Third Man Records today announced the launch of Maggot Brain — a new, full-color quarterly magazine edited by noted Detroit music scribe Mike McGonigal. The December/January/February issue is available now, and yearly four-issue subscriptions are available.
The magazine is clearly a nod to Third Man founder Jack White’s Detroit roots — “Maggot Brain,” of course, is the name of a classic 1971 Funkadelic album — and the independent music scene that helped provide a platform for his first major band, the White Stripes. McGonigal was founder and editor of the influential indie fanzine Chemical Imbalance in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which covered many left-of-center musicians and artists, including Daniel Johnston (who illustrated one classic cover).
This is clearly reflected in the non-mainstream subject matter in the first issue, which includes jazz musician Alice Coltrane on the cover, along with articles on ‘70s indie icons the Swell Maps, the late Gits singer Mia Zapata, Detroit hip-hop producer J Dilla, author Luc Sante, “Vibrant Detroit Sign Painting,” Daniel Johnston, electronic music pranksters the KLF and more.
“We miss cigar-smelling newsstands crammed with amazing publications from everywhere all at once,” reads some of a manifesto in the press release, which then cites several long-discontinued music-leaning magazines. “We miss Creem. We miss Ragtime Ephemeralist. We miss Spy. We miss NY Rocker. We miss weirdo newsprint thrust at us right by subway entrances. We miss Weirdo. We miss Locus Solus. We miss Off Our Backs. We miss Low Rider. We miss Kicks. We miss The Voice. We miss Motorbooty. We miss Avalanche. We miss Grand Royal.”
“And yes, you get it, we love print but we do not merely live in the past surrounded by the moldy old, really,” it continues in part. “We mean, fantagraphics is still publishing new issues of Love & Rockets, plus there is so much new stuff. From every single piece of paper at the Printed Matter Book Fair to the eight-colored silkscreen books of Le Dernier Cri, from your scrawled punk grad thesis ‘zines to the perfectly printed works of Eberhardt Press, there is still so much, and so much we do not know about being made now. And we still believe in the democratizing possibilities of the internet, despite its current state. We’re not luddites, but. Just please don’t ask us where our website is.”