Zines Zines Zines and Jo Bench

zines1As my research on all things Extreme Metal and Women continues, I’ve made a wonderful side discovery of a Metal Fanzine Archive called Send Back My Stamps! thanks to my wonderful metalhead husband for passing this one onto me. The librarian in me is so wonderfully ecstatic to see the preservation of unique material like this. To add, there’s a nice drop down menu of bands listed alphabetically on the right side of the page which 1) let’s you know how many bands he’s indexed and 2) let’s you jump to zines referencing said band. Also included is a page for Fanzine PDF downloads as well as a links page.

My husband was the one to point to me that zine collecting is rare in general, and metal zines are even rarer to find, especially ones from back in the day. So it’s nice to see that some attempts of preserving metal history were made.

The collector is Jason Netherton, vocalist/bassist of the band Misery Index and in his About This Site page talks about how he’s always intended to find a way to preserve Metal History. He dedicated the site to displaying zines of the metal underground during the mid 1980-1990’s. For what it’s worth, I think he’s doing a great job.

I hope to spend some more time looking through the collection and see what I can gather, if anything, on women mentioned in the zines.

On my first perusal, I did see an interview with Bolt Thrower from the zine Conscious Rot 2 and a question about Jo Bench caught my eye:

“You got Jo Bench on bass, who is female. How is she feeling in this menzone and what do you think about her as a musician? Isn’t it too hard for her to play in such a heavy band as Bolt Thrower?”

To which the drummer Andy Whale replied,

“Jo is a very good bassist and has no problems playing music we play. She doesn’t have any problems with people harassing her. To us, she is a bass player not a female.”

Jo BenchOk-I get the part about looking at Jo Bench and admiring her skill to play bass. I get that. But to totally disregard her gender doesn’t sit well with me. Neither does the sexist manner in which the interviewer belittles her ability to play in a heavy band!

I mean, does gender have no bearing whatsoever? I also find it hard to believe that she has never encountered any harassing. She’s one of the earliest female bassists to play in heavy metal, especially during a time when women were less involved then they are now.

Over at the Queens of Noise Zine blog, Jo Bench was quoted saying,

“My main purpose since day one was not to draw attention to the fact I’m a woman, and that has helped me massively. I feel like just another musician in the band, and have been treated as such, and I think that has gained me more respect in the long run. I’m very grateful for that.”

I remember reading that and feeling a duality of understanding and confusion. I felt that for Bench to be respected she had to negotiate her gender into a role that fit into the hyper-masculine world of metal. How wonderful would it be if she didn’t have to do that? Is it possible to be seen as a women and an equally awesome musician? Why would one have to be negotiated over the other?




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