Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Zine Publisher Interview: Roy Sierra of Underworld Zine & Compilation by Dave Wolff

Interview with Roy Sierra of Underworld Zine & Compilation

If I remember correctly I interviewed you for this zine when you were publishing Trendcrusher zine in the early 2000s. What happened with that zine after the time of our interview?
Was it 2002 or 2003? Sorry, my memory is bad on dates. It went alright at first. I even found a contributor, Pedro, by Issue #3 then it went downhill for me after that. I experienced a lot of hassle in the Abu Dhabi post office, being humiliated in public on one occasion about the Driller Killer ‘Fuck the World’ CD; on another occasion I only got a warning from the postal officer about a parcel with a letter written ‘Hail Satan,’ and on another I was summoned to the manager’s office of the customs and the manager personally checked the content of the parcel, so after that I really laid low as I thought next time they’ll just haul my ass to jail! Besides those, disillusionment about life in general conflicted with so many things such as marital problems, where work is the only normality; drinking and listening to the old demons of metal I grew up with are the only solace I wanted. Although Pedro did continue it and did a page of his own. I just slipped back in the shadows and the time came that I just did not care anymore.

What issue was the latest you published of Trendcrusher zine? Did it receive a favorable response despite the personal matters you were experiencing? Are there plans to release a new issue in the near future?
I got to print up to issue #3. It did get a mixed response with more of a bad side on too much movie reviews. I found out later on that some copies I sent out did not reach the recipients. I actually contacted Pedro, I think in the middle or end of 2010, since he got a lot of interviews done, to maybe print Issue #4 but again there was a relapse of personal matters and I just stopped again. Since I re-started UnderWorld Zine & Compilation, I have no plans to do Trendcrusher Zine.

How did you meet Pedro and what led to his contributing to Trendcrusher Zine? Do you still remain in touch with him today?
I met him in the few shows that I went to. He is active in the local scene there and then he went to Canada to study and did a ‘Trendcrusher’ college radio show. We haven’t been in contact since 2010; that time he was back in India and I think is still doing Trendcrusher as a webzine.

Who were the bands you featured in issue #1 of Trendcrusher, and how wide was the distribution?
This one I’m gonna try first to answer just what I remember, this may not be all, but I think its Mournful Congregation (Aus), Desecration of Virgin Zine (Ger), Severance (US), No Bullshit Zine (Phil), Penetrator (Can). Ah this also has the band I met in Dubai, they are Abhorred & in Abu Dhabi, Filthpact who is from Scotland but his parents work in Abu Dhabi at the time and I think he was visiting at the time. Ok I looked up the other features in #1 and they are Paganfire (Phil), Myndsnare (India), Litham (Alg), Delirium X Tremens (Ita), Chamber69 (Phil), Deathguy (Thai) & Kamageddon Media (Neth). This was mostly traded directly.

Which bands were interviewed for issue #2 of Trendcrusher? How widely were you able to distribute this issue?
I was thinking of the issue with Rigor Mortis but was not sure, so I looked if my site is still online and it seems it is. It says I put some updates on Myspace already offline; now I’m getting more confused. I searched my old removable hard disk and found some notes. My note says issue #3 is the “nailed in the coffin issue” for the printed version and bands that Pedro interviewed, and it is the one we tried working on in 2010. It seems I started writing some reviews and editorial part then stopped! And all this time I’m thinking I have managed to issue it! Aaaarrggghh… is this a symptom of some mental issue? Anyway, issue #2 featured Alamkiamat Fanzine (Brunei Darussalam), Balatonizer (Italy),Demonic Resurrection (India), Empyrean (Dubai/Singapore) Horde of Worms (Canada), Kinetic (Greece), Metal Beer Horror Webzine (USA), Putrefied Genitalia (Greece), Rigor Mortis (USA), Sixfourtwofive (Philippines), Skull Shifter (USA), Vexed (Italy), Visions Of The Night (Canada) and Bloody Sign (France). And that I only find in a text file named ‘for flyer’. I always try to send out copies for reviews and trades in every issue I do, I think I managed to get this distroed to Weird Truth Productions of Japan and Pedro managed to get it in Bloodbucket or Skullfucking Armageddon in Canada; I’m not quite sure which one.

