Remember the classic era of underground fanzines in the '80s and early '90s, with Maximum Rock 'n Roll and Forced Exposure, Heartattack and riot grrl? Scott Niekum, of the local music collective Atomic Family, wants to bring that feeling back -- on the Web.
Atomic already presides over a label with a roster of a dozen punk/folk bands such as Unarmed, Resent, Northern Aggression, On Vinyl and Whiskey Smile, plus The Coffee Shop recording studio founded by Erik Grieco. Now it has launched Subatomic, an online zine connected to its Web site.
"Music can be a very exclusive thing, so we wanted to produce something that could include everyone," says Niekum. "Something people would want to read to be more informed about what's going on locally, not just in the music scene but also [things] like painting and poetry, writing and activism, and local businesses."
Subatomic's two editions so far include features on the Free Ride bicycle collective and Artists Image Resource, as well as interviews with The Maxipads and the Dead Milkmen's Joe Jack Talcum. There's also tons of "free shit," from computer wallpaper to a maze puzzle ("help Gasoline Dion make it to their show at the BBT on time while avoiding scary local bands"). You can download the Maxipads album Sweatpants Hookers, recorded handily at the Coffee Shop, and an entire compilation of Atomic Family artists as well, spotlighting newer additions The Lost Sea and The Frantic Heart of It. And don't neglect the podcast, where Grieco and friends banter about music and other topics in the studio.
Rare for a local publication, there's enough content on Subatomic to keep anyone occupied for a week, not to mention that it's placing "IRL" four-page paper versions around town to channel readers to the site. Niekum also wants to draw more people to the live shows -- such as The Lost Sea on Fri., July 11, and On Vinyl on Sat., July 12, both at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern -- and the studio. "That's Erik's end of the venture. We have several bands in production right now, and it's really grown into something that's able to equal a lot of the professional recording houses in the area."
As the Atomic Family prepares to stock an information table at the Warped Tour in Scranton, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Niekum says they're looking for more writers and distributors for Subatomic. "You're part of the zine, and part of the Family, if you say you are. And, oh yeah -- the next issue is getting a total makeover to look less like it was designed in 1988." LOL.
Go to www.theatomicfamily.org and click on "zine" to read Subatomic.