interview november 9, 1998
Ben – I just felt like I needed to be a more active fan. Doing a fanzine is a way to give back & enthuse about the music that you love. Seeing gigs & buying records is o.k. with most people but I'm one of these people that always has to be working on something. Another big reason for doing the zine was to meet like-minded people. When I started Vendetta in 1995 I had been living in Boston for less than a year and I really didn't know too many people. Now, most of my friends here and a lot elsewhere are people I've met through Vendetta.
QRD – what do you feel is your zine's market & purpose?
Ben – I think Vendetta appeals to Anglophiles who want to read about British groups who may not be the flavor of the month in the NME, and also to people who like a lot of the dreampop/shoegazing inspired North American bands who aren't really mentioned in other publications. Examples include bands like the Curtain Society, An April March, Sianspheric, groups who were affiliated with the Arizona scene like Half String and Alison's Halo, For Against, Vaportrail, Miss Bliss, and many more. A lot of people mistakenly have the impression that Vendetta is just a British music zine, but if you count the number of bands I've interviewed, the ratio is probably about 50/50 between UK and non-UK artists.
QRD – how many copies do you currently press & how many would you like to do?
Ben – I printed 500 copies of issue #11 which just came out. I'm pretty happy with that number for the moment. Eventually, I wouldn't mind growing to maybe 2,000 or so but as long as I'm working a full time day job, that's probably the maximum I could handle. The business aspects of the zine (i.e. getting ads, dealing with record stores and distributors) can be very time consuming.
QRD – why did you switch to full size format?
Ben – I switched to a full size format in the spring of 1997 with issue #8 because the magazine was getting too thick. I began doing more interviews & other people started contributing some reviews & I started getting advertising. Making it full size, makes it easier to do the layout.
QRD – how do you feel about availability in stores?
Ben – Vendetta is available at some indie record stores, but I only really deal with stores & distributors who are friends or friends of friends. It's too scary to send off 50 issues to go to someone you don't know at all because I've heard too many horror stories about zines and indie labels getting ripped off. I prefer people to subscribe or mail order individual issues. I like people to find out about Vendetta from friends or by reading other zines. I'm a believer in the word of mouth philosophy with music & zines.
QRD – do you think advertisements belong in your zine or do they compromise it?
Ben – I wouldn't be able to afford to do Vendetta without ads. The new issue is 56 pages so a few ads here & there help keep the costs down. The people who advertise in Vendetta tend to be cool indie labels anyway, like Sub Pop & Beggars Banquet, so I don't think the ads are distasteful. It's not like I have beer ads with girls in thong bikinis or anything!
QRD – what would cause you to stop doing your zine?
Ben – I can't think of anything at the moment except maybe just losing the passion, but I find that unlikely. The only thing I could think of would be if I decided to start a record label or something, but even then I would probably do Vendetta on a smaller scale. Despite the hard work, Vendetta is too much fun to stop anytime soon.
QRD – do you think all the information on the internet has changed the need or purpose of zines? do you have an interest of your zine being on the internet?
Ben – I think the web is useful for information, but I'm not that crazy about zines I've seen on the web. Somehow it doesn't seem as personal. You can sense the writer's passion & love for the material in a good written zine, but it's harder to feel that way about a website. I wouldn't mind having a small website just as a sort of teaser for the written zine, but it's a matter of time I guess. I spend most of my free time outside of work on Vendetta & I wouldn't want the zine to suffer from me devoting too much time to a web site.
QRD – what bands do you think have been most influential to underground music in the past ten years?
Ben – I still think the most influential underground bands, at least for the music I like, are still the Velvet Underground, Stooges, early Stones, & Bowie. Bowie's influence is just immense on all the darker bands of the past twenty years. You can hear elements of the aforementioned in all of my all-time favorites, like early Echo & the Bunnymen, the Jesus & Mary Chain, the classic shoegazing groups like Ride and My Bloody Valentine, Adorable, the Verve, & Whipping Boy. The list goes on. I think some groups of the last ten years who have done some interesting things with the classic 60's underground influences & are thus, probably the most influential groups of the past decade are Spacemen 3/Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine, & the Stone Roses. The Stone Roses tend to be influential with just the British side of things, but the former are definitely a big influence on most of the American dreampop/shoegazer bands.
QRD – do you think moody pop suffers from being too clicky & regionally scene oriented to allow people to discover the true scope of the culture of it?
Ben – That's a great question! I definitely agree with you there. I think America suffers in this aspect because it's just too big. Scenes can be national in the UK pretty easily because the country is so small - basically like one of our states. The national press in America just doesn't cover moody pop stuff very much so those bands have to rely on fanzines & college radio DJs to spread the word. I'm not sure how this can ever change, because most fanzines just don't have the budget to go totally national like Alternative Press or something. I think the Dewdrops label had the right idea by releasing the Splashed With Many a Speck compilation. Records like that can go a long way towards breaking the isolation of regional scenes.
QRD – what's your favorite type of shoes?
Ben – Probably a broken-in pair of Doc Martens or a pair of old school sneakers like Puma Clydes.
QRD – What's your favorite love song?
Ben – The unhappy ones, like "The Killing Moon" by Echo & the Bunnymen or classic 60's tunes like "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" or Gram Parson's version of "Love Hurts" appeal to me the most. Those songs always seem so much more real than the shiny, happy love songs.
QRD – what kind of monster would you most like to be?
Ben – Definitely a vampire. I was never
a full blown goth, but when I was younger I was really into groups like
Bauhaus, early Sisters of Mercy, the Cure, & to a lesser extent Red
Lorry Yellow Lorry. The thing that appeals to me most about vampires though
is the immortality aspect. The idea that you can be young forever is immensely
appealing. I'm really afraid of dying so being a vampire would solve that
problem for me. Vampires, like Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel, tend
to be really cool & smooth. Very rock 'n' roll!