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MRR Radio #1587 • 12/10/17

This week Matt pulls some rarities out of the vault to make the scums and punks drool. Intro song: STENGTE DØRER ...

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MRR Radio #1586 • 12/3/17

On this week's MRR Radio, Rob goes ballistic for late '70s and early '80s Bloodstains punk rock from around the ...

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Maximum Rocknroll #416 • Jan 2018

Another new year, another exciting issue of Maximum Rocknroll! MRR #416, our January 2018 issue, begins with a sad note as we ...

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"Who gives a fuck?"

MRR Radio #1585 • 11/26/17

“[...] Elvis gives them a short speech about the death pangs that humanity must go through in order to reach ...

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MRR Radio #1584 • 11/19/17

Another fuct up Rotten Ron and Horrrible Halitosis Punker Power Hour. Intro song: DRUGCHARGE - Husk Rotten Ron fucks it up so you ...

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MRR archives: Maximum Rocknroll #5 • Mar–Apr 1983

August 14th, 2012 by

Hiya, punx! This one took a little extra time to get posted but I hope it’s worth the wait. Continuing with the MRR Archives Series in celebration of our 30th Anniversary, Maximum Rocknroll issue #5 features some totally classic shit, like interviews with Social Unrest, Bastards, DRI, FU’s, Die Kreuzen, No Labels, Subhumans (UK), our first scene reports from Holland, Brazilian and NE Ohio, and a MDC European tour diary…. Not only that, but we have a very special intro for this issue…

Ruth Schwartz was one of the first people I met at Maximum. I remember, as a nervous 13-year-old guest DJ on the MRR Radio show at KPFA in Berkeley, how I was treated not like little kid but as a comrade, of sorts, by Tim and Ruth. An early introduction to the Ways of Punk that I would come to know and try to uphold myself. Although I never got to know Ruth very well, she has always been someone I hold in great esteem. Her resume includes being the original “co-owner” of Maximum Rocknroll, owner of Mordam Records, the person who spearheaded Blacklist Mailorder, and now the operator of High Performance Advocates and author of The Key to the Golden Handcuffs, a book about business which features a chapter on MRR’s Tim Yohannan.

During our conversation I was taken aback to learn how little involvement Ruth actually had in starting Maximum Rocknroll magazine. (And by “little” I mean none!) But I was equally stoked to learn more about her pre-Maximum days as a college radio DJ, and about MRR’s early crusades against the thuggery of skinheads and the local rock music establishment.


MRR #5 — download available soon!

How did you get into punk, and how did you meet Tim and get involved in MRR Radio?

I grew up in Huntington Beach. I migrated to Santa Rosa, CA, for junior college when I was 17, and then the Sex Pistols played in San Francisco. That was my first punk rock show. Right after that there were punk rock bands in Santa Rosa, including the Breakouts. There was a crew of us who were like our own little music scene, like 12 of us. But I moved to San Francisco as quickly as I could.

I was doing the Harmful Emissions radio program at KUSF. I had never met Tim Yohannan. I knew of him, but I don’t think I had met him until he walked into the KUSF studio one night to meet me. He walked in and said, “Do you want to be on our radio program?” I knew the Maximum Rock & Roll show (MRR Radio). I was a broadcasting student at San Francisco State. I was a music director at that station out there. I had done some shows at KALX (UC Berkeley’s station) and I had finally finagled my way onto Harmful Emissions. Tim came in and asked me to come be on Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll. That’s how I met him.

Why did Tim want you on MRR Radio?

Because I did a kick-ass radio program! When I started at MRR, Rick Scott was behind the board — Tim had another partner before that, Al Ennis — and I think he was just looking for more people. He was just out going, “I need a gang.” I think at that point he had just gotten Ray Farrell to come on, a little bit before me, and he started pursuing Jeff Bale at the same time.

Tell me about Harmful Emissions…

On KUSF, the Vietnamese news was on until 9 or 10 o’clock, and then they would shut down the station. The Harmful Emissions guys would show up at 11 or so and turn on the transmitter — they got permission from the school. Nobody else came back in the station until 7 or 8 in the morning, so they’d just do it… It was awesome, and it was always amazing that the Jesuits let them get away with what they were doing. (The University of San Francisco, where KUSF was, is a Jesuit college.)

The original three Harmful Emissions people were George Epsilante, Steven Spinali, and Tim Maloney, and they were killing it, they were just slaying it. They were awesome because they were going all night — they would just fire up the transmitter and take it until they can’t see straight. Everybody was listening to them ‘cause they were nuts. So, I met George at a party and I just begged him, “I need to be on your program.” That was around 1980.

