it ourselves it didn’t get done. And how have I stayed active? What else am I gonna do? There’s never anything good on TV.

Tell us about Lookout magazine.
Lookout magazine started as sort of a community newsletter when I lived in the mountains of Northern California. But it turned out that the community didn’t appreciate having a newsletter, especially since I wrote pretty openly about the marijuana cultivation that was at the heart of the local culture and economy. So after a group of angry hippies threatened to burn my house down if I didn’t stop writing about stuff like that, I switched my focus more to music and punk rock, which resulted in my finding a whole new audience in the Bay Area and other urban centers, especially among MRR readers. Learning how to make and distribute a xeroxed zine (I later switched into a newsprint format, thanks to some help and advice from Tim Yohannan) helped me learn the skills I would need when Lookout evolved into a record label.

What was zine culture like back then and print media? How was it used in punk?
As you can probably imagine, it was much, much bigger in those pre-internet days. It was the main way word got out about bands and records and shows and venues. Because of that, there was a huge variety of zines. Some, like MRR and Flipside, tried to cover the whole spectrum of punk-related activities, while others specialized in certain aspects of punk culture, and still others were strictly personal, focusing on the individual writer or writers’ experiences, feelings, and ideas. It was a rich and creative time for that sort of publishing, because for a brief time we had the advantages of new technology like cheap xeroxing and photo reproduction without the competition that would come a few years later from the internet.

What do you think of the shift from print media to internet culture?
I often joke about the MRR letters column being the internet message board of the ’80s and early ’90s because of all the arguments that would rage back and forth there. Lookout magazine’s letters column was much the same way. The difference was that while now you can post a snappy comeback in a matter of seconds, back then it would be a month or two between replies. That gave people more time to think about what they were saying, and also made it less likely that the argument would descend into the mindless hate-spewing that characterizes so many internet disputes.

That being said, I’m not at all anti-internet, even though it can be a bit mind-boggling how rapidly everything has changed since the mid-’90s. I think it must be a little bit like the transformation that happened 500 years earlier, when the printing press came into widespread use and made reading and publishing accessible to the masses instead of being confined to the elite. Then, just as now, people were soon complaining that printing lacked the soul and substance of hand-lettered books, and how it was now possible for any old schmuck to publish any old garbage. But on balance, I think most people would agree that printing turned out to be a good thing for people and civilization, and I believe history will render a similar verdict on the internet. As a person of a certain age, of course, I’ll always be a bit nostalgic about the era of the printed book and zine. But time moves on, and we have to, too, unless we want to get run over by it.

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The Lookouts (and friends) at Gilman. From left: Kamala, Todd Wilder (of Stikky), Jesse Michaels, Marshall Stax (below), and Larry (photo by Murray Bowles)

Tell us about Lookout Records. Why start a label?
My typical answer is that everything on the radio and on the commercial music scene was so awful that I realized if I ever wanted to have any decent records, I’d have to make them myself. That’s still basically true, but probably at least as important was the sense that something amazing was happening in the East Bay and at Gilman Street and that someone needed to document it. Having learned through Lookout magazine that it was possible for even a doofus like myself, using easily available and affordable technology, to reach thousands of people all over the country and the planet, it seemed like a logical next step to move from print into music.

What was it like getting sleeves made and pressing records back then in the Bay? Were you able to keep it local?
We had to get our records pressed at an outfit called Alberti, in Southern California. It was an independent, family-run company that the majority of the West Coast punks used in those days. The people who ran it were into the art and science of making quality vinyl; they weren’t just commercial hacks. Sadly, they’re no longer around. Our LP jackets — also following the lead of other local punk labels like Mordam and Alternative Tentacles — were printed by a company called Ross-Ellis, in Canada, who I believe are still in business today. When it came to 7” sleeves, those were mostly done at my favorite 24-hour copy shop just off Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, where I had a hook-up with the manager, and where I also ran off thousands of copies of Lookout magazine before it went newsprint. Most of our other printing — things like catalogs and LP inserts, lyric sheets, stuff like that, was done locally.

How do you think you contributed to that specific scene in the Bay? It’s pretty crazy that so many of those bands went on to become as big as they did.
That’s kind of a chicken-or-egg question. There’s no way Lookout would have become so successful without the incredibly vibrant and thriving culture that sprung up around Gilman, but I think it’s safe to say that we also, whether for better or worse, helped bring Gilman and the bands that came out of there, to the attention of a much wider audience.

There’s a book called Free Spaces: The Sources of Democratic Change in America, by Sara Evans and Harry Boyte, which I’ve often cited as a partial explanation for what happened at Gilman. The book theorizes that for marginalized cultures to thrive and develop, people need a place where they can gather and work undisturbed and unobserved by the prying eyes and manipulating fingers of the dominant culture.

Gilman was just such a place: pretty much anyone could come there, start a band or an art project of some sort, and find, if not a receptive, at least a supportive audience. But for at least the first couple years, almost no one knew about it except for other punks, artists, and weirdos. Because we had that little mini-world to operate in, we could develop our own ideas and expression without giving much thought to what the outside world might think or not think about us.

You were involved with the early days of 924 Gilman?
Yes, pretty much from the start, though I’d have to point out that we never called it “924 Gilman.” It was the Gilman Street Project at first (I still have the original t-shirt), then “Gilman Street,” then ultimately just plain “Gilman.” The “924 Gilman” name came into use after Tim ended Maximum Rocknroll’s involvement with the club and a new group of people took it over.

How’d you get involved with MRR?
I’d been listening to MRR Radio since the late ’70s, and reading the magazine since it started publishing in 1982, and I’d submitted a couple things about my band and my zine. But I didn’t meet Tim until January of 1986, when Aaron Cometbus introduced me to him at a show at New Method in Emeryville (YOUTH OF TODAY and VIOLENT COERCION, in case you’re wondering). Tim and I hit it off pretty well, both of us being veterans of the 60s scene, and I did a couple more articles and interviews for the magazine (one memorable one with ISOCRACY, for example) before Tim asked me to do a regular column starting in the spring of 1987. The following year I moved into the MRR house on Clipper Street, but that only lasted a few months.

What did you cover in your column?
My MRR column was like a miniature version of Lookout magazine, which meant that I wrote about anything and everything. I was pretty big (and still am) on environmental causes, which Tim was not so keen on (“It’s just a bunch of yuppies who don’t want their views spoiled,” he once said), but I also wrote about mainstream and punk politics, gender and sexuality issues, the never-ending debate about what was or wasn’t “punk,” DIY vs. commercial ethics, violence at punk shows, basically whatever came to mind at any given moment.

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