Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Martha Hughes and I used to trade fanzines back in the day when she did a zine called “Bast”. Well I recently became friends with her on Facebook and I knew an interview was in order and well here it is ha ha:
MC: I see you are still living in CA. Have you lived there all your life? For those who have never been to California, what is it like living out there and what are some places people should visit?
MH: I was born and raised the SF Bay Area. I was born in SF, although I grew up in the suburbs just south of San Francisco. I moved back into SF about 20 years ago. Living here is a dichotomy. The area is beautiful. You have the best of urban life, along with the Pacific Ocean and lots of great open country and nature just minutes away. But, it’s so expensive! Rent is outrageous and it’s really hard to afford the costs of living here. When visiting California, remember, it’s a BIG state. Try not to do too much at one time. Pick a couple places at a time and don’t think you can make a worthwhile visit of the entire state all in one trip. I suggest visiting Northern California in one trip and Southern California in another. And do try to go to the Sierra Nevadas, the mountains are amazing!
MC: So did you come from a big family or a small family? What sort of girl were growing up and what did you want to be when you were growing up?
MH: I had an older sister (who passed away a few years ago) and I have a younger brother. I spent a lot of time alone as a kid. I liked to ride my bike and read and preferred being outside in nature over anything else. I played violin when I was young and pressured by my parents to go further with it, but I really didn’t enjoy. I had no clue what I wanted to do when I was young.
MC: Now were you always into music or did that come at a later time? What were some of the 1st bands that you got into and always heavily into music or did that come later?
MH: I always liked rock music, even when I was little I loved listening to the radio. I liked the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys when I was really, really young. In high school I started getting into music more seriously. Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Blue Oyster Cult and Lynyrd Skynyrd were some of my favorites.
MC: Now what event or event or people introduced you into the work of heavy metal and underground metal? Where you were living at the time were there any radio stations or stores that stocked metal?
MH: I started listening to metal in the mid, late 80s because my friends were into it. I didn’t go to a whole lot of shows back then; I was in college and flat broke ALL the time! But we listened to music. My friends would tune in Rampage Radio or we’d go to an occasional show at the Stone or Morty’s or someone would make me a tape of some great tunes. I was living in San Bruno and San Mateo then, just south of San Francisco. Then in the early 1990s, I moved back to San Francisco and got more involved in metal. I think my move back to SF was the catalyst to me getting involved in the metal world.
MC: What were some of the 1st bands that you heard and began to like and did you like this style of music the 1st time you heard or did it take a couple spins and then you were hooked like an alcoholic to alcohol?
MH: In the Bay Area it was all about thrash, which I love. It was really easy to find a thrash band playing. Some of my favorites (who still are) of those include: Exodus, Sadus, Autopsy, Death Angel. But, when I started really getting into listening to metal, my tastes expanded out to black and death metal and at that time, my favorites in those were: Morbid Angel, At the Gates, Mayhem, Borknagar, Mithotyn and Enslaved.
MC: So what were some of the early bands that you began a fan of and are you still a fan of any of those bands today?
MH: Sure, most of them I’m still a fan of, except possibly the new Morbid Angel album which sucks more than I could ever write on paper.
MC: What are some early concerts that you saw and what did you think the 1st time you saw a “slam or mosh pit” and did that scare you and did you ever get in the pit at all at a show?
MH: The first time I saw a mosh pit was at a punk rock show in the 1980s and I can’t remember who was playing. I thought it was pretty damn cool. I have joined in a few pits in my time, but not for a few years, it hurts too much now!
MC: So what are some clubs that you went to back in the day and saw shows at? Were there any bands that you saw that disappointed you live at all?
MH: The clubs I went to include Mortys, that re-opened at Cocodrie. I loved that club! Cocodrie used to go out of their way to make time for metal shows. Even if they had bands on at night, if there was a metal tour coming through that didn’t have a place to play, they’d do a Saturday afternoon show if they could. Highly unheard of. Terminator was great, 3 stories, basement had bands, music/dancing on main floor, pool on top. I was there every Friday night. I Beam was great in its day, The Stone on Broadway, Ruthie’s Inn was way cool in the 1980s, but I only went there once. The Maritime wasn’t the greatest, but they had metal shows. Samael disappointed me when I saw them. They played at the Maritime once and their whole show was one big flashing strobe light. They actually could have put out dummies and gone out for pizza with those strobe lights flashing the entire time, no one would have known the difference!
MC: Now how did fanzines enter your life? Did you happen to see them at a show where somebody was selling one or was it at a local record store? What did you think of them once you saw one and read through it?
