By Brian Ray Turcotte
This story originally appeared in Issue2. Click here to buy the print edition
I started working at Slash Records in 1990. I basically told them to let me help out and after I showed up and did anything that was needed for about a year they gave me a job.
Slash cast a long shadow. Every band from LA had some connection to Claude or to Steve or to Biggs or to the magazine. The whole run of Slash Magazine lasted 2.5 years from late 1977-1980. Then came the record label and that ran another 20 years.
When I first saw them, those magazines freaked me out. It was this big newsprint thing that was so graphically amazing. How you can make such an amazing magazine in two colors? I've never seen another case when something had both the fringe of the punk/speak your mind/uncompromising approach while being willing to take on ads and push circulation and reach a larger audience.
I started working at Slash Records in 1990 when Faith No More starting blowing up. Ten years later, when the label sold to Warner Brothers, there were six months between the deal and the handover. Since I was the office manager I was the only one who had a job till the end, purely because the company had no other needs. The label had ceased signing or promoting anything so I was there answering the phones by myself waiting to hand the keys to Warner.
That's when I did my book Fucked Up and Photocopied. I had access to all the archives down in the basement for the book. While I was down there I took a few things to preserve them. I had a little bit of guilt at the time but at the end of the day I regretted not taking more because a lot of it ended up in the trash.
Looking through the archives of the head of production there was one Germs Lexicon Devil single and one Plugz ties single and I just grabbed that shit because no one coming into the company had a clue what it meant.
Warner wasn't buying an archive, they were buying record masters. The mechanical art for The Misfits' Walk Among Us record was looked at as nothing more than old files. If you look at the history of Slash, guys like us would say The Germs, The Plugz, Misfits, Fear, X, all that stuff has the most value, that's history. But the moneymaking was in Rammstein, Los Lobos and Faith No More. If you're looking at it from a business perspective that other stuff means nothing.
I heard stories six months after the handover about people dumpster diving because all the mechanicals of all the records and the magazines got tossed. So whatever I have is 5%-10% of what was there, and there are probably only a handful of pieces in other people's hands. It hurts me every day because it's either in somebody's archive that no one knows or it's just trashed. I ended up with mechanicals for three Slash Magazine covers but there were thirty magazines, where are the rest of those? Gone.
So I ended up with a decent amount of what is that label's history and art. All the songs are at Warner now and even they don't get it. I have met with them and I told them, "I can get my hands on the photo collage for the insert of Misfits Walk Among Us, the original photos, so why wouldn't you release it on vinyl and use the photos in color so you can really see what those photos look like?" Jerry in the graveyard and all that kind of shit. They just don't care, they don't understand that level of appreciation.
The original cut and paste means something to me. When you see the original art for a Misfits record it's different than seeing the record. You see the logo is white-out and sharpie on cellophane and then cut out and spray painted to give it the gradient feel. I want to show that to kids and say, "See?? You can just do shit. There's no magic to it."
The music doesn't mean as much to me as the art. The art feels more visceral to what the scene was trying to represent than the music does. The art feels more what it felt like to be from that scene than the music translates. You can not even like the music and still get the essence of what it felt like to be there looking at the art or reading the magazine or looking at the flyers.
It's still weird to me that I ever even worked there, the opportunity that I was given and the place that I was at. I wasn't around for first generation punk but I worked there solid and there are 30 people in the world that worked there. And strangely I'm one of the only people who worked there still carrying the torch of what they created art-wise.