Basically what would happen is, when the clubs would close everybody was listening to that radio show, and all the bands would go over there and be interviewed and stuff like that. It was mayhem; it was absolute mayhem. If you look at the early ’80s it was Social Unrest, Dead Kennedys… I was a Flipper-aholic. They showed up sometimes. I was like Flipper’s house historian. Later on, I remember when MDC was there, and DRI, and the Fuck-Ups…

And then it all took off when the show hit the Arbitron ratings. Arbitron is the radio equivalent of the Neilson ratings. Harmful Emissions was way underground and all of a sudden it came above ground, and that’s when people at KUSF came in. There was this bunch of guys, and they were like, “Oh, we’re really going to make something of this. We’re gonna make this into a big station. We’re going to regulate the programming,” and that’s when they destroyed it. They standardized their programming and they put in a music director and they put in a program director and they started to can it. So I would show up at night and they would give me play list, and I’m like, “I don’t think so.”

Clockwise from the upper-left: Jeff Bale confronts scummy music promoter Bill Graham, Ruth Schwartz in a photo booth!, Ray Farrell?, Mickey Creep.

What was your role at MRR Radio and how were you involved in the creation of Maximum Rocknroll magazine?

I was totally on syndicating the radio program — that was my baby. Tim gave me that because I was all about radio. So, I came to MRR Radio and I became the board-op when Rick left, and then I started syndicating it. I did it for years and years, editing it with an Xacto knife — I had reels of tape, you know — and getting tapes duplicated and sending the show to radio stations all over the world.

I don’t even remember Tim making that first magazine because I didn’t have anything to do with it. I was still in school, I was working with three radio stations, I was working with Damage magazine as well, and I don’t even remember them doing the comp. Tim and Jeff decided to do the Not So Quiet on the Western Front compilation. I literally had nothing to do with that. They put the whole comp together and they produced that first magazine to go in it because they wanted there to be all the lyrics and the band information and all that inside. It turned pretty thick. There’s 47 bands are on Not So Quiet on the Western Front, so now you’ve got at least that many pages… so that was the first issue of Maximum Rocknroll.

That’s all they intended to do, and they just left it at that for a while. I started working for Rough Trade when I graduated. I remember Not So Quiet coming out, but the only time I ever touched it was selling it at Rough Trade. And then they were like, “That was fun. Let’s do it again.”

My biggest memory of starting the magazine was they said, “Would you write record reviews?” and I said, “Yeah.” I wrote record reviews and they sent them back to me and they said, “We don’t even understand why you’re a college graduate, this writing is so terrible.” I said, “Huh… Well, would you help me?” and they said “Yes,” and I said, “Well, you’re going to have to actually edit me,” and they say “Yes.” I said, “OK,” and I kept writing, and they kept editing… and that’s how I learned to write! So I credit those two guys for that — they taught me how to write. Jeff’s a professor, they were both really decent writers, and I wasn’t.

Tim Yo bankrolled the whole thing. I mean, he had nothing else to spend his money on. The whole capitalization of MRR magazine was Tim putting up the money for Not So Quiet. That thing sold like crazy, so that bankrolled the next project. I became his business partner at that stage, for about eight years. Maximum Rock & Roll was a partnership — Tim and I partnered right after Not So Quiet came out, because all of a sudden there was money. So when he said, “Okay, we’ve got to get a bank account, and we’ve got to put this money somewhere… Would you do this with me?” I said, “Yes.” But Tim had very specific idea about how he wanted to run a business, as you know.

[Oh yes, I know! We talked more about the business side of the magazine and Mordam records, and Ruth finally divesting from MRR, but I wanted to know more about the early days — especially this…]

Can you tell me about the famous on-air debate with Bill Graham on MRR Radio?

That was sort of the beginning of the politicizing of MRR. I think it was one of the first causes that Tim and Jeff took up.

There were all these really great venues in town. Paul Rat was doing the 10th Street Hall and he was going really heavily into promoting. He’s a great guy and he treated all the bands well. Dirk was doing the Mab, and he was also doing On Broadway at that point. There were a lot great venues, a lot of indie stuff going on, and it started getting big. You could fill the 10th Street Hall every weekend… Thousands of people.

