This week I thought I’d give you a quick roundup of what I’ve been reading (besides the new issue of Razorblades & Aspirin, of course, which I cover in the Featured Releases section). As a wise man once said, check it out!
At Home No. 3 zine
The other day Jeff was tidying up around the store and produced a few copies of this issue of At Home zine. I’m not sure where they came from… perhaps the editor sent us a couple of freebies? I apologize for not getting back to whoever gave them to us! I hadn’t heard of the zine before, but an interview with Ian Mackaye was enough to draw me in, and I’m glad I investigated further because there’s some quality reading here. My favorite pieces are the interviews with Mackaye and Tim McMahon of Mouthpiece. I’ve read plenty of interview with both of them, but these interviews focus on shows both musicians played in South Carolina in the 90s, which provides an interesting angle. It made me think a lot about my own experiences going to shows in Virginia and North Carolina in the 90s, and I even went over to the Fugazi live archive to sample the audio from the first time I saw Fugazi live (Norfolk, Virginia 1995). I’m not sure how to get this zine, but if you see it, grab it.
Razorcake is such a steady presence in the punk scene that it’s easy to take it for granted, but I still check out every new issue. (It helps that they always send a big stack to Sorry State for free, which we then hand off to our customers.) This issue’s cover star is Martin Sorrondeguy, and he’s another person whose perspective I’m always interested in hearing. Here he talks with Michelle Cruz Gonzales of Spitboy, and as you might expect, the conversation is fascinating. Martin’s lengthy interview is reason enough to grab this issue, but as usual Razorcake is crammed to the gills with interesting art and writing.
About a year ago, when I got COVID, my friend Shane in Portland sent me a cool care package full of books, records, and zines to keep me occupied while in quarantine. (Thanks so much, Shane! I miss you, buddy!) Unfortunately, the package didn’t arrive until just as I was finishing my quarantine, so it’s taken me some time to look at everything, and one of the last pieces was this issue of Cometbus, a 2011 issue which chronicles Aaron’s trip to Southeast Asia with his old buddies in Green Day. I wrote about the most recent issue of Cometbus a while back and I was surprised how much I liked it. I’ve been aware of Cometbus forever, but I’m not sure I’d ever sat down and read an entire issue before then. I loved that issue, and I loved this one too. While I don’t have an inherent interest in what Green Day was up to in 2011, Aaron’s reflections on how people and friendship evolve over decades is fascinating, and I devoured all 97 pages in two sittings. New addition to the to do list: read more Cometbus (though I’m still terrified of the tiny handwritten text in the Cometbus Omnibus that has lived on my bookshelf for well over a decade now).
Joe Banks: Hawkwind: Days Of The Underground: Radical Escapism in the Age Of Paranoia (2020; Strange Attractor Press)
I’m only about halfway through this book, which one of Sorry State’s Instagram followers recommended after I posted about Hawkwind’s Hall of the Mountain Grill album. The book is dense with information about Hawkwind and I’ve learned a lot, but despite its density it’s a light read that keeps the pages turning. The writer has a strong sense of Hawkwind’s contribution to rock music and to British culture, infusing the book with a fan’s enthusiasm without drifting into hagiography. I wish Banks took as much time setting the scene as some rock biographies I’ve read. The book jumps right into the beginning of the band with little attention to the members’ lives before the group, and a minimal portrait of the London counterculture from which they emerged. I’m sure plenty of music heads will appreciate the fact that Banks doesn’t spend hundreds of pages describing Ladbroke Grove in the 70s, but it sounds like a fascinating place. (I know a little about the area from reading books about the early days of Rough Trade, which was headquartered in that part of London.) Maybe I need to find a book just about that counterculture scene? Anyone have any recommendations?