Some of you may be bored and wonder what possessed me to build this site. Well, I'm a Leatherface überfan obviously. More than that I have an atrocious memory and a love of great music. But I couldn't strum a chord to get out of a wet paper bag! So I write about bands and get to have a creative outlet in the process. Everybody needs one of those. I'm also writing all this down because of said atrocious memory. So onto the history of the now named x1984x fanzine...
This all began with my quest to find Leatherface's Peel Sessions. Back in February 2003 someone, i.e. Daniel Becker from Germany, saw on the DFB message board that I was offering Alive In Ireland mp3s for Peel Sessions. Since Daniel (Becker) had been searching for years for those particular tracks he wasted no time in emailing me for them. I had already found Peel mp3s (from DFB Daniel) but was still happy to help him out. Only having a dial up connection it took a good week to send them. But in that time I sort of casually mentioned that I should build a Leatherface website, something I had been saying for years! Plus Daniel asked if I could type out some lyrics for him around the same time. "It is your mother tongue so it shouldn't be so hard!"
Daniel encouraged me to build a site. I then spent weeks with all my Leatherface records and cd's parked next to my computer. Typing up all the album info and lyrics that were included. I also contacted Sean "Wat Tyler" Forbes asking for everything that he knows about the Rugger Bugger releases, discovering that he knew a great deal more at the same time. I emailed every other Boat related label that I could find too. But Sean was the only person who gave a damn! Then came the laborious task of trying to decipher Frankie's Mackem garble! Rest assured that I was pounding my head at times trying to figure out what the man was saying. Daniel sent me everything he had dug up about Leatherface over the years at the same time. After over six weeks of eating, breathing, and sleeping nothing but Leatherface I finally had the majority of the available lyrics and info down.
With that 250-300 or so hours of work even I was getting a little burned out...knowing if I didn't start building something soon I might lose interest. On came the search for a free webhost. Shortly after I found a very promising one called Freewebs, no popup ads or anything. "This looks perfect!" I said. Having absolutely no knowledge of HTML I reluctantly went with a template but it at least fit my theme a little. This phase was just as difficult as the beginning to be honest. I'm by no means an articulate or outspoken person! But what had to be done, had to be done. Learn by doing! Daniel was instantly amazed just from the Discography and Lyrics sections. "I wasn't expecting anything near that good" or something to that effect...haha! Billyboy Threenote and others had similar reactions. I was shocked! But I'm sure it was more to do with their love of the Boat than my mediocre web skills.
The Shipyards continued to grow. Links to every Boat related site I could find were added including good sites with merchendise. Then some of the finer details began going up. Info on related bands, bands that did covers, Stubbs produced bands, etc. Also some interviews and the old Official Site's history page. Then the idea of starting a Yahoo group for rare and bootleg mp3s came to me...which went over well. Google picked my site up soon afterwards. But it wasn't long after this that the so called "perfect host" bit me right in the ass. I had been telling them for over a week that my page editor was acting funny. And I was getting beyond frustrated with the often hours long waits to login for a five minute update. No reply from the "excellent customer support" Freewebs supposedly offered. A few days later I wake up to see part of my tediously researched Links page had been deleted!!! You might say that I was LIVID! Thankfully Daniel had saved that page and my sanity in the process. I hurredly saved the rest of my site, about 600 hours worth by this point, and began the dreaded search for a new free web host. Here is an example of the original Shipyards. A hideous design with far too much info crammed onto small pages.
The search brought me to Yahoo, a better host by most standards. No bugs and instant access to page editors. But I wanted to do it right this time. That meant learning HTML! I had learned a few basics out of osmosis and nescessity but the rest I was not looking forward to in the least. Still it had to be done. Not long after I stumbled upon the most manly site in the world, lissaexplains.com. After getting over the initial "Good GOD this is a girly site!" I discovered that it was quite informative and straight forward. Being the rocket scientist that I am that site was most nescessary. I began rebuilding the Shipyards, which took me around two weeks on six hours of sleep a day, completely rebuilding the new Shipyards two or three times over as I learned more advanced things like CSS and frames. Around this time Frankie began building his Official site too. He emailed me calling the OLD site "very posh". Words can not express how surreal that was! He got a sneak peek at the new one of course, the debut coming soon after. I would like to think that I made everyone proud then. Who knew I could design a decent website?!
