Note – I am slowly going through and cleaning up my folders on our hard drive. I just came across a bunch of old interviews I did with people while I was a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. I think this interview is from an article I was working on for a magazine writing class. I am not sure. I only vaguely remember working on this project. You can tell from my repeated questions that I had some thesis that I was trying to cover, but I can’t remember what it was specifically. I think they are from 1999. At that time, I was a dumb kid, so I probably didn’t appreciate the time that these people took to answer the questions. But I do now. Thank you very much to Andrew Scott, Dan Sinker, Matt Cordell, Karl Erickson, Gretchen Larsen, Julie Halpern and Katherine Raz. If you are one of the interviewees and want your interview taken down, please let me know. I am putting them here for posterity and nerdy archival reasons.
Andrew Scott Sobstory
What made you start your zine? Was there some incident or some thing that happened that made you want or need to make a zine? What did you hope to accomplish when you first started? What was your mission?
Throughout highschool I read Maximum Rock n Roll religiously. I loved punk rock, I identified with it and was so inspired by it all. I bought the records, the zines, and attended the shows. The next step was to start contributing to this scene that meant so much to me. But after three failed attempts to play in punk rock bands, I decided that maybe a zine was a better option. So rather than scream my thoughts through a microphone, I decided to write them down and xerox them. A zine was a creative outlet that I could do entirely on my own. Then later on it turned into an addiction, I had to make zines to keep my sanity. It was a relief to empty out the thoughts in my head and put them on paper. Like John Lee Hooker said Let that boy boogie-woogie, cuz it’s in him and it’s gotta come out.
How do you feel about Chicago? How long have you lived here? Do you think of your zine as a Chicago zine? Do you feel like there’s a sense of community among Chicago zinesters? Is it strong? Weak? Do you feel part of it? How would you improve it?
I’ve lived in Chicago basicallly my entire life except for the one year I spent in California. I grew up about 25 miles west of the city in Dupage County, but moved to the city six years ago. I’m not too fond of Chicago, but at the same time I love it. Every year I vow to move away, but something always keeps me here. Chicago is my home, as much as I curse it, this city fuels me. Chicago is filled with real people that have real problems. Walking down the street you can see it in their eyes, I’m sure they see it in mine too. It’s not easy to live in this city, it weathers a person, but I think that’s what gives it it’s character. It’s all surface level, what you see is what you get in this town.
Sobstory is inevitalby a Chicago zine, because that’s where I reside, but I think that people everywhere can relate to what I’m writing about. It’s about experiences and life. Like how people understand love songs in every region, we’re all humans right?
If there’s any sort of a zine community in Chicago, I’m not aware of it. I know a few people that do zines, and we’ll talk about printing methods, or other insignificant issues. We’re not really helping each other produce our zines.
When did you first start making zines? I know you did Kumquat before Sobstory, when did you start that? Why did you switch over to Sobstory? Do you think of your zines as personal zines?
I started Kumquat zine in the fall of 1992. Six issues were printed up, and the last one was released in 1998. I switched to the name Sobstory, because I felt that the feeling of the zine had matured. I was 18 when I printed up the first Kumquat. You can imagine the difference between an 18 year old’s zine and a 25 year old’s zine. It was time for a change. I’d liked the name sob story for a couple years, I was into the idea of a title that said this zine tells a story. So Sobstory it was.
I hate the name personal zine, it sounds too sissy. Like this is my private little story I’m sharing with you. Yeah, I may talk about experiences that move me, but it’s no different than someone singing a song about romance, gun fights, or being a rambling man. They don’t label those songs as personal songs. Most things that inspire people touch them personally. I don’t think it’s any different than an author writing a story. I do like some zines that might be labeled as personal zines, these are my all time favorites: Reality Control, Notes from the Lighthouse, Scam zine, and Beer Powered Bicycle.
How have you grown as a zine maker over the years? How have your zines improved over the years? Are you happy with how Sobstory came out? Were you happy with Kumquat? If you could improve Sobstory how would you?
I’ve grown as a person and inevitably my zine has followed the same path. My zines have improved as far as design and printing techniques. When I first started, it was entirely a cut and paste layout. And I hope the writing is a little better. I’m happy with all of the zines I’ve ever printed, even though each one has a lot of room for improvement. I always think the next one I print will be a little bit better. I suppose if I had an editor to read my stuff before it was printed that would be an improvement.
Where do you see yourself and your zine in five years? What do you hope to accomplish by then?
In five years I will be probably be dead, but at least my zines will finally be recognized. Just kidding, I don’t know. I hope to keep putting out zines, and busying myself with other creative projects. My head is always conjuring up these ideas in which I can waste more money. Nonetheless they keep me going, I’ve found that involving myself in these projects sort of puts more meaning into life, like maybe I have a greater purpose than working some shitty 9-5 job for the rest of my life. Well, I’ll still be working that 9-5 job, but hopefully doing stuff on the side.