They’re a fun to read, charming in appearance, and often times an absolutely essential part of the living history of punk and hardcore: Fanzines. Whether slapdash and made with literal cutting and pasting (for you younglings that’s done with a pair of scissors and actual glue, as opposed to on your shitty laptop computer), or super polished and printed in a bound cover with a barcode on the back, the fanzine has been an integral part of the punk and hardcore scene from its infancy.
In that tradition, two brand new offerings that are contributing to the storied history of the hardcore fanzine have popped up in Texas. Inside Knowledge written by Isaiah Valdez of San Antonio, and Standing Firm written by Davis Driver of Dallas.
Both have released their first issues, complete with featured artists and releases, album reviews, photo collections, artist interviews, and more. I was able to speak with both Isaiah and Davis, to get the run down on their creative process and pick their brains about what it means to be a zine creator in 2020.
Tell me, first off, who all is involved with the creation of your respective zines? Is it just you acting as a sole Editor in Chief, or do you have a team that helps you put it all together?
Davis: I am the editor in chief of Standing Firm as of right now, handling the layout and most of the responsibility. However, I do have many friends pitching in and contributing to it as well.
Isaiah: It’s me and my good friends Ezra and Stephen. I do all the cut and paste and layouts, they do a majority of the writing and interviews. 100% a group effort.
What would you say is the one influential hardcore fanzine that has inspired you most, and why?
Davis: The zine that made me want to do my own is called Impact: A Hardcore Fanzine. It’s from the early 2000s and there are only 2 issues. Also shout out to Touch and Go and Hardware fanzines.
Isaiah: As far as just one that I take influence from, I would have to say Hardware. Not so much the writing, but I’ve always loved the visual side of records, like lyric sheets and inserts, so that’s a big thing I take after. I also think Hardware had amazing photo spreads and a cool overall theme.
You both play in bands that have actually been featured in one another’s zines, what do you do in your respective bands, and in a nutshell tell me what’s happening on that front?
Davis: I play bass in the straight edge hardcore band Life Force. We just finished recording our first full length record that will be released on New Age Records later this year; and in the meantime, we are playing as many shows as possible.
Isaiah: I currently play drums in a straight edge band called Sheer Force that just self-released a demo this past November titled Loyalty on cassette and on all streaming platforms. We are also halfway done writing a 6-song EP which should be out sooner than later.
When putting an issue together, what are the biggest challenges from a creator’s standpoint?
Davis: I guess I didn’t realize how much time each issue would actually take me to put together. So, I think I’d say that time management has been the biggest challenge for me, for sure.
Isaiah: The hardest part is coordinating interviews and getting together whatever information we need. After that, the creativity kicks in and things fall into place naturally.
What are your plans for the future of your zines? Are there things you’d like to include in future issues that are innovative, something to sort of set you apart from the typical zine structure or content?
Davis: I would really just like to get as many people as possible involved with contributing in the future. Also, I feel like I’m already kind of setting Standing Firm apart from other zines by the content in it, and I just want to continue that moving forward. This isn’t just a music zine, I have content about video games, movies, and lots of other ideas.
Isaiah: I would love to put out tapes paired with issues in the near future, I always loved that combination. As far as innovative, I aim to stay within the classic familiar fanzine structure, because something like that has been lacking in San Antonio.
Tell me about some of the other current zines out in 2020 that we should all check out, and what are they doing that you think makes them most noteworthy?
Davis: Unfortunately, I haven’t really stayed on top of current zines; but I do suggest Isaiah’s Inside Knowledge zine… It’s very well put together, and I really enjoyed the first issue. To be honest, that zine was also a big motivator for me to try and make my own. Mosh!
Isaiah: It sucks to pay a high price for an issue you want to read of a classic. Shining Life Press and their anthologies make it really easy for people to get into zines, (which is) just awesome. Shout out to Alex SOH, The Pain Principle, and Jalen from Without Words Fanzine!
Make sure to check out both Standing Firm and Inside Knowledge, either in print or online, at the earliest opportunity; and make sure to keep an eye out for forthcoming issues. You definitely won’t regret it.
Finally, thanks so much to Isaiah and Davis for their time talking about the creative process that goes into what they do!