Metal History Through Fanzines

Overkill (US)

Live Wire #13 (Germany) Aug-Sept 1988

Live Wire #13 (Germany) Aug-Sept 1988.
Editors: “Jörg Schnebele“, “Jürgen Both”, “Peter Kirchner” and “Manni Rothe” (auf Deutsch)

 

Long running German zine/magazine that was total metal in the golden age…I have a ton of these but to get started here is issue #13. Why? King Diamond that is why! If you dont sprechen zee deutsch, no matter, its still packed with tons of cool pics, some which I have never seen before in English mags. Also, thanks to Leslie Dávid for the contribution, and he also got an interview with zine editor Jörg Schnebele, here are some excerpts below…this issue features interviews, write-ups and more with Angel Dust, Alice Cooper, stories from Berlin, DRI, tons of demo reviews/reviews, Exodus, Forced Entry (GER), Helloween, King Diamond, Kingdom, No Remorse Records, Overkill, Queensryche, Sanctuary, Scanner, Coroner, Slayer, Zed Yago, Znowhite and more…

Back, at the early ’80s, when the metal scene started getting bigger, Germany became very soon the biggest part of the metal community. A lot of bands and fanzines started popping up from Teutonic soil. One of the first, German language fanzines was Live Wire and the editor Jörg Schnebele was so kind enough to speak in detail about this legendary ’zine. Enjoy! (intv. By Leslie Dávid)

So Jörg, how did you discover music and hard rock/heavy metal music particular? What did you find so exciting in this music?

Well, I was born 1960 in a countrified little town, far away from world affairs. I was always interested in music, but in the 60s and under the influence of conservative parents, I heard only German pop songs. In the 70s we had in Germany a music show called „Disco” on TV, and there they showed actors from Germany as well as from UK and the States… „Disco” brought me in contact with the Glam bands, who I liked very much: Slade, Sweet, T.Rex, Alice Cooper etc. One day Deep Purple played „Fireball” and this was key moment for me, to search for harder music. The rampant energy of Purple was fascinating impression, which I follow till today..

Were there any record stores in your area, where you could get or buy magazines, vinyls, tapes etc.?

In the early 70s there were only one record shop in our town. Advantage was, that they played the records, if you wanted to hear the music. So it made decisions really easy, to buy or not. Magazines, as we know from the 80s, fanzines etc didn’t exist at this time. Only one teeny magazin, which is still existing: „Bravo”. They brought a lot of stories about international bands, but not really informative. But they showed, what went on in the big wide world. Mid of the 70s I discovered the magazine „Music Express” which merged with „Sounds” later on.

At which point and how did you turn into the underground world?

For me (and my parents) even Slade and Sweet was already „underground music” 😊 For me the next step into the underground world started, when I finalized school and started studies in Bonn. There I found music store not only with a lot hard and heavy music, but also fanzines: Aardshock, Rock Hard…. At this time I heard by accident about british magazine, Kerrang. Some years I subscribed this „master information mag”.

At which point did the fanzines enter in your life? Do you still remember which fanzines did you get in your hands for the first time?

As I said before, first fanzines I could hold in my hands were Aardshok, Rock Hard, and some more smaller mags. Live Wire developed from club magazin of the in Bonn located „Hard Rock Club”. I was member of this club, lost later on little bit the contact and met some of the guys during a concert. They told me, that they have started the club mag under the name Live Wire. Some years it was publishd with subtitel „Fanzine of Hard Rock Club Bonn”. For number 5 (1985) they asked me to write story about at that time existing metal scene.

How and when did you end up joining Live Wire fanzine? When did the Live Wire start exactly?

Live Wire started 1984; my official start was with number 6 (1985) as free employee; 1986 I became part of editorial office and more or less 1988, I took leadership in the team

Did the name refer to the Mötley Crüe song on the Too Fast for Love record or…

No, not Mötley Crüe, but AC/CDs song „Live Wire” was responsible for the name.

Was it clear for you to write German instead of English? Why did you choose your mother tongue?

At this time not all of us spoke English; and the others such bad, that it was nearly impossible, to do interviews. It was a horror for us… But we did it. So this was one reason, that we never thought about doing our mag in another language. On the other hand our market was 95% Germany, 5% BENELUX, Switzerland and Austria.

