Friday, September 4, 2020

Interview with Mr. T of Lights Go Out Zine by Devin Joseph Meaney

Interview with Mr. T of Lights Go Out Zine

Greetings Mr. T! Please take a few moments to introduce yourself and Lights Go Out Zine?
Hey! So yeah I’m T, I write the ramshackle punk rock based zine lovingly referred to as Lights Go Out. The zine has its roots firmly in the punk scene, but with a healthy love of old indie too, as I grew up listening to it. But I don’t limit the zine to just music, in fact to keep it interesting we quite often put out issues that differ from the normal stuff. In the past there’s been movie issues, 24 hour issues, themed issues (that have included Star Wars & The Karate Kid), year reviews of gigs, other zines, generic questions and once we even put out a colouring book. In fact thanks to this whole lockdown thing I’ve been working on some regular and also some different issues, helps to keep things interesting… definitely for me, hopefully for the readers too. Introducing myself… well I’m T, I’m in the UK, and I have three wonderful daughters (aka The Spuzz Trophies) and also three wonderful furry daughters (aka, the cats!). I think this could be where I am supposed to say things like I enjoy long walks on the beach.

How long have you been running Lights Go Out? And what kind of attention do you believe it has achieved?
In 2008 I decided to put my own zine out. Around 2001 I’d written a zine and put out maybe 5 or 6 copies, it was called FPM and then changed to Touching Cloth, but I think people who bought Touching Cloth were disappointed it was a music zine, a whole different type of shit than they were expecting. I’d been writing for a few other zines & publications and just thought now is the time to go on my own, the passion was back. I flogged a Marshall 4x12 cab to pay for the printing costs and the rest as they say is history. Attention wise, we have a very decent and loyal following, it’s equally wonderful to see new names on the order list as well as seeing the same names each time, so I’d like to think we’re doing something right. I would like to see people who buy it ‘cause their band is in it to become regular buyers, something that does happen, just not as often as I would like. I guess when I started the zine I was just wanting to have fun with it, if it ever stops becoming fun then the zine will end, simple as that. Some have said I should do 99 issues and stop one short of 100 as it might annoy people…. It’s tempting ya know… but we’re into the 80’s now and have no plans to call time on Lights Go Out right now. In fact the lockdown here in the UK has helped me write more issues and probably also helped to keep me sane.

I know you play music! Please take a few moments to tell us about your current and past musical output!
Well I used to play music! So the band is on hiatus right now, like the whole music scene is it seems. Long story short… I played guitar (and screamed backing vox) in a skate punk band called Second In Line. The last few years have been more hassle than it’s been worth with various band members, so in November last year we went on hiatus after a sour experience with the bass player, he’d joined another band, then we saw on Facebook that he was going to play shows with them, even though we had committed and booked a tour on those dates. He screwed us over big time and it didn’t then and still doesn’t sit well with me, a total lack of respect for his band mates. Also I had a hardcore band called Just Add Monsters, I was on throat duties for that, pretty proud of what that band achieved from an idea I had and just went with it. There’s been other projects over the years sure. Currently I’ve been enjoying the time off, I needed it. Interestingly enough though in the last couple of days I have had an offer to join up with a band to play some guitar, so that could be happening, we’ll have to see how it goes… stay tuned for more news, maybe?

Aside from music and zine creation... what do you like to do in your spare time?
Hang on… spare time? What’s spare time? You did read that I have three daughters yeah? Ha ha! In all seriousness though other than the zine I am always busy. Normally I could talk band stuff, nothing to tell right now. I also run a little record label called Back From The Dead. The idea was to find releases that were in the archives and bring them out, a new lease of life, hence the label name. But it soon moved into a label that releases new artists as well. It’s been a lot of fun so far, great to be able to give records a new audience and also it’s great to be able to bring some ace punk & hardcore bands’ music into the UK. Other than that I like watching movies, a lot of movies. Oh and I make badges (pins) for bands or anyone who wants them.

