Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Zine Publisher Interview: Bobby Bergeron of Paranoize Zine by Dave Wolff

Interview with Bobby Bergeron of Paranoize Zine

How many issues of Paranoize zine are currently available at the time of this writing? Is the distribution generally in the United States or have you reached other countries by now?
I currently have a few copies of issues #31 to #34 available. I get five hundred copies printed and make them available for free in the New Orleans area (or wherever I may travel), leaving stacks of them at venues, record stores, etc. When I was going to Maryland Deathfest regularly, I would always make sure to have a new issue together by then and leave a bunch there! While my readership is primarily based in Louisiana, I've gotten orders from all over the U.S. as well as Finland, China and Australia. 

You have been publishing Paranoize for some time. When was the zine’s first issue released? Do you remember the bands you interviewed for this first issue and if the amount of copies printed were the same as the amount you print now?
The first issue came out in the summer of 1993 and had interviews with bands from Louisiana: Paralysis, Mule Skinner, Necrotomy, Sudden Relapse, Drag Link, God Awful and Infection. I copied up a hundred of them at a friend's father's insurance office while it was closed.

Do you mostly interview bands from the States or have you been able to interview bands from overseas? How much information have you acquired about the underground scenes across the US and other countries?
I've interviewed bands from around the U.S and Canada in the past, but for the most part the goal is to support the New Orleans scene with occasional interviews with regional bands that play here enough to be considered an adopted local band. 

Recount as much as you can of Paranoize’s history from the debut issue until the present day.
I originally started Paranoize in 1991, but after several roadblocks and problems getting started, I finally released the first issue in 1993. I was married to someone who didn't support my hobby/music addiction, so I didn't get to work on it as much as I wanted to. Over the next few years, I'd moved around a lot. I'd lived in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, but was able to crank out an issue a year. In 1996, the problem and I split up and I moved to New Orleans proper, couch surfing and rediscovering myself. I got Paranoize back up and running how I wanted it and rediscovered the scene, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I've gone through many different formats over the years: full-size, half size, newsprint, but always kept it running. Though starting with issue #34, all future issues will be available in .pdf form via the Paranoize website (paranoizenola.com) Paranoize will always be a print 'zine. I started Paranoize to spread the word about the New Orleans music scene. 
What made you want to support the New Orleans underground when you started working on Paranoize? Did you notice the scene wasn’t getting enough press and want to change that for the better?
My friend Weldon, who introduced me to the local scene and got me going to shows, moved to San Antonio, Texas after his parents split up. While there he joined a band (Dishonored Youth) and started a 'zine called Frontline. He came back to New Orleans for a visit and gave me a copy of his 'zine and I said something along the lines of "it sucks that nobody is doing anything like this here." He said "Well start one!", so I did. The first 'zine I did was called Thrashcore with a few friends, but I was doing the bulk of the work while they were taking the credit, so after four issues I started Paranoize. 

How many copies of Thrashcore zine were printed with each issue? Did this zine mostly get around locally or did some copies make their way to other states across the US? 
Maybe fifty to a hundred copies of each. They were sold locally for the most part, but I did get a few out around the U.S. 

How much work were you doing for Thrashcore for which you weren’t credited? Did the amount or work you did for that zine convince you to release your own publication?
 was doing ninety percent of the interviews, most of the reviews (aside from another reviewer, Pisshead, who I took along with me to Paranoize when I started it up) working on getting them copied and all the promotion. All the other two did was tell everybody that they did a 'zine. 

Having published a zine for more than two decades, you must have witnessed many changes take place in extreme music. How can you account for the longevity of Paranoize for all that time?
I kept doing it because nobody else was doing it! There were other 'zines that popped up here and there, but while they covered the punk/hardcore scene, the truly underground metal scene was still pretty much ignored, so Paranoize has always been needed in New Orleans. Yes, the bigger name bands (Goatwhore, Eyehategod, any band that features Phil Anselmo) get press and publicity, but the scene is made up of more than seven or eight dudes! Not knocking what they do; they've worked hard to get where they are! 

How well was the first issue received by other U.S. fanzines when it was released? Do you remember the feedback it got from zine editors? How did this inspire you to publish additional issues? 
Honestly, I don't really remember. I know issue #3 got a really bad review in the Metal Maniacs 'zine review section. The necessity to tell the world about bands that I like inspired me to keep publishing Paranoize. I have always gotten mediocre reviews in Maximum RockNRoll. I still send them new issues as they come out though, just to chuckle at what they have to say about my 'zine. 