In your opinion, were the German bands easily distinguishable from each other in terms of songwriting, producing, sound etc.?

They didn’t want to copy the British bands and created own way to write and produce their music. At this time you recognised from the first seconds of the songs, if it was German or British root. At this time very often a blemish, cause the German bands wanted to sound international, but were detected directly as a German band. Even Scorpions are a good example, how negative it could be, to be recognised as German band. The language, pronunciation etc. BUT, the criticism came predominantly from Germany, less from other countries.

How were they sold and distributed/promoted? Were all of the issues sold out?

We sold our mag exclusively in record stores. So we browsed endlessly phone books, to get telephone numbers to contact the shops. No internet, no mails, just telephone. And at this time every call costs a fortune, depending, which city we called. As soon as print company finished new issue, we sit together with friends, parents in law and other helping hands, packing the mags and took it to the post office.
This was the part of our business, we didn’t like too much… But had to be done. Of every issue we sold approx 80-90%; some issues were sold out very soon as well.

Why and when did you stop doing/going on Live Wire?

1992 we had to make decision, to take professional distribution on board, going on as we did last years or stop it. Distribution brought problem, that they demanded quantity of 30000 pcs for the first year and afterwards every year 10000 pcs more. On the other hand they gave us no insight in their operation method and distribution process. So it was for us a view in a crystal ball. Financial risk only in our hands. To go on as we’ve done before was no option; at this time more and more small fanzines went the way with distributor or stopped the mags. There was barely no scene between. So, in fact, that I leaded the mag on legal aspect alone (cause my partners didn’t want to keep any risk), I had to make my decision. At this time my daughter was born and I had responsibility for a family. This brought me to the hard decision, to stop Live Wire. 1992 Live Wire died.

Did you go on writing for other fanzines/magazines? If so, in which magazines/fanzines did you take part?

Parallel to Live Wire I wrote even for a big magazin called „Shark”; but Live Wire had priority. For many year´s I stopped writing and doing pictures from the front row, but 2011 fever came back and I liked to shoot pictures in concerts again. Some old contacts were still alive for example Weiki from Helloween or Gaby Hoffmann, management of Accept. I asked them for photo passes and it worked. More and more I came back in this business and three years ago a frind of mine, living in my town, started webzine Hellfire (hellfire-magazin.de). I joined after my friends partner, with whom he started this, left the small team. And actually we’re really successful. Great to be back; and much easier, cause you publish more or less by copy/paste.

.

 


Battlefield #7 (GER) 1987 (auf Deutsch)

Battlefield #7 (GER) 1987. Editor: “Armin Nolzen” and “Bernd Backhaus” (auf Deutsch)

Leaning even more towards hardcore and grind, but still with plenty of metal….with interviews, live reviews and features on Atavistic, Chronic Fear, Extreme Noise Terror, Corrupted Morals, CPD, Cyclone, Death of God, Darkness, Living Death, Destruction, Heresy, Heibel, Guillotine, Napalm Death, Overkill, Helloween, Thanatos, The Accused, Prong, Soothsayer, LSN, tons of record reviews and more. Thank Bernd B(!).

 


Blitzkrieg #3 (Germany) 1985 (auf Deutsch)

Blitzkrieg #3 (Germany) 1985. Editors: “Ralf Ludwig, Roland Dähne, Andreas Hartmann, Olaf Moretzki” (auf Deutsch)

Exceptional German zine from a great year in metal. Includes some pics that, at least I, have not seen before from Death, Celtic Frost and others. Features/Reviews and interviews with Overkill, Death, Bathory, Enforcer, Black Virgin, Iron Angel, Medieval, Nigro Mantia, Angel Dust, Poison (GER), Backwater, Nasty Savage, Savage Grace, Siren, Warfare and Venom. I found this one on an older hard drive, so not sure who originally scanned this/sent it, but thanks from all of us. PDF up as well in D/L section.

 


Brain Damage #1 (USA – CA) 1984

Brain Damage #1 (USA – CA) 1984. Editors: Vadim Rubin” and “Ron Nieto”

Out of Long Beach, CA with help from Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel) and others, this zine features some rare photos, insights and  playlists from the very pivotal year of 1984. Interesting also Slayer is called “black metal”- just shows you how interchangeable all the terms were at the time (before certain sub-genres separated themselves)…check out the reviews as well for Mantas’ demo, among others…[Thanks to the original scanner, this was forwarded to me by a supporter of the archive]. Features and interviews with Hirax, Destruction, Dark Angel, Death Angel, Celtic Frost, Jag Panzer, Mercyful Fate, Omen, Overkill, Possessed and Voivod.


