I don’t know if I’m monomaniac or really like my routine, but everything I do on this webzine is based on some sort of regularity. Prime exemple is this serie itself or the crucial records one. Every month I have to put a new issue, even though I have some heat to drop and way to many in fact, I can’t do otherwise. And the bad news is, it’s not gonna stop, until I’m bored to death with Punk Rock. Who knows ?
Ooooh and what do we got here ? Oops, I did it again, a new issue of Zineception ! How surprising is it. Sorry for that nonsens. Anyway, you know the drill and today we’ll talk about another super great zine that did more than inspire me, it was amongst the first zine I read, Rumpshaker fanzine. It might not be the greatest portrait of Eric Weiss since he interviewed by a lot of people, and I felt ike my questions were not on the right level, but I have to admit, I mostly did it for myself.
Eric gently accepted to talk a bit with me through Gtalk. It was a first time for me and believe it or not, it’s not your regular chatting display. It was really weird but also really fun. I really liked the emoticons and the stupid format of it (like a tiny window to talk). Indeed, it was in the middle of the night (or morning if you will) and it lasted for almost three hours. Even though it’ll be a portrait, I shorten it a bit still. Not to mention that we did it on the second try since I just didn’t woke up the first time.
If a zine has to be something for me, it’s informative. Way before being stylish, I like to learn new stuff, or at least stuff I missed out for that matter. Of course, a creative layout is always great, but it’s not my main focus. The first Rumpshaker issue I ever bought was the fifth one. The first name that bugged me was IRE. How could this band everyone I talked to found it so lame and still it was feature on this read. At first, I wasn’t really a fan of the whole layout, it was before I read Law And Order fanzine though. But the content was amazing and it definitly had me on that part, on how complete it was. By that time, I already wanted to interview Eric.
He is born and raised in the Queens, NY in 1974, and to quote him “which makes me 40 years of age… not 40 years OLD! Young Until I Die!“. If you have never read his zine, in every issues he’s interviewing the mothers of people involved in hardcore, like Ian MacKaye, Ray Cappo or Walter Schreifels for instance. He did it because he always had a good relationship with his mother, and wanted to pay respect to her. And as much as I pay respect to my mother, I always thought it was a great idea. But the other reason for that is way more interesting, since it’s supposed to breakdown the “icon” imagery of those big hardcore name, to put back the fact that we’re supposed to be on the same level. And most importantly he sung happy birthday to Rick Ta Life with his mom. Not many people can claim to have done that.
When he started writing the first issue in 1994, it’s mostly because he wanted to contribute to hardcore, but wasn’t able to play any music since he wasn’t patient enough to learn it, and also because he wanted to interview Mike Judge, as he consider JUDGE to be an influential band to him, helping him to feel good with himself. Though his favourite band might be SICK OF IT ALL, it’s also the first hardcore punk show he went to in 1989 at CBGB. You can find a lot of references of this band on his fanzine and he is proud of coming from the same borough. For now, only 6 issues of the zine were released, because he wanted to focus more on the quality of the zine than quantity, he wanted to ask questions that never were ask, or ask them in a new way. Each zine takes him a lot of his time, and to quote him : “since I am a master procrastinator and I’m definitely a bit of a perfectionist with the zine.” A funny fact as it is, even though he is a really nice guy, Eric received some hate letters for no obvious reasons.
Around 94′ he became Vegan. His father worked for the NYC parks department and “often found sick or abused or throw away animals in the park and he couldn’t just turn his back on them.”, so he grew up with a familly saving animal. Even though they were not Vegan or even Vegetarian, they definitly inspired him through this way. The key to this change though was songs like Cats And Dogs from GORILLA BISCUIT or No More from YOUTH OF TODAY, but he admit that EARTH CRISIS and CHOKEHOLD made him think about these issues. He used to work for a magazine called Satya which focused on animal advocacy, social justice, environmentalism, and vegetarianism, which closed down in 2007, which will put a last special edition soon. If you follow him on facebook, he is posting a lot about animal liberation/advocacy. He now lives with three little cats. Andy, Dot and Pearl.
If there’s something we sure matched on, it was on the love for the nineties. Though, he is the one who lived through it, and on his own words : “In the 90’s there were a rise of bands taking on traditional topics in hardcore, there were more bands exploring feelings, emotions, questions of religion and questions of morals and ethics and for better or worse that created tension. But the cool thing about the 90’s was all those bands played together. The bills were really mixed so it led to a lot of discussion and sometimes tension. But it was definitely cool to be able to see such diverse bills where you would have a tough guy band playing with an emo band playing with a vegan band playing with a youth crew band.“. Now, if there’s a band he could relate to, it would be MODERN LIFE IS WAR.
For me, Rumpshaker is a crucial zine, something I would definitly share with all the people not much close with the zine culture or new in the hardcore in general. It did more than just talk about crucial bands of its time, it gave insight on tons of bands, with a thoughtful content, improving itself in each issue. It’s a heartfelt zine done by a simple dude, that just like to speak his mind and who does it with a meticulous perfectionism. I read a LIMP WRIST interview for the first time in Rumpshaker and found it amazing to have such great bands covered since I never read much about them. I also love the logical political sens, putting hardcore in a place I like to see it : conscious about the world around and trying to pull a change. If you’ve never heard about Rumpshaker, I advice you to grab a copy as soon as possible, since it’s an essential read, and especially if you love the 90’s era as much as me.
At 3a.m, in france, Eric had to scoot and we finished the interview there. I have to admit, I felt like a kid at christmas, even though he is the most humble person. If there’s something I’ll retain from this talk, it surely is not to be afraid to ask people an interview. As he said to me, the only thing they can do is saying no. If you live in the US, you can meet him on the road, as he’s doing a kind of hardcore story telling from time to time. And he loves baseball too.
Here’s one last thing he said to me I’d like to share :
“I will tell you this. I was more nervous going to Mike Judge’s house than I am for most interviews. His legend definitely made me a bit nervous”
Thank you Eric for your time and patience, sorry for my broken english.