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Upsetting Rock Stars: The Story Of A UK Indie Zine

I will read from my recently published book, The City Is Ablaze!: The Story Of A Post-Punk Popzine, 1984 – 1994.

I published Ablaze! fanzine in Manchester and Leeds in the late 80s and early 90s. As well as describing the background from which Ablaze! fanzine emerged, I will read snippets of interviews from some of the bands featured, including The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, The Bodines, Inspiral Carpets, The Pastels, The Shamen, Cud, Throwing Muses, Nirvana, Pavement, The Pixies, Nation of Ulysses, and Huggy Bear.

The book also features irate letters from rock stars and a moving epilogue by Gary Jarman, and I will quote from these.

I will discuss what it means to have worked in a time when "indie" really meant something, and whether such values can still function in our lives right now.

Ablaze! fanzine also became a platform for riot grrrl ideology and music, and I will consider the scope of that movement in the UK and whether such ideals have endured.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How could one young female fanzine writer manage to upset each of the following rock stars: Morrissey, Ian Brown, Kathleen Hannah and Thurston Moore?
  2. What was it like as a writer, to have access to all Manchester's bands just prior to the Madchester explosion?
  3. How did Riot Grrrl impact on the UK music scene and how long did its influence last?
  4. How did a back issue of Ablaze! inspire the inception of one of the UK's leading indie bands?
  5. “The years between 1987 and 1993, covered by ten issues of Ablaze!, were – broadly speaking – the era of indie pop, at a time when the term ‘indie’ still implied a continuation of the ideas of punk: a do-it yourself, anti-establishment attitude” [from the preface to The City Is Ablaze!]. Is such independence lost forever, or can musicians and writers follow a DIY vision in 2014?



Karren Ablaze, CEO, Mittens On Publishing

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