Spontaneous Combustion #1
In 1985 I decided that since I couldn’t play an instrument or sing in a band, and I had neither the money or knowledge to release records, thus the only way I could really contribute to “the scene” would be starting a fanzine. I was 15 years old and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and boy it showed! I whipped this thing together in a day or two before leaving for MI to visit my dad who had a photocopier that I printed the copies on. I think he complained that I was putting too many copies on his leased machine. Ross spelled “Spontaneous” wrong and I didn’t know it for the first two issues! Stay awake in school kids! This incorrect spelling remained for the first five issues to keep continuity, then I caved in and changed it to the proper spelling starting with issue six (which also coincided with my getting a rubber address stamper with the proper spelling on it). When people mentioned it was spelled wrong I told them it was “punk”. This featured an Adrenalin OD mail-in interview that had about nine questions and no photos, but the band drew a stick figure sketch of themselves. Aside from that it had a couple of record reviews. I sent a few away to bands and labels I liked and sold most of the rest at my high school and gave a bunch away. My friend, Phil McAlear, told me at school that he thought the zine sucked. At the time I thought he was an asshole for saying that as it wasn’t very constructive criticism but I forgave him and he’s still a dear friend to this very day. I still really love the cover art. I still have a couple of these stashed away. Looking back at this issue, overall I think it is kind of embarrassing, but hey, I was a kid and it was the start of something that lasted far longer than I’d imagined. There was a contest to win a date with Scott Conway (who later became “Gub” of Gauge fame). No one entered formally, but I think he got plenty of dates on his own. This was the first issue to have the “Cool” and “Shit” lists, a feature that lasted 14 issues! It is funny to see how many things appeared on both lists over the course of time!
Spontaneous Combustion #2
If memory serves, this came out right around the end of my junior year of high school (hence the artwork of our high school blowing up). The cover art was hanging in my locker for about a year, it was given to me by Ross’ brother Kevin (aka: Spanky – RIP) along with a few other drawings. I asked Ross if it was ok to use this as the cover and he said yes. This issue was really what my first one should have been had I not rushed it out and I spent considerably more time putting it together. This featured interviews with JFA, Government Issue, and Ozzfish Experience, all of which were conducted through the mail. Warren Fischer from Ozzfish Experience ended up being a contributor to the zine for quite a few issues after this. Ray Kolenko wrote a few reviews for this and ended up writing for a few issues after this one as well until he decided to start his own zine later. Placebo Records was the first label to ever send me a free record to review. It was the JFA – My Movie single. I was so excited that a label would send me something for free just to review in my little zine. I ended up giving them a free ad, and did for a few issues after that too. I still have the very copy of the record they sent me. They would also send me stickers and stuff to give away on my radio show. There was also an ad for Miro’s Deli in the zine which was run by a friend’s family. I think I traded the ad for 2 Italian beef sandwiches, fries and a drink. Miro used to sell my zines in the deli and they did OK there. I reinvested all of the proceeds into Italian beef sandwiches and hot dogs at the deli. The layout of this was really sloppy, but in hindsight it was pretty good for someone who was so naïve. Ah the old days of cut and paste, before these computers changed everything!
Spontaneous Combustion #3
This was the last issue to have a drawing by Ross. He was really talented at drawing and I really liked his skulls. Had he kept at it he could have been the next Pushead. I forgot to put the price on the cover, so they were all written in by hand. This rather thin issue featured interviews with Descendents, DRI, Meat Puppets, and Skulls (the one from NJ featuring Charly Pip). As usual, all the interviews were done via the mail except DRI, which Warren Fischer did in person after one of their shows. I think this one had a more solid layout than the previous issue and I felt I kept improving as I went along.
Spontaneous Combustion #4
This one had interviews with The Exposed, Social Outcast, Group of Individuals and Napalm Death. This featured a review of Tracy Munroe’s 12th birthday party video. Some teacher read the zine and called her to the office to ask her about the tape, they thought it was porn based on the review! Other features include a Phoenix scene report by Dale Pierce (who contributed for a few issues). Ray got a bunch of yearbook pictures from some guys at school and printed them in the zine calling the club the FBOA, which stood for the Future Buttfuckers of America. I don’t think he told anyone what it stood for but he did put his own picture in there too. We printed an address if anyone wanted to send a picture and join, but no one wrote, even though they didn’t know what the letters stood for. The only copy I have in my collection has a big stain from coffee or pop on it. If anyone out there has a copy of this in nice shape they’d like to donate to me let me know. I guess I could always look on eBay for one…
Spontaneous Combustion #5
Miro had this weird mimeograph machine like the schools used to use in the old days so we printed this issue on it. It gave us a ton of trouble and we didn’t make all 100 issues that I had planned on. We probably also destroyed a lot of brain cells from the ink fumes. Like an idiot, I left the master pages in the trunk of my car and they were damaged beyond repair and destroyed! This is the only issue I don’t have the masters for and I only have one copy of the printed zine as a document of it. The cover art was our principal at the high school I had just graduated from, Scott Conway (aka: Gub) cut up his yearbook and gave me a bunch of the pictures from it, this being one of them. Why he cut up the book after his mom paid all the money for it at the beginning of the year is still a mystery to me. He was a little unpredictable and a little out there but he is a good guy and I still see him from time to time which always makes me happy. This issue had interviews with Cancerous Growth, Mentors, and Boom and the Legion of Doom. There was a lesson on how to be a rapper which taught white boys how to rap using the Beverly Hillbillies theme, something Bob Fogarty and I used to rap incessantly that summer thinking it was the funniest thing on earth.