How much feedback were you getting from readers of Trendcrusher while it was active?
Not really able to trace all of the feedbacks, especially of the #2, I also failed to follow up on zines I traded then so I don’t know the reviews of Trendcrusher on their succeeding issue. But to those I recall some liked it having a variety of metal styles & some don’t like it because of not too much metal reviews & too much movie reviews. It would be great to read & know more of the feedbacks but I think it goes the same to almost all zine makers, in the end of the day it still falls on how much you enjoy doing it & what you want to make of it that reflects the state of mind at the time of the creation, no matter what.

How much of issue #3 was completed before you called it a day with Trendcrusher? Who were you planning to feature in this issue?
Well, as mentioned in the previous answer, with a mental revelation, issue #4 is a hallucination issue of mine, haha! It seems in issue #3 which was supposed to be the final printed version for Trendcrusher all the bands are interviewed by Pedro. The only ones listed in my notes are Hellacaust, Wasted Land, Inner Surge, Decoy Death Trap. There were supposed to be more because the interviews that Pedro made were from 2007 to 2010. I also found a note to myself with plans of doing a new zine after Trendcrusher, calling it either Disscriptus which was first to be on that Myspace page or a printed zine called Chalybs Litterae. Haha what a fucking memory loss eh! Now I don’t know if it was good finding these notes, now I’m having a weird feeling that I did something that I can’t even remember!

Are you still in touch with the bands and zine editors you interviewed for Trendcrusher?
I always try to re-contact bands, zines editors and other metal heads I have been in contact with in the past, not just those who got involved in Trendcrusher Zine. Just to catch up and chat about the past is always a good thing. Most of the time they respond. Like AEA, I searched the net when I came here but my mistake was putting separated words ‘auto erotic asphyxiation zine’ and the result are info about the fetish, S&M and the article about Mr. David Carradine hehe. Others I managed to contact again are Natthaphon of Slava Zine/Productions of Thailand, Makoto of Nyarlatothep/Funeral Moth, Weird Truth Production of Japan, Matheusz of Forgotten Chapel Zine, Francesca of Prayer Book of Italy, Al Fahmi of Beast Petrify/Abysmal Sculpture zine of Singapore, and the guys in No Bullshit Zine, Gran Peligro Zine, Incarion, Toxemia, Paganfire, Pathogen, Korihor and some which escapes my mind right now. I am also trying to feature the bands featured before, especially if they are still active, like I did with Warzy and Severance, so we shall see what happens in the future. Some I failed to contact again like Metal Beer Horror webzine.

I think Metal Beer Horror webzine might still be active; I don’t know for certain but I imagine you could search for then on Facebook. Are the bands and zine editors you got back in touch with interested in being featured on Underworld?
I looked for and found the MBH site but saw no activity for some years now, but no official announcement either that it’s closed. Email has no response so maybe the time is not right yet. I hope they’d still be interested, haven’t really ask them all yet except Toxemia which is actually the band of Corix the editor of No Bullshit Zine. I am trying to fit it all with the new bands and contacts I found.

