Metal-Core zine is a legendary old school rag from New Jersey's glory days of Heavy Metal. Chris Forbes has been doing the zine for the past 26 years and he still reviews and does interviews for the zine which has gone web-based. I met Chris about two years ago at a show and have been talking to him ever since. He even did a couple reviews for the Okketaehm and Diseased Oblivion releases. He loved the Okketaehm tape and slammed the Diseased Oblivion tape. I caught up with Chris at the recent Oz, Attacker, Maximum Oversatan, Midnite Hellion show and got the run down on some of what makes this dude tick.
Contaminated Tones: Alright! So I am here with Mr. Chris Forbes of the legendary Metal Core magazine. So Chris, tell me about how you started Metal Core back in the 80's I guess. What spurred you to create a fanzine back in the day.
Chris Forbes: Well, back in 80's I started reading... I used to go to L'amours sometimes and I would always stop at a store called Rock 'N' Roll Heaven. That's when I first discovered fanzines. I'm not sure if everyone remembers a fanzine called Kickass Monthly put out by Bob Muldowney. I actually bought a couple issues and when I started going to shows in Philadelphia there was a guy named Scott Helig doing a fanzine at the time called Total Thrash. I asked him if he wanted me to start reviewing stuff for him so I did. I was giving him so much stuff that he said "Why don't you start your own fanzine?" I liked challenges so I decided I was going to do my own fanzine and that's how it started and I'm still doing it twenty-six years later.
CT: Just a webzine now though?
CF: Yeah. I did thirty issues and was going to do thirty-one in 2001 and went to the web only because that was when the internet was starting to explode and all that so obviously webzines started and all that. It was actually harder to get ads and I was doing ten thousand at the time so obviously I'm not taking money out of my pocket so... See I didn't want to stop. I kind of still miss the old days of doing it but... you know... it's what are you going to do? The internet rules everything now.
CT: How... I guess at your peak... how many interviews were you doing for each zine and how many reviews?
CF: Ahhh... Reviews maybe seventy-five to one hundred. I mean, back when like issue ten or eleven started coming out I was getting demos out the ass and because most fanzines only put a couple issues out after like six or seven instead of me writing bands I was starting to get bands sending me stuff. When I ah... later on I started doing more label interviews. Actually the first label interview I did was Monte Conner from Roadracer. So I actually started making the interviews longer and there wasn't as many but there would only be maybe four or five every issue but the things were like six pages long so it was like reading a novel.
CT: What would be the one demo you received or album that you received to review that you had no idea what it was and you got it and you were just floored by it?
CF: I'll go way back and that would be the Savage Death - Crucified in Hell demo from the 80's. That totally blew me away. It's so great that finally came out on CD lately. Albums I would say like stuff by... I would... My first actual albums I ever got were promos of some of the Combat stuff... Death - Leprosy, Nuclear Assault - Game Over, Darkness Descends by Dark Angel stuff like that just completely... just the speed and intensity back then. I mean... Darkness Descends Holy Toledo! I mean listening to that now it's still fucking kills.
CT: What about interviews? What's the weirdest interview you ever did for your zine? As far as... what's the weirdest interview you ever did?
CF: I would say actually... well the funniest interview... not the weirdest... was a zine called Metal Mafia that came out. It was by Dea Evenbeck I think her name was. It was in Ohio. I ended up interviewing her, Jill Girardi who was doing a fanzine and Jenn Matthews who was doing a fanzine. It was Chris' Charlie's Angels cover issue. Hahahaha. That was kind of the funniest. The weirdest would probably be I don't know I interviewed Slayer one time and that kind a... it was like the answers weren't really long and didn't seem like the guy was too into it. But most of the bands when I would... most of the bands would be into it, especially the underground bands cause obviously always looking for publicity. Kind of the bigger bands you know they're like "Oh it's another interview and stuff like that."
CT: What was it like back in the day I guess... growing up in NJ where we have a pretty significant metal history with the Old Bridge Militia and Megaforce Records and all these things? What was it like growing up in that environment? What are some of the great experiences you could relate from that time period of metal?
CF: Well the first thing. I used to hang out with Anvil Bitch all the time and one night we were sitting in the parking lot over in Philadelphia at the Empire Rock Club and the drummer, Chuck, says "Why don't we go to L'amours tonight?" and we saw Overkill. We went up there and I was completely blown away. twenty-five hundred people, they went on at like one-thirty in the morning and I didn't get home until six-o'clock in the morning. But I mean New Jersey had so many clubs back in the day. There was vintage vinyl the store I used to go to all the time (Vintage Vinyl still is the best record store on the east coast for Metal - Orion_M) I'm sure you're familiar with the Aquarian Weekly. I would go and buy that. You'd see Club Benet, Dingbatz, Obsessions, The Satellite Lounge, City Gardens - I saw tons of shows there in the 80's. He would book metal and hardcore... I mean it was insane. There was a ton of great bands. Ripping Corpse, Revenant, Savage Death, Lethal Aggression, Dirge, Chronic Fear. I mean I could go on... Whiplash, Ceremonium... I could go on and on. City Gardens was insanity... Agnostic Front or even Bio-Hazard played. Freaking pits going everywhere, people stage diving. I remember one time I saw Black Flag in '86 with Venom and Overkill. Henry Rollins comes out with this fucking pentagram on his hand going "Satan! Satan" making fun of Venom, which was hilarious.