I remember Autoeroticasphyxium being trashed in Metal Maniacs, but as far as I know it was the only negative review it has received. The independent zine industry mostly had better things to say about it. Are there zine editors who have complemented your work?
There have been good reviews in other 'zines and even a few people who started their own 'zines because I inspired them with Paranoize.

Which of your readers were inspired to start zines of their own? Have you checked out the zines they published? How does it feel to inspire others to support underground music?
Danny Guidry (R.I.P.) started Emptiness/Magisterium in after writing a few reviews for the first couple of issues of Paranoize. It wasn't a competition thing at all; he just wanted to do his own thing. Years later, after I'd moved back to New Orleans, Guzzie (who was in his teens at the time) started Sideshow 'zine after buying a few issues from a record store that was open. I am honored to have inspired them to publish their own 'zines.

Of the Louisiana bands you interviewed for issue #1, which of those remain active to this day? Do they have material out that you would recommend to the readers?
Mule Skinner recently reformed after a twenty year hiatus and has a three song EP of new material titled "Crushing Breakdown". Look 'em up on Bandcamp! 

What are you most memorable interviews published in Paranoize? How do you go about interviewing once you have made arrangements?
I interviewed Joe Lacaze from Eyehategod when I worked with him at a restaurant. He was always funny and the interview was a blast. When I interviewed James Roundtree from Drag Link for the first issue, I really enjoyed his answers. He had a lot to say and kept it interesting. He now plays bass for a band called Bad Grass. I interviewed Vinnie Labella from Exhorder once at a tattoo studio he owned and that was fun too. He told me lots of stories off the record (made me stop the tape recorder) that were fun and awesome. I'm sworn to secrecy, haha. The only 'zine editor I ever interviewed so far was Danny Guidry (R.I.P.) who was one of the occasional writers for Paranoize but branched off and started his own 'zine called Emptiness Magisterium. His was fun because he was a friend that I hung out with all the time, so it was just us hangin' out being stupid.

Do you remember any quotes from your interviews with Joe Lacaze, James Roundtree and Vinnie Labella?
In the Joe Lacaze interview (in 1998) I asked "So who's the new bass player? Are there any bizarre initiation rituals that new Eyehategod bassists must go through before they're accepted into the band?" His reply was: "Danny Nick is our new bass player. He's jammed in bands around here for awhile and currently plays in Suplecs. We saw him play a few times and thought he'd be a good solid bass player so we asked if he'd be interested in joining our band. After he agreed, we drugged him and brought him to Texas like all the other bass players. His lifeless body was placed into a small box buried beneath the ground. There he spent 2 weeks in complete darkness with little food, no water and his bass. If he lived, he was in, plus he could bond with his instrument. He's been working out great. Sometimes we mace him if he fucks up a part, but that's life, you know, being a big rock star in a major rock n' roll outfit like Eyehategod." In James Roundtree's interview, when I asked if he had any final comments he said "Liberals aren't, alternative music isn't, and moral majority is neither. The only way to preserve nature now as it exists is through the extinction of the human race. Get naked! Later..." Vinnie Labella's interview was one of the very few that I did in person (most of them have been either through regular snail mail until the popularization of the internet, then it was mostly done through email and messaging). A lot of the cool stories that he told me were asked to be off the record, so I couldn't print them, but I learned a lot about how Pantera got their sound when they decided to stray away from the hairspray and spandex and get "heavy". And that's all I'm gonna say about that...

Do you prefer interviewing by snail mail or email? Which is ultimately more convenient for you?
Email obviously. Back when I was still using a regular ol' typewriter I preferred snail mail, but since I use a computer for the layout now, it's much easier to just copy and paste interviews.

Name some of the most memorable interviews that appeared in Paranoize from issue #2 to the current issue.
Right offhand, looking at the covers, between all of the contributors, a few that I remember really liking are Die Rotzz, Eyehategod (Between Mike IX, Jimmy Bower and Joe Lacaze, they were interviewed quite a few times over the years), Wayne Fabra of Graveyard Rodeo, Greg Hatch of Shell Shock, Acid Bath, Hawg Jaw, The Faeries, Eat A Bag Of Dicks, Scot Latour of Incubus (the old New Orleans death/thrash band), Dave Turgeon of The Sluts, Ron Christ of Disappointed Parents, Before I Hang and Fat Stupid Ugly People.

