The Band T-Shirt Zine
I have been meaning to write a teenage memoir about my band shirts for some time, and by some time I mean at least five years. It would often be on my to do lists, along with the many other projects that I will not have lifetime enough to complete.
Once I started to write about a few of the shirts, I found it was quite fun. I started off with the Cure shirt I had at age 12, the first band shirt I owned. After the age of 17 I began to document my life in my zines, but details of the period up until that point were noted in a succession of diaries which were usually destroyed before they were filled up. Like many, I had a difficult time as a teenager, and the one thing that saved me from complete misery was music. I listened and obsessed, and even now can recall in detail trivia about the kinds of 90s alternative bands that are busy playing reunion shows. I usually don’t attend – I prefer not to indulge in shared nostalgia. At the time I mostly listened to such bands alone, and stepped out wearing my band t-shirts as a secret code to the few others who might understand.
So I have finally put together my band t-shirt memoir. It spans from the early 90s to early 2000s. Fourteen shirts, and plenty of awkward moments, such as those in the Mudhoney story, which I offer for you below, along with my reconstruction of the image on the shirt. I am not confident of my drawing ability, but it was important for me to draw each of the shirt designs, and have them shaky and in some cases incomplete. I wasn’t particularly interested in writing as a teenager, but I did spend a lot of time listening to the radio and drawing, so drawing each shirt was a way to return to that past self.
Of course it all looks better in the zine and not this awkwardly scanned digital ghost. The actual zine looks like this:
Here a copy rests upon my favourite goth shirt, my Alien Sex Fiend shirt, which was recently discovered in a suitcase of mouldy, tiny, black clothes, in storage. You can read its story, as well as the story of the Bauhaus shirt, the Ratcat shirt, the Ned’s Atomic Dustbin shirt and so on, in the zine. It’s 56 pages long, with illustrations of all shirts, lovingly put together although not gocco-ed or screenprinted or individually signed by my rabbit or whatever zinemakers have to do these days to satisfy preconceptions of what makes a zine handmade enough. I will post details of where to get a copy soon, for now there is Etsy and you can always write to me – there are plenty in a box just beside me here. Now I am off to listen to goth records. Farewell for now.