Raise the Dead #1 (Germany) 1984

Raise the Dead #1 (Germany) 1984. Editors: “Timo Weber” (auf Deutsch)

Lots of history packed in this one. Whether you can read German or not, it is still worth a gander for the original artwork from Away (Voivod) and the early Death feature…one of the earliest I have ever seen (on their first Death by Metal demo). Also interviews, info and/or features with Acid, Iron Angel, Overkill, Tankard, Celtic Frost, Destruction, Exciter, Hirax, Liege Lord, Sodom, Metallica, Motorhead, Nasty Savage, Artillery, Venom, Overdose, Mania, Vortex, Sons of Satan, Steel Assassin, Whiplash, Zoetrope, and more… [PDF up in DL section]


Heavy Metal Subterraneo #2 (Mexico/en Español) Julio/Agosto 1986

Heavy Metal Subterraneo #2 (Mexico/en Español) Julio/Agosto 1986. Editors: “Gueorgui Lazarov Stoychev” and “Carlo F. Hernández”

Features and interviews with Impaler, Attila, Destructor, AC/DC, Bloodlust, Deaf Dealer, Black Sabbath, Anthem, Great White, Helloween, Detente, King Diamond, Racer X, Hurricane, Sound Barrier, Tony MacAlpine, Overkill, Bulldozer, Piledriver and more… (thanks to Mario T. for the contribution).

 


Disposable Underground #3 (VA, USA) 1991

Disposable Underground #3 (VA, USA) 1991, Editor: “Richard Johnson”

Issue #2 of DI, out of the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Again, Rich was in early grind outfit Enemy Soil, prior to going on to playing in the likes of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and now Drugs of Faith.  This long running zine can now be found online in downloadable format here, both new and old issues.

This issue has live reviews, adverts, reviews, opinions (one from Deceased guitarist Mike Smith) features and interviews with/on the Foundations Forum, Riki Rachtman, Slayer Zine, Cannibal Corpse, Atheist, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Coroner, Death, Dark Angel, Grave, Gorguts, Hexx, Fates Warning, Impetigo, Believer, Overkill, Queensryche, Pestilence, Relapse Records, Suffocation, Sacrifice, Unleashed, Century Media and much more…

 


Abismo #14 (Portugal) 1990 (Portuguese)

Abismo #14 (Portugal) 1990. Editor: “Sérgio Paulo Santos” (Portuguese)

Long running Portuguese zine with features and interviews with Bathory, Bruce Dickinson, Death, Sadus, Paradox, Toxik, Gorilla Biscuits, Brutal Obscenity, Overkill, Running Wild, Xentrix and much on the local scene…


Speed Attack #2 (Germany) 1985 (auf Deutsch)

Speed Attack #2 (Germany) 1985. (auf Deutsch) Editors: “Michael Trengert and Peter Zohren”

Second issue of this German zine featured last month, released in the year of 1985. Again, one of the editors was Michael Trengert, who went on to be one of the Summer Breeze Festival (GER) organizers and also a former European manager of Metal Blade Records, and recently passed away. Just a great layout, very readable (if you can read German) and featuring both underground German favorites as well as future stars, including Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus, Slayer, Destruction, Zoetrope, Enforcer, Hallows Eve, Iron Angel, Mercyful Fate, Monolith (Italy), Avenger, Omen, Possessed, Sacred Rite, Steel Vengeance, Tankard, Overkill, Voivod, and more…

 

 


Metal Forces #21 (UK) 1986

Metal Forces #21 (UK) 1986. Editor: “Bernard Doe”

[Once more, it’s a given that Metal Forces was certainly not a fanzine, yet it still deserves archival status. As previously stated, the importance of the magazine for the development of the global underground and all ’extreme’ genres can not be understated – they covered many notable bands before any other press did, and were a reliable go-to source for news in the pre-internet era.]

