Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bananas Magazine - An Introduction

A couple months ago, I was perusing my favorite record shop when I happened across Issue # 4 of Bananas Magazine, a small garage/punk/psych/rock zine out of NYC.  The issue I got introduced me to The Hate Bombs, the Thing with Two Heads, and had a great piece of Timmy Vulgar, of Human Eye and Timmy's Organism.  I thought the magazine was really good and decided that I wanted to interview Charles Gaskins & Christophe Lopez-Huici, the two "de-facto leaders" of the magazine.

It's a print Zine and it has all sorts of features, interviews, reviews, ads for great music coming out from all over the world.  It's a non-profit and free magazine, and the back issues are all available online, which rocks hard.  Issue # 5 has some great things coming too, even an OBN III's feature, about which I am geeking hard.  The magazine's website (Found here: has these old issues up, as well as shipping info to get the mag and merchandise to support and keep the nanners' (my little slang for bananas, which is totally cool) image growing.

They say the best way to follow them is to "like" them on facebook, according to issue # 4.  SO FLY, YOU FOOL OF A TOOK!

Anyway, these guys say it better than I do, so without further ado...Nanners, er, Bananas Magazine

(Warning: I e-mailed two people, so some answers have overlap, but together, I believe it provides a drop-dead gorgeous image of the sweet Zine)

Jordan:  So who all runs the magazine?

Christophe:  Well it's 5 of us who started the 'zine and contribute to each issue. That's Alessandra, Brandon, Charles, Shimmy and me. Charles and I are the most involved though. The others just send us their articles, we do all the layout and look for sponsors. I deal with most of the emails, send issues, reach out potential guest writers. Charles deals with snail mail, and gets all the records (which I always try to steal from him)

Charles:  Christophe and I are the de facto leaders of the magazine, I guess you could say.  There's a core group of five of us that are the "Banana Bunch," made up of George C, Alessandra Aliquo, Brandon Pierce Peck, Christophe Lopez-Huici, and myself.  We all started the magazine together, but over time Christophe and I became the ring leaders — we do the layout, contact writers, deal with the mail, work with advertisers, as well as write — while George and Alessandra have concentrated more on writing and Brandon on contributing to illustrations and record reviews.

Jordan:  Have either of you worked in the music industry before?

Christophe:  I haven't, and I'm flattered that you consider running the 'zine as working in the 'music industry'! Well I do illustration jobs for bands sometimes (covers for the Routes, Barbacans, Cavestompers etc...)

Charles:  Not in a corporate sense, but I've been in the bullshit "music industry" for over a decade.  I was the manager of a night club in Jacksonville, FLA and was in charge of booking all of the bands, organizing DJ nights, and promotions.  In NYC George and I book garage and punk shows under the name Hullabaloo.  We've been doing that for five years as of March 2012.  I also run a record label called Killer Diller, so I guess I'm pretty surrounded by the music industry.

Jordan:  Have you worked in music writing or publication before?

Christophe:  Well, if it counts, I do illustration for Shindig! magazine.

Charles:  When I was 14 my friend Kidd and I started a photocopied 'zine that later became a newsprint 'zine like Bananas.  We did 6 or 7 issues before we got side tracked with things like getting pussy and binge drinking.  It was just passed around locally, but we wrote about American punk and garage bands that were around in the mid-90s like US Bombs and the Bomboras.

Jordan:  What inspired the magazine?

Christophe:  Well, I've been collecting music 'zines of the '80s and '90s for a while (99th Floor, Fuzbrains, What Wave etc...) and I wanted to start a 'zine of my own, so I talked about it to the others one night at a bar.

Charles:  George and I started a website called that lists all of the best events going on each night in New York (George heads that website now because I got too busy with the record label and other shit).  Christophe said that we should make a print version of the website and I said I didn't want to make it local only, so we all agreed to do an international magazine.

Jordan:  How did you come about to create it?

Christophe:   First issue took a while of course, between finding content, fucking up due to the fact that we didn't really know what we were doing, but some of us had experience with zines, we had a place to print it, so all in all it went pretty smoothly I guess.

Charles:  After the five of us decided to make a magazine we had a series of meeting discussing what we like and don't like in other music magazines and agreed we would only do things that thought were the good things and stay away from things we think other magazines fuck up with.  We also wanted to try to do some original things that most music magazines don't do.  It was pretty simple, really.  It did take a couple months, but now we understand exactly what to do for each issue, so we're able to put it together much easier.  It's just a pain working around everyone's work schedules.

Jordan:  How did you decide on the bi-monthly cycle of publication?

Christophe:  We have? I think we just try to get the new issue as soon as possible, but lately it's more like twice a year unfortunately.

Charles:  There's not really a set release, we just put one out when we have enough articles we like.  In all honesty, Christophe and I would like to put out four a year but everyone's so busy with their jobs, bands, and other stuff it gets hard to for us to have that kind of time.

Jordan:  What's up with the name Bananas magazine?

Christophe:  It came to Charles in a dream

Charles:  No joke, I had a dream after one of the Banana Bunch meetings that we all had this really successful magazine that was kind of like a mixture of Mad Magazine, National Lampoon, and Creem and the magazine was called Bananas.  I woke up at about 5:00am from the dream instantly wrote the other four to see what they thought of the name so that I couldn't forget the dream.
Jordan:  Which bands have been the most fun to work with?

Christophe:  The bands that send goofy photos for our centerfold!

Charles:  All of the bands that don't have their heads up their asses.

Jordan:  Do you have a favorite article or piece that you have written?

Christophe:  I like the interview of Frantic City records that's coming up in the new issue! 

Charles:  The interview I did with the head of TicTacTotally Records was fucking hilarious!  That dude is really funny so it made for a great piece.

Jordan:  What are some of your top albums of 2011?

Christophe:  Phantom Keys, Marvin Gays, Die Ersten Menschen and Hollywood Sinners would be in my top for 2011. 

Charles:  I really, really liked the OBN IIIs LP.  The Chelsea Beat LP is also really amazing, and I released it on my label, so everyone should buy it

Jordan:  Which albums are you psyched about this year?

Christophe:  Let me check my crystal ball...I think some good stuff is gonna come from Autralia. Also looking forwards to the Pacifics' LP.

Charles:  It's too soon to say

Jordan:  Where do you see Bananas magazine going in the future?

Christophe:  Let me check my crystal ball again...HOLY SHIT , we have major distro, and a run of 20.000 copies!

Charles:  Gettin' for real, son!  This has just been a hobby, but people REALLY seem to like the magazine so Chris and I were just talking about how we should take it a little bit more seriously and treat it like a fun job, not a work-like hobby.  So hopefully we'll increase circulation and be able to bring better content to a larger audience around the world.

Jordan:  Do you think of ever expanding Bananas stuff beyond a print/online magazine?

Christophe:  I'd love to have a flexi with each issue, or have bands do songs about bananas for some kind of Cd/online comp. Otherwise, we already launched our clothline, which so far includes a series of badly silkscreened t-shirt and it comes in no less than 2 different options (black or red logo).

Charles:  Definitely put out some records.

Jordan:  Which bands should we keep on our outlook? 

Christophe:  I dunno, but I want to hear more from the Frowning Clouds.

Charles:  The Jigglers, Foster Care, and Organs.

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