To help prepare you for our Much Ado About Books Zine Events, we’re kicking off a series of short interviews with several of the participating writers and creators. Next up is Joe LaChut, publisher of hardcore punk zine Seven Inches To Freedom. Enjoy!
My name is Joe Lachut. I’m 27 and live in Ft. Myers, Florida. I started SITF a few years back and am now up to 7 issues. I originally started the zine because not many zines were covering what I wanted to read about. I wanted a music zine that had more that just interviews and reviews, it needed a more personal touch. So I tried/try to incorporate all of those things into each issue. Plus, up until recently with the addition of Give Me Back zine, (a great zine out of Washington DC http://www.givemeback.org) most of the bigger zines came out of California, so the east coast wasn’t getting talked about as much. I figured that since I interact with different folks, see different bands, etc. I could offer up a different viewpoint. As of now, print run have been from 300 to 500 copies of each issue and up until issue #7 have been free in person, $1 by mail (now they are $1 in person and $2 by mail).
When and how did you first become involved in zines?
Even before I got into punk I loved music magazines. Metal Maniacs, AP (when it actually covered “alternative” bands) etc… I also stayed up late to watch 120 minutes and Headbangers Ball on MTV and was always really intrigued with the lesser-known bands that they sometimes played…and when I finally found punk, which was in the mid to late 90’s, zines and punk went hand in hand. So I would go to a show and someone would have a table set up with a crate or shoebox full of records, tapes and zines. It took me some years to actually get up the nerve to publish my own zine. I just never thought I had much that people would be interested in to write about…but I loved talking about records and figured that there are tons of music related things I can write about, so the well wouldn’t run dry, so why not try my hand at it?
Tell me about the work that you do in putting together each issue of the zine.
As much as I love doing SITF, starting a new issue is always really daunting. First, I make a rough outline of what is going to be in the next issue, but it takes me actually forcing myself to get into “zine-mode” before I start work on an issue. “Work” consists of researching whatever I’m writing about, which means scouring the internet, old zines, records and emailing whoever I can get a hold of that was involved. Then writing everything, and then the layout, which is usually the most time consuming. I don’t really use a computer for much more than shrinking/enlarging or cleaning up images, all the rest is done by hand…and I’m pretty meticulous about the layout…a little too much sometimes.
Up until recently, I used to photocopy the zines myself, so that involved multiple, long and stressful trips to copy places. (I used to scam lots of copies, so the threat of getting caught always weighed on me). But now, I use a local print shop that does a great job, so I then wait to get a call from them, then I usually get some folks to help, put on a movie and collate and staple like crazy!
You did a Florida-only issue of Seven Inches awhile back – did you encounter any surprises as you gathered the material and content?
I didn’t encounter a ton of surprises, but talking to folks that were around before I got into hardcore/punk really filled in some holes. I love the “behind the scenes” stuff that only get by talking to people who were involved.
What’s been your favorite moment working on Seven Inches to Freedom?
There’s been a ton of great moments. The aspect that consistently makes me smile is the mail; writing letters, packing up zines/records/etc. and getting off work to find a full PO Box really can’t be beat.
Are you working on a new issue right now? Would you let us in on some of the things you’ll be covering?
Issue #8 will have all of the regular features plus the addition of two permanent columnist (besides myself). I’m also working on a “Zines vs. Blogs” story where I ask a series of 5 questions of a handful of zine writers and folks who have regularly updated blogs. The questions basically ask where zines stand in 2010 and if blogs are replacing or co-existing within the underground publication world. They’ll will, of course, be more record talk and hardcore/punk madness!