MH: I majored in journalism in college, but couldn’t find an internship. No internship means, no job, so I went and found writing outside of the college system. I reviewed clubs for a local weekly magazine. It was a blast! My friend and I went to a couple different clubs every week and wrote about them. Can anyone say: free drinks? That mag unfortunately went out of business after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, so I was left without a publication to write for. I started to read more and more music mags and found that I didn’t like the mainstream ones and started writing interviews and stories for underground zines. I loved them!
MC: What were some early zines that you read and liked and became a fan of?
MH: Yeah, the ones I liked back then I used to trade issues with, yours for example. And Lamentations of the Flame Princess is another. Petrified is another. Metal Maniacs. There were so many! Any time I traveled anywhere, I’d see if there was a record store I could visit to buy zines!
MC: Did you ever do any tape trading back then and if so with around how many people?
MH: I wasn’t doing that but I know a lot my friends who were.
MC: So take me through the steps of you deciding to start your own fanzine, which was called ‘Bast”? Did you do any prior writing for any other zines before you decided to start your own?
MH: Yeah, I wrote for a couple mags before I started my own. I actually got paid by one of them! But they were short-lived. I just felt it was time for me to start my own publication. I did the print zine for about 10 years, and then I stopped doing it at a printed publication. I took it online and tried it that way, but it really wasn’t the same and a couple years later, I brought it back to print, which I kept up for about 3 more years.
MC: Now looking back, how would you rate yourself as a writer and do you feel you got better as a writer as more and more issues got published? What were some other zines writers/editors that sort of had an influence of your zine?
MH: Of course, the more a person writes the better writer that person becomes. I think all of the anonymous zine publishers were the biggest influence on my early years. Talking with them, writing back and forth with them was awesome. The biggest influence for me getting back into printing BAST was Adrian Bromley (RIP) of Bravewords & Bloody Knuckles. Without his wise and very kind words and guidance, I don’t think I could have done it.
MC: Now take me through the steps of releasing your first issue? Did a lot of the bands you contacted turn you down as far as interviews/reviews go or did you just interview a few local bands and just review stuff that you brought? Did you put the issue out by yourself or did you have other writers? If you had other writers, who were they and where did you find them?
MH: I didn’t have too hard of a time finding bands to talk to. I’m pretty persistent. Metal record labels are really great to work with. Metal Blade was the first “bigger” label who actually took advertising out with BAST too. That rocked. The other writers at first were my friends in the scene. We covered a lot of style of metal, so if someone really loved power metal for instance, I gave them the power metal music to review.
MC: So in what year did you 1st issue come out and how many pages was it? What bands were featured in it and how many copies did you print up? How did you go about getting rid of them and did you lose or make any money on your 1st issue?
MH: In the 1990s sometime, can’t remember exactly. It was small, didn’t get too many copies printed.
MC: Now back in the day did you make flyers up and send them out with letters? As issues came out did you start getting more and more mail? What was it like getting your 1st letter or demo from overseas?
MH: Oh yeah….every early issue went out with lots of flyers. Remember those days? Tons of flyers! It was cool getting demos from other countries. I traveled to Europe in 1999 and I started getting a lot after that.
MC: How did you come up with the name “Bast” and were any other names considered? How many issues did you end up putting out and did your circulation go up as issues came out and did any come out on newsprint or were they all xeroxed?
MH: Bastet is the Egyptian cat Goddess of music, wine and protection of the home & children. So, who better to represent a metal mag? I wanted something different than all the others, something that would express my love of music and life.
MC: So how many issues did you end up putting out and what led to you deciding to put the zine to rest? Were you sad to see the zine end or was it just time to end it?
MH: I put out I think 15 or so issues. I was sad to see it end, but I was also broke and burnt out.
MC: Do you have copies of every issue you put out and are any extra copies lying around? Have you ever seen your zine for sale on say sites like Ebay and stuff? If so what was the price going for? Have you seen anything on your zine on the internet over the years?
MH: I have copies but I think I accidentally threw some out in a prior move. Shit happens.
MC: Do you feel you were pretty fair with your reviews and did any band write you a nasty letter due to you giving them a bad review?
MH: We were VERY fair with our reviews! I never censored my writers or told them to write anything. I only asked than they be fair. I’ve read a lot harsher zine reviews. I only received a couple nasty letters from unsigned bands who didn’t like the reviews they got. What can you do…?
MC: Were you given an shit over the years due to you being a female and some guys saying stuff like ‘females don’t belong at death metal or thrash metal shows” etc? If you were, how did you handle this?
MH: Nope, I never was.
MC: What were some of your favorite bands that you interviewed over the years and was there any that you never got to interview, but wished you did? Do you feel you were a good interviewer?
MH: I think I’m good at interviews. Ross of Immolation was one of my favorites. Also Schmier of Destruction was awesome.
