The long-standing punk rock magazine Maximum RockNRoll has launched a crowfunding campaign to create the ultimate punk archive. The organization has been documenting punk rock since 1977 by producting a radio show, releasing records, putting on shows, and publishing a monthly magazine, which began in 1982.
It’s hard to overstate the massive cultural impact punk rock has had globally, nor the important role MRR has played in publishing record reviews, interviews and reporting on local music scenes the world over. The MRR team plans to create a comprehensive online database of their record collection–numbering 48,000 discs–and music reviews. The size of this task should be clear to anyone who has read an issue of MRR, which typically contains dozens of pages of reviews, all in claustrophically tiny type. It’s all the more monumental given that early issues were cut-and-paste affairs, made without computers.
MRR is aiming to raise $15,000 in a month, but their IndieGoGo campaign has already hit over $9,500 in just one day. I think that’s because of effect the magazine has had on so many people over the course of four decades for whom it was a introduction into the world of independent DIY music and culture. Because so much of the music covered by MRR is radically independent, including records that were pressed and distributed by tiny labels or the bands themselves, it’s likely that a large percentage of this cultural heritage is not well documented anywhere else. One can only guess how many of MRR’s 48,000 records were from runs of only a hundred or so.
MRR has had a huge influence on college and community radio, too. Especially in the days before music blogs, the magazine served as a guide for DJs and music directors to find the most underground bands and releases. It was a directory of labels to contact in order to get records to add to a station’s library, and a way to know who was on tour and might come through town.
Also, there have been over 1500 editions of MRR Radio, which features new and old punk rock from their collection. The show is available to any radio station that wants to air it, and now is on twelve stations worldwide.
The radio show was actually my first introduction to Maximum RockNRoll. Back in the early 90s the show was distributed on cassette, and my college station, WTSR, was a subscriber. Hearing it then prompted me to find the print magazine, which I read regularly for over a decade. I still have a pile of 7-inches and LPs that I mailordered based upon ads or reviews in MRR.
I am excited for the MRR archive project and the chance to have this massive record of underground and independent culture preserved for future generations.