Sunday, 8 January 2012

With the Sisters rarely talking to the London press (or was it vice versa) in the early 80s, the Sisters’ fans had to rely on word-of-mouth, flyposters and the local press for news of forthcoming gigs and releases. The university union’s own weekly paper, Leeds Student, a freebie published each Friday of term-time, gave very little prominence to the band, a situation I would have been able to remedy earlier had I not waited until my final year there to sign up as a budding music journo. The fanzine movement, which had started in London on the back of the punk revolution, had gradually spread its influence and, although Leeds had nothing to rival Bradford’s Wool City Rocker, by 1982/3 several very readable publications were giving support to the Merciful Release bands and other local heroes such as Colenso Parade, Edward’s Voice and Ipso Facto. The main three fanzines at this time were Roar, which had the advantage of being free and could be picked up at gig or record shops, Attack on Bzag which was the work of James Brown who went on to greater things media-wise, and Whippings and Apologies, the work of three young lads (Mark, Mark and Steve) whose photo always appeared in the front of each glossy issue. Although printed (black and white) on superior paper, W+A was fairly standard fare, but had a keen interest in MR bands, with regular interviews with the likes of the Violets, Anabas and the like, plus reviews of Sisters’ gigs and lots of other gossip. I still have an issue of Attack on Bzag (only 20p as opposed to 35p for W+A) which had a feature on the Sisters which I assumed at the time was merely the reproduction of an MR press release, but turns out to be the results of James Brown’s legendary interview with Gary Marx, which he later referred to in both a Guardian article and a post of the Sisters’ unofficial Heartland forum. Eschewing the traditional question and answer with an intro (we met guitarist Gary in the Chemic pub blah blah blah) style beloved of all other fanzines, Attack on Bzag showed a highly original creative mind at work, and although only a school pupil at the time, Brown went on to work for the NME and subsequently as the editor of lads’ bible Loaded, ironically becoming more fanmous in the process than any of the bands he interviewed back in the day !

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