Slash, Vol. 2 No. 2 (November 1978)

When I started this site, waaaay back in late December 2022, I promised (or threatened) that the pieces herein might not actually be about the actual fanzine issues themselves, but rather would serve as a “jumping-off point” for me to write something else entirely….maybe a watery-eyed reminiscence, perhaps a funny ‘lil tale, or maybe a rant of some sort, provided I could get myself worked up enough about a dopey music fanzine to do so. So far I’d say I’ve done almost none of that, and my posts have been more name/rank/serial number reviews of each issue in question. I hope that’s okay. This post will be a little different and more in line with what I promised/threatened, though.

Slash, a punk magazine from Los Angeles circa 1977-80, is my all-time favorite fanzine. In 2020 I published an issue of my own fanzine, Dynamite Hemorrhage, 100% devoted to talking about and celebrating Slash magazine. The magazine went out of print within a year, but you can download and read a PDF of it right here. Meanwhile, I’ve been attempting to collect the full run of Slash over the years, and I guess I’m more than halfway there now. My most recent “acquisition” is the one you see here, Volume 2 Number 2 from November 1978. It has Siouxsie and The Banshees on the cover. It’s great. We’re not going to talk about it any longer.

Instead, I’d like to publish a short and previously unpublished 2020 interview I did with Terry Graham, aka Terry “Dad” Bag of The Bags, and later of The Gun Club (and for a time, The Cramps and the Leaving Trains). We talked solely about Slash magazine. 

I’d just read Graham’s book Punk Like Me, a crazed ride through his musical, relational and substance career, and I was in the midst of putting together the Slash issue of Dynamite Hemorrhage. It made sense to interview someone in one of the bands routinely featured in Slash, and I chose Mr. Graham. Alas, there was some sort of Google Docs communication snafu that was almost entirely my fault, and I went to “press” without Graham’s interview about his observations of and experiences with Slash magazine. I swore I’d publish it somewhere at some point, and here it is.

DH: What do you remember of the first time you came across an issue of Slash, and what was your reaction to it?

Terry Graham: I was very impressed. The large format and design quality gave a boost to our scene which was lacking in confidence because the punk scenes in New York and London were so well represented by numerous fanzines, magazines and national media attention.

DH: What were some of your personal interactions like with the magazine, as a member of The Bags, the Gun Club or otherwise?

Terry Graham: Slash printed an interview with the Bags with photos taken especially for the interview. That was a validating moment for the Bags. I had only been in the band for a few weeks and it gave us quite a boost.

DH: I’d love to get any anecdotes, stories, thoughts or whatever else you’ve got regarding each of the four Slash founders – one sentence, one paragraph, multiple paragraphs or nothing at all – your choice….

Claude Bessy?

Terry Graham: I didn’t know Claude too well but of course he was everywhere at once. Everyone liked him even though he could be quite irascible and cantankerous. His cynicism was always infused with a wry laugh and obvious sense of humor. His observations in Slash were spot on and added a much needed international perspective to what we were doing on the streets of L.A.

Philomena Winstanley, Steve Samiof, Melanie Nissen? 

Terry Graham: I had very little interaction with Philomena, Steve and Melanie.

DH: Do you have a favorite piece or story (or even a review or graphic element) from the magazine? If so, what was it and why?

Terry Graham: I’m afraid I’ll have to default to the Bags interview because it meant a lot to us and gave us a shot of confidence that we desperately needed.

DH: What impact do you think Slash had on the music scene that it covered, i.e. how was it perceived by the bands, artists and assorted weirdos in its pages – as well as by underground LA in general?

Terry Graham: In some ways it was perceived as a moneyed attempt to crash the scene. At the same time, because it was written primarily by people involved in the scene in some way (mostly musicians) it was also thought of as a genuine attempt to legitimize our efforts to create a viable and unique rock and roll for the time. It had a lot of influence and was looked up to as the publisher of record for the scene. Some may not admit that, but it carried quite a bit of legitimacy.

DH: What impact did it have on you?

Terry Graham: I enjoyed reading it but kept an eye out for signs of the dreaded “sell out.” We were all sensitive to people who might try to capitalize on the scene and so many of us were suspicious of people like Bob Biggs, Steve Samioff, etc., but for no real reason, in fact. Not sure one can capitalize on something that makes no money and barely made a dent in record sales charts or record company decisions. Culturally, I think Slash was a very positive force. Anyone who saw it, and particularly those who weren’t part of the punk scene, would be left with an impression of authority which, in turn, added the same to our scene. All of us together – with Slash and all the other fanzines – changed the world but it took a generation or so for that to happen. 

DH: Any thoughts on Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s contributions to Slash?

Terry Graham: I loved Jeff’s contributions. He was first and foremost a writer so I know he loved his work for Slash. I only wish he could have done a lot more. 

DH: Did Slash suffer from myopia by ignoring certain aspects of what was going on in greater LA circa 1977-80, or did you feel it was pretty representative of what was actually happening in clubs and elsewhere around the city?

Terry Graham: Yes, it genuinely represented our scene because so many of us who were actually creating the music, wrote for Slash. The graphic design and presentation within Slash were also very creative and artistic. It was truly representative of Los Angeles during those years.

DH: Any other thoughts or stories or opinions you’d like to share?

Terry Graham: No, but I sure wish I had kept all my copies. I still have one, with Lee Ving on the cover. That’s right, the one with the Bags interview.

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