Andrew McIntosh recalls his involvement with the Scene Down Under.
Andrew also has his own musical output under various guises. Most recently with the noise project Screwtape where he has unleashed scalding outbursts of dynamic sound. Above, his “Dadangel II” CD.
Between 1998 and 2002 I produced a zine, first in print, then online, called The Taped Crusaders. I was influenced by Robin James’ book “Cassette Mythos”, which I found in Barricade, an anarchist bookshop that I had helped start up in 1995 and worked at for a few years. Like many people who discovered the enormity of the world-wide DIY tape movement through this book, it was a completely exciting revelation and highly influential. The other main influence on The Taped Crusaders, though, was the journal AUTOreverse compiled by Ian C. Stewart. I received a post-card advertising this “home recording journal” (later changed to “independant music journal”, due to a wider emphasis but still retaining it’s definite home taping roots) and sent some tapes of my own out of curiosity. It was easy to be friends with Ian, he proved to be an enthusiastic and hard working supporter of home made music and sound, and I kept up correspondence with him through surface mail and later via internet, when he started up the AUTOreverse forum then re-generated the original zine online.
At the time, I had planned to only focus on tapes. I was a zealot, but it was the wrong time to be a zealot for cassettes. CDRs and MP3s where beginning to emerge and at the time I was dismissive of them, mainly because I was still on the dole and un-able to afford, at the time, a decent computer rig. I was using an old Apple Mac to write the first edition of The Taped Crusaders, so old it’s operational system had to be on a disc in the computer while being used. Even so, the first issue had at least one review of a DIY CDR release, Flying Phallus’s second album. I also had a few tapes gained from trades and a clutch of cassettes lent to me (permanently as it turned out) from Ian McIntyre of Woozy magazine and Choozy distribution. His help was important in the early stages.
The format of the zine was intended as almost a newsletter. I decided to have several copies of each edition, as much as my (at the time) meager finances could allow. It would come out as often as possible, so that the reviews would still be fresh, rather than a bi-monthly or so, thicker zine. It was also intended to be free; I had at the time, and still have, a hard aversion to getting money from anything I do for love. So I was able to produce multiple copies of a short, easily read zine that would come out every couple of months or so and could be picked up for free from local record shops.
One thing I established clearly from the start was that there was to be no genre favouring. Although my own tastes tend more towards experimental and Noise (and developed over the course of producing the zine) I found myself exposed to rock and pop music I would not normally seek out and this was what I wanted. Originally, I decided not to do negative reviews; if I didn’t like anything I wouldn’t review it. The idea was that I didn’t want to offend anyone with negative reviews, but of course it proved to be just as offensive to tell people I wasn’t reviewing their work because I didn’t like it! In the end, I gave negative and, worse to my mind, luke-warm reviews to material that either didn’t move me at all or I just disliked.
The main aim of the zine was to inspire; I wanted people to not only discover music they would normally miss out on, and not only connect artists with an audience they would normally not reach, but hopefully to let readers realise that an independent, DIY method of music production was possible and desirable. It was to be about the true independence of the home recording musician and a gesture of arrogance and contempt to the established music industry; ethics I still have today.
Over the years I established good contacts with people from the US, parts of Europe, and parts of Australia, but strangely, never really in Melbourne, the area I lived in. I had never understood that. My only explanation was that music in Melbourne was well covered, and that musicians in Melbourne, for the most part, didn’t want to be associated with a “home taping” scene, or any scene outside of their chosen genre. With hindsight I think also that the gospel of “record your own” was unnecessary in an affluent town where a lot of people where discovering that for themselves, on computers that where becoming more and more powerful.
Nonetheless, the militant cassette love I expressed found appeal with some people. Mainly, in Australia, the small scenes of more experimental musicians in Hobart, Tasmania and Brisbane, Queensland. In Hobart there was a small clique of younger people who shared four-tracks and instruments and tended towards odd soundscapes and very quirky pop/rock (a similar scene had evolved in Perth, West Australia). In Brisbane there was a well established experimental scene, centered around people like Andrew Kettle, who was involved in programming on venerable community radio station 4ZZZ as well as organising regular live events as Small Black Box. It was people like these in Australia who would regularly send me tapes and cdrs for review. Tom Egg from Hobart also supplied the occasional guest artwork, but for the most part all graphics in the printed zine where my own drawings.
During 1999/2000 I was having a lot of personal difficulties and ceased the zine until issue ten which was, for the zine, a larger and longer edition due to the backlog of material that had been sent in to review. I was using a Mac beige G3 and began cribbing graphics at random from the internet. I got to issue twelve before I set up a free Geocities account and began editing the zine there. This was also when I started interviews, since having more space without having to pay a printers allowed. I interviewed people such as Ian C Stewart, MJ Bowman, Robin O’Brien, Sean Padilla, Zan Hoffman and Australian artists like Clinton Green, Lloyd Barrett, Zac Keiller and Agit8. The reviews continued but more emphasis was placed on the interviews and the occasional opinion piece.
In the end, though, the zine died through a lack of interest, both mine and others. I wasn’t getting the usual flood of material to review and I was becoming less enthused about the project as a whole, especially since I wanted to concentrate on my own recordings more. Although I still enjoy listening to other peoples’ works and reviewing them (more recently on forums and in the occasional magazine) I consider The Taped Crusaders a past event. It was a pleasure while it lasted, though.