CF: I had some of them. I have a bunch of Kickass Monthlys. I'm trying to get more but they're impossible to find on eBay. I have a bunch of the Slayer mags. I have a bunch of the fanzines back in the box at home. But yeah I mean, that was cool. The fanzines were a commodity, everybody helped each other it wasn't like it was a competition. I would trade with other fanzines, we would spread ads around. People don't know. We used actually write letters back then and what we would do is we would make ads. You'd make like one thousand and you'd cut them up and bands would send stuff back and forth and I used to send stuff and eventually it got to the point, that's why I started getting... I used to write bands in the beginning... back by issue six or seven I had bands starting to send me stuff. It was great. I mean I used to have to sit at the desk and you're writing letters out and next to my desk I would have like piles of ads. Write somebody a letter or band fold the letter and stick as many ads as I could and send it out. Those were days were great. Now the camaraderie is not as good - you email a band, you see them on facebook whatever. I mean we're here at Oz and there's not that many people. At L'amours there would be twenty-five hundred people but you're not going to get that anymore at shows unfortunately.
(Massive crash of thunder outside - it has started to downpour by this point as the show was ending and people were leaving.)
But the Old Bridge Show tomorrow I'm looking forward to. (Anvil, The Rods, Twisted Sister, Raven, Lords of Mercy.)
CT: Do you think that the underground metal scene now-a-days has lost some of that personal interaction I guess because of the internet?
CF: Oh. Big time! Absolutely. To me there's just too many labels, and too many bands and there's too many bad bands. You know, I would not want to be in a band starting... and you know what the funny thing is, even with the internet, facebook, myspace, reverbnation... you'd think it would be easier to promote a band because you have all this stuff, technology and all that... It's fucking worse now. It's harder! I mean it's harder to promote shows now than it was back in the day. I mean when I used to go to a show I handed flyers out. I mean look at Oz. They drew like sixty people here. But yeah, it's lost a lot of camaraderie. People don't hang out as much and all that. It's kind of like everyone's in for it themselves but back then it was all about helping each other. Bands helped each other, we traded demos, you would try to spread names out... now it seems like everyone wants their little piece of the pie.
Like I said, just too many labels. I mean I can not imagine some kid walking into Vintage Vinyl - and you've been there - there's a new release section with a hundred cds there, two of them might be good - how are you going to do that? You can't... back then Nuclear Assault - Game Over, Death - Leprosy, Celtic Frost or Voivod... You knew those albums... S.O.D I mean... Overkill... you know. Now you look at a CD and it's like it's just so hard to pick out what's good. You can't just choose by an album cover, you can't just go by the songs, and there's just so many sound-alike bands. I mean, you have all that grind stuff, all these Cannibal Corpse bands and then in the early 90's you had all these Long Island Suffocation clone bands so... now it seems like a lot of these nu-metal jump bands I call them with their groovy riffs thinking people are going to get up and jump up and down and all that shit. Fuck all that crap, man. Give me Celtic Frost. I mean... you know... this kind of music is meant to be evil. I hate clean vocals too. A lot of bands do that now. The guy will sing in a growl voice and the next freaking line it's clean vocals... I'm sorry metal is supposed to be fucking evil. Not saying evil as in Satan but as in aggressive and not aggressive as in Limp Bizkit and all of that jump-metal shit. You know.
CT: I wasn't aware that was aggressive.
CF: Haha. Well... Limp Bizkit I mean you go to a show and I'm sure you get all these trendy people jumping up and down and Slipknot thinking that's underground metal and they have no fucking clue. Hahaha.
CT: So ending off the interview, what do you think would be one of your favorite moments from doing Metal-core zine. What have you gotten out of doing a fanzine?
CF: Uhmm. Promoting bands. I mean I actually went from promoting bands to managing bands. I manage a band called Necrodemon now, I managed Immolation, Symphony of Grief. I was helping them out for a while. I helped out Ceremonium out a while and I was helping Bloodstorm out a while. Actually me and Tom from Immolation had started a record label. We only put out one CD out but he didn't get all the trading and all that so the label kind of folded but probably the proudest moment was doing issue 25 and going newsprint. Going to a place in Philadelphia where you could get your... you know... newsprint. And I went and did ten-thousand of them and they were free. Going to that place the first time and just seeing ten-thousand boxes of Metal-core was like Holy shit! Before, I was only printing a couple hundred of them and not making any money. I mean I had labels giving me one-hundred and fifty bucks for ads and that's why I printed ten thousand. You know that was probably the most Holy Shit of like... I mean I don't know why I'm still doing it today but to me it's always been fun. It's not a job. When it becomes a job I'll probably stop. I mean, even to this day. I still enjoy getting bands either sending me stuff whether it's digital or a CD. I'm still like a little kid opening stuff up man. Even after all this time.
CT: So how can people reach you if they want to send you a demo or...
CF: My website is www.metalcorefanzine.com. I have a facebook page www.facebook.com/chrisforbes. They could email me at Metalczine@aol.com. And just to warn bands, I'm pretty brutal in my reviews but if you're a good band you're going to get a great review. If you're a bad band, I'm gonna trash you. And if you're a good band you're getting a good review not because I'm kissing your ass it's because you deserve it.
CT: Alright thanks very much!
CF: Thanks man!