WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN PHOTOS: TOMMY CANTWELL | CHRISTINA MICHELLE
“I feel like the more that we put out there, the more people will get our personalities and who we actually are”, insists Christina, vocalist of Florida hardcore punk outfit Gouge Away. “I think that being honest and vulnerable is cool”, she utters, voicing how she wants each page of the band’s zines to reflect an untainted perspective of their lives between venues. “We definitely don’t try to be cool and I don’t want anyone to think that we are something that we are not”.
“We definitely don’t try to be cool and I don’t want anyone to think that we are something that we are not”.
“We are not rock stars,” clarifies drummer and photographer Tommy, taking a defiant step against the commercial norms that have become accepted throughout the industry. “I just like to capture the moments that are away from the stage, like when we are driving or when we are stopping at a gas station or something. It’s the moments that you aren’t going to see someone put out there.”
The ability of each Zine to encapsulate an unbound spectrum of identity and the illustration of perspective furthers the spirit of the punk movement, with the ethos becoming far more empowered than a stylised instrumental direction after being put to paper. This sense of community and unique expression often found within the hardcore scenes is something that both Christina and Tommy make more intimate with their DIY publications.
“They pull back some of the layers and shows people that every band is made up of human beings and everyone goes through stuff”.
“I like anything that is more on the personal end of stuff” patiently murmurs Christina as if carefully crafting the creative philosophy of each mag, “anything that pulls back some of the layers and shows people that every band is made up of human beings and everyone goes through stuff”.
Irrespective of how cathartic an album may be, accessibility is often found through purposely vague lyricism and creative compromise in fear of being too “out there”, but in capturing the moment an undeniable, pure insight is given into the lives of the artist.
“it just might make someone’s favourite band all that more special when they realise that they will put on a show regardless of what they are going through.”
“I feel like people only see the like best photos from shows and whatever they get live.” Christina sighs, “people aren’t always aware that one of the guys has played a show with food poisoning, or someone’s mum got in a car accident two hours before we played…it just might make someone’s favourite band all that more special when they realise that they will put on a show regardless of what they are going through.”
In spite of how precious it may be, committing a moment to memory won’t make it any less fragile, with the experience, mundane or extraordinary being lost to forgetfulness, making these Zines, and the way they allow fans to become familiar with life from living stage to stage all the more valuable.
“Part of the fun of doing film photos is that you forget what you had and you are not reminded until a few weeks later.”
“Part of the fun of doing film photos is that you forget what you had and you are not reminded until a few weeks later,” chuckles Christina. “I just dropped off 10 rolls of film from the tours that we have done over the past couple of months and I kind of just like forgot what is even on them,” adds Tommy.
“It’s like writing music in a way; it’s just another aspect of the whole DIY thing,” the drummer continues, “I’ve always been attracted to stuff that you can’t just buy, where you have to go to this person that made it themselves and get it from them yourself.”
“right I’m gonna start taking photos for real…”
“Film is burnt onto a physical thing. Even the windy cameras, I love using those. They may not look as professional but that doesn’t matter, it’s all about fun.”
“I got this camera from my uncle,” says Tommy recounting how his journey on the other side of the lense began, “it was just this old 35mm camera. Before I would just take photos on my phone, but it wasn’t until I got my camera that I was like, ‘right I’m gonna start taking photos for real’. Now I just try and take as many as I can of all the special moments”.
“My friend Jarred and he asked me if I wanted to do an all-black and white portrait Zine which sounded cool. So we took a bunch of photos on one tour and we made it, proudly recalls Tommy, referring to ‘Face Values’, only one of numerous Zines the artists had dedicated his viewfinder to during his time outside of Gouge Away. “There wasn’t too much thought put into it I guess and there is usually like a loose theme but nothing too crazy or involved.”
What’s perhaps most admirable is the how these Zines can be appreciated. Creatively, they are both an extension and physical manifestation of the DIY punk ethos, showing how art prevails over the monopolies that dominate many industries that are only now seen as truly creatively free through the naïve “Hollywood dream” perspective. But what these pages portray are the real moments, demonstrating that fans, artists and the people you pass on the street all have the same ambition, passion and struggles.