Bill Graham didn’t care about Target putting on a show, but when these big halls started filling up for a Dead Kennedys show, or when all the bands started coming up from L.A., it was a really big deal. So, BGP (Bill Graham Presents) was like, “We want a piece of that.” Somebody was putting on a show and BGP sent out thugs and basically said, “We’re gonna shut you down. We’re gonna get you on fire violation, or we’re gonna get you on something…” So Tim just…went to war. Tim went Michael Moore on Bill Graham.

Quite honestly, I think that was one of the first real political things that Tim did. He got that little pointy finger of his out and went for it. That was the first time I saw Tim go aggro. Of course, the picture is of Jeff, right, pointing the finger? But it was always Tim’s finger — he had that evil finger…

From there we went onto skinheads. We had this whole series where we were bringing the skinheads into the studio. And these were our friends. These were people we saw every week at shows, for better or worse. That was really something, I thought. Like, the Bill Graham thing was really great — that Tim was willing to muckrake on that — but the skinhead thing, you know, bringing them up to the station and… I mean, Tim kinda out-talked them.

I knew all those guys — and we were all really impassioned — but I wanted to keep a good scene. I didn’t want these guys to come in and wreck the scene. ‘Cause they were freakin’ idiots, right? So if any of them were willing to come to the table and talk about, “What’s up with this? What are you doin’? Can we, like, stop it?”

What it did was it took those guys who were really nice guys but just kind of a little… misguided, for lack of a better term, and it kind of gave them a new perspective. It really segregated out all these little white supremacist guys. I think it had a tremendous impact because those guys that realized they didn’t want to be little white supremacist assholes, they started holding the space, basically, at these shows.

If you go back to the days of the Farm, nobody was standing up to these guys. Everybody was, like, cowering, and Tim was like, “I’m not going to cower. That’s ridiculous.” Which was good, which was really great leadership. The outcome of that was to get the guys who didn’t want to be assholes to be working toward creating a good environment for shows. I thought that was critical. I didn’t want to stop going to shows because of these guys. I couldn’t imagine a couple of guys wrecking it for hundreds and hundreds of people. So I thought it was really powerful.

I think it’s interesting that you stuck around. When you read some people’s accounts of the early punk scene, it’s like, “And then hardcore came, and the violence came and that was the end of it.” For them, punk rock was over and it doesn’t exist beyond 1981, 1982…

Yeah, but think of all the other things that happened during that time. The whole DC scene happened, then the Chicago scene popped and there was a really vibrant New York scene, Texas was on overload… there was so much good stuff going on.

Why do you think that so many people dropped out of punk at that time?

I think there was a certain amount of people who “grew up,” you know what I mean? “This is not that important to me.” And then there were people who were just what we called the weekenders — they weren’t really into it. They liked the music and they were just looking for something to do. It didn’t really speak to them. And then there were people like us. We were kinda leaders, we weren’t going to let it lie. We were going to stay there, no matter what, and go, “Here’s the really cool stuff that’s going on, that you should know about. People who are doing things right. And there’s a lot more of them than people doing it wrong.”

That whole mentality about creating an alternative and creating an alternative lifestyle and staying independent and all that, that’s a driving force. And one thing I’ve learned about my life, even now — and I’m not of these people who runs around going, “I’ll always be a punk.” But the other side is that I realize now, even in the work I’m doing now, which is completely different, I still feel like the disc jockey. I still feel like I’m going through all of this material and I just searching for the great stuff. And even though there’s all this stuff that sucks and doesn’t work, it’s like, “Yeah, but there is this other really great thing over here. So let’s use that!” I always felt that way, you know? There’s a thousand records out there but I’m going to play you the really cool ones.

PDF download of MRR #5 will be available soon in the MRR Webstore!
Read more of our MRR Archives series here.

The MRR archive project:
Maximum Rocknroll #4 • Jan–Feb 1983

July 24th, 2012 by

Next in our MRR Archives series, in celebration of our 30th Anniversary: Maximum Rocknroll issue #4 (download available in our webstore soon). For this issue we asked Brian Edge to tell us about his experience working on the earliest issues of MRR, and beyond. Brian likes to keep a low profile but his hard work has been integral to so many MRR-related projects over the years that he should be considered a legend. Huge thanks to Brian Edge!

MRR #4 — download available soon!

I got involved with MRR magazine shortly after issue #1 came out. A couple of my friends had been in on the first issue, and they had told me about it, but their interest in the scene was fading and they soon dropped out. I met Tim Yohannan (and some of “the gang”) and jumped in on the production of issue #2, learning how to do basic layout and writing show reviews and such (under another pseudonym until issue #4). The mag was ultra-basic back then: word processor/typewriters, scissors, waxers, layout boards, etc. All of us volunteers would come over on Sunday afternoons for “layout parties” at Tim and Jeff‘s house in Oakland. I don’t remember there being anyone with production or graphic design experience, so we’d slap things together and hope for the best. Needless to say, the mag was aesthetically pretty minimalist and choppy.

I was learning as I went along, and not just about magazine production. I was being challenged on all levels for the first time in my life. I had other staffers asking me, “Why are you eating a baloney sandwich? Why are you wearing Nikes? Why do you bank at Bank of America? Why are you calling people ‘fags’ and ‘retards’?” It made me stop and think about all this stuff that I had never given a second thought to before. It was the beginning of my “awakening.” I started questioning, and examining more closely, what I ate, what I wore, what businesses I patronized, and most importantly, how I treated other people.

MRR was certainly a life-changer for me. I was exposed to the positive, constructive, do-it-yourself side of punk and met so many great people from all over the world. Through MRR I learned how to be a radio DJ (MRR Radio and KALX Berkeley), how to do a magazine, how to set up and run a club/community center (924 Gilman), how to run a small business (Blacklist Mailorder), and how to put out a book (924 Gilman – The Story So Far). And perhaps the greatest thing I learned was how to stand up and fight for what I believed in. Many of the ideas and values learned from working with MRR for over 20 years stay with me to this day: Life doesn’t have to be competitive, it can be cooperative. You don’t have to be a greedy, selfish asshole to “succeed.” And by treating people with respect, equality, and an open mind you can have a much more rewarding life.

I feel very fortunate to have known not only Tim Yohannan, who provided me with so much guidance and inspiration, but also many of the other hard-working folks who have contributed, both past and present, to this epic adventure called Maximum RocknRoll .

— Brian Edge

PDF download of MRR #4 will be available soon in the MRR Webstore!
Read more of our MRR Archives series here.

The MRR archive project:
Maximum Rocknroll #3 • Nov-Dec 1982

July 17th, 2012 by

Next in our MRR Archives series, in celebration of our 30th Anniversary: Maximum Rocknroll issue #3 (download available in our webstore soon). We posed a few questions about this issue to Steve Spinali, MRR shitworker since issue #1 and still with MRR to this day! Never one to look back or rest on his laurels, Steve is always looking forward to the next great record (or film!) so it’s hard to get him to reminisce about the olden days. We are honored that he indulged us for this project. Cheers, Steve!

MRR #3 — download available soon!

MRR: When you look at Maximum Rocknroll issue #3, does anything strike you as being particularly outdated?

Steve Spinali: The price is sure outdated. The cover price was $1 in 1982, and it actually looked more like a fanzine than a mag. In MRR #3, there were only six-odd pages of record reviews — and everyone took pains to keep the length of the reviews to a minimum, around fifty words each. Cut and paste was exactly that: manually cutting the reviews on a contact sheet and “pasting” it in place. The technology may have seemed modern at the time (MRR started out with a Mac Plus), but MRR’s current standard of desktop publishing is a different standard. In 1982, you couldn’t read it without a magnifying glass.

Does anything in it strike you as “timeless”?

I’m not sure if “timeless” applies to punk rock, or pop music in general. Tim Yohannan made the remark himself, saying how the RAMONES sounded so radical when they first came out. Now, you can hear “Blitzkrieg Bop” at San Francisco Giants baseball games.

For me, the years 1963 through 1965 were the truly timeless period in pop music. Surf, soul, R’n’B, pop, and easy listening shared the charts. Flip on a transistor radio —and all the songs were great, for hours on end.

How do you feel about the reviews you wrote, and would you say anything different about those records today?

Tim had an approach to record reviewing that made a lot of sense. Most reviews were limited to forty or fifty words – mainly because there was a limited amount of space on the page. And that fit in with MRR‘s philosophy toward punk and HC. The review of TERVEET KÄDET’s Aaereton Joulu was as short as the songs on the record.

Even if I had the chance, I wouldn’t want to change any reviews. They’re just one person’s opinion, and that opinion is just as valid as anyone’s. If you don’t like the reviews, why are you reading MRR in the first place? Aside from which, the mag has always tried to match records with specific reviewer’s likes and interests.

How did you feel about the politics in the magazine at this time (and as time went on)?

That’s kind of a trick question. Everybody in MRR, myself included, probably had a similar political idealism, with a lot of wiggle room for a persons point of view. Given broad limits, MRR staffers seem to agree on general points. The politics in MRR has always had a general anti-establishment feeling, tempered with real-life experiences.

You’re not going to find too many budding Young Republicans on MRR, who spend their spare time watching Hannity or O’Reilly.

Did reading this issue bring back any memories?

MRR sponsored a gig with Reno’s WRECKS — one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. Issue #3 featured an interview with Bess from the band. They’d just broken up.

I don’t have a very good question here but — damn, how ’bout that Finland scene report?!

That was an early, stab-in-the-dark attempt at Finnish HC. Voitto [aka Vote] Vasko did his best with the material, but realize — entire books have written on this subject (in Finnish, of course). I don’t think you can cover Finnish HC in four, graphic-intensive pages.

Ah, here’s a question — did you have any notion that the Finnish scene would become so revered over time. Or any of the punk from this era for that matter?

There was band named POIKKEUS. Their 2003 debut was a crust classic. It had a Finnish sleeve, and a HC style that recalls ’83 KAAOS. Except they were a Japanese band, which gives you a feeling how influential Finnish hardcore is. The language is perfectly suited for HC; Finnish HC had a special sound — messy, loud, and basic. It’s the kind of music that anybody with a guitar could play. You didn’t need to know the lyrics, since the meaning came across anyway.

Which punk from this period mattered the most to you?

CRASS had a political attitude that forced you to reevaluate things. (Tim and Jeff reviewed How Does It Feel? for issue #3.) It’s one thing to have personal politics, but with CRASS, the issues were more concise and detailed. People are still releasing singles that have that iconic CRASS artwork, and that spirit of protest is a part of what makes MRR what it is.

PDF download of MRR #3 will be available soon in the MRR Webstore!
Read more of our MRR Archives series here.

The MRR archives continue:
Maximum Rocknroll #2 • Sept-Oct 1982

July 10th, 2012 by

Continuing with our MRR Archives series in celebration of our 30th Anniversary, here is the complete download of Maximum Rocknroll issue #2 (download available in our webstore soon). Our guest MC this time is Martin Sprouse, whose past contributions to MRR are innumerable, and who continues to be a mentor and inspiration to us all. Thank you Martin!

I remember the day I walked into San Diego’s Off the Record and saw the stack of Maximum Rocknroll #2 on the counter. I picked up a copy and stared at the cover.

Body. Flag. Corporation.

There was no accompanying text, just a stark, black and white photo. As a teenage punk, this image instantly resonated with me. It looked different. It read different. Without any effort, it made a point-blank statement.

After joining MRR in 1985, I referred to this photo when I designed covers for the magazine. It set the stage for using the cover more as a political poster than a sales tool. MRR covers were never treated as protected real estate. We didn’t follow a set of standards or codes to ensure sales. The cover was where we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted.

I don’t remember the photo’s back story or how it became the cover. Was it meticulously planned or spontaneously thrown together? Probably a combination of both. Either way, the cover for MRR #2 made a lasting impression on me. Thirty years later, this photo could easily be used for the cover of MRR #352. Its sharp message remains as relevant today, if not more so.

I also want to congratulate the MRR readers, volunteers, writers, contributors, supporters, distributors, critics, and enemies from the last 30 years. You have made MRR possible. Thanks.

— Martin Sprouse, 2012

PDF download of MRR #2 will be available soon in the MRR Webstore!
Read more of our MRR Archives series here.

Monday Photo Blog: Deep down in the vaults – Part 1

July 9th, 2012 by

Allow me to dust the cobwebs off before we get to this  Monday Photo Blog. For the month of July in celebration of MRR’s 30th anniversary (send us something in the way of pearl to celebrate if you must) we’re going into the archives and pulling out some buried gems and bringing them back out to the light. This week we’re posting some bands that all, coincidentally, start with the letter ‘A’.







Send your tour photos, bands that have come through your town, the best of your local bands, etc. to: . Include your name, a link to your website (or flickr, Facebook, or whatever), and the band (or subject), date and location of each photo. Just send your best photos — edit tightly. Three to seven photos is plenty, and it’s best to send pictures of different bands. Please do not send watermarked photos. Please make your photos 72 dpi and about 600–800 pixels at the longest side. Not everything sent in will be posted, and a response is not guaranteed, but we do appreciate all of your contributions. Feel free to submit more than once. Thanks!