Wednesday, 1 June 2011

SUPERNOVA - My late 1990's indie fanzine.....

Before the rise of the internet and the popularity of music blogs (like this one) there existed many indie fanzines. As an alternative to the NME and other music publications, these were DIY magazines often made by budding music writers, dedicated fans of certain groups, or a mixture of the both. I definitely fell into the latter category, as I was the writer of a fanzine called 'Supernova'. I began writing the 'zine in 1997, a mixture of music reviews, a monthly chart, comic strips and some fierce opinions on pop stars of the time.

The album reviews were often excitable and occasionally over-enthusiastic, but this was the writing of a 13 year old Britpop fanatic. Examples of this included 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours' being declared as "the Manics best album to date" and the questionable 10 out of 10 review given to the third Oasis album 'Be Here Now', which was even given an entire special issue of its own. In my youth i also discovered a brief talent for drawing comic strips, so to give 'Supernova' a bit of character I regularly featured music-related cartoon strips, which often featured ridiculous fights between Noel and Liam Gallagher, or dead rock legends rising from the grave to take revenge on pop stars that covered their songs.

Giving a critical thrashing to manufactured pop acts was a trademark of 'Supernova'. There was a whole page dedicated to "sorting out" the talentless and the unworthy, where there would be a piece of recent news about a certain group or person, followed by my own unique personal response, which typically consisted of scathing insults, damning criticism, along with some very strong language. Needless to say at this time the Spice Girls and Robbie Williams would be regular victims of my unbridled abuse, and typical examples of the sort of people who would appear in the comic strips, meeting grim deaths in painful and violent ways. Now in 2011 with utter cunts like Simon Cowell and all of his hideous creations around, just think of the torrent of savage abuse 'Supernova' would been dealing out. The cartoon strips would certainly be very entertaining now, that's for sure.

Replay Records - BathSince I always enjoyed getting a free CD or tape from the front of music magazines, I felt that 'Supernova' should have had those too so I created 'The Supernova Tapes'. To save getting in bother over copyright issues as well as saving loads of money on blank tapes, I would simply publish a tracklisting every issue and leave it up to the reader to find all the songs and compile the tape themselves. Up until 1998 every issue was handwritten, filled with pictures cut out of magazines and then photocopies by my Mum at her work place. I'd then staple together around 50 copies of the 'zine and then go out distributing it. I'd give them to chosen locations for them to display on the counter to be picked up for free. Replay Records in Bath would always get a stack, as would Bath's Rival Records, Chippenham's Falcon Records and the record department at Knee's in Trowbridge, while the remaining copies would be given at school to various people.

I realised a lot of people at school had poor taste so I decided to publish more issues for people to pick up at the school and maybe discover something worth listening to in the process. So in order for the school's reception to have a stack of 'Supernova's, I had to make the magazine more suitable for giving out to school kids, which meant taking out the grim cartoon strips and the filthy language. I also felt I wanted to make the magazine more of a serious proposition, so it was renamed 'Novacaine' (after a track from Beck's 'Odelay') and became 100% music reviews and perhaps a few features. In addition to this I'd acquired the occasional use of my Mum's work laptop, so the magazine started the appear in smart 'proper' print instead of handwriting (although it was very neat handwriting). The magazine had changed but the slagging off of manufactured pop continued, as I'd make sure I'd include write ups of singles I knew I wasn't going to like, just to highlight their poor quality. 'Novacaine' continued up until 2000, with the last issue's main focus being the release of Radiohead's 'Kid A'.

Writing 'Supernova' and 'Novacaine' took up a lot of my spare time and when I wasn't writing I was listening to and discovering more music, hence one of the reason why I never used to socialise outside of school. After leaving school it felt like the natural time to end the 'zine, as I had started college and was setting out to make up for years in my bedroom by attempting to socialise with as many people as I could. The years since threw up many twists and turns but since then I have sort of come full circle and now spend a lot of spare time writing about music. Yes, over a decade later and I am reviewing music again, this time to a worldwide audience of thousands a month via this increasingly popular blog. But essentially 'Supernova' may have been the seed.

After de-cluttering my house so many times over the years I must have thrown away any copies of my old fanzine, because I can't find a single one. But if any people reading this once picked up a free fanzine from a South West record shop in the late 90's then cast your mind back and remember if it was 'Supernova'. Maybe someone out there still owns a copy, if you do then PLEASE get in touch via the comments box on this page. I am planning a special 'Supernova 2011' one-off edition of the fanzine that will profile what happened to the bands who featured in the fanzine. News of that coming soon.......

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