Robert Forster, the surviving half of the truly great Brisbane band The Go-Betweens, was awarded a prize for critical writing last week. No big news there, but I did notice this:
When the musician Robert Forster was approached to become the music critic for a new magazine, The Monthly, last year, his writer’s resume consisted of one entry: a column on hair care he penned for a Manchester fanzine called Debris in the late 1980s.
This piqued my interest, especially when I found a BBC Manchester interview with John Cooper, who runs the Cerysmatic Factory website mentioned in the last post, that included this quote:
Manchester has a great fanzine heritage with City Fun, Debris, Freaky Dancin’, Manchester Rains, to name but a few.
Turns out Debris was started by enduring Factory DJ Dave Haslam and featured flexidiscs (remember them?) by bands like Inspiral Carpets and interviews with people like Morrissey and Johnny Marr.
According to Dave, NME described it as “the best fanzine in the world”.
Another zine at the time was Badpress, which was also established because of “the personal fury of one editor/writer for the media, especially the local print media, of the day”. You can read more about Badpress and view PDFs of it here.
So how does Manchester’s fanzine culture compare these days? We’ve got regular, well-produced titles like Transmission and High Voltage, as well as any number of occasional or one-off zines.
Manchester’s alternative radical press is still highly active too, as a visit to The Basement on Lever Street will quickly demonstrate. And the same venue, back in February, even hosted a Zine Fest.
Oh, and just so you know, Forster’s hair care piece (from issue 16, December 1987) included this excellent recommendation:
The Shampoo question puzzled me for years until I discovered Redken. I call it ‘the shampoo of the stars’.
Full feature available here.