You are currently living in Texas, in the USA. What were the reasons you relocated, how long have you been based there and what are the biggest differences between Texas and Abu Dhabi where you were living previously?
I am what my country calls an ‘Overseas Filipino Worker’ or OFW. I go to where companies would hire me to work. By 2011 I know my contract is near its end and the company has no new project so I was sending my resume like hell. I am really glad some companies here in Texas are hiring at the time. With all legal procedures, I got to come here by June of 2012. The difference is enormous in society and the metal scene of course! Abu Dhabi is an Islamic country; although it’s one of the most tolerant societies in the Middle East, its laws are still governed by their religion or Sharia Law. It’s a good thing they have more respect to others and even have churches for other religions. But because metal is metal, it’s hard to be an all-out metal head there, from what you wear to the packages you get in the post office, being discreet is a must unless you like trouble and going to jail. There are some metal shows but I have to travel to Dubai where somehow the organizers manage to set-up show at hotel bars. It seems Dubai is better for Metal Heads! I have to get a liquor license to be able to legally buy alcohol in liquor stores. You can drink at hotels but it’s too expensive and you have to keep your receipt when you go home as a safe pass to police if ever they chanced upon you in the streets. You can buy alcohol black market style and gamble on being caught so I prefer the licensed way. So Texas is not like that at all! Hehehe!! Life is a bit relaxed, less working hours, no complaints on the society so far, great selections of beer and liquor, metal shows every week!! You can be metal anytime any day… except Sunday haha! I found out the liquor stores are closed on Sunday and Beer in supermarkets is only sold in the afternoon on Sunday, and some people frown on your metal shirts on Sunday too hehehe.

I remember watching Sam Dunn’s documentary Global Metal and learning about the metal scenes in Islamic countries If you got to see that or similar documentaries, did it or they show an accurate picture about being a metal head in Islamic society?
I’m familiar with Dunn’s documentary, the first one Metal: A Headbanger's Journey was given to me by Dino Salas, my old friend and member of Sektaba, a band from the early 90s. He lived in the Philippines and moved to Canada by the late 90s. When I went to the Dubai Desert Rock where Iron Maiden first played there, I did have a glimpse of Dunn because he was going around and there was already news that he was doing another documentary. Yeah I think it did show that the Asian Muslims in Indonesia seem more tolerant in comparison to those in the Middle East. I don’t know if he featured Malaysia which is also an Islamic country, and has a total ban on Black Metal but it’s OK for other metal genres. Although I have no personal experience in Indonesia, I went to Malaysia when I tried a job offer there, and in the hotel one channel in the television I watched a show where bands were playing heavy metal in a variety show, and the audience was clapping. But that’s the only thing I saw there; metal wise. I can relate to bands in the Middle East, maybe because I’m in the same boat, but being a foreigner metalhead it can also be worse because of the social structure, classes and nationality perceptions that the locals have. I know metal can get you in trouble so you need to hide it and be discreet. The stories of metal heads in the Middle East are almost the same, being persecuted by the religious police of their country. The religious police is different from the ordinary police, they have more power and can do on the spot searches and arrest who they think is offending Islam. Most stories I heard firsthand are from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and Lebanon. As mentioned in the documentary, at first it might seem exaggerated, but when you get there and see firsthand how their society works you’ll see. I’m just glad there are no religious police in Abu Dhabi and Dubai but conservatives can call the police and complain. So when you cross paths with conservative Muslims and you are in your metal shirts; you don’t know what will happen. I also had near misses with them; I can find it funny remembering it now but some guys and friends I know are not too lucky.

What sort of close calls did you have with conservative Muslims while wearing band shirts? Are there any incidents you have heard about in Abu Dhabi or the other countries you mentioned, that you can discuss in this interview?
One was when I was buying food at the Abu Dhabi cooperative supermarket. You have to deposit your belongings that are not allowed to be brought inside, like bags, umbrellas or other goods you bought from other stores. So I did that and bought some foods. When going out and retrieving my belongings, the assigned person was not the attendant anymore but a security guard. Good thing there were many customers; he noticed the Samael shirt after he gave me my stuff and he was trying to stop me from leaving. He was asking ‘Why Samael? Do you know Samael?’ and then the attendant came and he asked to call the manager. So I hurriedly went out and did not come back to that store for more than a month. Another was in another store and an older and younger woman were staring and mumbling ‘shaitan, shaitan’, I was thinking “man I’m not that fucking ugly”, I guess they read the Lucifer in Metalucifer separately. In any case, I never wait for the police to come, whenever shit like those happens I get out.
For stories from other people, and not just for wearing a metal shirt, one was even in the newspaper in Abu Dhabi where a group of long haired guys who are members of a rock band were accosted by police in Sharjah (a stricter city or emirate in UAE) and have their hair cut. A friend in Saudi Arabia had the same experience where the religious police noticed his Metallica shirt, and when asked to take it off, his cap got removed also which showed his long hair, so the police cut it there on the spot. A friend in Abu Dhabi got a night in jail and hands beaten with a baton. Although it stemmed from an argument with the taxi driver, I can only assume that it became that way because my friend was in a metal shirt and generally grim looking, hehe. An acquaintance in Dubai also told me when he went back to Lebanon to visit his family, he bought a Cannibal Corpse CD in the airport duty free shop in Lebanon, then it was seen in a police check point and he went to jail for a day for it. It’s like a buy bust operation; they let some metal be legally sold yet they’ll jail you for buying it. Just fucking crazy logic!

