When I was a teenager, my friends first turned me on to “underground” music. By underground, I mean the music you didn’t hear on the radio. Punk, metal, new wave. And for that, I am forever grateful to them. The exchanging of cassette tapes, tape trading, buying records and going to shows were activities on the short list of the things we cared about. Being from a relatively small town, we had to rely on word-of-mouth to learn about new music. No internet then. It was discovery via mail or phone. Or by going to the record store. We would have to call clubs in the bigger cities to listen to their “concert line” messages to find out what bands would be coming. But the single greatest resource for discovering new music, outside of a friend’s testimony, was ‘the zine’.
The zine’ was a wealth of information. Independently published, almost exclusively in black and white and on newsprint or Xeroxed. It was packed with record reviews, features on bands, editorials, “letters to the editor” and photographs. There were ones that were circulated nationally, mostly via record stores, and there were smaller, regional ones. Zines were a foundation of the scene.