Someone I knew from back home had some college paper she was writing on fanzines and needed people to answer questions for her. I volunteered to and kinda liked how my answers came out. Aaaaaaand, go:
When did you discover zines?
When I was about 11 or 12 years old, which would make it about 1993 or 1994.
How did you discover them?
Initially, usually from older friends whom I skateboarded with. My parents were a little over protective, so the skate culture that existed outside of the physical act of skateboarding was pretty foreign. They introduced me to punk rock, and while at their house I would look through zines on bands I had never heard of.
Why do you like them?
My reasons for loving them when I was young are about the same as they are now: they report and expose a culture that you can't just turn on the TV or go to a newstand and find. Well, you used to not be able to, now you get a watered down, parent friendly version of punk culture where ever you go. Zines are beyond the underground now. Now that regular society has exploited all of it's classic resources for musical entertainment, it's bringing what was once a big secret into the open, and the proof is in the "punk" hairstyles in extremely upscale salons, to the CBGBs shirts at the mall, to being able to buy shirts with pre-printed tattoos. The underground is in the limelight, and zines are fighting to keep an underground scene alive. Sometimes the challenge in finding truly underground bands in obscure zines from around the world is where the excitement is.
Do you favour zines over regular magazines?
To be honest, I don't read much of either anymore. The accessability of the internet has really rendered zine printing a lost artform - much like creating quality records/CDs. There's alot of esteem in it, but usually half of your reader base will just read it online, rather than put the effort into hunting it out and buying it. Generally speaking though, if I want to read about punk, I want it to be written by a punk. Rolling Stone or Spin (generally) employs outsiders who are just following the trends, because that's what they're paid for. If I'm going to put the time into reading about a band, I want it expressed by a real fan - which is exactly why fanzines were created in the first place.
What magazines do you read?
Usually none. I'll pick up the usual tattoo magazine, but generally it's for the pictures and not the articles. I'll also read just about anything on football.
Have you written for any zines?
( If yes ) How did you come to contribute?
When I was about 13 or 14, two friends and I started our own locally based zine called Incoherent Crap. It was only circulated locally and focused on bands everyone knew in the local scene. It was something I wished someone else was doing at that time, and about stuff that I was familiar with and could relate to. We did that zine for upwards of 3 years I believe before it fizzled out. I kept writing here and there, publishing in other local zines, online when the internet started to explode in the late 90's, and then started my own zine, completely personal/opinion based, called Murder which I only did one issue of.
( If yes ) Have you had any professional training?
Several college level writing courses, and some jobs that entitled some creative writing. But I'm an electrician.
What do you know about the history of zines?
The same history everyone else really knows: when punk started in the 70's, big named music magazines wouldn't publish articles on it (unless it was more of a "look what these crazy kids are doing!" one-off article), so the fans took it to themselves to do it. They wrote and published their own photocopied magazines, and dubed them "fanzines", since they were written by the fans they were writing to. From there it snowballed - people started publishing picture and art zines, writing purely personal stuff, and so on. Now zine has basically become a term for someone writing independently with the intention of publishing independently.
What is your favourite type? (ie: music, art, cooking, diy)
I still stick to punk rock.
What do you look for in them?
Honesty. That's the one thing they should always have, because without that, you're just as bad as the pigs pretending they know the culture in order to sell more newstand copies.
Where is your favourite place to buy them?
Ideally, from the zine maker directly (either by mailorder, or off of a table at a show) because when I do that I know my money is going directly into the pocket of the creator. No middle man, no profit margins, no bullshit. That being said, I've slipped into a stage of complacency and laziness as I get older, and usually opt to just read interviews, essays, etc online, or buy whenever is convenient for me (be it at a show, or picking up the newest MRR at Borders).
Do you collect them?
I used to, religiously. Nowadays, since I'm a packrat they pile up in my bathroom or get boxed up and eventually lost, given away, or recycled during spring cleaning, moves, etc.
What else do you collect?
The usual for an aging punk guy - music (vinyl), tattoos, musical gear, etc.
What do you do with your old zines once you’ve read them?
As above, they float around unread for a few years until it's time they get disposed of in a proper manner. Some though, if there's a particularly inspiring article, interview, picture, etc in it, I'll hold onto it for years and years and years in hopes that one day my kid will find it and find the same inspiration in it that I once did. Then write his own zine about it, only then it will just be a blog. Or whatever blogs will have become by then.
If there was a permanent zine library opened would you use it?
I'd support it, but probably rarely use it.
Is there one main person who you could say is responsible for introducing you to zines/ punk/ hardcore/ diy, etc?
I wouldn't say there's one main person. Plenty of old friends, bands, and zines who kept feeding my thirst for the obscure. Zines like Maximum RnR, HeartattaCk, Profane Existence got my wheels turning on finding new bands and learning about the "punk life". Then reading others like Cometbus and I'm Johnny And I Don't Give A Fuck made me realize you can take that punk lifestyle outside of the show venue and apply it to real life. Zines like that kept me continually inspired and pushed that "against the grain" mentality I had since a young age, and still have to this day. And whether or not it was those authors intention of creating something so inspiring and insightful, it really kept me going on that path when I would have just slipped into a coma of normalcy like everyone I went to high school with. In hindsight, I guess it's sometimes the most unintended actions that make the biggest impact.
Tell me something inspiring that has happened to you.
I think I just did.