How much better is it for you to pick up zines and promo CDs at the post office and not have to be concerned with getting into trouble with the law?
Well anything without hassle is better, hehehe. Here in the US you can buy anything online and get it in the mail! I even read something about the ‘online black market’ on illegal stuff and it is said to deliver by USPS mail! Haha! In Abu Dhabi I found out the hard way that regular mail is better; customs seems to not care for it and you just have to wait longer and rarely mail is lost or stolen. Priority mail which is faster, is 50/50 in safety; depending on the customs form declaration they’ll inspect it and summon you if they need to clear something, although most of the time I got my mail opened and inspected but nothing is missing. Now if it is a large parcel, EMS or the Express mail which is the quickest, they’ll summon you and open your package in front of you! So if you are present in the inspection like what happened to me, if you have CDs with pussies, tits showing, the word Satan and Hebrew words, then you’ll have a problem. They don’t seem to care about inverted crosses, scary demons and goats with guns though.

How would you describe Iron Maiden’s first appearance at Dubai Desert Rock? What year did they perform there for the first time, and how much the attending audience appreciated them?
For me of course it was great! My first time to see them live! It was 2007’s Dubai Desert Rock Festival. The first day had Iron Maiden as the main band and support from In Flames and Mastodon as I remember. The attendance was massive as it was a two day fest with a mix of rock and metal! Although I only went on the first day, it was on a golf and country club and I remember someone saying the camel racing location was converted to have the stage and other facilities! The line to the bar was so long I was buying at least a shot of whiskey and two beers at a time so I didn’t have to come back sooner. People came from nearby countries like India, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, plus the expatriates in UAE. But with the huge turnout not 100%, maybe less than 40% were into metal, maybe more are those who came to see Iron Maiden as their metal expanse through generations! Most were there to escape from the usual routine, get wasted, make-out. It was like a big picnic and carnival without police hassles, hehe. And in this show, Iron Maiden promised to be back and I got to see them again in Dubai in 2009. That was better as it was a pure Iron Maiden show! The only support band was from the daughter of Steve Harris!!

In one of Dunn’s documentaries I think I remember hearing about Metallica and Slayer appearing in Islamic countries, and there being much uproar with the fans when they came around. I would have to brush up on it, but were there any tales you’ve heard about those two bands or any others appearing in one of the countries we discussed?
I’ve only read of the Metallica show in Indonesia and saw a documentary part of it, about the riots outside the venue. I’m not sure when that was; either the late 90s or early 2000s. I’m not aware of any shows in the Middle East regions except the show in Abu Dhabi in 2011. I was still in Abu Dhabi at that time but I did not go. Anyway, for Slayer, I’ve only heard they played Turkey. I’ve heard from guys in Dubai there are many brutal shows going on in Turkey. Other big bands I saw played Dubai were: Megadeth with Testament in 2006 and Motorhead with Arch Enemy in 2009. More underground bands are Melechesh in 2009 and Obscura in 2011. Probably the most controversial was Mayhem in Dubai in 2013, though only my friends enjoyed it! They told me in November 2014 Krisiun will be playing in Dubai!

