Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Sleeping Karma - Tri

My Sleeping Karma

Several years ago I bought an album by the legendary German Krautrock trio Guru Guru. I was on the fence about the genre and figured that this band, a basic power trio with cosmic tendencies, would be my easiest entryway into that singular universe. I was mistaken – the record I bought seemed to be nothing but longwinded jams that had more in common with the Grateful Dead than anything I thought of as spacey, cosmic or even psychedelic. I doubt I spun it more than a couple of times.

My Sleeping Karma’s Tri is what I imagined Guru Guru would sound like. This German power trio still meanders, but does so with a purpose – nothing here sounds like mindless jamming. Instead the band deliberately, carefully, sometimes even lazily unfolds its melodies, letting the guitars ring and chime more often than rage and the rhythms undulate while moving ever forward. Brahama, Saragvati and the gorgeous Takshmi are as much about the space in between the stars as the stars themselves, as if we’re traveling at just under light speed, calmly appreciating the vastness of space without stinting on the propulsion. Space rock at its finest.

(For what it’s worth, my entry point into Krautrock turned out to be Faust. Go figure.)

- Michael Toland

Bubblegum Slut Magazine

Bubblegum Slut Magazine should already be familiar reading for sleazy rock n’ rollers, having built its reputation over the past ten years as one of the best underground sources of Glam, Sleaze, Punk, Goth, Deathrock, Rockabilly and other big-haired and “pre-1990 musical phenomenons other publications won't touch for fear of getting their barge pole all sticky with hairspray”. Even some of the bigger and more widely distributed publications like Bizarre, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Big Cheese, have raved about the ‘Slut, while a recent issue of Rock Sound magazine branded it "diverse, informed & well-written... a shining example to fanzines everywhere! - 9/10". In 2004 the Emap publishing group named Bubblegum Slut as one of just 5 shortlisted entries in the music category of its annual Fanzine Awards two years running, and the mag has continued to go from strength-to-strength.

The current ‘ten year anniversary’ issue (#37) features a really cool interview with Haggis from Zodiac Mindwarp / The Four Horsemen/ The Cult, plus much more on music including The Joneses, Nashville Pussy, Alice Cooper, as well as articles and reviews on film, fashion, art, books and “filth”! It’s a good production, every issue comes in a full color cover featuring cool cartoon art (by Andy Tilley/Sumpdoggy Designs) reflecting the ‘slut’ theme….plus a trademark fake fur heart!

As well as the magazine itself, The 'Slut has also released 3 budget-priced compilations of bands as dirty as itself, including the 4K Kerrang! rated 'An Hour With Bubblegum Slut', and nowadays each issue comes complete with a free sampler CD.

All-in-all Bubblegum Slut is one of the best places around for a fix of trashy rock n’ roll reading, here’s wishing it a happy tenth birthday and long may it continue!

Read more:

- Alex Eruptor

Bonus content: Interview with Bubblegum Slut Editor Alison B

1) What inspired you to set up your own magazine and what or who inspired the title 'bubblegum slut'?

Bubblegum Slut was born in the year 2000 - a time when the kids were down with the nu-metal sickness, and I was a 15-year old glam fan born 15 years too late. Both of these things inspired me to start Bubblegum Slut.
In those dark times, before Steel Panther and The Dirt, the names of the bands I would skip school to follow around the country were not considered fit to print by the mainstream rock press, not even in the context of an ironic, guilty pleasure. So I figured since so few others were writing about the music I loved, why shouldn’t I do it myself? And if I got a semi-legitimate reason to attend those far-flung gigs underage as part of the bargain, all the better!
If the mainstream music press of the time was disappointing, the zine scene was thriving 10 years ago, and with two or three editors typically selling their wares at every gig I attended back then (now that blogs and webzines are the favoured forms of self-publishing I’m more often the only one) I was hardly short on more direct inspiration either. Two fan-mags which had a massive influence on Bubblegum Slut’s content, design and attitude were Vagabond Hearts and Abaxis, both of which are now sadly defunct.

As for the title, unfortunately there’s no great story. The night before the first issue went to the printers (or rather a school photocopier commandeered out of hours) I was still without a title for the cut ‘n’ paste catastrophe I’d created. ‘Bubblegum’ and ‘Slut’ were picked hastily as words that seemed vaguely befitting of the time the zine was created in, as if they could’ve been picked off a lyric sheet by Rachel Stamp (who dominated the pages of those early issues) or described the band’s teen trash following, who turned up to gigs in bangles, tiaras, ripped fishnets and glitter, clutching lollipops and lunchboxes. The boys as well.

2) Rate the following rock mags (past and present) out of 10:

– 8.5 in the past/ 1 if we’re talking about present day emo-comic.
Classic Rock – An 8.5, since it is essentially the home of Kerrang!’s old guard. Scores highly for being the last mainstream rock mag to run proper, in-depth stories rather pull-out posters and patronizing QnAs. Loses marks for deifying the same long inactive bands on its cover issue after issue.

Metal Hammer – 8. Metal Hammer has always been reassuringly clear about what it stands for where other mags will abandon the sounds they championed six months back to jump on a newer trend. From a geeky self-publishing point of view, the art and layout is always a bit more inspiring than others too, but in terms of content it ain’t really my musical cup of char.
Raw – Gets a 10 - even though it was gone long before I’d starting listening to rock ‘n’ roll.
I discovered Raw through the former drummer in my boyfriend’s band; a man who had been so industriously hoarding porn since the mid-80s that, by the mid-noughties, his ceiling was beginning to sag under the sheer weight of jazz mags in the loft. Amongst the haul that came our way were when necessity forced him to part with a portion of his collection were some 80s Kerrang!s and copies of Raw. The girly mags were eventually all given away by the band to reward gig-goers who partook of audience participation at shows. Raw was too good for that though and I’ve help to those mags til this day.