Who is someone (it could be anyone) world-wide that deserves a shout out? Show them some love!
I’ll keep this on the scene, topically. There’s loads of people I’d love to give a shout out too, sorry if this is a bit long, also sorry to anyone I forget about… but here goes… Zine wise we have some awesome music zines here in the UK, Marv who writes Gadgie, Neil from Issue Punk Zine & Russell from Lunchtime For The Wild Youth all need massive shout outs. Also to Positive Creed, One Way Ticket To Cubesville, Perfect Day – these zines also rule. Music wise, to the DIY labels and bands out there that help to keep the scene here strong… label wise: Disconnect Disconnect, TNS, Brassneck, Lockjaw, Speedowax – all of these do wonderful things. I’m sure there are others that have slipped my mind. Ah Horn N Hoof Records… that’s one! I couldn’t even begin to name the bands and also the promoters that deserve a shout out. What people need to realize is without everyone involved in the scene, there would be no scene. It’s not just about the bands, it’s everyone, from the labels, the promoters, the sound engineers, the zine writers, the PR agents, the photographers, the graphic designers, everyone. They’re all important parts of the process and everyone should be appreciated!

What were some monumental releases on Back From The Dead Records, and what bands (even if the chances are slim to none) would you like to see in your catalogue?
Well obviously I am proud of every release we’ve been involved in, but the one that stands out is that we were able to release a compilation of rare, long out of print tracks by UK punks, Eastfield. This took nearly a year to make happen, from getting the tracks, compiling, cutting, remastering – a lot of hours but damn it was worth it as Eastfield are bloody awesome, also it’s sold really well as I thought it would when I approached the band with the idea. With regards to bands we’d love to release, even with slim chances, the obvious ones would be my favourite punk bands, Strike Anywhere, Face To Face, Avail, Raised Fist. It won’t happen, but what the hell I might as well throw it out there, if any of them are reading this, get in touch, let’s make something happen.

Did you ever/have you ever thought about putting out a compilation album for an issue of Lights Go Out?
Absolutely. I constantly come up with ideas, some happen and some are plain idiotic. I toyed with the idea of a cover mount compilation and then having a label with the LGO name involved but then binned the ideas off. I’m not saying that it won’t happen in the future, but right now there are no plans… but saying that if we reach issue number one hundred, maybe… just maybe we could do something special. We’re into the low eighties, so I have a little bit of time to think of ideas and then have to rethink them cause they’re too silly.

Back to Back From The Dead... what formats do you release? CD? Vinyl? Tape? Floppy disc?
The label is CD and download only. The cost of vinyl is insane. A band mate and I did the vinyl label, put I think three, maybe four 7” singles out, which went really well but with costs spiraling it’s just a lot to commit too. With a CD we can do a smaller run, less upfront costs and weirdly people seem to still buy them. Though if I am honest, I don’t buy them myself, strictly a vinyl man me. With the cassette, I’ve never been a fan myself. Sure I like the ease of them, just dub them and back in the 80’s and even 90’s, the cassette was the best way to swap music and discover bands. I also used to work on a stall on the local market where we sold bootleg cassettes of bands live gigs. My middle daughter has been getting into them as well, she has her first Walkman I picked her up a couple of months ago and loves the format, she has been asking for a VHS player recently too. I guess the reason I didn’t buy cassettes was in case they got chewed up. I could buy the record and copy it onto a cassette to play on my Walkman or in my car back in those days. Then if that got chewed up, I could just go ahead and copy another one. I did toy with one idea of releasing a cassette actually, now I know you’re a fan of the format, so you can have this idea…. You release a cassette and it comes with a label name branded pencil. ‘Cause being of that era I fully appreciate how important a pencil can be when you have a cassette with the tape hanging out…

You are based in the UK. Do you get much exposure in other countries? Just curious!
Label wise or zine wise? The zine does ship out to various places, mostly across Europe. But label wise we do really well in spreading out globally, I think as I try and help bands get into the UK musically, they also then spread things out in their country so it’s been really cool to be able to release some seriously rad bands.

From listening to your music... I have learned that someone named Kelly has issues. But for the sake of entertainment, spend some time telling me WHY Kelly has issues? Haha.
Ha ha, fucking hell that song will never die. So I wanted to scream in a band and play more hardcore, I formed Just Add Monsters, we started as a three piece with myself also on bass. So after the first rehearsal we went to a local pub and this crazy drunk lady wouldn’t stop chatting to us. Being sober we have to just nod and tolerate the verbal onslaught of slurring that she aimed in our direction. She was called Kelly and reckons she was in jail with notorious serial killer, Rose West. She was banging on about pets in there and she ended up being the inspiration for a new song, hence Kelly has issues. Crazy, drunken, Kelly.

Any final comments?
How can you not get excited when the keyboard kicks in at the start of ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe….? “We’re leaving together….”

Thanks T. Keep on doing your thing!

-Devin Joseph Meaney

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