It Came From Flipside! is a new column on 99 Miles of Bad Blogs where I go through old zines (not specifically Flipside, there are plenty of others to go through), analyze the content, and relate it to our current predicament. This week, I'll be pawing through Flipside #89 from May 1994 and I'll be concentrating on this issue's advertising. Here's the cover and, yes, this is coming straight from the No Funeral library. (Click on the pictures to get a better view.)
First though, let me give you the long-and-short on Flipside magazine. I'm assuming that if you're even on this website at all, then you've heard of Maximum Rock and Roll, the long-running DIY punk magazine based out of San Francisco. Well, Flipside was it's Los Angeles-based counterpart, even though it started four years earlier (1981 vs. 1977). The important point to remember is that, throughout the 1980s, MRR was the Northern California zine and Flipside was the Southern California zine. Then in 1994, during the heart of the grunge era, things changed drastically when a trio of ding-dong California punk bands known as GREEN DAY, RANCID, and THE OFFSPRING all went platinum. MRR responded by kicking out all of the major label bands as well as anything not explicitly punk; like metal, surf, and garage rock. Nirvana getting kicked out of MRR was a personal blow to life-long reader Kurt Cobain. While MRR took the hardline stance, Flipside kept dealing with the majors; the only caveat being that no major labels bands were allowed on the cover. It's hard to tell who took the "right" course of action. Flipside had more fun and had a better grip on the popular zeitgeist. Of course, they went out of business in 1999. MRR stuck to its guns and still exists.
Those punk bands going platinum is a major theme of this article. We're going to see the ads of the very records in question here. More importantly, we're going to see how this wave of bands from 20 years ago really set the table for what's going on today, for good and bad.
First up is the full-page ad by Slash Records for Magnified by FAILURE. In 2014, Failure is best remembered as TOOL's buddy band. In 1994, Failure was also considered Tool's buddy band. These two were thick as thieves during their local band days. So much so that Failure opened for Tool at the Cedar Park Center back in May. Current QOTSA guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen was an original member of Failure but he is not participating in the reunion. The only real hit Failure ever scored was a cover of DEPECHE MODE's "Enjoy The Silence." Magnified, the band's second album, produced the single "Undone" but otherwise it failed to make a splash at the time. Even now, these guys are considered a musician's band. Great stuff from a band that never quite clicked on the national level.
This is the half-page ad for Pledge of Defiance, the Epitaph debut from TOTAL CHAOS. As you're about to find out, Epitaph dropped a small fortune on advertising back then. Hell, they probably still do. As far as Total Chaos goes, I never really had much use for them. Meat-and-potatoes punk rock dressed like it's 1977. If you're going to wear period costumes, why not dress like pilgrims instead of Sid Vicious?
This is a full-page label ad from Taang Records. SPORE and GODSTAR are giant piles of "whatever" but SAM BLACK CHURCH, now we're talking! Sam Black Church was (and still is) a devastating metallic hardcore (but not metalcore) band from Boston. I would describe their sound as a New England version of what SHEER TERROR was doing during the same time period. Sam Black Church was one of the most popular Boston bands during the 90s, if not the most popular. Since reuniting in 2013, Sam Black Church played a sold-out Boston show with their long-time tourmates/homeboys THE MIGHTY, MIGHTY BOSSTONES and the band also played the 2014 New England Hardcore & Metal Festival. Keep your eyes out for these guys, especially if you missed them the first time around.
Here's a full-page label ad for Sympathy For The Record Industry. This is just a flimsy excuse to post an illustration by legendary hot-rod artist Chris "Coop!" Cooper. You've been in a cave if you haven't seen Coop's artwork before. Sympathy For The Record Industry did quality work and released some killer stuff in its time. Fortunately for us, founder Long Gone John reconstituted Sympathy For The Record Industry in 2011. The hits produced by this label include HOLE, THE WHITE STRIPES, and THE DONNAS. Other bands of note included THE DWARVES, MAN OR ASTROMAN?, SKULLFLOWER, THE MUFFS, and ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT.
Fat Wreck Chords shelled out the cash for a full-page LAGWAGON ad promoting the band's second album Trashed. Personally, I've seen Lagwagon four or five times but never NOT opening for NoFX. Those two bands were joined at the hip. Hell, they still are.These weirdos are so bonded to NoFX that ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES is comprised of members of both bands. Lagwagon was a key part of the California punk explosion of the early 90s. Still on the road. New album this Fall.