Here I have issue #21, all 47 pages- it’s a good mix of speed and thrash (heavily on the rise at the time), along with the token glam rock sprinkled throughout (posers!!!??)…I wonder why they even bothered with the glam rock then, because if you check out the “Readers Album Chart”- its all thrash and speed?! Lots of cool reviews though with the essential “Demolition” demo review section (Nuclear Death!), pen-pal and fanzine addresses etc. One thing I question however is the “78” review for Fates Warning’s Awaken the Guardian …come on!? And Zebra gets a 91? Anyways, reader mail, plus killer live reviews of Deathrow (plus intie), Overkill, Whiplash, Metallica, Voivod, Possessed and more, as well as features on Anthrax, English Dogs, Attacker, Crumbsuckers, Dark Angel, Helstar, Steeler, Voivod (again) etc.


Metal Madness #2 (USA-New Mexico) 1984

Metal Madness #2 (USA-New Mexico) 1984. Editor: “The Hellion”

Out of Albuquerque NM, this short zine featured an early Overkill (super-brief answers from Rat Skates), Satan Jokers from France (interesting name..and still active!), Manilla Road (who explain what ‘false metal’ is), a Dee Snider centerfold (!), Mania from Germany (who ended up on Noise Records), reviews and news (from ’84 – hey, new song titles from Slayer‘s forthcoming “Hell Awaits” Lp!), a brief feature on early speed-metalers Warfare (UK), a super-young Armored Saint promo pic, and more.


Metal Forces #20 (UK) 1986

Metal Forces #20 (UK) 1986. Editor: “Bernard Doe”

Once more, it’s a given that Metal Forces was certainly not a fanzine, yet it still deserves archival status. (As previously stated) the importance of the magazine for the development of the global underground and all ’extreme’ genres can not be understated – they covered many notable bands before any other press did, and were a reliable go-to source for news in the pre-internet era. Here I have issue #20, and to some extent I was forced to eliminate the posers from the scans, because as we know, SBMS has never supported poser bands and never will!!!!!!! (Just kidding…well, not really). This issue was put out at the end of 1986, so it features the news about Cliff Burton’s death, and even has a review of his last show with Metallica in Stockholm, Sweden (along with Anthrax) in the “Frontline” live reviews. Also there are live reviews from the Crumbsuckers/Carnivore, Destruction and Kreator. Interviews/features include Abattoir, Possessed, Destruction, Kreator, Overkill, and more, in addition to a fanzine list, penpal addresses, playlists, and news.


Brain Damage Zine #1 (California, USA) 1984

Brain Damage Zine #1 (California, USA) 1984. Editors: “Vadim Rubin and Ron Nieto”

Here is classic from Long Beach – straight from the dawn of the underground. Thanks to Adrian at Pest Webzine for sending these scans over and helping me get a post up despite me being away from home for another 10 days. This issue has write-ups on Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Overkill, Omen, Destruction, Hirax (interview), Death Angel, Celtic Frost, etc.

 


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!

 

 


Pit Magazine #8 (Colorado, USA) 1992

Pit Magazine #8 (Colorado, USA) 1992, Editor: “Wendy Perelstein”

A massive update here….Pit Magazine was published by Mosh Pit Records, a metal record store out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, that is sadly missed. Their magazine started in the late 80s and ran into the 90s with ambitions of being a national magazine of sorts, and they eventually did get okay distribution, but in essence it was really just a nice pro-printed, national zine – and that is what made it cool (It seems there is also still some online presence, as they have a facebook page and an outdated website, yet I think the last print issue was put out about 5 years ago…I could be wrong).

With better content and interviews than most national mags, it was packed with all the relevant bands and more. This issue was no exception, featuring an interview with Metallica-Jason Newsted when the Black album dropped (talking about their songwriting and change), Bolt Thrower (!!!), Nick Menza around “Rust in Peace” era-Megadeth, Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse talking about serial killers and why he hates (hated?) Phil from Sacred Reich, Godflesh, Autopsy, Necroticism-era Carcass, Soundgarden, Solitude Aeturnus, Blessed are the Sick-era Morbid Angel interview with Dave Vincent, Anacrusis, an extended interview with Pete Steele for the CarnivoreType O Negative fans, the Hoffman Brothers of Deicide, Exhorder, Immolation, Coroner, Entombed, Cancer, Grave, Gorguts, Napalm Death, Obituary, Unleashed, and many more.