On any given night at Beerland, it's a pretty good bet that you'll see Renate Winter and Jon Chamberlain in front of the stage, cameras in hand. The two friends met about a year ago, when they began seeing each other out night after night at clubs and house parties. They shared a love of photographing bands and quickly decided to collaborate. After only a few months, they're making their mark by documenting the music scene with their new photo zine, Rubberneck.
Though there are certainly plenty of photographers shooting bands around town, Rubberneck is unusual, mainly because — unlike the plethora of blogs and websites focused on Austin music — it's something readers can actually hold in their hands. The first issue, a 25-page, print-only run of 300 copies released last week, captures moments from performances of several of Austin's most active garage and punk bands, including the Riverboat Gamblers, John Wesley Coleman III, the Flesh Lights and the OBN IIIs.
The project materialized when Winter and Chamberlain realized they had hundreds of photos that hadn't been seen by anyone. Both have websites, but they agreed that they should find a way to share their work with other music lovers.
"I kept going back to zines I had in Chicago in the late '90s that I used to get all the time. I kept thinking of (long-running punk zine) Maximum Rocknroll," Chamberlain says. "Once we started talking about it, all of a sudden we were figuring out where to print it."
Talking with Winter and Chamberlain, it's clear that the two are music fans first. Though they come from very different backgrounds — Winter is from Sweden and has lived in a few different American cities; Chamberlain moved from his hometown of Chicago — they have similar stories about how they ended up living in Austin. In short, they both got hooked on a town where it's possible to see music every night of the week.
In addition to showing off their photography, Winter and Chamberlain see Rubberneck as a way to spread the word about some of their favorite bands. "Between the two of us, we've probably seen some of these bands hundreds of times," Chamberlain says. To that end, they've put together a compilation of songs from the bands featured in their inaugural issue on Bandcamp (visit rubberneckzine.bandcamp.com to listen). Each song contains a link to the band's own site, where the music can be purchased.
There is plenty of support from musicians and fans. On a sweltering afternoon at the end of July, people packed into Beerland for a release party that featured performances by the Zoltars, Followed by Static and ELVIS. Additionally, Matador Records co-owner Gerard Cosloy, who has helped promote Austin bands with two installments of his Casual Victim Pile compilations, wrote the foreword for the inaugural issue. "I'd like to think it's crazy obvious to any person with a modicum of taste, guts or imagination that Austin, TX is currently in the midst of a ridiculously fertile period when it comes to new rock'n'roll ... we're exceedingly lucky that Renate Winter and Jon Chamberlain are DOWN IN FRONT EVERY NIGHT, capturing the amazing action and people behind it," he wrote.
Chamberlain and Winter liken their choice to publish a print zine to the appeal of vinyl, the format many of the bands featured in Rubberneck use to release their music. "The thrilling moment for me was at the release party, it's this thing that (Renate) and I put out, and now these people are just walking around with it," Chamberlain says. "That can never happen online."
Copies of Rubberneck are available (till they run out) at locations including Antone's Records, End Of An Ear, Trailer Space, Waterloo Records, Breakaway Records and Domy Books.
Part of rock history. A revamp of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum includes a new exhibit featuring well-known Austin disc jockey Jody Denberg, who spent 19 years at 93.3/102.7 KGSR-FM before leaving in 2009. Denberg is among the broadcasters featured in "On the Air: Rock and Roll and Radio," an interactive kiosk with bios and airchecks from influential jocks nationwide who introduced listeners to rock 'n' roll and related genres. Denberg can now be heard on 90.5 KUT-FM.
— Gary Dinges
Briefly: South by Southwest opened up the application process for bands hoping to play an official showcase during the March 13-18 event. Musicians have until Nov. 4 to apply through the Sonicbids website. The application fee is $30 until Oct. 7, when it increases to $40 ... C3-promoted Lollapalooza, which is currently wrapping its 20th anniversary festival in Chicago, will launch a sister festival in Brazil in 2012. Building on the success of its 2011 South American debut in Chile, Lollapalooza will revisit Santiago from March 31-April 1 of next year, followed by an inaugural appearance in Sao Paulo on April 7-8.