The Zine Collection

…at Jacksonville’s Main Library

Complete Control v.11

Posted by Matthew Moyer on January 6, 2010

No matter how specialized and niche “mainstream” music publications get,  so many amazing songs and fascinating stories are going to be missed. While a small handful of, for the most part, unimpressive bands gather up all the column inches in Rolling Stone or SPIN, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of bands toiling away in the underground, living almost parallel lives to what is considered rock n’ roll behavior. One of these bands is Operation: Cliff Clavin, a political pop-punk band from Bloomington, Indiana, active in the late 90s. Complete Control mastermind Greg Wells was their roadie for a brief American tour in 1997 and kept a diary that is an alternately funny, touching, and informative look at life in the punk rock underground in pre-Internet America.

In the six years that it took him to publish his diary (this issue was released in 2003), one might be forgiven for thinking that the material here would be dated, not so. “Spinal Tap” syndrome afflicts every band, large and small, and it’s no different here. Canceled shows, flaky promoters, the drummer getting a job mid-tour (!) to defray expenses, losing their van doors in a car crash – this stuff is like a rite of passage that will have the reader laughing or shaking their head in sympathy. The rest is a primer on the difficulties (and rewards) of slogging it out on the underground circuit before “pop-punk” was a dirty word and “Myspace” was synonymous with “promotion.” While Wells, as an earnest punk rocker, can’t help but occasionally throw out howlers like “my girlfriend called me, and she’s sleeping with that guy she met at the Mumia benefit” and that every night on the West Coast seemingly ends with an intense political discussion, this zine is an entertaining historical document – by someone who actually lived it. More!

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