Do many zine editors approach you to do interviews for their zines? How often has this happened since you started Paranoize?
I've been in a few bands over the years, so I've been interviewed by 'zines for that purpose and the interviewers always throw in a question or two about my 'zine, but only once or twice has anybody interviewed me just about Paranoize.

Have you released any material or played shows with any of the band you were playing in while publishing Paranoize? Do you still have an interest in playing in bands today?
From 1989 to 1992 I played rhythm guitar in a thrash band called S.I.K. We released a demo and were on a compilation 7" called "New Orleans Scene: Allow No Downfall" with Soilent Green, The Slugs (pre-Crowbar) and The Detrimentz. We played maybe eight shows. After that band split up I didn't play music but stayed active in the scene doing Paranoize and booking shows here and there. In 2008 I joined a punk/hardcore band called Face First on bass. I just went up to the room to hang out with them and they didn't have a bass player at the time. They were already an established band, having been around for about ten years at that point. They had a bass up there, so I ended up playing bass for them. I also ended up playing bass for A Hanging in 2010 when their bass player quit and juggled both bands till Face First broke up. I'm currently still in A Hanging. I played quite a few shows with both of those bands. At least one show a month; sometimes two or three. We currently have two CDs, Food For Rats with our original singer Alix and Tales Of Woe with the current three piece lineup. We're recording again this weekend. Since I've been in the band, there have been some good times playing with national headliners or local shows that just get rowdy with an awesome lineup. My favorites have been opening for D.R.I. on the 80's lineup reunion tour, playing a somewhat recent show with Mule Skinner, Gristnam, and Art Of The Process, Creepy Fest (a local punk/hardcore/metal fest that happens every summer over a weekend at various venues in the city) is always fun. There was a venue called Bayou Park Bar that was a tiny hole in the wall that didn't really have a stage and the bands set up on the floor. They played a few crazy shows there with a pit going on inches away from me, getting run into while I was playing. Too many to mention really, but those are the ones that stand out in my head at this particular moment.

How much work does Pisshead do to contribute to Paranoize? Is there anyone else on the staff besides the two of you?
Pisshead hasn't really been a contributor for quite some time. The regular staff is me, Mike Bevis and Jenn Attaway. Mike IX contributes when he's not busy on the road with Eyehategod or whoever he's out with, and recently Lizard has jumped on board.

At how many local record stores do you drop off copies of Paranoize?
I don't get out of my house as much as I should (I work a lot), but I currently drop off copies of Paranoize when I have them at Mushroom Records and Euclid Records. There are several others around the city that I just never am able to get to. 

Are Mushroom Records and Euclid Records local stores in New Orleans? What sort of gear and material can be found there? How long have these outlets been around and how well known are they locally?
Mushroom has been around since the 70s and sells vinyl, CDs (HUGE used CD section! I've scored some real gems there cheap!), cassettes, t-shirts, "tobacco pipes" *ahem*, etc., Euclid opened in 2010 and has an amazing selection of vinyl! 

List some stuff you acquired at Mushroom Records and Euclid Records? What is the attitude of the staff at both outlets about underground and independent metal?
I've bought hundreds of used CDs from Mushroom Records over the years, but a few notable ones off the top of my head are: Mule Skinner "Abuse", Extreme Noise Terror "Peel Sessions", Entombed "Sons Of Satan Praise The Lord", Four Hour Fogger (pre-Mastodon!) "Dollars For Red Books" and Buzzoven "Unwilling To Explain". At Euclid Records, some awesome vinyl that I've picked up is Red Rockers "Condition Red" and the special re-release of the Leathur Records version of Motley Crue "Too Fast For Love" with the "Toast Of The Town/Stick To Your Guns" 7" included! Both stores are supportive of underground music no matter the genre.

How important would you say record outlets are in an age where bands can upload to the internet? How many vinyl albums are currently in your personal collection? Mention some of the records and seven inches in your collection and how often you listen to them.
Very important when it comes to keeping the vinyl format alive! I own 715 records (yes, I JUST counted!). I included 7"s as well in that number. It would be impossible to keep track of all that, but the records I currently have out near my record player that I haven't put away yet are: Nekrofilth "Devils Breath" LP, The Sluts "12" Of Sluts", Godstomper/Terlarang split LP, Failure Face/Ulcer split 7", Gary Wrong Group "Knights Of Misery" and Testament "The New Order".

Have you had anyone offer to buy some of the vinyls in your collection? Would you give them up or hold on to them?
I do sell my records on Ebay from time to time when money gets tight, but it's usually something that I don't hold any sentimental attachment to. But no, nobody has ever straight up offered me money out of the blue.

