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MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL TURNS 30 YEARS OLD
Maximum Rocknroll Magazine 30th Anniversary issue#351 August 2012. Tim Yohannan and his team had been broadcasting the Maximum Rocknroll radio show on KPFA in Berkeley for 4 years by 1982. He already had a vision of the non-profit media empire he wanted to build in the Bay Area that eventually became a radio show, magazine, record label, retail record store and live music venue.
http://maximumrocknroll.com/mrr-archives-001/ Scroll down and there will be a link to a free download of all 47 pages of issue #1 in PDF format. Issue #2 is also available.
In '82 his next big thing was to publish a magazine that was dedicated to punk rock. By the time the first issue of Maximum Rocknroll came out in June of '82 they were gearing up to continue to publish for at least a couple of years. It became the Bible for punk rock musicians and fans mainly in California, but it had a following all over the world. To be in a punk band in the early 80s and send a snapshot, a tape and a brief description of your band to Tim in San Francisco meant a spotlight would shine on your efforts in the pages of MRR and on the radio show. We punk bands in the Fresno area at the time were amazed to hear our songs being played on the radio! Here in Fresno KPFA was rebroadcast on KFCF 88.1fm. http://www.kfcf.org/
Here's a MRR radio show from 1983: http://soundcloud.com/fcar0/mrr-episode-130
All the while, local punk bands were being ignored and reviled by many in the populace, the media and music biz hierarchy. We made no bones about it, punk was a clear and present threat to the major labels: we wanted to upstage them as the presenters and purveyors of rocknroll. We developed our own record labels, wholesale distribution, interconnected network of promoters and live venues.
This was a real underground. We just did what we wanted and didn't report to them because we figured they didn't like us anyway. A lot of them refused to acknowledge our existence and we were somewhat happy there operating in relative obscurity. They liked to keep saying punk was dead right as it kept getting bigger and bigger throughout the 80s. And the conceptualizer of all this was Tim Yohannan.
Tim, his main partner, Jeff Bale and the rest of his team taught us unconnected losers out here in hundreds of little towns all over the world that we didn't need those jerks, we could do it ourselves.
Tim and Jeff Bale KPFA studio 1982
Year after year, throughout the 80s we continued putting on all-ages shows at rented halls and warehouses. By the early 90s even the major labels knew Tim's vision was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to be a viable method of promoting a music scene.
In '82 I sent my band's tape and info to Maximum Rocknroll and to my surprise Tim himself called me to coordinate building our little scene in Fresno with his radio show. He asked me to write a "Scene Report" about our own scene. I had become a defacto leader because basically nobody else wanted to do it.
Excerpt from my '82 Fresno Scene Report: "Finally some punk gigs in Fresno! We found a warehouse on the outskirts of town and about 80 kids initiated the new place, thrashing their buns off to the Frigidettes, Capitol Punishment, X-Ray Dog and The Cambodian Kids. CP's "Theory of Poverty" is a song about the Trickle-Down Theory which claims that wealth will trickle down to the poor due to the honesty and generosity of Big Business. Don't hold your breath."
It's been 30 years and I'm still waiting for that trickle down Ronald Reagan was talking about.
It was all so new at the time. Right place, right time. I swear that was what it was all about. I didn't have any special skills or education, it's just that the mainstream saw punk as something negative and ignored it as best they could. That provided a door of opportunity for folks like me to step through and achieve some level of success as a musician/entrepeneur.
And so, the first issue of Maximum Rocknroll, July-August 1982 came out and my little Fresno Scene Report was there on page four after the Bay Area Scene Report and the Reno, Nevada Scene Report. It was the first time anything I had written was published. Heck, it was the first time I ever put pen to paper to write about anything other than a few song lyrics.
351 issues of Maximum Rocknroll have come and gone and there's been a lot of water under the bridge. I lost interest in the magazine and radio show about the time that Tim Yohannan passed away of cancer in 1998. They lost interest in me, too. Gone were the unexpected phone calls to coordinate or just chat. They moved on to other younger punk rockers. Maybe that's why they are still publishing the magazine and radio show to this day. I stopped being a punk because I just got too old. It's best left to youth who can really play with the kind of furious enthusiasm that punk was all about.
But, I still have that message that I learned from the pages of Maximum Rocknroll in my heart: Localism is best, the DIY ethic is cool, Major Record Labels are bad, Question Authority and true creativity resides in the hearts and minds of individuals not corporations hell-bent on profits. And, if you do get a chance to be a leader be fair to those around you.
Husker Du drummer Grant Hart showing what it took to get Tim Yo to like your band.
The radio show is still going after 30 years+ as well here: http://radio.maximumrocknroll.com/
On that first issue cover is Dave Dictor of MDC - Left-wing political hardcore punk. Here's one of my favorites by MDC called Born to Die with one of my favorite lines from a punk song: "No war no KKK no facist USA" an ideal worth striving to live by.