Metal History Through Fanzines

Metal Meltdown Zine #1 (MD, USA) April 1987

Metal Meltdown Zine #1 (MD, USA) April 1987, Editor: “Jeff “Kluke” VanderClute

Here is the first issue of the excellent and long running zine “Metal Meltdown,” from my home state of Maryland. This is a great debut that featured excellent and early interviews with Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) around the time “Peace Sells…” was blowing up, also featured were Maryland doomsters Saint Vitus, “Run to the Light” era Trouble, “Awaken the Guardian” era Fates Warning (they hated the album cover?!), Watchtower (right as Ron Jarzombek joined), and a “Taking Over” era Overkill w/ Bobby Blitz. There is also a brief article on attaining a ‘thrash metal’ guitar tone. Enjoy -and by the way this will be my last post until next month, I am going on tour, so see ya!- Jason

I caught up with editor Jeff VanderClute recently for a brief interview as well, check it out below… also, if you are into these zines, he has been selling them as an entire lot for a nice deal on Ebay lately. Just search “metal meltdown” or his user ID:”MetalMeltdownFanzine…



1. When/why did you decide to start Metal Meltdown, and what is your best memory from those years? Sitting up all night and writing letters, or standing in line at the post office?!
Jeff: I don’t remember exactly WHY I started METAL MELTDOWN but the idea came to me in Geometry class in 1985. That’s when I drew up the logo and that explains the triangle inspired font with graph paper background. The actual first issue didn’t arrive for two more years. I went to a lot of shows during that time. My best memories were actually getting the thing off the ground because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I simply checked the back of my favorite records (like “Show No Mercy”) and copied down record company addresses. I sent each company a letter explaining I was starting a magazine. Later, I realized it was a “fanzine”. They started sending me things to review and I was shocked. The best part was DEFINITELY discovering new bands that I never would have known about if it wasn’t for METAL MELTDOWN.

2. Do you still have/keep all the mail/letters from those days, as well as the demos you used to get?
Jeff: I don’t have any of the old letters or photos or fanzines or anything like that. I have kept MOST of the actual recordings…vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs. That’s really the only metal related things I collect. I do have some more recent letters just in case I ever put out a final issue. METAL MELTDOWN never had a proper burial so, even though fanzines are now irrelevant, I would do it for myself and the few who care. I really enjoyed writing reviews.



3. Looking back, what do you think made the zine and letter-writing culture of the underground then a ‘special time’? Is it better (or just different) now since people only have to go online and find/download new music in a matter of minutes, rather than waiting a month for a demo in the mail?
Jeff: Yes, it was a “special time”. Because of the lack of technology, almost everybody worked together. There was definitely a sense of cooperation and common purpose…I think a better atmosphere at shows. I love my iPod but I hate the idea of music files instead of CDs. It seems to be going that way. I will never buy music files online until I have no choice. Haven’t you noticed so many things going in that direction…music, movies, video games? The system would like nothing less than for us all to be linked to our credit cards forever downloading and never actually getting hard copies of anything. The transition from vinyl to compact disc was a totally different thing from the transition from compact disc to music file download. I will NOT participate. Whenever possible, I buy CDs from the band instead of the music label. The instant nature of technology has also limited our attention span as a species. On the surface, it might seem like the greatest thing for bands. Sometimes I think we have access to so much, so quickly, that much of the music is ignored. That’s not even getting into the differences between the first thrash and death metal bands vs. today’s metal. I won’t even go there. The thing is I still do seek out NEW bands whenever possible because new music is the key to keeping your mind young. That’s why, even though I much prefer the old scene, I always find new bands that are equally cool. It’s just not as automatic as it was in the 1980s!!! Today, I have access to much more but find much less. My THANKS to the metal bands of today that keep metal alive though. You guys RULE. I’m sorry the whole (c)rap / hip-hop movement in the United States stole so many youths away from the scene which had a killing effect on the growth of metal. That was really the biggest enemy of true metal in my not-so-humble opinion. When I see a crowd of kids into (c)rap / hip-hop instead of wearing IMMOLATION shirts or something…I just want to vomit inside my mouth. Sorry, that’s just who I am.

4. Did you ask your pen pals from around the world to “send back your stamps” and did you send back theirs?! What is the oddest/coolest/ or most interesting thing you ever got in the mail?
Jeff: No dude! I would never participate in mail fraud!! Hehe. I’m just messing with you, but the fact is I never reused stamps myself. If I was writing back to someone, I had no problem returning their stamps. I was into all the other scene cultures of the time like tape trading, passing out little flyers, etc.. I’m not sure why I never reused the stamps. I guess I was worried that a postal employee would notice and return the mail and I didn’t want to run that risk. I had no idea how effective the practice was and I never really asked anyone about it. Still, I think it’s a clever name for your site that really captures a certain time and flavor of a metal scene that will never be seen again. The most interesting thing I’ve received might have been last year from Holland. A bunch of graphic art students threw a METAL MELTDOWN 25th anniversary party complete with a slide show and fanzine text readings. I think they even made fake tattoos or stickers from skull artwork I had in issue #1. At the end of the night, they erected an inverted cross on top of their school. They sent me a t-shirt and lots of pictures of people drinking and celebrating METAL MELTDOWN. It was all documented. The whole thing was a joke I’m sure…but these people did it anyway. It was very funny and WEIRD but welcome because I think that was the first (and last) celebration of my fanzine on planet Earth. So, yeah, the packet documenting the 25th anniversary party in Holland has to be one of the oddest things I’ve received. I wasn’t even invited to the party!

 

 

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