zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Break the Chain: Volume 1

 A5, 28 (mostly) black and white pages
£3.76/$5.19 (+p&p)

The first volume of Break the Chain (created by Matt Sessions) is an anarchist’s guidebook to the punk rock underbelly of Jacksonville, Florida. My perception of Florida has come almost exclusively from the images on my television screen; endless sunshine, orange juice aplenty, home of Disney World – everything that my dreary British life is not.

It was quite the surprise to find that this Floridian zine is gritty, anarchistic and in grey scale. The overall appearance of Break the Chain is dark and distinctive. Particularly strong is the artwork from Stacey Matchett, a sort of grunge expressionism wherein the figures in all her drawings share the same tired gaze. Their eyes haunt and resonate.

The first interview is with Woven In, a surf-rock regular on the Jacksonville music scene whose responses to standard interview questions are refreshingly intellectual and offer a surprisingly deep contrast to her “beach-goth, post-punk dream-come-true” music. Not long after reading her interview, I was listening to her music on Youtube.

Also interviewed are black metal grindcore band, Wørsen. Whilst they do seem somewhat excited about the release of their newest album, the theme of their interview appears to be apathy. They say “[the gigs] tend to run together after a while”, and when speaking about their songs they make comments such as “It’s also one of the newest songs we’ve written, so I’m not burnt out on it just yet”. It’s a shame – had they been a little more enthusiastic about their own music, it would have been a lot easier for the reader to get on board with them. I found myself more interested in finding out about Sickmark, the German power-violence band briefly mentioned at the beginning of the interview.

All sense of apathy is quickly forgotten with the zine’s final interview: an in-depth conversation with Penelope Spheeris (director of landmark punk films such as The Decline of Western Civilisation and Wayne’s World). How on earth did the creator of Break the Chain pull that one off? It doesn’t matter, of course (but I need to know!).  Spheeris speaks with great articulation about the punk rock aesthetic, the importance of dedication and devotion to one’s work and the controversial impact of The Decline of Western Civilisation, which was banned after just one screening in Los Angeles. It’s a strong end note and an impressive coup for the first volume of Break the Chain.

Break the Chain is definitely worth a read. As someone across the Atlantic I enjoyed the zine as a brilliant showcase of the talent in Jacksonville’s alternative community, and I expect Jacksonville natives will enjoy it as a token of pride for their hometown.

Volume one of Break the Chain can be bought here .

Review by J.L. Corbett

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