It wasn't long after the new Shipyards debuted that Billyboy Threenote introduced me to another amazing, and virtually unknown band called I Excuse. I hadn't really heard any Japanese bands before that but I was thoroughly impressed! I gathered together all the info available on the web and started building a fansite dedicated to them in November 2003. Then tributes to more new favorites like China Drum and Broccoli, and an expanded I Excuse site that included pages on other great j-punk bands I had discovered. I built a couple of other sites on US bands too but it turns out alot of their American fans are ungrateful, pig-headed children...go figure!!! But that brings me back to how this webzine thing was born. I got the chance to interview the man himself Frankie Stubbs for the Shipyards and a promo copy of Dog Disco that I did a review of. A few more freebies turned up so I kept turning out the occasional half-assed reviews of them on a little attachment to the Shipyards front page. Then my second free host made massive changes to their service. Yahoo forced frames around every single site on Geocities with 1/3 of the screen being one giant banner ad! Note that I REALLY didn't want to move the Shipyards from it's free server, so that it would be up and free forever. But no way was I letting someone fuck up all my hard work like that.
After seeing on the Shipyards that I was looking for a cheap server to move all my sites to Rob Malkovich offered to host me for free! How cool was that! This was right after that joke of a 2004 Presidential election too so you can imagine why I bought the name x1984x for my new domain. With the freedom to do whatever I wanted on my new site (no more bullshit freehost rules!) I decided to make the front page a webzine, which I changed to "fanzine" a few months later because it seemed more fitting. The fanzine is my favorite design yet too! I also tweaked the Shipyards, China Drum, and Broccoli designs a little and changed un-official I Excuse into the more extensive j-PUNK Chronicles. Here is a gif of the second version of Shipyards but I didn't keep any of the others. And about two weeks after the fanzine debut I turned my web skills to making an HDQ site. It only took two days!!! Between Daniel (he likes HDQ almost as much as Leatherface) and original bassist Rob Bewick that site practically made itself. Over the next seven months or so you got more of my half-ass reviews, some new interviews that I had alot of fun doing, and of course updates to all the fansites.
That brings us to July 2005. I had wanted my fanzine front page to be frames free from the beginning. But I didn't know how to do it in a way that would be easily adaptable (updating the navigation links, changing the design etc.). I was thinking about going the PHP route but I knew that would be extremely complicated and I would have to learn an entirely new "language" to do it. When I asked my host Rob about it he suggested learning SSI. It was so easy that it hurt!!! My site finally had a more professional look and people would be able to link to my reviews and interviews easily. Not long after that I decided to wrap my head around building a blog on here. It came down to learning some PHP after all... I had a blog on myspace for a long time (I've been on there since 2003!) but after "Howling Mad" Murdoch bough up controlling interest in that... It gives me the creeps to think a fascist like that owns part of me. So I built a blog of my own and transferred most of my old posts here. Including alot of random silliness...you know what I mean if you've read much there!
It was also around this time that something else memorable happened. I discovered a little known band from Scotland called Shatterhand! I was already thoroughly impressed with their newest cd that Tosh sent me a promo of but then I ordered their old albums too. Yeah, you guessed it...wasn't long before I was working on a new fansite! It took me an abnormally long amount of time to build though. Almost a month. I had some personal shit going on and I couldn't concentrate on much of anything fanzine related. This even led me back to one of my all-time favorite bands - one of the aforementioned US band fansites that got removed. The Last returned! Them and Shatterhand were very theraputic for me. Rebuilding that site was also good. Here is a gif of the original version. I had wanted to put The Last fansite back up here for near six months but decided not when I read more of the shit-talk some of their "fans" were directing at me after I left that forum. But those types of people can go to hell for all I care. I do what I do for the bands, for myself, for the fans, for people that haven't heard yet, but NOT for some petulant assholes who think they know better than everyone! Anyone too thick to grasp that concept needs get a life or just fucking get over themself. The Last are one of my all-time favorite bands and they deserve to be up here with all the obscure European and Japanese bands I write about!
to be continued
- Sean Forbes for being the encyclopedia of Punk Rock that he is!
- Rob Bewick for being master of all bands Sunderland.
- Scott Stewart and Graeme Gilmour for all the help on the Broccoli site.
- Stuart McIntosh and everyone from Shatterhand past and present.
- Joe and Dan Nolte for everything on The Last. Fans Tom and Lina too!
- Daniel Becker (the biggest Leatherface fan in Germany!) for the mountains of pics and info he sent.
- Naohiko Ishizuka for helping so much on my Snuffy Smile catalogue and keeping me informed on the j-punk scene.
- Billyboy Threenote for his great website (rip) and introducing me to some fantastically obscure bands.
- Dave Hornish for giving me most of the Leatherface bootlegs I own.
- Angela Greene for hosting so many mp3s for everyone.
- Rob Malkovich for being so generous as to host my site for free!
- And everyone else that ever submitted something for review or my fansites.