Describe in particular the controversy surrounding Mayhem’s 2013 appearance in Dubai.
The story was told to me by my friend Eric M. Most metalheads of course know about Mayhem from Norway. And Dubai do cancel visa and permits of those bands who they think do not give a good image to them or Islam in general, like how they canceled Saxon’s show with the reasoning to the press that it’s because of the album/song “Crusader” being anti-Islamic. So my friends were eagerly waiting for the date of the Mayhem show but also in a loss of the news that it would be cancelled. They were so fucking glad it was not, and on the show word went around that the Norwegian Embassy intervened or at least sent a message that cancelling Mayhem is a bad political decision. So they said it did not get cancelled but restrictions were given, like no corpse paint, no pigs blood or pig heads! Hehe! So only the organizers can verify that.

How successful was the Mayhem performance despite the restrictions imposed on them?
With some photos my friends sent me I can only assume it turned out good! That’s what great about Dubai, even though the metal heads know the situations there will always be support!

If Sam Dunn had interviewed you for one of his documentaries, what information would you have given him?
If he shot with the same line of fire as you, I’d most probably answer the same. But then again, if he asked me at that time frame and at that place I’d probably decline to do it, because it may have repercussions on my status there.

Would you have to be in a different location than a metal fest to do an interview with Sam Dunn, or perhaps do an interview by email to give him the relevant information?
Well, I think it’s more about the ‘time space’ reality. If I am asked at that time when I lived and worked in Abu Dhabi, I would definitely decline, because it would have consequences. I know it sounds somewhat paranoid, but sometimes people only realize the severity of problems when they experience it.

Does the Dubai Desert Rock Festival occur yearly? Name some of the other bands who have performed there.
It was a yearly festival but they skipped some years. I only go to the ones with the bands I want to see, of course. I don’t remember all the line-ups as they always do mixes of rock and metal. The ones I went to were Testament and Megadeth in 2006, Iron Maiden in 2007, Motorhead and Arch Enemy in 2009. I’m not sure what year but I remember Sepultura went there. Some years they featured nu-metal.

How many nightclubs exist in your home country where local bands can appear? Are local shows tolerated by the authorities there? Are there a sizable number of bands that travel the club circuit, and do so relatively hassle free?
Since 2001 I have been outside of the Philippines more than I am home but as far as I know, there are still no full time ‘metal’ bars or clubs in the Metro Manila area of the Philippines. Organizers do find clubs who would allow metal shows but those are ‘rented’ for the night. Sometimes if the turnout is good and no violence occurs, the clubs would do business again with the organizers. Local shows are tolerated because the authorities usually only know about it when the club manager or owner calls for assistance. In the early days, late 80s and early 90s, most shows were mixed punk and metal and were done in basketball courts owned by the youth center of the municipality, so the organizer had to file permits with the municipality and include notification to the police in the area, so in those times police presence was normal and added tension to the atmosphere of the gig. Most times violence did occur either between showgoers or against the police. Bands in the Philippines don’t do club tours because organizers can’t do it. Most metalheads there only go to shows for the bands they already know or are friends of. Only recently I’ve heard bands played different places and provinces, but not like the tours bands in the US or Europe do, going through different cities and continuously playing in different clubs for days.

