Look up “Great American” in the dictionary, and you’ll see a picture of Brian Turner right there in the definition. Try it now! Brian Turner is known to many far and wide as a radio “disc jockey” who spent many years leading music programming at WFMU, and who now hosts The Brian Turner Show through the medium of podcasting. He’s also a frequent writer of liner notes and magazine pieces, most recently in Creem and absolutely on any Fall reissues of note from the last decade. So of course it’s exciting for Fanzine Hemorrhage to embarrass him greatly by calling discrete attention to his early 1990s music fanzine Teen Looch #8.
Now I haven’t seen any of the other seven issues of the ‘Looch, so all impressions of his fanzine are taken from perusing this one over the years. It came out in 1995 and I’ve had it ever since. Brian and I were clearly corresponding at the time – “letters”, we called them – because I submitted a Best of 1994 list for a collection of such lists in this issue. I wouldn’t come to break physical bread with Turner for another 8-9 more years after that, when he had left this issue’s publishing locale of Hudson, PA and was firmly ensconced in New York City. I actually had a pretty good job doing a big project for ESPN in the early/mid 2000s and was in the Big Apple pretty frequently, so that’s where we finally clinked glasses together and when I got to frantically rifle through his record collection.
Teen Looch #8 has the same breadth and general eclecticism that has characterized the Brian Turner radio shows over the years; everything’s almost always picked with an eye either to the supremely off-beat (Harvey Sid Fisher, Esquivel, even Alan Licht) or the canonical (Moe Tucker and I suppose Stereolab). He actually interviews Mo! I suppose that was something you could easily do at one time; perhaps one still can. I’m personally partial to his Giant Sand interview, as that’s a band I was totally bananas for at the time and who were accurately characterized as an “acquired taste” by most folks. Turner finds out that he and band frontman & founder Howe Gelb have similar roots in Wilkes-Barre, PA and is therefore able to coax more natural, loose and normal conversation out of Gelb than I think I’ve seen in any other interview elsewhere. Giant Sand had just that year put out what I consider to be their masterpiece, Glum, so I was more than happy to give this interview another read-through to try and telepathically get on Gelb’s sonic wavelength from that time.
I learned later on down the road that Turner also has a big diving/swimming/aquatics jones, and sure enough, he wasn’t afraid to document and explain it all in a piece included here called “For The Love of Aquatics”. Around this era the only time I’d allow any non-music portion of myself to be shared with the world in my own fanzine, I’d usually be yakking it up about how much I was drinking or maybe just what a rad libertarian I was – so it’s pretty refreshing to see someone of the same age and general elitist musical temperament writing about, “here’s how much I love to go swimming” instead.
Now the whole “Gyros!” thing on the cover – I truly have no idea what that’s about. I’ll wait for the eventual Teen Looch “book of books” to come out with Turner’s (or Byron Coley’s) explanatory intro.