With nine issues published from December 1982 to January 1985, Malice Fanzine ended just as what I’ll call the post-OP zine scene in the U.S. was cranking up. Specifically, the zines that would include industrial, electronic, experimental music in their coverage, and homemade/cassette culture artists.
Malice may have been inspired by hardcore punk, but reading through the reviews in Issue #1 we see coverage of releases by artists such as Monte Cazazza, Richard Bone and Fad Gadget, in addition to more New Wave styled bands. Chris Phinney and Mike Honeycutt’s links to Rough Trade provided a window to the UK scene and, as Mike had explained when I interviewed him a couple years ago about his D.J. experiences in Memphis radio, they were able to leverage their ties to Rough Trade to secure overseas distribution for Malice.
Issue #1 also included a plug for C.L.E.M., the late great Contact List of Electronic Music. OP magazine may have been a crucial catalyst for the cassette culture network, but Malice had an early finger on the pulse of developments in music coast to coast and across the ocean. Malice’s coverage was local Memphis, national, and international. The local component was also apparent in the increasing number of ads for Memphis record stores, comics shops, photographers, clothing shops, legal stimulants/smoking accessories, and more.
Malice was riotously punk in its attitude. I love the “MESSAGE TO OUR READERS!!” in Issue #4: “Malice would like to thank everyone that gave us a helping hand in putting this issue out. Anyone that stood in the way or fucked with our project can lick a big boner & slobber on a knob!! Fuck ‘em all. Malice is a non-profit organization for the advancement of new music, art & cultural enrichment. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke!!!!! THANX”
While interviewing Chris for the Harsh Reality Music historical site, which is housed at haltapes.com, I was treated to detailed descriptions of his experiences booking shows at the Antenna Club. EC readers know that things happen because individuals step up and take the initiative. Publishing Malice dovetailed with Chris and Mike’s activities booking many of the bands that played the Antenna. Reading through all nine issues reveals Memphis as a hotbed of live activity. Concert reviews of bands that played the Antenna include a to-die-for gamut of punk and New Wave, including Bad Brains, Mission of Burma, U.K. Subs, Circle Jerks, Gun Club, Panther Burns, Shockabilly, Sun City Girls, and many others.
Non-Antenna (larger venue) shows included Iggy Pop, Nash the Slash, The Residents, Wall of Voodoo, Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image Limited. Well, ok, the PiL show was at the 688 Club in the Atlanta. I was living in Atlanta during these years and, though I wasn’t at the PiL show, I could write an article about the many fond memories I have of the 688. And four Atlanta bands I knew well from this era, REM, Pylon, Love Tractor, and The Method Actors, cropped up in reviews of shows at the Antenna. (It’s interesting to hear Chris recall booking REM on their first tour when they only had a 7” available and about 35 people were in attendance.)
To emphasize Malice’s importance in documenting the punk, industrial, electronic and experimental scenes, I’ll share some personal favorite highlights. If you haven’t read the scans that are online yet this will hopefully send you running to check them out:
Issue #2 includes an article on Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records. The ‘News & Info’ section lists the “Touch” cassette/magazine, “a unique art-music poetry collaboration”. The contributors weren’t homemade artists, but featured stalwarts of the day like New Order, Simple Minds, Tuxedomoon, Robert Wyatt, and others. Issue #3 has articles on Crass, Chrome, and Cabaret Voltaire, representing an impressive variety of ‘C’ bands! Issue #4 has an article on The Damned.
Issue #5 reviews the great “Rising From The Red Sand” Industrial music cassette compilations, plus reviews of the pre-Muslimgauze E.G. Oblique Graph, and an interview with controversial punk nut G.G. Allin. A full page is dedicated to Twist & Decease, the new cassette by LXSS, who I had not heard of before. I got wrapped up in the description of “dark electronics, tape & voice manipulation, & everything from minimal muzak to all out audio assault”. I couldn’t resist Googling and, surprise surprise, it’s on YouTube. Check out “Off Komarov”, which takes up all of Side A, featuring classic experimental sound and noise fun:
Though cassettes had been reviewed in Malice, issue #6 is the first to explicitly call out ‘Tape Reviews’ in the table of contents. An entire page is dedicated to reviews of tapes by The Nightcrawlers, Chris Gross, Bliss Blast, and the Macrofusion Computer Music sampler. The last one I’d never heard of and it’s fascinating, in 1983, to read about digital music that is “created totally under computer control.” We’re also treated to articles on G.X. Jupitter-Larsen and The Haters, Maurizio Bianchi (M.B.), and a Suicidal Tendencies interview.
Issue #7 stands out with lots of cassette reviews and significantly more names who are today recognizable cassette culture veterans, including tapes by Tom Furgas, F/i, Human Flesh, Bene Gesserit, the great TRAX “Anthems 2” compilation and “Area Condizionata” cassette magazine, and much more.
Of importance to my work with Hal and Chris on the Harsh Reality Music historical site is the Issue #8 ‘News & Info’ announcement of a “Nu tape label in town, Harsh Reality Music”, and its first four releases plus upcoming tapes. Hopefully all EC readers are by now aware of the availability of digital listening on the Harsh Reality Music home page. Issue #8 also includes interviews with John Oswald (Mystery Tapes label) and Corrosion of Conformity.
Though Malice documents what seems like a vibrant Memphis live scene, Chris was frustrated by the lack of support for truly alternative bands and lost opportunities to book some of them. In the final issue ‘Editorial’, Chris challenges punks: “Why only listen to Hardcore? This is the question I pose to all the so called punks here. I mean open up your fucking mind & learn something! Electronic bands have things to say that are the same or just as important as hardcore groups. Industrial & E.M. & Hardcore go hand in hand.”
It isn’t easy being among the few willing to step up and make things happen…
One of my favorite parts of Malice, and a contributor to what I feel made it such and all around special package, was the ART! Comic art was a huge part of the zine, and increasingly so with each new issue. I was a fan of 70s undergrounds, and some of the art in Malice was on par with the best of 70s underground comix artists.
The two full pages of art by Darmstadter in issue #1 could easily have been from a 70s issue of Slow Death by Greg Irons or Jaxon.
The cover of issue #2 by XNO recalls the best Rich Corben comix art from the 70s.
I love the clever issue #3 cover by artist Mad Mad, which depicts a chilled out guy with shades on who could be basking in the sun, holding a sign saying “Its Gonna Be A Golden Day! Music and Art for the New Age!”. And a note that the zine is “Free for Now!”. But what our relaxed fellow is basking in is not the sun but a nuclear mushroom cloud.
Another highlight is the issue #4 cover by XNO, which looks like an underground comix take on the crazy art that used to appear in old Hot Rod magazines.
And throughout each issue were Sunday Funnies styled comix, though with a twisted underground edge. And Lee Ellingson’s Testicle Head in issue #8 is like something from the old 50s EC comics.
It’s a thrill to finally be able to read these mags. Not only are they important documents of the era but are absolutely essential to the Harsh Reality Music historical site. Thanks to Chris for making them available and HUGE thanks to Hal for all the scanning!!!
Jerry Kranitz published Aural Innovations: The Global Source For Space Rock Exploration from 1998-2016. AI started as a printed zine (nine issues from 1998-2000) and then went online for the duration. The web site also included regularly broadcast editions of Aural Innovations Space Rock Radio.