This is a half-page label ad from BYO Records promoting (then) new releases by YOUTH BRIGADE and JUGHEAD'S REVENGE. Youth Brigade's Stern Brothers were the founders of BYO so it's no shock that Youth Brigade has spent its entire existence on BYO. Elimination was the BYO debut of Jughead's Revenge. The band would remain on BYO for another two years before moving over to Dexter Holland's Nitro Records. In 1999, Jughead's Revenge was sued by Archie Comics and the band folded in 2001 due to the emotional and financial straits. I guess Archie Comics lightened up in recent years because Jughead's Revenge reunited in 2010 and have been releasing records ever since.
Remember when I mentioned earlier that Flipside didn't take the hardline stance with the majors? Here's the proof. This is a full-page label ad from DGC a.k.a. the David Geffen Company. It's doesn't get any more corporate than this. Although, for a major label, DGC had a pretty good ear. They signed SONIC YOUTH, WEEZER, and some band from Seattle. What matters here is the album in the top-left corner of the ad. Yep, that's Mellow Gold by BECK. This is a case of the major label signing everything and anything and accidentally signing someone good. The same phenomenon is how HELMET ended up on Interscope.
Here's the ad we all came here to see, Chris Dodge's power violence powerhouse Slap A Ham Records. The Baser Apes 7" by RUPTURE is killer stuff but the CROSSED OUT/MAN IS THE BASTARD split 7" is absolutely mandatory listening. Honestly, you should have this already but, if not, GO GET IT NOW!
This is a half-page label ad from Dr. Strange Records. In this ad, Dr. Strange is pushing the reissue of GUTTERMOUTH's debut LP and the Chicago EP from THE BOLLWEEVILS. Both the label and the brick & mortar store in the Bay Area are still going strong. Give Dr. Strange a chance!
Here's a quarter-page distro ad from Realization Records. Yeah, I've never heard of them either but there are two records of note listed here. One is a rare KK NULL LP. The world needs more ignorant Japanese destruction. The other record of note is Lament by SCORN. Scorn matters to metalheads because this is former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris's EDM project. Scorn matters to EDM people because your precious freaking dubstep was essentially invented by this guy. Scorn is a major influence on SKRILLEX and countless others.
Sub-Pop's quarter-page ad for La Mano Cornuda by the SUPERSUCKERS.
World Domination's ad for STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT's debut LP. Killer noise rock. Be warned! There's some poser deathcore band running around calling themselves The Stanford Prison Experiment instead of Stanford Prison Experiment. Demand the real deal! Accept no substitutes!
Half-page Dischord label ad for the Summer of 1994. This is the one ad in this old Flipside issue that should be familiar to everyone. Dischord still uses this layout for its current advertising.
Here's another half-page Epitaph label ad. This one features RANCID's debut LP, Unknown Road by PENNYWISE, Pablum by CLAWHAMMER, Something Green & Leafy by SNFU, and the reissue of Ignition by THE OFFSPRING. It's too bad that Nemesis Records never got a big pay day from The Offspring. Epitaph sure as hell did.
Half-page label ad from Shredder Records, notable for releasing the debut LP from wildly influential emo-punks JAWBREAKER.
This is another half-page ad from Dr. Strange Records. This one is promoting the debut LP from Latino ska-punks the VOODOO GLOW SKULLS. While this record listed for $7 back in 1994, Who Is, This Is currently fetches $20-$50 on eBay, depending on condition. At least, it didn't go down in value. Tried selling a CREED CD lately? Good luck.
This is a full-page ad celebrating the 20th anniversary of California's oldest punk label Bomp! Records. Founded by Greg Shaw in 1974, Bomp! started as a booking agency allowing bands to play concerts free from the clutches of legendary dirtbag Bill Graham. Although Shaw passed away in 2004, the label has since been run by his widow Suzy Shaw. Still going strong. Three cheers for the 40th anniversary of Bomp!
Here's a half-page ad from Epitaph for one of the records that brought punk to the masses.Who would have thought back then that Smash would go on to sell 20 million copies worldwide? THE OFFSPRING sold over six million copies of this record in the U.S. alone.
Here's yet another half-page Epitaph label ad. All of these records showed up in other Epitaph ads elsewhere in the same issue.
