I’ve known about Mike Applestein and his fanzines & music writing for years, even broke bread with the guy once in NYC over thirty years ago. Yet somehow I possess merely a lone issue of his Caught In Flux fanzine from the 1990s, and I’ve never even seen a copy of Writer’s Block, the one he did before that.
I associate Mike extremely closely with the retrospective rise in fortune of the outstanding uber-minimal late 1978-80 Welsh band Young Marble Giants. He hosted a website about them; disseminated information and photos about them; and – I could be wrong about this but can’t check because my CDs are all tied up in boxes due to crazy roof leak repair going on in my house right now – perhaps had a hand in and wrote some liner notes for YMG reissues? The Salad Days CD, perhaps? In any event, if ya wanted the dope on Young Marble Giants from anyone who wasn’t actually in the trio itself, Mike was and likely remains the guy to go to.
It’s postpunk, sub-underground DIY pop (Sarah/Cherry Red/Slumberland etc) and various punk-influenced bands that I also hang his name next to; think Chickfactor meets Conflict, I guess, for potentially way-off reference points. I was excited to see that he’s rejoined the print game again this year, and is now putting out a small fanzine called Silent Command from his twenty-first century home of St. Louis, MO. I ripped through this one last night and found it just as engaging and fun to tackle as Caught In Flux was. Mine’s even numbered – #51/75, baby!
Applestein is exceptionally good at asking bands or artists questions and then getting out of the way – unlike me in live interviews, where I always need to poke my craw in and peacock my knowledge of some insignificant ephemera. He does this to great effect with San Francisco pop band Hits in this issue; with Xray Spex/Essential Logic’s Lora Logic (what a trip her life has been since the 1980s) and with recently unearthed 70s St. Louis all-female proto-punks The Welders. Even better, he documents his “failed” stint as an orthodox Jew in Seattle from 2000-2006; what it entailed, how he got there and why it stopped. The guy moved to Seattle mere months after I’d moved away from the city. I would absolutely have been glad to turn off his stove for him every Friday night while we discussed all manner of dopey underground bands.
Silent Command has a second issue out now as well – you can check it all out here.