the cover of MRR #1
Photo: archive.org

The punk gods giveth, and the punk gods taketh away. Just a few days before today’s announcement that riot grrrl luminaries Bikini Kill are getting together for a handful of reunion shows, another ‘90s punk-rock staple, San Francisco based fanzine and “bible of punk” MaximumRocknroll, announced that it will be ceasing print publication later this year, 37 years after its debut in 1982. Readers can expect three more issues of the print ‘zine, after which point MRR will publish its record reviews online. So there’s hope for your EP to get a MRR review yet.

MRR’s longevity is truly something to be celebrated. It lasted much longer than most print ‘zines, including MRR’s own DIY guide for touring bands, Book Your Own Fucking Life, whose website ceased updating in 2011. (You can read the text of the 1992 print edition here.) And it did so while maintaining a principled anti-capitalist stance exemplified by Steve Albini’s anti-major-label broadside “The Problem With Music,” which was reprinted in MRR in 1994. That stance (which, to be fair, has softened in recent years) saw MRR refusing to run ads for major record labels and condemning bands accused of selling out—including, ironically enough, Bikini Kill, which went from MRR darlings to sellouts and back again over the course of the past 25 years.

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Of course, MaximumRocknroll isn’t really dead—unless you’re too punk for the internet, in which case you’re ruining your cred by even being here. As well as continuing to run new reviews online and producing its weekly radio show, MRR is prominently featured in the documentary Turn It Around: The Story Of East Bay Punk, and the crew is working to digitize and upload the ‘zine’s entire print run with the aid of volunteers.

You can read the MRR editors’ full statement on the move below.

Maximum Rocknroll began as a radio show in 1977. For the founders of Maximum Rocknroll, the driving impulse behind the radio show was simple: an unabashed, uncompromising love of punk rock. In 1982, buoyed by burgeoning DIY punk and hardcore scenes all over the world, the founders of the show — Tim Yohannan & the gang — launched Maximum Rocknroll as a print fanzine. That first issue drew a line in the sand between the so-called punks who mimicked society’s worst attributes — the “apolitical, anti-historical, and anti-intellectual,” the ignorant, racist, and violent — and MRR’s principled dedication to promoting a true alternative to the doldrums of the mainstream. That dedication included anti-corporate ideals, avowedly leftist politics, and relentless enthusiasm for DIY punk and hardcore bands and scenes from every inhabited continent of the globe. Over the next several decades, what started as a do-it-yourself labor of love among a handful of friends and fellow travelers has extended to include literally thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of readers. Today, forty-two years after that first radio show, there have been well over 1600 episodes of MRR radio and 400 issues of Maximum Rocknroll fanzine — not to mention some show spaces, record stores, and distros started along the way — all capturing the mood and sound of international DIY punk rock: wild, ebullient, irreverent, and oppositional.

Needless to say, the landscape of the punk underground has shifted over the years, as has the world of print media. Many of the names and faces behind Maximum Rocknroll have changed too. Yet with every such shift, MRR has continued to remind readers that punk rock isn’t any one person, one band, or even one fanzine. It is an idea, an ethos, a fuck you to the status quo, a belief that a different kind of world and a different kind of sound is ours for the making.

These changes do not mean that Maximum Rocknroll is coming to an end. We are still the place to turn if you care about Swedish girl bands or Brazilian thrash or Italian anarchist publications or Filipino teenagers making anti-state pogo punk, if you are interested in media made by punks for punks, if you still believe in the power and potential of autonomously produced and underground culture. We certainly still do, and look forward to the surprises, challenges, and joys that this next chapter will bring. Long live Maximum Rocknroll.

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