Here's a half-page ad for the other record that brought punk to the masses. Much like BECK, WEEZER, HELMET, WHITE ZOMBIE, and other bands that crawled out of the underground and somehow ended up on major labels, GREEN DAY was an afterthought to Reprise Records; until this twerp punk band from Berkeley started moving units. Now, it's 20 years later, Green Day are now referred to as "Multiple Grammy Award-winning classic rock band Green Day", and Dookie has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Unlike THE OFFSPRING, Dookie sold over 10 million copies in the U.S., meaning that Green Day has one of 36 diamond records in music history.
This is a half-page ad for Chicago hardcore label We Bite America. Notable bands featured here include CAPITOL PUNISHMENT, MURPHY'S LAW, and SLAPSHOT.
This is a full-page ad from Virgin Records (yep, that Virgin Records) promoting Rock Animals by SHONEN KNIFE. I've got to be honest, I've never had much of an interest in this band. I know that Shonen Knife is an all-female Japanese pop-punk band, the band was a favorite of Kurt Cobain, and Shonen Knife opened NIRVANA's last show in Houston at the AstroArena. I hope that I've been helpful. For what it's worth, Shonen Knife is playing Austin's Red7 club in October.
I warned you that this wouldn't be all fun and games. Here's a half-page ad for MCA's fake indie label Radioactive Records. Like most of those fake indie labels from back in the 90s (looking at you Red Decibel/Sony), Radioactive largely failed but, wait... What's that in the bottom of the ad? Yep, that's Throwing Copper by LIVE. Dear Lord, I hate LIVE. This stupid record sold over eight million copies. Now I'm depressed.
Quarter-page ad from the long-forgotten Megalomania Records promoting the second 7" by Cali-punks STRUNG OUT.
Quarter-page label ad from Reservation Records featuring legendary Georgia weirdos HARVEY MILK. I can't recommend this band enough.
This is a quarter-page ad from Boner Records promoting legendary San Francisco weirdos STEEL POLE BATH TUB. When Jello Biafra fronts them, they go by the name TUMOR CIRCUS. On their own, Steel Pole Bath Tub is the harshest listen this side of MERZBOW.
Here's a quarter-page label ad from Allied Recordings. Founded by artist John Yates, Allied specialized in harsh, experimental, and unusual hardcore bands until the turn of the century. This particular ad features the almighty BUZZOV-EN's classic LP Unwilling To Explain. If you don't know Buzzov-en, then I don't think there's any hope for you.
Quarter-page ad for the final record from THE GITS. R.I.P. Mia Zapata. Click here to learn more.
Not sure about you guys but this next one is the whole reason I'm here doing this at all. This is a half-page label ad from Victory Records back when Victory was on point. While HI FI & THE ROADBURNERS were a perfectly fine psychobilly band, those other two records are total fucking classics. Firestorm by EARTH CRISIS and Lookinglasself by SNAPCASE. Let me say that one one more time. Firestorm by EARTH CRISIS and Lookinglasself by SNAPCASE. That felt good. No explanation needed. If so, you are on the wrong website.
Alternative Tentacles is in the running for greatest record company ever. As if the DEAD KENNEDYS weren't enough, AT has been kicking out the jams for four decades now. This half-page label ad features some killer stuff like the Prairie Home Invasion LP by JELLO BIAFRA & MOJO NIXON, another solid VICTIM'S FAMILY release, and a glimpse of things to come with BRUJERIA's El Patron EP; but the real jewel here is Enemy of the Sun by NEUROSIS. Enemy of the Sun was one of the best records of the 90s. It's in the running for the best record ever. If you think the Neurosis material on Relapse and Neurot was something, then you need to stop what you're doing and go listen to this NOW!
I honestly didn't mean to stack all of the good stuff at the end but it just kind of worked out that way. Our final ad for this edition of It Came From Flipside! is a half-page label ad from noise rock masters Amphetamine Reptile prominently featuring the HAMMERHEAD masterpiece Into The Vortex. This is another one of those "best record of the 90s" situations. HAMMERHEAD was a major influence for everyone from the DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and CONVERGE to bands like QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. Due to not playing rock-and-roll reindeer games, HAMMERHEAD got shut out of commercial radio and MTV, just like a million others. The difference is, if the suits had their shit together back then, Into The Vortex could have been a major hit. Instead, it's occupying that space where everyone who listens to Into The Vortex wants to start a band. That's an alright gig to have.
I hope that you enjoyed this trip down amnesia lane as much as I enjoyed writing it. This will be a regular feature from now on and I'm open to any suggestions or requests that you have. Hit me up at the No Funeral Facebook page.
This is the new media. We're doing things different from now on.