Spontaneous Combustion #6
The most action packed issue from that time. This was pretty thick and featured Ism, #9, MIA, Descendents, and Adrenalin OD (all interviews done either in person or on the phone). Aside from that there is a ton of reviews and a picture of my friend Carol when she was 5 years old. The Descendents interview in this zine was one of my two favorite interviews I have ever done. They were a great bunch of guys and fun to talk to and spent well over an hour with us after their show. I still have the tape and Milo squatted over our tape recorder and farted into the mic during the interview!
Spontaneous Combustion #7
Tommy from the Accused drew the cover for this one. I didn’t notice until after it was printed that he spelled Spontaneous wrong (forgot the “u”). He sent me a new version for the next issue and that was the logo of the zine which was still used even near the end and is still used for the record label. This issue featured a nice interview with John Stabb and J. Robbins of Government Issue that was a lot of fun to conduct after one of their shows, plus Fluorescent Condoms and a special pull-out section on how to find god (we reprinted one of those religious comics that someone gave to me) and the usual record and show reviews and cool/shit lists. This was the last issue that was the half page sized format which proved to be too restrictive over time, especially as the number of pages kept growing.
Spontaneous Combustion #8
This was the first full-size issue and was the second anniversary issue (albeit a few months late). After this there was no going back to the old half-size. The half-size was too small and the layouts were a pain in the ass to do. As with all issues before it, this continued the typewriter and cut and paste layouts. I sure got a lot of mileage out of that typewriter. This issue featured interviews with The Accused, Shaved Pigs, Affirmative Action, and Moral Disgust, along with a whole slew of reviews and artwork.
Spontaneous Combustion #9
The “skull-man” on the cover (by Chicago artist, Anthony Stagg) was a regular cover model for three issues starting with this one. I really loved Anthony’s artwork and he contributed a lot to the zine over the years. This issue featured a lengthy interview with Bobby Steele of The Undead and formerly of The Misfits, also features Psycho-Sin, NHC, a ton of reviews, including a live review of the Naked Raygun show where the girl I had a massive crush on that I brought with me got hit on the head with the top of a table that some asshole dropped off of the balcony! Twenty years after nearly getting her killed at that show, I finally convinced her to marry me!
Spontaneous Combustion #10
The cover was the second part of the “skull man” series by Anthony Stagg. Inside there was interviews with Action Figure and 2 Car Family. There was a contest to write and name the skull man, where the winner would get a free record. I don’t think anyone entered, proving once again that people were lazy. The infamous “clown story” was in this, which was a dark comedic story Bob Fogarty and I wrote one day at work, it made a return appearance in a later issue as well. The usual reviews and lists rounded out the rest of the issue.
Spontaneous Combustion #11
Around this time a lot punk rock was becoming pretty boring and I couldn’t stand any of that “youth crew” bullshit that everyone I knew who was younger than me got into. I branched out and got really into industrial music (that scene at the time was as exciting as the punk scene used to be) along with a lot of stuff on Amrep and Sub Pop and that was reflected in the bands I was interviewing and the records and shows I was reviewing. I think this issue started the trend of only putting out like one or two issues a year, a curse that was impossible to shake for the rest of the zine’s history. I blame it on things like jobs, girlfriends, and various other life issues getting in the way. This issue was exciting for me because I interviewed Dwayne Goettel of Skinny Puppy. Skinny Puppy remain to this day my very favorite band of all time. Of all the interviews I have done, Dwayne was the nicest person in a band I have ever spoken to and it was also the only time I was ever nervous going into an interview. He spent about an hour speaking with me on the phone and answering my many questions. He unfortunately passed away in 1995. I wish I would have been able to meet him in person as he was definitely the nicest member of the band. Also in this issue was interviews with The Fiendz, Bloody Mary, Dessau, R.I.P., and Nemesis. The usual live and record reviews filled out the rest of the issue.
Spontaneous Combustion #12
I had run out of steam after issue #11 and had no motivation, no help, and little time to spend putting out another issue. After a bit of an unplanned hiatus that was spent working a shitty job and driving 150 miles each way to visit a girlfriend in college all the time, I threw something together to keep the promos coming. I got my first computer, a Macintosh Plus, and used it to typeset this issue. I only had a dot-matrix printer and I still cut and pasted the layouts, but it was a start. Featured interviews with FOD, Cat Rapes Dog, and Psyche, all done via the mail. I thought the Psyche one was particularly good as Darren Huss gave nice detailed answers and clearly spent a decent amount of time on his answers. He also was the one who turned me onto the greatness that was Nash the Slash! The cover art was an art project my friend Jane (Miro’s sister) had done for one of her classes, making Miro and Jane the only brother/sister duo to contribute artwork to the zine. I’m still friends with both of them to this day.
