Sunday, 15 March 2009

Tales of a fanzine writer, part 328

Back in the early 90s, when it was all fields 'round here, I used to run a fanzine called Atomic with a friend I met through an ex-girlfriend. I never really wanted Atomic to become as big as it did, but my mate thought he was the next Bill Drummond (we've all known one of these annoying types, right?), and so we started to print more and more copies each month, until, by 1994, we were printing a ridiculous 15,000, complete with a glossy, colour front cover, and packed full of advertising that were having to sell ourselves over the phone to indie labels like Nation and Big Cat. I think 4AD advertised with us, too. Heaven knows why.

Each issue came with a free seven inch single, and my friend decided to step it all up a further gear by putting out two albums on cd, picking four bands off the the albums, and going out on tour with them around the country.

It was a complete disaster, of course. Both of us were still signing on, and so we had little money. Everything we made off the back of Atomic we spent on food, cos all our dole went on printing the bloody thing. It was a bit of a vicious circle.

We should've known on the first night of the tour that it wasn't a good idea. I think about ten people turned up in Derby. It was embarrassing. But that was something of a high point. No-one turned up in Stone (and I have no idea why we thought putting a gig on in a glorified village just outside Stoke was a go-er anyway), and things reached a nadir at the Cockpit in Leeds.

I asked The Edsel Auctioneer to headline the Leeds gig. So, there were five bands playing that night, and the lonly people to turn up were three of Pale Saints, who were linked with The Edse Auctioneer, of course. What's more, my "friend" decided that he'd had enough and "missed his train" to Leeds, leaving me to panic like mad, and try and placate the bouncers who had be sent to talk to me by the manager of he Cockpit and try and get some money out of me.

But the worst thing was that I'd let The Edsel Auctioneer down, and I sort of worshipped them back then.

Here's The Edsel's brilliant Stickleback single to download, courtesy of the wonderful and fascinating Pyrolyse Bred blog. I first heard the band on a John Peel programme in 1989 when they were in session, and they did this version of Blind Hurricane that I fell in love with immediately. If anyone has that Peel session, I'd be eternally grateful. My tape copy long since disappeared.

That disastrous couple of weeks made us end Atomic, mainly because we'd fallen out, but also mainly because we realised we didn't have a fucking clue what we were doing. It was a brilliant time thinking back, though. I got to talk to most of the bands I really loved at the time, and followed Prolapse around on tour like a daft puppy. Happy days. Not that I'd want to do it all now, of course...

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