with Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover
Name: Jack Rabid
Zine: The Big Takeover
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to make zines & how long did you think it would last?
Jack – I had just turned 18. It was my best friend’s idea. Dave Stein --same age; he asked me to help him. He lasted one issue. I’m up to 76 now. I thought we would last one issue, in the sense I never gave it a thought & neither did Dave. Our first issue was only one page & we gave them all away for free. But that was rather fun, it turned out, & people started asking for another issue. So six months later I gave it another go. I never thought we would last 35 years & counting, that’s for sure!
QRD – What are a few highlights of your zining career?
Jack – Interviewing Ray Davies & Brian Wilson & Graham Nash (about the Hollies) for starters. Those people are the closest thing I have to gods & I got to ask them things other people didn’t & they liked it, it was so obvious. They liked talking to people who really knew their songs & not just the ones the radio plays, but the truly remarkable ones that average people have no idea exist. Songs like The Kinks’ “Wicked Annabella” or “Brainwashed.” I loved talking about those & other things that happened to those bands. Likewise my Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, & Tomata Du Plenty interviews, I thought those were truly remarkable people (Rotten still is). Maybe the greatest highlight I had was fighting with Strummer on who would pay the check. He insisted. We argued. I won, with the line, “If it weren’t for people like you, there never would have been a Big Takeover” & he knew it was true. That & him telling me over & over I needed to write a book, cause I knew the real story. Lastly, my time with Iggy Pop interviewing him at his house in Miami. Not only cause he is Iggy, & no one has stories like Iggy (& I love getting them), but because no one is more fun as a result. He’s always been a cool dude every time I have ever met him.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Jack – Hmm, around the time my son was conceived actually. I was 45 at the time. I’d known for five years I would be eventually, after I’d gotten married at 40, but my wife wanted to do some other things first, academically.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your zines?
Jack – Positive: Sharing my passion for music. The whole family loves music. My son is seven & taking piano lessons & plays & sings a mean “Octopus’s Garden” & knows every Beatles song. I took him to see McCartney’s show when he was six & The Who last week cause he loves all their 60s singles/touchtones & they played a lot of them. My wife is obsessed with Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys genius, as well she should be, & knows plenty about other bands & singers she loves & turns me on to songs here & there. My daughter is three & sings every nursery rhyme there is & songs like “Psycho Chicken” & The Undertones’ “Jimmy Jimmy” that she learns from her older brother. Her favorite party piece is singing the opening song in the My Neighbor Totoro movie, “Hey Let’s Go” while slamming down random piano keys.
Negative: I have to miss way too many gigs because they happen at night & I have to help with putting the kids to bed, etc. It can be a real bummer sometimes when all the great bands come the same couple of weeks & I have to pick & choose.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your zines have had on your family?
Jack – Positive: The family gets to meet some really interesting people in the music community. My son is a huge fan of Buzzcocks’ The Singles Going Steady & I’ve known those guys since the mid ‘80s, so I brought both kids to meet them & get a record signed for them, which meant a lot to my son -- who got to tell them what his favorite Buzzcocks song was. & then we all danced to the Dap Kings playing in the adjoining room. (My kids love to dance to soul records, like Arthur Conley’s “Do You Like Soul Music” & The Equals’ “Hold Me Closer” & anything by Small Faces!!!!) Stuff like that is just so much fun. & my children see their dad doing things that are creative & so they think being creative is what people do. I show them my magazine & I am proud to show them an example of a dad that does things he is proud to have helped produce, something tangible that expresses love of culture.
Negative: The twice a year I am finishing one of our issues, I have to put in long hours & have to be really focused. So even though I am home, I am often unavailable, both in actuality & sometimes in mind. But I still to try to make sure I play with them & talk to them & be there for their big events anyway.
QRD – Has your son effected the zines you make &/or read?
Jack – I mention him a lot on my radio show, I mention any one who affects me, like he & I were listening to a song & I thought I would play it here. Or he was singing it & so I wanted to share it. Not so much the magazine yet, but he’s only seven. When he starts bringing culture to me instead of the other way around, we shall see! He does read over my shoulder sometimes when I get a magazine in. My daughter then wants to paint or color the pages. Ha-ha.
QRD – Do you try to keep you zining life & fathering life separated?
Jack – No, not at all. Other than trying to get a lot of work done while they are at school or are asleep! In fact, I’ve had them both sing to start my radio shows a few times, my way of saying they are part of my musical world as well as my personal one. Then I apologize for Kathy Lee Gifford-ing everyone like that! But I think people get it. It’s not gratuitous to me. I think it is so cool to see Ralph Stanley do a live gig & he’s got like three of his kids & seven of so of his grandchildren on stage with him playing in his band. Or the many times I saw Carl Perkins with two of his sons on bass & drums & they were great! Or the Carter family or whatever. If your kids are part of what you do it can be rewarding that way. Or at least it’s something you can share across the generations. Heck, I sometimes take my kids to soundcheck. The Joy Formidable even put a video of Jim playing a wild toy guitar for them in front of the stage on Facebook, I think they titled it “the newest Joy Formidable member” or something
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on going on the convention circuit, would you have showed more earlier in life if you’d known?
Jack – I was already 46, so I have to say I’d done anything & everything I really needed to do in that sense. But then I just kept doing it anyway, when I could. I’ve never done conventions though. Maybe I should.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a zinester has a greater impact on your community?
Jack – Not sure! Raising kids is kind of self-contained until they go out & make their own way. So for now, I’m glad my kids are really, really liked in their classes & have lots of friends. That’s good for them. If that keeps up that will have its own great impact. The world needs more nice & fun & smart people & less selfish & ignorant jerks, right? Of course, I can only point them in the right direction. The journey is ultimately theirs.
QRD – Would you rather see your son eventually become a zinester or parent?
Jack – A parent I guess. If he wants to do magazines like his dad that would be awesome; but somehow it doesn’t seem likely to me, nor would I think much of suggesting it. He’ll have to go his way whatever way that takes him towards finding a similar place I got of having a job where the end product means something really profound to him -- & hopefully others too. Likewise his sister.
QRD – Both family & zines seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Jack – It goes in cycles. My busy seasons are late March through early May, late September through early November. The rest of the year the division is more towards family & friends & other things I neglected while being so focused.
QRD – What does your son think of your zines?
Jack – He likes my magazine. But he’s just starting on chapterbooks, he’s read three or four, the language is a little high for him.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a zine project with your son?
Jack – I’d welcome his help when he gets older. I like doing anything with him.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Jack – Even if your work is not your passion, you have to find your passions & find ways to get more involved in them & study them & be fascinated with them. Lots of them. Then if you can find ways to make some money out of that involvement in ways that seem cool to you instead of lame, all the better. But a fulfilling life involves having those passions & sharing what really amazes you about them with others & finding others who will share them with you.
QRD – Anything else?
Jack –The written word, especially on a page, holds me spellbound when I’m in the hands of a favorite writer either telling me stories or enlightening me with knowledge I didn’t have! I tell both my kids that reading both makes you smart & makes both you & life more interesting by far. I love it that both of them like books so much! Even if in my daughter’s case its Peppa Pig or Doctor Seuss we’re reading. That I make a small living by writing is a great surprise to me as that was never my idea, but it just happened naturally because I love to read & talk so much about things that really blow my mind!