It may not be recorded in the history books, yet no one around this house will ever forget the tragedy of “the great lost fanzine box” in 1999. We had moved from Seattle back to San Francisco that year, and used the “Starving Students” moving company, who were neither students nor starving, but were rather clear ex-cons who at least, to their credit, liked to talk baseball with me. Otherwise they were total clowns, and I realized long after the fact that one of the 3 boxes of fanzines I had been collecting over the years didn’t end up getting delivered to the new rental house in San Francisco. Several of these fanzines were most certainly copies of Steve Erickson’s Cut, along with other gems that I’ve diligently worked to replace over the years (like the entire run of Marc Masters’ Crank), along with many copies of “The Bob” and things like that which I haven’t.
This particular 11th issue of Cut came along in 1991, and it’s clear that Erickson had been pumping these out pretty aggressively, maybe about 3 per year based upon looking at his back issue contents that are listed on Page 1. He was publishing from Norwich, CT so his center of show-going gravity appeared to be Boston, and that’d make some sense given that he’s got Lou Barlow and Bob Fay along as contributors. Erickson notes in his intro that he’d just been burned to the tune of $60 by Circuit Records and distribution, which I recall being quite a fanzine cause célèbre at the time; it was a cool noise label w/ Monster Magnet and Surgery records as well as big plans for many more, and I guess the main guy there had some substance abuse problems (or something), and was ragged on pretty aggressively in things I’d read from that point onward.
But hey man, out on the west coast things were mellow and we didn’t know any of these people. Cut in May 1991 very effectively serves as an exceptionally comprehensive inventory of any & all interesting underground rock music coming out at the time, with frequent review-section swerves into hip-hop as well. I was putting out my own first issues of Superdope fanzine this particular year, and this is totally a world I was deeply marinating in: Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Monster Magnet, Pavement, Unsane, Terminals, Thee Mighty Caesars, Gibson Bros, Skullflower and so forth. Erickson makes a point in several places of being a little frustrated with the state of it all, and he’s clearly moved on from Amphetamine Reptile and Sub Pop bands, as had I. So he and I were compatriots, and the two of us probably would have had some good times shuckin’ and jivin’ in 1991.
I did notice that in his review of Houston noise/psych/torture band The Pain Teens we get quite the proclamation: “The Pain Teens are one band who I’d unequivocally endorse as rock’n’roll’s future”. Jon Landau, call your office! I’m sorry to report here that the Pain Teens genre takeover was not to be. But how were we to know that then, am I right??
Erickson was a strong writer who granted himself and his contributors a fairly wide remit, from precious indie pop to grinding noise. He was on the Xpressway train pretty early and gets in a Plagal Grind review and deservedly flips over The Terminals’ “Do The Void” 45. That single absolutely rules, and Erickson called it. He perhaps didn’t have to review every promo he was sent in 1991, but then again neither did I, and I reviewed a whole heapin’ helpin’ of mediocrities and said nothing interesting about them, for there was little to say. I’ll admit that getting a boatload of sub-underground records in the mail every day was a fantastic treat when I was 23 and broke and perhaps increasingly narcissistic (why, you want me to endorse you? Let me see what I can do). Anyway, Cut #11 brought the misty memories flooding back, and I’m glad I at least have this one issue still around. The Starving Students criminals are all currently reading the others.