Houston Music

Local Punks Step Up to Help Save Maximumrocknroll

Let’s face it: The Internet has not been too good to Maximumrocknroll. Indisputably the ultimate punk-rock ‘zine, founder Tim Yohannan’s monthly soapbox of record reviews, artist interviews and political screeds spent nearly two unchallenged decades as both the document of record and primary connector between all of the world’s far-flung punk-rock scenes. If you wanted to check in on the liberty-spiked happenings in Denmark or read an interview with G.G. Allin, you reached for a copy of Maximumrocknroll — assuming your favorite record store was cool enough to carry it.

That was then. Nowadays, of course, you just fire up Facebook on your phone. But the much-heralded death of print is hardly the cruelest blow that the onward march of technology has dealt the magazine. Even as the likes of Google, Napster and Twitter made it faster and easier than ever before to keep up with the antics of your favorite snotty anarchists, the tech boom also created a slew of overnight billionaires and their legions of staffers and developers, steadily driving up the cost of living and working in San Francisco: Maximumrocknroll’s hometown and traditional power base.

Rather than watch one of its cultural institutions driven out of town to wither and die, the global punk-rock community has rallied to DIY something about it. At the urging of the magazine, more than 40 local punk scenes from Seattle to Shanghai will host benefit gigs to help keep MRR afloat. Naturally, that includes our own humble ‘burg, where Larry Nance, founder of boutique label Bad Hair Life Records, was conscripted to get things happening.

Nance has a particular fondness for Finnish punk, having released a number of records from Helsinki bands, brought them over to the States and even interviewed them for Maximumrocknroll. Concert promotion is something new for him, but when the magazine asked for his help, he couldn’t turn them down.

“This isn’t something I do all the time,” Nance says. “I’m a schoolteacher, so I don’t really have the time to do a proper job of it. I knew they had these shows organized, but [Senior Content Coordinator] Lydia [Athanasopoulou] wrote me and asked if I’d be willing to do a show for Houston. And of course I said yes to her.

“I guess I’m a pushover,” he adds, chuckling a bit.

For a pushover, he did pretty damn well. H-Town punk heroes the Hates and Secret Prostitutes are at the top of the poster, along with Alimañas, Stress33, Cop Warmth and more. All the proceeds will be donated to the magazine. DIY venue/party palace Houston House of Creeps agreed to host, and local underground promoter Juan Carlos Newton pitched in to fill out the bill. Cover is $7.

“When Larry got with me, he already had two bands, and I helped him find the rest,” Newtown says. “With the line up, I wanted to show what Houston was about, and punk rock in general. I wanted bands that have been around a while, to give credit to those that have been around to see it all.”

Newton might be a tad too young to remember the heyday of Maximumrocknroll, but Nance isn’t. He remembers picking up the magazine back when it was the only outlet reporting on the stuff he was into.

“I have bought the magazine since the ‘80s, kind of off and on,” he says. “I used to work at the Axiom in the late ‘80s in Houston, and during that time and even before then, I was buying it pretty regularly. I guess in the ‘90s, I didn’t follow things too much, but sometimes around 2003 or ’04 — around the time I started teaching, incidentally — the music began to make sense again. I started buying the magazine and seeing what was going on.”

The worldwide nature of the punk-rock beast still fascinated Nance, inspiring him to get involved himself.

“The international part of it was always the appeal to me,” he says. “To me, it was interesting that punk rock was in every corner of the world. It just made me aware of other things around the world when there was no Internet. So, it wasn’t so easy to just go online and explore what was going on in your interest zone. The magazine was kind of the way I’d find out about those kind of things, reading release reviews, scene reports and interviews. I liked that anybody can get involved, if you're willing to do the work.”

Newton, for his part, sees the mag as a pillar not only of the global punk-rock community but of its history, as well.

“It started before the Internet, before Facebook,” Newton says. “That was the way punk rockers found out about other bands. It helped tremendously back in the day to connect people, start tours, all that. It’s just a really cool thing that they’ve done.”

If you’d like to help these guys ensure that MRR can keep doing it, they’ll see you on Saturday.

Maximumrocknroll Presents: The Houston Problem begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at Houston House of Creeps, 807 William.
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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith