History

MRR #1, August 1982
Insert for “Not So Quiet on the Western Front” comp, 1982

Maximum Rocknroll is a widely distributed monthly fanzine dedicated to supporting the underground punk rock scene. MRR’s long history and large, obsessed, all-volunteer staff makes its punk rock coverage the most consistently up-to-date and reliable around. MRR maintains the values of the punk underground by remaining independent, DIY and not-for-profit.

“Maximum Rock & Roll” started in 1977 as a punk rock radio show—one of the first and best of all time. “Tim (Yohannan) and the gang” played the latest punk and hardcore sounds from across the world, the U.S., and from their home in the bristling San Francisco Bay Area punk scene. “The gang” included personalities like Jeff Bale, Ruth Schwartz, and Jello Biafra. Punk antiheroes regularly visited as guest DJs, and the roster of touring bands interviewed on the show reads like the track list on a classic old comp. The show was notable for the immediacy of the music, a dedication to international coverage (rare at the time), and for explicitly interjecting progressive politics into the dialogue of punk. The show became hugely successful in the underground, and eventually was broadcast from stations across the U.S. and abroad.

Martin Sprouse and Tim Yohannan at the MRR House, 1987

Maximum Rocknroll in zine form first appeared in 1982, as the newsprint booklet in Not So Quiet on the Western Front, a compilation double-LP released on Alternative Tentacles. The comp included 47 Northern California and Nevada bands, many of whom went on to ruin thousands of impressionable kids by releasing some of the best punk records ever. Today MRR has published over four hundred print issues. It’s still an essential read if you want to keep up with new punk records and demos from around the world, but MRR also reviews a large number of zines, books, films, and videos every month. The meat of the mag lies in tons of submission-based band interviews, where groups ranging from the latest buzz bands to the most obscure uncovered gems speak in their own words. Scene reports from across the globe (Dubai to Denver, Russia to Rio) keep the worldwide community connected.

The Maximum Rocknroll columns section has served as the punk scene’s gossipy party line for decades, but these days it provides a platform for the diverse voices of active punx with something to say, or at least an interesting way of saying it! The zine is also a vehicle for critical and engaged political though that responds to evolving global upheaval.

By remaining stable on the one hand and flipping the bird with the other, MRR’s controversial personality has affected—or infected—the history of punk rock for all time.