RIP – Before my time and, unlike Raw, seemingly not to the tastes of that sticksman I used to know. So I’ve never owned a copy.

Hit Parader – 5 – I picked up a few copies of Hit Parader in the nu-metal days when, to be fair, it probably wasn’t at its best. Never seen it in the UK before or since.
Rolling Stone – past 10 / present 3.5. Can’t be denied that it published some classic and rightly influential rock journalism in the day, but under the weight of that reputation it seems to have come to take itself and the quest to chase what’s ‘cool’ a little too seriously.

3) You must have met some rock n roll characters in the 10 years you've been editing the magazine. Who have provided the most memorable interviews that you've done and why?

Jayne County is always going top my list of favourite interviewees; camp, witty and fierce (in terms of both of intelligence and fright-wig) she was everything I hoped for, and the kind of conversationalist I could have listened to all night - were she not due on stage about 5 minutes after our interview concluded! Justin Hawkins was memorable for being unexpectedly honest, self-aware and self-deprecating at a point in his career when he had undoubtedly met with enough yes-men and ‘media training’ experts to potentially have become quite the opposite. My interview with the late Nikki Sudden was initially memorable for being cut short only by me running out of tape, as he talked endlessly about music (his own and, predominantly that of his heroes and the new acts he was tipping at the time) with the kind of passion you’d only ever get from someone who declared in the same interview, with immense pride, that in 49 years on earth they’d never been gainfully employed anywhere but a record store. Sadly, less than three months later, that interview become more notable for being one of the last Nikki gave before departing for the American tour he was part way through at the time he passed away.
My first interview for Bubblegum Slut, which took place after a gig at Bedford Esquires in September 2000, should probably be remembered too - as an ominous omen or portent of the strange 10 year adventure that would follow it. I was 15 and rather the worse for sneaking a bottle of vile cheap whiskey into the venue while my interviewee, one Alex Kane of AntiProduct / Life Sex Death / Clam Abuse, was bleeding from nasty headwound all the time we spoken - being in the habit back then of bashing himself about the skull with bits of musical equipment on stage until he drew blood, caused concussion or, on this occasion, caused a power cut.

The morning after the interview I woke up somewhere in North London with a vague recollection of blagging a lift there, and blagging my way into Decadence with some equally underage friends. In the meantime, my parents had put me on the missing persons register. The timeline would say that Bubblegum Slut was born about a month later, when I was no longer grounded and started selling copies of the first issue at gigs, but quite possibly the zine was born – or at least the tone for it set - that night in Bedford.

4) If you could get anyone in the world to write a guest column for bubblegum slut zine, who would it be?

I would love to see Lemmy author a self-help series. White Line Fever and every interview the guy has ever given portray a born wise-man with a Northern wit and the constitution of a purpose-built chemical filtering system.
There are just a couple things that fill me with a sense of national pride, and one of them is this nation’s unrivalled ability to produce high-functioning alcoholics and chemical dustbins in the mould of Churchill, Peter O’Toole and Lemmy. (The other is the notion that 50 Cent, and man who brags about taking bullets to distract from his records, finally met his match in the Reading festival crowd the year he filled the traditional ‘odd one out’ slot on the bill. He can take a bullet but he couldn’t get off the stage fast enough when someone flung that symbol of quaint British seaside holidays the deckchair in his direction!).
Now 64 years into an epic binge, Lemmy still talks far more sense that most. Were he to share his wisdom and the masses to act on his advice the world would surely be a better place. So thinking about it, perhaps I should be commissioning a rock ‘n’ roll Bible re-write rather than a humble fanzine column?

5) Any advice for would-be rock n' roll writers who want to get into sleazy rock n' roll journalism?

I don’t know much about rock ‘n’ roll journalism but I might be able to give you a few pointers for making a rock ‘n’ roll zine.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I reckon what sets zines apart from the mainstream, profit-driven music press, is the individuality of each one out there; a sense that that the contents, attitude and appearance reflect the interests editor’s interests and ideas of what makes a good read, rather than what a marketing man reckons sells to a target demographic and which advertisers and valuable enough to flatter in editorial. There isn’t a rulebook or formula for fanzines, and the best bit of advice I can come up with is to remember that and be as creative a format with no rules allows you to be!
And always, always, always check the batteries in your Dictaphone before an interview. Nothing worse than the feeling you get when you find out the bastard things have died and it’s already too late.

6) Congrats on your first decade! So what's next for BGS magazine?
Thanks – I never started the zine with a 10 year plan, or even a plan for issue two, so it’s still a little surreal to turn around and realize a decade has gone by!
While increases in page count and circulation, and improvements in print quality and design over that time may give the impression that Bubblegum Slut has made some concessions to publishing professionalism, the truth is that it still operates in very much the haphazard, day-to-day, issue-to-issue manner established by Issue One. I’ve never had long or mid-term goals for it, and have let it develop as opportunities and inspiration arise.
So I’m as clued up on the zine’s final destination as you are. For the time being I can tell you that December’s 38th issue is shaping up nicely and is set to feature Michael Monroe, Steve Conte, John Garcia, Monster Magnet, Love Amongst Ruin, and whole bunch of other stuff that I have yet to write or transcribe.

7) In true BGS spirit: If you could ask yourself one question what would it be?

Q: What do you want to do with your life?
A: I wanna rock!!
Or, to put it another way; what’s the only logical thing to do when you find yourself stumped by your own blasted fiendish closing question? Turn to the wisdom of Twisted Sister, of course!

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