CTT Fanzine was one of those zines that got my mouth watering in the early 2000’s.
Zines full of pictures and interviews of all my favorite bands of the time: Floorpunch, Count Me Out, Right Brigade Etc.
So i thought it only fitting to get in touch with Donny and hear the story behind one of the best Hardcore Zines ever put together.
Bio By Donny Mutt.
Cut The Tension Fanzine was a cut-and-paste fanzine that existed from 2000 to 2005. I used the zine as a way to chronicle one of my favorite eras of hardcore. Now I am not saying that 2000 to 20005 was the best era of hardcore; I am just saying that it was my favorite era. At that point in my life I would drive 2+ hours by myself just to see one band that I thought I would like. A core group of friends and I would drive everywhere and anywhere just to go to a show. Countless weekends were spent in a car driving to NJ, NY, MD or DC from Philadelphia with friends. I know how cliche it is, but those really were a time we’ll remember, and thankfully a lot of those memories were captured on film and later used in Cut The Tension Fanzine.
Before I dive into everything about Cut The Tension, I want to give you a little back story. Cut The Tension was not actually the first zine I attempted doing. Long before that my friend John Sharkey and I wanted to start a jokey wrestling-themed Straight Edge hardcore band in the vein of Ten Yard Fight called DDT. We played one show, broke up and our natural progression from there was “we HAVE to do a zine.” He and I spent many a car ride to shows talking about all the bands we would interview (In My Eyes, Ten Yard Fight, Floorpunch, Rain On The Parade etc), all the things we would talk about in the zine and how awesome it would be. I did a few layouts, but that was about as far off the ground as that ever got. Since our time as young edgemen show goers, Sharkey has moved on to play guitar in The FInal Plan, 9 Shocks Terror, Clockcleaner, Violent Students and Puerto Rico Flower over the years just to name a few bands he was in. He currently sings and plays guitar in the band Dark Blue. He is a solid dude and still a really good friend of mine even though he keeps moving back and forth between Australia and the US every few years.
After that attempt at doing a fanzine failed, I decided to strike out on my own to do a zine since that was something I have always wanted to do. Around the beginning of 1999 I started taking pictures at all the shows I would go to so I would have plenty of photos for the zine I was planning on doing. After a while I realized I had a ton of great photos, but did not make any progress on either naming the zine or figuring out the bands I wanted to interview. The first and most important thing I needed to figure out was the name of the zine. I had a few possible names in mind. The first potential name was Sick Of Talk Fanzine which was the name of the zine me and Sharkey were going to do that never materialized. Since that was a zine he and I were suppose to do I decided against using our name. The next potential name was Murder Contest Fanzine. I didn’t wind up going with that name because it was too violent sounding and wouldn’t fit in with the whole ’97 era Youth Crew revival sound that I wanted to focus the zine on. After much deliberation I settled on Cut The Tension fanzine for no other reason than I just liked the way it sounded and it sounded more “posi” than the other names I was kicking around.
So at this point I had the name down, a lot of photos for layouts and tons of records to photo copy for cool backgrounds and what not. The last piece of the puzzle was to figure out which bands I wanted to interview. The first person I interviewed for the zine was Jessie Standhard who sang in Right Brigade. We did the interview outside of the 4040 on June 1st, 2000 before their first and only show in Philadelphia. The other bands that played this show were Earth Crisis, Reach The Sky and Fahrenheit 451.
The next band I interviewed was a local Upper Darby/Philadelphia band called I HATE YOU. They broke up in ’98, but were playing a reunion show so I contacted the singer Nick to set up an interview with them before their show on June 4th, 2000. As it turned out they had rented a limo before the show so we drove around the block a bunch of times while I interviewed them and their two friends Robby Redcheeks and Steve Bush. Their whole set from the show is up on Vimeo here http://vimeo.com/17493542. The other bands that played the show were Time Flies, No Justice, Striking Distance and Damage. To fill out the rest of the zine I asked Matt Summers to do a story about his time playing bass in Floorpunch for their one and only US tour.
Matt also let me borrow a bunch of crucial zines that aided in the way I laid out Cut The Tension. Some of the zines he let me borrow were Hardware, Tension Building, Indecision and It’s Alive. It’s Alive Fanzine was the one that had the biggest impact on me when it came to laying out a fanzine. All the photos were crystal clear, perfect replications and the cut-and-paste layout was superb. In my opinion that is still to this day one of the nicest looking zines from start to finish I have ever seen.
Now after I had all this content collected it was time to start laying out the zine. The majority of my backgrounds for the zine have always been a photo. Sometimes I just photocopied a photo real big and used that as the background. Other times I would scan a photo in and use different filters in photoshop to pixelate or halftone the image. Every background image was unique for each issue. Some background images that I used were great and make that page of the zine really stand out and others were kind of duds, but they still looked good, just not great. It was very important to me to do the zine 100% cut and paste and that is something I am still proud of creating all by myself.