How often have you seen violence at shows firsthand? Was it as bad as you heard it was?
In the Philippines in the early 90s shows that I went to, violence was a common thing. Not an all-out riot but just some out of hand misunderstanding, too drunk, too high on drugs or egos and grudge fights between people. It became worse when regular folks and police got involved. I’ve experienced running like hell with my friends as bottles shattered beneath our feet, as after a show the locals in the area decided to exorcise their place haha! But since 1999 I did not see or experience any violence in shows I went to. I hope it stays that way because like most I just want to enjoy the show and maybe drink more and hang out after the show! In other places I’ve went to, like in Bangkok I went to three of the yearly God Beheading Ritual Fest; no violence there, just pure alcoholic blasphemic metal experience for me! In Dubai, I saw one as it happened near us, in the Megadeth show. It was just between fans but was quickly subdued by securities. Here in Texas, I haven’t seen any violence at shows but in one show in Dallas last year I was targeted/ No harm came to me thanks to one of the club bouncers. I guess so far it’s not as bad as I heard it was, like my first DRI show last year. I remember reading and watching interviews about violence at their shows, but it turned out great! And I never experienced any hassles at shows here in Houston or other cities of Austin, San Antonio, McAllen and Harlingen.

Have you gotten to see any shows in other states in the USA?
No, so far I only saw shows mostly in Houston and other cities here in Texas. I tried to see the show of Deiphago in St. Paul, everything was booked then shit happens! I refunded my travel cost but of course not 100%. Last February I was sent to check something in the project site which is in Maryland. I was there for a week, I searched the net and found nothing was going on at that time, with the snow storm I guess I could not also go if there is a show as we were stuck in the hotel for two days. And I really thought I’d get lucky, hehe. So maybe there will be some other chance. I really have to save up, give time and plan for it!

How would you describe the local fanzine network in Abu Dhabi? Do zines get around mostly through snail mail or the internet? How are internet zines tolerated by the authorities?
I’ve only read one fanzine made in Dubai but I do not remember the name. I remember it was done by a female student or a group of female students, to support the local alternative, punk, rock and metal bands in the UAE. It’s hard to say if internet zines are tolerated, I’m not sure how the authorities there monitor which are metal zines or not or they are banning metal zines at all. But they do filter contents on the internet and there are sites which are not available there. For me I use ‘Hot Spot Shield VPN Anchor Free’ software to circumnavigate through the internet censorship! It’s good for browsing banned sites in Abu Dhabi, metal or otherwise!

When you were in Abu Dhabi was it easy to correspond with other zine editors, or do you find it easier in the States? In a way, do you think it’s beneficial that more metal heads in the States are interested in writing zine editors and bands from Islamic countries, since there is more of an opportunity to educate people in the States about the metal scenes in those countries?
It was alright as some of the contacts I’ve known before and the new ones I tried to contact; I wrote the situation I am in. And if metal heads are truly into the underground they’ll most likely respond. Most of the times they were more enthusiastic when you wrote from a country they don’t commonly get correspondence from. Here it the States it seems to be like a double edged sword. I think some international metal heads are more into exotic lands and they are ‘collecting’ from specific countries, hehe. I think it is beneficial for all! Metal heads in Islamic countries do have a harder fight; still they do their best to uphold the metal flames!

Describe the origins and beginnings of Underworld Zine & Compilation, and explain how you started putting it together.
Underworld Zine & Compilation is my first zine which I did from 1999 to 2001, then I went to Abu Dhabi and could not do the zine with a compilation CDR. That’s when I started Trendcrusher Zine first as a webzine and later printed it when I found out I could. The true origin of Underworld Zine & Compilation is my first DIY project in the early 90s, the ‘Opus Dei’ compilation tape. I failed to release that tape, which supposed to feature demo tracks from 1992 to 1994 of international metal underground bands! By 1996 I found a good job, a year of saving up which was helped by a three month assignment to Japan. I started to send out copies of this tape to the bands and others but the first feedback I received is that this project of mine sucks! I was told “no one will be interested” in it! This really devastated me and I stopped sending it! I’m not sure how many months have passed, but I have the itch to do something with it. I feel it is my duty to somehow share it, and at the same time in I feel at that time there seems to be a scarcity of zines in the capital. I miss the older local punk zines Blank Info and Mutilated News, the more crossover punk metal crust Anti and Oi Banger zines, and the solid chunk of evil metal zines Inverted and Werewolf zine! So I’ll ignite the flame to do a fanzine! And from personal experience of having a hard time finding releases of international bands in the Philippines, that gave me an idea ask the bands to include a track and that also gave me a new medium to share the infernal metal of the old demos which I slowly included in each issue of the fanzine!

