When I was fifteen, a friend gave me a tape with Black Flag and Minor Threat on it and I discovered punk. A week later, I faked diarrhea to get a day off school and put together my first fanzine, writing about Chain Of Strength and horror films. It’s more than a decade later and I’ve been writing for great fanzines ever since and as far as I’m concerned, a new Brisbane-based title, Negative Guest List, is the best fanzine in the world right now.
The editor is Brendon Annesley. He is scrawny and has pasty skin and every time I’ve met him he’s been awkward, with a brain full of chemicals. His teenage drug-punk zine from 2007 was called Dirty Alleys, Dirty Minds and his appellation was Amphetamine Addiction. In those days, Annesley was allergic to punctuation, with page long sentences about panic attacks provoked by speed binges, which somehow managed to explain what made the Flesh Eaters a great band. There were flashes of Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer before they started thinking they were more talented than they actually were and tried to write real literature as opposed to music literature disguised in Stooges praise. But Brendon learnt from their mistakes and was content to simply be a great, drug-fucked, rock-based music writer. Six issues in, Negative Guest List promises to make a great target for vomit flakes and piss splatters alongside old issues of Forced Exposure and Answer Me.
VICE: Why did you start Negative Guest List in 2009?
Brendon Annesley: The original idea was that it be a kind of collaboration project between what someone more generous than me would call “aspiring Brisbane music writers”. It started off as a reaction to the shitty street press and the general lack of decent music publications in this city. Zero interesting discourse. Zero sense of humour. Absolutely no substance. The name of the zine is a reference to Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments who put out one of my favourite 7"s in the 1990s called “The Negative Guest List”. The name was perfect, the song is perfect. You’ve managed to keep your teeth despite threats involving punching, kicking and stabbing. This article is probably the first to appear about the zine anywhere. What kind of feedback have you received?
I haven’t had much feedback about the zine beyond cursory kudos and knee-jerk reactions from a few whiny fruits. It’s a major fault for a fanzine writer to assume that anyone truly cares about what you have to say, or that they might want to engage with it on any kind of meaningful level. I try to throw in some drunken insight and attempts at genuine analysis, but I’d be an asshole if I thought that the zine’s major function went beyond simply entertaining. Having said that, most of my favourite people are assholes in some way or another. Hunter Thompson, Doug Stanhope, Charles Bukowski and Larry David for instance. So there’s that. Show me one genius that isn’t inconsistent. You kicked out six issues in a matter of months while maintaining an active online social life.
The release dates are arbitrary and really don’t depend on much more than my need to keep up with self-imposed deadlines. I live at home still and don’t have a stable job. Negative Guest List exists, at least in part, so I have some kind of deadline in my life, something to work towards and look forward to. That’s fundamentally the reason for the quick succession of releases. Sometimes the writing suffers because of it but other times I’d like to think it gives it a nervous clarity and a genuine sense of dementia. I think that’s one of the things that makes it so great.
The zine is also something of a document of my increasing mental instability and difficulty in dealing with the real world. I rarely wake up on a Monday morning without a deep sense of shame and regret hanging over my head like some horrible pillow of goatshit, and Negative Guest List is my way of numbing those feelings until the weekend starts again. I’m constantly broke and full of self-loathing—I’d make a really shithouse Jew.
Four of the six issues Brendon had published at the time of writing. He has since put out three more.
Do you have other contributors?
I edit, publish, design the layout and do roughly 90% of the writing for the zine. I’ll spend days writing and emailing relentlessly and then just completely neglect it for a few days, then start again. I’ll write fake interviews with myself, embellish my personality, make up words and get lost on tangents. I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. When I run out of bands that I want to interview I’ll probably just start writing about food or publish letters to celebrities and that kind of shit. Does Brisbane like your zine?
Well I’ve been banned from a few of the bigger venues in town and I’m not very well liked outside of the few people here with a sense of humour, so the zine’s presence in Brisbane is pretty marginal. That’s fine by me. This city is full of nerds and delusional retards. The only places that stock the zine are an independent record store called Rockinghorse records and a boutique clothing store called Violent Green where jeans cost $500. It always surprises me how little difference there is between the guy’s and girl’s section. So it’s record collectors and hipsters I guess. Who really cares about fanzines anymore? You’re not a fifteen-year-old girl keeping a diary about her body image.
I don’t want to sound like a snivelling romantic, but the main reason I continue to write about punk music is because I really enjoy it. And I love to write about it and release it in paper form. I don’t give a shit about blogs and webzines because I prefer a physical product. So long as bands like Pink Reason, Home Blitz, Yout Dem and Taco Leg exist, I will continue to enjoy writing about them. You’re in a band called White Cop too yeah? Tell us about it.
Well, we’re the only punk band in Brisbane for one thing. I’m turning Negative Guest List into a record label also through which I’m going to be releasing our music as well as Meat Thump, Kitchen’s Floor and more in the coming months. Kitchen’s Floor are a fucking great Brisbane band. So are Blank Realm. But neither of them play punk music. Slug Guts are decent too, for a bunch of pussies. They’re a very professional band and I wish them success and warm blowjobs from their legion of fans. How have your shows been?
We’ve only played four shows so far. The first was at the Step Inn. We are now banned. The second was at the Clarence Corner hotel. We are now banned. The third was in a rehearsal studio and we were high on MDMA powder so we cleared the room in about five minutes. Our fourth show was great, a packed hipster venue in fortitude valley where we won over enough people to make the whole punk thing worthwhile. By the time this is released our first cassette tape, Smack Based will be available. And what’s on the cards for the future?
I try not to think about the future too much. The thought hurts my balls, recoils my testicles into my stomach, and fills me with deep regret. I would like to have put out 20 issues by the end of next year, and have some White Cop and Meat Thump vinyl released. And maybe get a real girlfriend. After that, I can die one happy asshole.