Since the early ’90s Erick Lyle (formerly know as Iggy Scam) has published Scam zine and played in tons of great bands, including The Horrible Odds, Onion Flavored Rings, and Black Rainbow. In recent years he has parlayed Scam and his many other DIY zine projects into a bona fide writing career of sorts – including the book On The Lower Frequencies, and his newest, Streetopia: Using Art to Build Community, Fight Displacement and Reclaim Public Space. He recently talked at the University of West Florida. We’re beyond thrilled to have some of his early zines in our collection at the JPL Zine Library.
Here’s a small excerpt from Erick Lyle’s interview with Arwen Curry of Maximum Rock and Roll, from 2009’s print media themed issue.
Do you remember the first time you saw something that was like a zine or a pamphlet, a noncommercial, underground piece of writing? What did it look like to you at the time?
I thought from a pretty young age that I would become a writer. I enjoyed writing in school even really early on. Like when I was seven or eight, I was always writing stories, but there was a period in my early teens when I was running away from home a lot, having a lot of trouble with parents, and randomly living on the streets here and there. I started to fail out of school, which hadn’t been a problem before, and I started to think that I’d messed up my life in some way where I wasn’t going to be able to become a writer anymore—because I wasn’t going to finish school, and, that I would need to go to college to “become a writer.” But then somehow I happened upon a Hunter S. Thompson book that I cheerfully shoplifted from the mall, and I was reading this lunatic tale of crime and drugs and stuff, and realized, “Oh, OK, I actually already am a writer. This is awesome.”
That was before I was a punk rocker. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I was into punk rock and seeing zines. There weren’t a lot of zines coming out of South Florida, but finding a Maximum Rocknroll actually was a pretty big deal, and we found it in a chain store, so that’s something to consider—that sometimes in a small town you gotta find the punk rock in a chain store. This was probably 1988, and me and my best friend Buddha thought that we were among the last remaining punks on earth because there were no other punks in South Florida, and all the bands that we liked, like Black Flag, the Descendents, Hüsker Dü, the Minutemen, they had just broken up right before we got into punk.
We had seen the 7 Seconds, but somehow something was missing, so when we found this Maximum Rocknroll, we were like, “Whoa! This magazine is full of demo tapes; there’s a whole world out there,” so that was a pretty big deal. But the first zine I saw that really influenced me was a couple years later, probably in 1990, when I left my parents’ house for good and ended up at the Ft. Lauderdale Punk House. My roommate Chuck Loose was making a zine called Get Loose, and it was all about scamming, dumpster diving, bumming around town, graffiti, and stuff, and I was like, “Hmm, OK, this is cool. I can do this.”