How active is the local club scene in New Orleans? How many fans attend shows regularly when local bands play?
There are shows every night it seems, or close to it! The attendance depends on who's playing, whether it's a weeknight or a weekend, etc. Sometimes there'll be twenty, sometimes a hundred or so. Of course the bigger names attract the bigger crowds: Eyehategod, Goatwhore, and Crowbar.

How many Maryland Deathfests have you attended to date? Recall some of the most memorable band sets you happened to witness at one or more of those metal fests? Any others you have attended over the years?
I went to Maryland Deathfests 6 through 10. Though it was the headliners that always drew me there (Nuclear Assault, Repulsion, Bolt Thrower, Voivod, Godflesh), the awesome part of it was discovering bands from around the world that you may have never been able to see otherwise (Keitzer, Japanische Kampfhorspiele, Creative Waste, Ingrowing, The Day Everything Became Nothing, Fuck... I'm Dead) and it was ALWAYS cool hanging out with the local bands that would go up there to play (Flesh Parade, Eyehategod, Exhorder).
Do you think metal fests have remained successful for so long because they provide opportunities for metal fans from different locations and different countries to connect with one another on a one-to-one basis?
That and to be able to see a whole bunch of your favorite bands in one weekend is always a plus! 

Are there any memorable experiences you have had meeting bands or fellow metalheads at Maryland Desthfest?
There are hundreds of people that I'd only get to hang out with that one time of year that made the weekend memorable, including pen-pals that I had when I was in my teens that I'd never met till I started going to Maryland Deathfest. I miss it, and hope to be able to go again at some point.

Are there other metal fests you have attended across the US besides Maryland? Have you gotten to interview bands you met at any of the fests you’ve traveled to?
The first metal fest I went to was the third L.A. Murderfest in 2007. I had never been to L.A. before, but a few people came up to me asking if I'm Bobby Paranoize, which was weird, but cool at the same time. I didn't realize how well known my website and 'zine were outside of New Orleans. I stayed with a friend from New Orleans who had moved out there, and I ended up meeting a bunch of people that I knew from the internet that also became my Maryland Deathfest buddies. I never really went to fests to do interviews or 'zine networking, aside from bringing a stack of 'zines with me to leave around for people to grab.

Does distributing Paranoize free help you get the zine around more than if you were charging for it? How many readers have you been able to reach by offering Paranoize for free as opposed to charging for copies?
I've tried charging for it, but I'd always end up giving them away anyway. I do this to spread the word about New Orleans bands, so offering it for free helps achieve that. Hundreds! Plus, I can leave a stack somewhere instead of trying to sell it to people! 

How many pages comprise a single issue of Paranoize? Which layout do you most prefer to print the zine in? Do you copy it on your own or take it to a professional copier?
Nowadays it's usually twenty pages, but if I sell enough ad space, I expand it to twenty-four or twenty-eight pages. I keep them half-size lately. I'd rather do it full-size and newsprint again, but this is what works best with our budget. I have been sending it off to a printer in Ohio (Lelli Print And Mail) because they offer the best price for what I do.

How sizable have the interview and review sections been in recent issues of Paranoize? How would you describe your style of interviewing and reviewing?
I only have twenty pages to work with so I try to fit in as much as I can into an issue. The reviews that I write are pretty much to the point. Two or three sentences max. A basic description and whether I like it or not. Interviews depends on who's doing it (Mike Bevis and Jenn Attaway turn in several pages that I have to do a lot of editing and experimenting with different fonts to get the page countdown to fit in the 'zine), whereas my interviews are no more than ten questions usually.

How long have Mike Bevis and Jenn Attaway been staff members of Paranoize? How much material do they, Mike IX and Lizard contribute to the zine?
Mike IX started contributing in issue #18 sometime in 2004. Mike Bevis and Jenn Attaway jumped aboard in 2005. Because space is limited nowadays, each contributor (including myself) gets one interview unless they're too busy with other stuff, then I take on whatever is needed to fill the issue out.

Do all the writers on your staff have their own distinct styles of writing? Have they had experience writing for zines besides Paranoize?
They've all had experience doing other 'zines. Mike IX wrote for Metal Maniacs in the 90's, and he wrote for a few 'zines over the years before and after then. Mike Bevis and Jenn Attaway both write for a local publication called Antigravity, and they've both written for other 'zines as well (Mike wrote for Quarter Rat, and Jenn wrote for Sushi) and Lizard did a 'zine in the early 90's called Stoned Insanity. They usually have their own ideas, but sometimes I throw some ideas for bands that I want in the upcoming issue and they pick from that list.

