I know doing a fanzine wasn’t exactly momentous historically, however it was our small involvement in our local scene. It might not be important to everyone, but it was very important to some.
After leaving school in 1982 Will was looking to contribute to the punk scene on Tyneside…
I never possessed natural talent or had the opportunity to play an instrument, I was never gonna be a vocalist by any stretch of the imagination.
Thinking back, I don’t think my parents had the kind of disposable income to fork out on a guitar, amp or drums. Times were tough back then as anyone from that era can confirm.
But I did have an admiration for the Sunderland fanzine Acts Of Defiance which I bought from The New Record Inn next door to the infamous Old 29 pub in Sunderland where many bands played. I would read the copies enthusiastically and wondered if I could do something similar.
Will set about typing stuff out using his sister’s typewriter.
I would be creative using Letraset or permanent black marker pens with stencils. I would cut pieces out of the weekly music paper Sounds and daily newspapers to create collages or backgrounds by gluing them together. Back then ‘copy and paste’ meant using scissors and adhesive!
For a name I saw ‘Hate And War’ in a magazine, that would fit perfectly across the top of an A4 sheet of paper. I cut it out and it looked great, so that was that sorted.
Obviously we didn’t endorse hate or war – quite the opposite in fact. To us it was just a great song by The Clash, and it was completely by chance that I found that cutting and it fit perfectly.
Were you working alongside anybody to produce the fanzine?
During that period I was very close with my cousin Paul Briggs. We would arrange to meet bands or write to those further afield with postal interviews. Basically I’d send them a bunch of questions and they’d reply with their answers in a week or two.
What bands did you feature?
We featured bands like Vice Squad, Dead Kennedys, U.K. Subs, The System, External Menace, Riot Squad, The Adicts, Instant Agony, and lots more.
We also focused heavily on local North East talent such as Uproar, The Fiend, Psycho Faction, Total Chaos, Toy Dolls, Sadistic Slobs, Public Toys, Negative Earth, Red Alert and tons of others.
The next hurdles to overcome were how to get it financed and printed.
We were just kids relying on pocket money so things didn’t look good. Then I mentioned it to my grandmother who worked as a cleaner at the police station in South Shields.
I think the office staff turned a blind eye when she photocopied the odd knitting pattern but I’m grinning remembering that before anyone turned up on a morning my grandmother photocopied our fanzine in the police station offices.
She must’ve had some bottle knowing that getting caught could cost her the job she loved.
How many issues of the fanzine did you put out?
We put out two issues of Hate And War. Admittedly, they were basic and primitive but I mentioned this recently to my mate Nelly, he pointed out that ‘our whole punk scene was basic and primitive‘ – it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
We set about a third issue including interviewing Total Chaos at the Bier Keller in Newcastle where I crossed paths with Gary Payne. When I said wor – Geordie slang for ‘our’ – Paul had lost interest, he suggested going into cahoots with him.
He even had the new fanzine name and first front cover assembled – Still Dying was born. If Hate And War was basic and primitive then Still Dying was a bar or two higher as we raised our game.
Where did you sell copies of the fanzine ?
We sold lots by taking them to gigs at places like The Station in Gateshead and The Bunker in Sunderland. We’d ask folk if they fancied buying a fanzine and before we knew it they were gone. We had some for sale in Volume Records in Newcastle and lots were sent out by mail-order too.
I’m guessing we got about 200 of each issue printed and they all sold. The two issues of Hate And War sold for 10p, and Still Dying was a bargain at 20p.
My grandmother helped again by getting the first issue of Still Dying photocopied. We put out three issues of Still Dying during 1983 which I’m still proud of.
The second issue was printed by a lad called Ian, who did Testament Of Reality fanzine and owned his own photocopier. The third and final issue was printed by our friend’s sister who did Edition Fanzine.
By the end of that year Gary bowed out saying he’d completed what he set out to achieve and left me to forge on. My intentions were to continue but it wasn’t the same, so I gave everything we had typed out with all the artwork for our proposed fourth issue to a lad called Marty.
It featured in his fanzine ‘Remember Who We Are’. After that, I did pursue a short-lived tape label before stepping back altogether.
Do you think the fanzine had an impact on those who bought it ?
In recent years some folk have told me that they still own the issues they bought back in 1983. They’ve kept our little fanzine for nearly four decades, so it must’ve left some impression on them. I’ve heard good comments over the years and even the suggestion that we should resurrect it.
Next up read As I See It part two with Will Binks talking about his passion for photography.
Alikivi October 2022.