MC: Now did any band members try to hit on you and did you have to kick their asses ha ha?
MH: Oh, haha!!
MC: Now did you do any writing besides ‘Bast” zine? After it folded did you continue to follow the underground scene or did you sort of just move on and left the underground scene so to speak?
MH: Yes, I write even more now. I have a website all about minor league hockey called The Bulls Sheet as well as write about the ECHL for Pro Hockey News.
MC: If you did continue to go to shows, what were some great classic shows that you saw back in the day and what has been your favorite show you ever have seen and why is that? Who is your favorite band these days and why are they your favorite band?
MH: I don’t know what my very favorite show is, but one of my very favorites was the Morbid Angel/At the Gates/Dissection show. That was incredible! Darkthrone is also one of my favorite bands these days as well.
MC: What are some of your favorite memories of doing the zine and do you have a favorite issue out of all of them and if you do which issue and why? What was it like picking up every issue from the printer and then going out and selling them?
MH: One of my favorite things was having a new issue with me at shows. People really look forward to reading it.
MC: Have you ever been overseas for a show and if you did, which one or ones and if you haven’t, would you ever want to go to one?
MH: Yes, I went to Wacken twice (Germany), Dynamo in 1999 (The Netherlands), the last year it was 3 days, and Inferno twice (Norway). The last time I was there, I DJ’d the main stage.
MC; What were some of your favorite zines you read and traded with back when you were doing yours?
MH: Cursed, Lamentations, Brave Words, Promethean Crusade, Metalcore, Metal Storm…can’t remember any others
MC: Do you think if back then with all these social media sites and stuff, do you think your zine would have been bigger?
MH: No, I think it would have suffered even more. Social media is what killed the printed zine.
MC: What do you think of sites like Facebook, My Space, Reverb Nation, Twitter, etc?
MH: In referenced to…..they’re a great resource and part of life, not sure what else.
MC: Now as far as Facebook goes, have you re-connected many old band members and zine editors and stuff from back in the day on there?
MH: Already have.
MC: Now when the zine folded, did you do any writing for any other mags and stuff and would you consider doing any writing if asked by a web zine these days?
MH: Nope, it was time to move on to other things.
MC: When you would listen to a band, what would you listen for? What is more important to you, the vocals or the actual music or is both about 50/50?
MH: I listen to the entire song….structure, musicianship, depth, everything.
MC: Do you still a lot of letters and demos from back in the day and do you have any rare old stuff from back in the day stored away somewhere?
MH: I have some things. Other stuff gets lost.
MC: What would you like your zine to be remembered for? Over the years have you really missed doing it and would you ever consider doing a webzine?
MH: That it was a good, fun read. That people liked reading it. That’s why I did it after all.
MC: If somebody wanted to start doing a webzine or do some writing, what advice would you give him/her? In your eyes, what makes a great interviewer?
MH: I’m not sure if it’s the time or place any more for a printed publication. Do it online. When doing interviews….listen to the interviewee. Biggest piece of advice I can give.
MC: Have you ever considered managing a band or picking up an instrument ever? If so details please?
MH: Gawd no, did that already.
MC: So I see you follow hockey and what is your favorite team and why? Do you like any other sports and what are you doing with yourself these days?
MH: New York Rangers are my favorite NHL team. I love the way they play. But I really love the minor leagues. That’s why I write about them. As far as myself, I run and train for distance running races. I have a half marathon (SF Rock & Roll Half) coming up in April, which I’m looking forward to. I also plan to start doing triathlons this summer.
MC: What is your opinion of bands like Metallica, Megedeth, Slayer and Anthrax these days and are you surprised that they are still around these days? Were you a fan of any or all 4 back then and even today?
MH: Let’s see….Not a fan of Megadeth, never have been. Metallica hasn’t done metal since 1989, Slayer, nice to see them getting back into things and Anthrax I have a fondness for.
MC: What was your favorite metal genre and what were ones you hated? What did you think of the whole seattle grunge scene? Did you ever get into any of the “hair metal” bands back in the day?
MH: Black metal is my very favorite. I also love Viking, death, doom and stoner rock. I don’t like power metal, mallcore or anything where the crowd looks like they just walked out of Hot Topic.
MC: Were all your issue done on a typewriter or a word processor or were some done on a computer? Would you ever consider scanning your issues to be put on the internet?
MH: All my issues were done on a computer. Maybe when I get a scanner sometime, I’ll put some of the early stuff online.
MC: Please plug anything you wish and horns up for the interview. Any last words the floor is yours?
MH: Thanks Chris! Keep up with MetalCore. Check out my website at: www.thebullssheet.com !