Are there any full lengths you have reviewed that you liked or disliked intensely?
I'm always psyched to hear new bands, and my latest favorite releases that I just reviewed for the upcoming issue are Beige Eagle Boys "You're Gonna Get Yours" and the Ephemeral Foetus/Piss On Authority split CD. I would always cringe when I'd open my P.O. box and there would be a new release from Victory Records. Now in the 90's, Victory put out some amazing stuff! Integrity, Bloodlet, Deadguy, etc. It got to where I'd pop the CD in my stereo in my truck and if I didn't like it, I'd just toss it out onto the highway and it wouldn't even make it to my house. They went from a really good, legendary hardcore label to releasing pop/emo garbage.

Do the readers of Paranoize come away from your zine knowing more about the local scene in New Orleans?
The ones that actually read it and don't just toss it onto the floor, yeah! It's always a bit discouraging when I see a copy of Paranoize on a filthy barroom floor with a huge footprint on it! I always add a New Orleans Scene Report in every issue to keep people updated on what's going on with the local metal/punk/hardcore/etc. bands in the area.

How much information usually goes into your scene report for New Orleans? What ground is usually covered in it? Are there any ways you would expand on this section in future issues of Paranoize?
Whatever the bands get to me is what goes into it. It's just updates on what is going on with the bands involved in the New Orleans underground music scene.

You added that you are doing a couple internet radio shows on Core Of Destruction radio. Present a rundown of these shows, where they can be heard, what your playlists are and how many you are reaching.
I've been a DJ at Core Of Destruction Radio (coreofdestructionradio.com) since the station started up four years ago and I host two two hour shows there: Paranoize Radio and Out Of Bounds. Paranoize Radio is on Thursday nights from 8 PM Central/9 PM Eastern and I focus mostly on metal, punk and hardcore from New Orleans and the Southern US past and present. I mention upcoming shows in the New Orleans area and promote bands playing around town over the weekend. Out Of Bounds is on Monday nights at 8 PM Central/9 PM Eastern and, as the name suggests, anything goes! From power metal to power violence and everything in between! My playlist is all over the place and reflects my short attention span. A block of songs will go from Overkill to Anal Cunt to Mudhoney to W.A.S.P.!

I've interviewed a few people who produce or have produced internet radio programs and they think it's a viable alternative to traditional radio for many reasons. In what ways would you consider it as such?
Internet radio is the only TRUE alternative to traditional radio, which, aside from college stations here and there, are mostly run by two commercial entities that serve to please whoever is lining their pockets at the moment. There are no rules or restrictions, no asses to kiss, no bowing down to "rock stars" and making them feel more important than they are! My playlists are usually fueled by whiskey and whatever is pissing me off at the moment. I could never work for an actual "radio" station because I'd be fired in a heartbeat! I'd rather do what I'm doing now solely for the love and fun of it than get paid to play shit that I don't like.

I saw you have done some benefit shows for the zine and have some merchandise available?
I did a benefit show recently to help raise funds for the printing of the next issue. I just put the word out there via Facebook that I was doing it and a couple of local bands (House Of Goats and The Weakness) and a couple of out of town bands (Peckernut from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Naked Intruder from Mobile, Alabama) offered to play. It was a fun show, but sparsely attended. Not sure what else was going on that night. I heard there was a black metal show in somebody's living room or something, I don't know. I did raise nearly enough to get an issue printed though! I got some merchandise made... can coozies and stickers. Send $6 (PayPal to bobby@paranoizenola.com or send well hidden cash to Paranoize P.O. Box 2334 Marrero, LA 70073-2334) and you get a koozie and 2 stickers postage paid. I plan on getting t-shirts at some point in the near future too. I also needed some new picks (because, yes, I play bass with a pick), so I got some custom Paranoize picks made that I'll probably throw in with any orders I get.

As you continue to publish Paranoize would you wish to increase distribution so it reaches more readers in the US and overseas? How widespread would you like to see Paranoize become as you continue to publish the zine?
Well, usually if I get enough ads sold, I increase the page count instead of the number of zines printed, but if any distributors want to pick up a few, I have no problem working out a deal with them. I'm pretty content with where things are now! Starting with issue #34, I'm also putting the 'zine in PDF form on the website, so technically it is available around the world to anyone who wants to read it!

-Dave Wolff