Spontaneous Combustion #13
I had access to a laser printer from this point on plus I had learned how to use QuarkXpress and upgraded to a better Mac as well. Light Dave joined the staff and so did my sister, Diane. This had interviews with Babes in Toyland, Jawbreaker, Slug, and a ton of live reviews and record reviews. Allen Jaeger Jr. did the cover art for this one and it was inspired by Skinny Puppy’s Last Rights tour. Allen has since gone on to be one of the top silkscreen concert poster artists and does some incredible work. The entire issue was a fun one to work on and kind of recharged my batteries for a spell, though I still wasn’t able to put out issues any more frequently.
Spontaneous Combustion #14
The last issue for both xerox printing and spiral binding. I wasn’t upset about not having to punch and bind all those zines by hand anymore! After this issue it was time to do something different as I felt the zine was getting a bit stale. This one featured interviews with Big’n and Shorty, who had relatives among the band members. Lots of record and live reviews were in this issue as well. The cover was the “Guilt Man” which was a prop/character from the Skinny Puppy Last Rights tour, as drawn and designed by Tim Gore, who was their prop designer for the Too Dark Park and Last Rights tours and a hell of a good guy. The was the last issue ever to feature the cool/shit lists as well.
Spontaneous Combustion #15
This is the issue I am the most proud of. It came together so perfectly that I could not have asked for anything more. The zine grew in size and quality and it was time to get it printed at a real press (at the same place that printed the Chicago Reader). I think the team of the two Daves (Light and Dark), my sister, and me were a perfect fit and the issues we worked on together are my favorites. This was the thickest issue too. Cover art by and huge interview with Mark Fischer and the crew of Skin Graft Records, who at the time were putting out some really good records. This also featured Dazzling Killmen, Don Caballero, Wreck, Engines of Aggression, and Mercury Players. On top of that there was the return of the clown story, Diane’s tour diary, and lots more.
Spontaneous Combustion #16
The only issue to have a two-color cover. I went all out on this issue. Printing an extra thousand copies made the per issue cost nearly half of doing only 1000 so I went for it, which also meant lowering the cover price back to a buck. Despite the good sales on this issue I still have a bunch left and I’m still giving away free copies! This issue brought Alison Hofer and Bill Dozer to the writing Staff. This was the first to feature columns ala MRR. My sister really contributed a lot to this issue as well. This featured D.I., Dolomite, Karl Hendricks Trio, Man or Astroman?, Oblivians, Superconducter, and a ton of pictures of the first Skin Graft Irritational. On top of all that, there’s a contract rider reprinted (I still don’t know who the band was, Diane wouldn’t tell me!), Bob and Thor’s overseas journal (part one), The Shitter’s Guide to Europe by Tim Cronin, and about a million reviews.
Spontaneous Combustion #17
Released: Fall 1995
1000 made – all copies came with a JFA 7″ record
Cover art: MXV
Cover variations: None, but there were record variations. See discography
This issue featured a really good JFA interview and came with a JFA 7″. I was really happy to put out a record by one of my favorite punk bands of all time. The issue also had interviews with Pigface, The Offspring, 7 Seconds, Tim Kerr (of Big Boys fame), The Bollweevils, and New Bomb Turks. There’s a bunch of stories from Bob Fogarty and the usual reviews and another tour diary from my sister, Diane, which sadly was pretty much the last thing she wrote for the zine. Issue 18 was sorely missing her contributions. I guess she lost interest, but it sure was fun working on the zine with her when she helped out. This also featured a scathing letter from one Tim Elder, who was disgruntled over a bad review his record got in issue 16. This was the fastest selling issue of all time. The first 100 mail orders got a special edition of the record on colored vinyl with a hand screened sleeve. My only regret of this issue is not springing for a two-color cover again but I more than ate through the budget by pressing the record that came with this issue.
Spontaneous Combustion #18
The end of an era as this was the final issue though I didn’t know it at the time. Both Light Dave and my sister dropped out before this issue was started so they didn’t contribute anything to it. This issue was difficult to put together as I had little time to work on it due to my job, not to mention less help and even less motivation. I’m not as happy with this as the three issues prior to it, but it still was pretty good. Featured Apemen, Boris the Sprinkler, June of ’44, Macabre, and Mark Spyby. Lots of reviews and some Crawford comics filled out the rest of the issue.The plan was to include a June of ’44 7″ with this issue but the band flaked out on me and never delivered. Tim Elder’s scathing rebuttal to my response in the last issue is included along with another response by me. It was a most entertaining flame war, too bad it ended with this issue. When this issue was completed it was becoming harder to sell fanzines and when you couple that with how little help, time, or motivation I had to work on a fanzine it was obvious it was time to put it to rest. I never made any formal announcements about ending it, I just let it die quietly. I felt I accomplished all I could with the zine and it was never going to get any bigger with the available resources I had. Overall I was pretty proud of the 12 years this zine ran for. After taking a few years off I revamped the website and slowly started doing some reviews and interviews again whenever time allowed and that eventually evolved into The Punk Vault site becoming what it is today.