I started my fanzine, Kvatch, in the summer of 1984 just after my ‘O’ Levels. I’d never heard of fanzines until Kid Jensen did an extended piece on them on Radio 1 one evening early that summer, but I loved writing and I loved music so I decided to write one. It never occurred to me that being sixteen, living in Harrogate, and never having seen a fanzine would be any sort of barrier.
I wrote off for some fanzines, mostly other Yorkshire ones, studied what they did and tried to copy it. James Brown from Attack On Bzag (later Loaded) met me in Leeds and spent an afternoon showing me how to make paste-ups and, with my mum’s typewriter, I was good to go. Both John Peel and Kid Jensen plugged Kvatch 1 so the orders started to arrive. Starting 6th Form meant friends with driving licences, and the chance to sell fanzines at gigs, and I discovered independent record shops like Jumbo in Leeds would stock them too. Over the next two years I produced a fanzine around every six months, and my Saturday job in the library meant I grew the circulation to about 1,500.
Looking back they’re both horribly embarrassing – I was just a kid – and a really eclectic mix. I didn’t really know what I liked; I was exploring music and the world, and becoming politically aware, through writing. Kvatch doesn’t do anything inventive or new, and other people were certainly producing better fanzines at the time, but it does (accidentally) capture being a teenager quite well.
Includes an interview with John Peel, reviews of books I’d been reading, interviews with local bands, an article on youth hostels, and a note that Leo’s “is the best nightclub” in Harrogate. I never wanted the print quality to be like this, but it’s tough when you’re 16 and people’s advice is based on the fact you’re a kid. Rosie from Pram is the cover star.
The print quality on this is a bit better. Features the Membranes, acid rain, Die Toten Hosen, food additives and the 1984 York Festival.
Andy at school was doing art and said he’d draw me a picture for the cover; I’d never seen a Cramps record at this point. Coloured paper on the cover brightens things up a bit. Interviews with the Pogues and Sinister Cleaners and pieces in favour of the Ecology Party and recycled paper and against smoking and the trade in frogs legs.
New Model Army, Terry & Gerry, herbal tea and Menwith Hill peace camp. There’s nothing like having a theme and sticking to it.
I put this together in the summer after my ‘A’ Levels. The cover is the Jarrow March, and I interviewed The Housemartins, The Wedding Present, Ivor Cutler and Half Man Half Biscuit. Introducing spot colour on the cover.