I’m re-posting each of the eight issues of my 1990s music fanzine, SUPERDOPE. They’d previously been hosted at a site called DivShare, and when they went out of business, all of my hosted files went down with the ship as well. I posted Issue #1 here yesterday.
I put out 7 issues from 1991-1994 before calling it quits, then ultimately resurfaced with an 8th and final issue in 1998. I’m now doing a music fanzine called Dynamite Hemorrhage. There are some people who believe this magazine – Superdope – to be one of the less-awful ones plumbing the depths of loud underground music to surface during the era, and sometimes I even agree – though perhaps mostly not on the evidence of these first two issues.
I feel when looking through this mid-1991 issue that there was a great deal of needless in-jokism, and a lot of wasted effort put toward praising musical mediocrity. My world was a bit too heavily dominated by my love of buying obscure records, going to live shows 2-4 times per week, and incessantly joking about all manner of music-related topics with my friends. Not that I regret it, of course.
SUPERDOPE #2 was the last issue that relied so heavily on the contributions of others. As with #1, which had big contributions from Steve Watson, Kim Cooper and Grady Runyan, this too devotes a huge chunk of its pages to interviews conducted by Kim Cooper, with other excellent (unpaid) contributions from Mr. Runyan and Doug Pearson (Rubin Fiberglass assisted with the BOYS FROM NOWHERE interview as well – I’d tried to heavily recruit that guy for some time into becoming a “staff writer”, but it never quite worked out).
After #2 came out in the late summer months of 1991 I petulantly took my ball and went home, quite literally, and published the next three almost totally by myself – save for all the fantastic photos taken by Nicole Penegor, who was our “staff photographer” during the six years she & I worked together at Monster Cable in South San Francisco.
Here are a few thoughts on the making of this issue, informed by a June 2010 perusal of it as I was scanning this the first time I posted it. I’ve updated some of the stuff I wrote then below:
- Kim – who went on to found the long-lived SCRAM magazine and now leads all sorts of tours of the seedy side of Los Angeles – got to do both of the main interviews because she knew some underground “rock stars” personally, and because she and I were friends. She was pals with Deniz Tek from RADIO BIRDMAN, a band I really dug at the time and whom I thought it was a real coup to do such a long interview with. Ironically, I can’t even listen to the Radio Birdman stuff anymore and find them to be fairly moronic bar-punk with cringe-worthy vocals. That’s what getting old(er) will do to you.
- The large section of live reviews should give you a pretty good idea of where my head was at in 1991 and where my time was being spent, most of it in the company of my ne’er-do-well friends and large quantities of beer. A girlfriend during this year would likely have helped reduce the size of this section a bit. One ultimately arrived in due time. It was pretty fun going out all the time on my exceptionally small salary – and Superdope eventually even helped in that effort quite a bit, allowing me “pest list” status from time to time, since the magazine was sold in every record store in town.
- I wasn’t really a fan of RUDOLPH GREY‘s solo stuff, either – but Grady sure was, and he did a terrific interview that really holds up today. I should have let him write more, and more often.
- And man did I start getting a ton of packages full of 45s and LPs after this time – in 1991, going to the mailbox was the second best part of every day, right after walking home from it with my arms full of records I now no longer own.
- I can’t even begin to scare up a memory of what some of the records I reviewed with gusto sounded like – Juan Carlos? 27 Devils Joking? Rake? Brief Weeds? Are you kidding me? At least I helped catapult Pavement to stardom.
- 1991 might be said to have been a fairly dry one for underground rock culture; I can see from what I was personally choosing to focus on that we were in the midst of a transition from Amphetamine Reptile-style noise/panic bands into the great and belatedly-heralded fourth wave of garage-based punk rock. The awesome Penegor photo of The Mummies is an early clue; the following year, as represented by the #3-#4 issues of Superdope, were much more garage punk-centered than this one, which seems to scrape the surface of pretty much anything that might have been marginally entertaining that year.
- I still feel bad about my critical evisceration of a LAZY COWGIRLS record in this issue; I know that the band saw it, and their singer Pat Todd gave me a stern “talking-to” the next time I saw them play. I had pretty much followed that band around California in the late 80s whenever they played. Not that I think I was wrong in any way, but I just don’t like hurting good folks’ feelings. I more or less decided to focus on good records after this issue, and stopped expending energy on bad or mediocre ones.
- Lest I be too hard on myself, I will say that I printed over 2,000 issues of this issue, and thanks to widespread demand from all over the globe, I had to print it in two batches. Tower Records sold the bulk of them, including in their London and Tokyo stores, and as a result I got some incredible letters from those countries, South Africa and elsewhere. The other big distributors were See/Hear in New York, Subterranean in San Francisco, and a couple others who are most definitely not with us any longer.