Who are the bands you included on the Opus Dei compilation? How lengthy is the complete track listing?
I really did not expect a response since I know why snail mail becomes synonymous with post mail. I was writing to bands I read in the fanzines and later the flyers I got from the responses. The track listing does not fit a ninety minute tape, and a 120 minute cassette is not good as it easily curls and snaps! The only plausible next plan was a second compilation, part 2. The bands who were supposed to be on the compilations were Necrotic Mutation (Can), Corpse Molestation (Aus), Disabled (Fra), Impetigo (USA), Gore Beyond Necropsy (Jpn), Severance (USA), Incantation (USA), Magus (USA), Absu (USA), Inferia (Fin), Vomiturition (Fin), Achrostichon (Neth), Ripped (USA), Nuclear Death (USA), Mortal God (Fin), Exulceration (Swi), Agathocles (Bel), Nefarious (USA), Excess of Cruelty (Bel), Sarcastic Terror (Gre), Witches (Fra), Divine Eve (USA), Burial (UK), Gothic (Neth) and Mortedues (Phils).

While you were visiting Japan did you make contact with any writers or musicians interested in corresponding with you?
I made contact with the bands I knew, but not writers as I did not know any hehe. On my first visit in 1997 I contacted by post mail the MCR label, and bands Gore Beyond Necropsy and DxIxEx, both featured in Underworld Zine. I used to call Akinob Ohtaki of GBN in his home as he gave his number in one of our letters. In my next visits I still call him up on weekends. Funny thing is I am a fan of Morbid Organ Mutilation which I discovered from Crossblood distro in the early 90s, and I never knew he is also the bassist of M.O.M., I only found out in one of our conversations haha! I did not get to meet him because Kanagawa is very far from Hiroshima and the ticket in the Shinkansen or Bullet train is not affordable to me. I get to know Makoto of Nyarlatothep/Weird Truth Productions, also featured in Underworld Zine. Now he also does Funeral Moth. In my last visit in Japan in year 2000 I got in contact with Warzy when he was with the band Narcotic Greed; he drove from Osaka to Hiroshima to meet me. It was a five hour drive and at that time there was bad weather! Satcho (my boss, the company owner) let me live in his old house, I had a whole traditional Japanese house to myself, so Warzy stayed there for the night! At that time I did the second part of my interview with him, plus drinking and he meeting my other Japanese friends. So Warzy is the first foreign band that I really met and I really appreciated him making time to travel to meet me!! I don’t mind traveling long distance to see bands as long as there’s time!

When in the near future do you plan to visit Japan again? Do you hope to meet even more contacts there?
Nothing is planned so far. When I was in Abu Dhabi I tried to visit Japan and that’s when I found out the process of getting a tourist visa is quite hard so I just went to other Asian countries that do not require me to get a visa. Yes I do hope to meet my old contacts and meet new ones too and experience some live shows!

Tell the readers a little more about the zines you mentioned: Blank Info, Mutilated News, Anti, Oi Banger, Inverted and Werewolf. Are those zines still active today? Are copies of those zines still in your possession?
These are the zines I read and subscribed to from 1988/89 to 1994. So basically these are the zines that plant the seeds of underground zine making to me. I have contributed some satirical drawings to Blank Info and tape traded with one of the editors whose name eludes me right now; he sent me punk releases and I sent him metal releases. I also wrote to Anti’s editor Tom Matibag who also did Crossblood one of the real underground distro at that time, which do DIY versions of foreign releases. I think only Mutilated News got active again and also became a distro or label. Inverted zine or Inverted Grindzine in one of its issues, was one the metal only zines at that time and I was also able to contact the editor Genaro Simpao and Werewolf zine done by the Deiphago brothers. Those two metal zines are where I got some of the contacts that I sent mail to ask for my compilation tape project!

