Interviews

Early Irish Fanzines Part 2: A New Clear Threat (issue 14)

“A New Clear Threat along with Revelation and Alternative Sounds paved the way for me to do my own zine, it showed that I didn’t need to be an aspiring journalist to get my thoughts on music and matters that were important to me. It was well laid out and never failed to disappoint when reading it.” – Niall Hope.
A New Clear Threat was an anarcho-punk fanzine put out by P.A. (and later joined by Deko) between 1981 to 1984 or ‘85 [both played/play in the famous Irish punk band Paranoid Visions]. Awhile back I caught up with P.A. to get the scéal on making a D.I.Y. zine back in the day! I’m also hoping to interview Deko for a future issue about old Irish fanzines. Unfortunately as P.A. mentions in the interview he doesn’t have any copies o
f the zine left; I have no images to go with this interview, ah well…
A: Anto; P: P.A.

A: When and what inspired you to start a zine?
P: There wasn’t many other ones around in Dublin – it was real early in the fanzine scene – I got roped into the UK fanzines. I thought it would be a good idea to do one, I wanted to put some creativity into layouts, I was into that – designing covers – it was expressing that and at the same time getting some points across. Other people were doin’ it, so I didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t. Why should it be done in England and not over here, same thing with the demo’s: when you send me a cassette ill record my demo and send it back to you. The distribution of ideas and music; I thought was really good – that’s where it came from.
A: What year was that?
P: 1980/81, the first one was about 1981.
A: Was there many zines around at the time?
P: There wasn’t really. There was a magazine called Vox, a professional style fanzine – it was a fanzine idea but professionally printed – a two colour cover. Gerry Mulinho was a punk who worked in a bank abit older than us, 18 or 19 at the time; he used to do one called Neu Carnage – it was like a breeze block about 100 pages in it, he was a nice guy… I can’ think of any others.
A: How did you distribute it?
P: Through the record shops Freebird and Base X [now Comet/metal record shop in Temple Bar…]
A: What kinda stuff did you write about?
P: The first one had interviews with a couple of bands – Third Party a really good band from South England; Pyscho Faction – I interviewed them ‘cos they were on the thanks list of a Crass album; I came across them, they were in every fanzine. Other than that a little bit of politics, reviews, an intro; I actually don’t have a copy. There was about 5 or 6 issues. Deko got involved about the third issue he had access to a photocopier. I did 16-20 pages, he did another 15-20 pages; fill it in with loads of lyrics and images. We did 2 or 3 issues like that, abit bigger. The main thing for me was getting the cover right, the cover had to be right – no handwriting on the cover. Stencilling, images, cut-out things, borders – it had to be right.
A: You were more into the printing side of it.
P: Yeh, I was really into the whole image of it. Mastheads – I used cut the original masthead out of the previous one and paste it in the next one so it was identical – it’s a little bit anal for the 30 or 40 copies that I was doin’.
A: What did you get out of making a fanzine, was it a creative thing?
P: It was creative; the whole anarcho-punk thing was encouraging that sort of creativity – giving something along those lines: be it joining a band, recording a demo and sending it around to people instead of to record companies; writing lyrics and sticking them in a fanzine. I found people started writing to me to swap fanzines – they’d send me their fanzine, I’d send over my fanzine; out of that you’d see all the addresses for a load of bands – you’d write to them – they’d send back. It was a huge network – I can only imagine what it would have been like if we’d had the internet in 1981/82 – the whole anarcho-punk thing would have been absolutely colossal because everyone would have been able to do an e-zine, it’s a real real pity – it would have been incredible.
A: If you’re looking back at the zine what do you think is documented?
P: I’m proud of the fact that I managed to put it together, I did express myself and my opinion; my creativity on paper. People read it and listened to it, talked about it. In one case criticized it; it was brilliant someone took a huge amount of offence that I didn’t go on the Anti-Reagan demonstration. I didn’t go on the Anti-Reagan demonstration because I knew it was gonna be full of wankers; and I didn’t want to align myself with a load of wankers who didn’t understand the issues. Someone took a huge amount of offence to that and wrote in to me in the fanzine, which I published in its entirety with a heading of ‘Hate Mail’. I found out who it was afterwards ‘cos the joke backfired; he thought it was threatening but I published it; he came up to me in the pub – he said it was him and the reason why he had done it was this…. like I give a fuck…
A: You got abit of reaction anyway…
P: Until you actually get a negative reaction off somebody – you know you haven’t done anything right, it’s the only way you’ll know you’ve done something.
A: How has making a zine affected the way you think about the media?
P: It all went hand in hand; I had a fairly negative opinion of the media at the time it was probably well-versed, it deserved to have a bad reputation. It gave no access to anybody to actually…, you couldn’t decide if you wanted to write a contribution for a magazine – it wasn’t on the cards – all the magazines have staff writers rather than contributors; the only contributors contributing were doing it because they knew it was for a paying magazine – it was choice rather than by definition. That’s the thing we should definitely change. The radio was no use as well, eventhough it was pirate radio stations, nobody was doing anything different with the pirate radio stations. There was no punk rock radio station for Dublin – forget it, they were all playing the same crap, same thing. There was no access thing with TV, no public access TV programmes, no independent producers doing anything for RTE, not a thing – either bought in or done by themselves. Doing a fanzine or being in a band was the only way you could express yourself, and hopefully use that as a platform to express yourself through something else by building credibility for yourself. I actually interviewed myself, either myself or Deko – we did an article on ourselves which is always good fun.
A: You’re working as a printer now, would that be anything to do with starting off making fanzines?
P: There would have been a link yeh, I actually used all the fanzines, cassette covers, posters as my ‘in’ into Bolton St. I brought a portfolio with me eventhough it wasn’t necessary, for an Advertising course in Rathmines. I arrived in my leather jacket with a Golden Discs bag, as I’d just bought a record; all these other blokes were sitting around with portfolios, I’m goin’ “oh shit, I’m not getting in here, lads”. For Bolton St., I did the same, ‘brought stuff along and said “I’m really into graphic design, layouts – this is some stuff I’ve done” “How did you get it printed?” photocopied, down-printed, low volume – actually in a small printing company. That got me in. I moved away from graphic design, I couldn’t see any money in it – but I’m still in printing kinda the sales side of it. I still kept doing design work all the time, I still do. I helped design for full products and things, concepts for people. It was the start off education – letraset, print, cutter marks …
A: Do you still read fanzines at all?
P: The last one would have been Nosebleed and the Riot 77 issue with the Deko interview
A: You mentioned before about the internet, how do you think the internet will affect fanzines?
P: ‘Could have a huge effect on it now. ‘Moreso just having an electronic version rather than photocopied/printed versions. There’s a massive market for it, for mass distribution. Now we’re living in a much more open, commercial world and the internet is a part of that; the freedom of information and access to information is much bigger; maybe it’s not as imperative as it used to be to actually put these ideas down and get them to people ‘cos it’s all out there… E-zines are a brilliant idea; ideal would be a way where every page would be scanned in print format like a pdf file. A great way, mass distribution the kind of thing that could spread around the world. Like livewire websites – upload it, spread it around the world, alternative/punk music – whatever. That’s what Crass would be doing if they were around today. They wouldn’t have made any records, but have free inf
ormation for everybody.

Early Irish Fanzines part 1