Did you release the Opus Dei compilation tape after resuming Underworld Zine & Compilation, or plan to in the near future?
I am actually thinking about it since I released Issue #5 because I found the tracks that I ripped from the demo tapes in one of my portable hard drives here, but the sound is not that good being ripped from tape. Cassettes are also making a comeback as more are released again in this format but I think if I released it it would be in CD. Maybe I’ll add some of the clear tracks again in the next issue and try to contact the bands too.

How much more have you noticed cassettes circulating the trading circuit from country to country among bands and zine editors?
In the early 90s cassette trading was the normal thing; not just original demos and releases but also dubbed cassettes were also OK with clear copies of the inlays. By the mid 90s and later I felt the decline; in the late 90s tapes were basically replaced by CDRs though they are not embraced like the cassette trading. I remember some zines complaining when receiving cassette releases. In Asia, tape trading and original releases were still strong until past 2000; in some Asian countries it seems it never really become obsolete but in some, because of less demand, it has declined.

Since Underworld has become fully active again, have you been making contact with newer bands and fanzine editors?
Underworld Zine and Compilation is both about discovering new underground bands and old bands that I hail! For Fanzines I of course hail my blood brothers in pen and paper! Especially the creators and editors of printed fanzines, old demons and new ones!!!

Name some of the bands and zines you have contacted since resuming Underworld.
The bands I contacted who gave positive response are featured in issue #5, Usul (Phils/KSA), Fester (Norway), Blast Perversion (USA), Hod (USA), Morgengrau (USA), Severance (USA), Hate Beyond (Japan), Warzy (Japan), Incapacitate (USA), Mongrels Cross (Australia), Disfigurement (USA), Nervecell (UAE). Some more bands I got no response at all and others agreed on the interview then after some weeks of receiving the question just did not answer on email and some just say they’re too busy to do it. I guess those are the things that stayed the same in the underground. For zines I managed to contact you and AEA, Forgotten Chapel, Prayer Book, Burning Abyss, No Bullshit Zine, Reborn from Ashes, Northern Darkness. Like the bands, some I contacted neither responded nor wants to trade. One case my mail was even sent back haha!

How long do you plan to be a resident of the USA? Will you be returning to Abu Dhabi at some point or do you want to remain here?
I am currently on a working visa. I was supposed to be out of here in December of 2014 but it was extended till 2016. It still depends on whether the company will cancel it earlier. I do want to remain here, especially now that I experienced life here, but it all depends on my company and the laws that govern immigration. All I can do is do my job well and see what happens. If I am not wanted here then I’ll find another place where I can do my job. Abu Dhabi or Dubai is good for me rather than other middle eastern country, other countries that seems to look for my work criteria are Canada, Norway and Germany so I hope before I get axed here I’ll find work in those metal friendly countries hehe!

Who did you interview for the current issue of Underworld zine since you resumed business? How much feedback did this issue receive since it came out? How many issues of the zine have you released lately?
I’m still working on Issue #6 which would feature interviews of other metal persona. I only got to send out copies & trades this year so hopefully the next issues of the zines I traded with I can read on what they have to say. My latest issue #6 was planned to be released this October 2014 and as of this writing. It’s already near the end of November, hehe, so officially it’s still up to issue #5.

How soon do you anticipate the release of issue #6? If distribution for the zine has been active, do you hope it will increase with each new issue you release?
It was first planned to be end of October, then November so now hopefully by end of December, maybe January 2015. I’m not really sure the release number will increase either if it has an active distribution. I think mainly it depends on my free time to do the zine plus the response of the metal heads I wanted to feature. I really hope to put out three issues or at least a minimum of two issues a year, but anyway, underground metal has gone full circle and I think the underground metal heads don’t care about dates and times… so we’ll just do as we live the underground metal way! Thanks Dave and AEA zine for the support and correspondence in the past and now. Hails to you and your readers! Hail! Hail!! Hail!!! Support The Underground!

-Dave Wolff