My first experience of Colin Atrophy was about twelve years ago. This was about two weeks before actually meeting him for the first time. I’d been instructed by a friend to impersonate him (since he was on the invitation list and wasn’t coming) to get into a high school “battle of the bands” at Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle, NY. We hung out/played shows in the same circle of friends for many years and had seen him play music but I hadn’t been familiar with his writing until fairly recently. It’s exciting when you get to see work you care about made by someone you care about seed from grassroots efforts and grow into and change established power structures. A future blossoms depending on what we do in the present.
Slice Harvester was a blog and fanzine being published from 2009 through 2011. Colin ate and reviewed a plain pizza slice at every single pizza parlor in the borough of Manhattan. It started as a joke and swiftly developed into an unintended spiritual kick to the head. Through this effort Colin’s ideas about the interestingness of writing had been revitalized along with the discovery of how creative work can be used as a tool to undo years of self-deprecation. Currently his efforts are culminating in the form of a memoir about “eating a cheese slice from every pizzeria in Manhattan while falling in love, getting sober, and becoming an internet phenomenon” which will be published by Simon & Schuster. I asked Colin a few simple questions.GW - What’re the first ‘zines you’d experienced and what did you think of them?CA - First zines I ever read were A Punk Kid Walks Into A Bar and Fresh Meat: Get It Here, both of which I got from The Vinyl Solution on Main St. in Port Chester, NY the same day Jeff sold my dad a Rev. Horton Heat record and convinced me to buy Boogie Down Productions “Criminal Minded” instead of "I Got Next," the KRS-One that had just come out. As a shy, somewhat withdrawn kid just getting into punk, doing a zine seemed like a really good way to “support the scene” in some kind of active way, which was something I knew I wanted even if I didn’t necessarily understand why I felt this desperate need to be part of a community, and that community in particular, as a fourteen year old. I started Atrophy Zine that year and it continued in a few iterations from when I was fourteen until I was nineteen.GW - What’s the book going to be like?CA- The book is a lot like the zines, but longer form and maybe fills in some gaps. I feel like there’s stuff I tried to talk about in the zine—notions of community, male socialization/male violence, healing from the harmful effects of late-era neoliberal capitalism, etc—by relating it to pizza or the experience of pizza eating or the pizza parlor as a cultural/social institution that I just didn’t really bother to flesh out and now I’m taking the opportunity to do that. Which is not to say that it’s all super serious or anything, I think the book is gonna be hella funny and I’m so stoked about having the opportunity to write it and I want to try to make it a fun experience for the reader because I’m having so much fun writing it. And let’s be real, pizza is not the most super serious subject matter.GW - Has the way you think of your work changed over the time you’ve been doing it?CA - The way I think about my work hasn’t changed much at all because I don’t really think about it, I just sort of do it impulsively and then think later, but the work itself has changed a lot. I was talking to Mike Taylor the other day and he told me that one of the things he thought was interesting about watching the zine develop over the years was seeing the tone of it change from fun time punk party guy check out my friend’s cool band, to “total punk vinegar,” to paraphrase what he said. And it’s like, the thing is that by the end I had basically exhausted everything there was to say about pizza and I was just using pizza as an excuse to kvetch about how awful the world is but also extol the virtues of those moments of transcendence where even though the world is awful we are still able to feel something beautiful shine through. Which I guess comes back to punk, right? At least for me. Because like, punk is this deeply flawed and problematic thing for a lot of people and that’s totally real and valid and I would never want to dismiss that, but it’s also this life vest for a lot of folks, myself included, and has been the site of so much positive growth and change. I remember biking to No Rio one day straight from a friend’s funeral service and Cindy Crabb’s old band Trouble Trouble Trouble was playing the matinee and I had been crying all morning and I walked into that awkward room and hugged Cindy and then she played and I never stopped crying but I danced harder than I ever did at a show before or after and when the band was done I was done crying and I went home without saying goodbye to anyone and I slept until the next day and I don’t know how I would’ve been able to process that grief, to sift and sort all the emotion that accompanies losing a peer for the time, if it wasn’t for punk and the built in cathartic/ecstatic structure of the punk show. I’m getting totally off topic here, huh? I guess my work has changed aesthetically but it has always been about two things predominantly:1. Creating a record of myself at a given time that all future selves will have to be accountable to, so that I can never avoid or walk away from my own history.2. Writing a long form love letter to the horrible world and all the people in it.GW - Making the ‘zines did you ever think it would progress into a book put out by a major publisher?CA - Somewhere in my head I did kind of always think of me one day doing a major label book as a weird inevitability, but at the same time I didn’t ACTUALLY expect it to happen and was totally surprised when it did and am constantly super grateful for the opportunity I’ve been provided and I try to balance acknowledging that I did a lot of hard work to get here with also remembering that I am lucky for a lot of reasons too.GW - What do you think will distinguish the book from your previous work?CA - It’s longer. Hopefully it’s better, too! I like to think that everything I’ve done has been at least slightly better than everything before. I think Slice Harvester helped me remember that writing is a craft and it takes practice and just doing it every day improves your abilities. So in that sense, I think I’m more deliberate. Also I have an editor this time and I really like her and think she is going to help me step it up in a way I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. And that’s crazy coming from fanzines, because doing a fanzine is such a solitary, independent, self-reliant task that ceding some of that autonomy and acknowledging that maybe someone else knows better is a totally exciting challenge.GW - What would you hope readers take away from your work?CA - I hope it makes all the men’s dicks wither up and fall off.
Hey, this show is tomorrow at Shea Stadium!
At home preparing for our last leg of tour. See you soon, Baltimore, Philly, Sayreville, NJ and Brooklyn!
#NOATS #NoOneAndTheSomebodies #SuspiciousPackage #rubberstamp #AlbumArt #TURBOSLEAZE #tour
#NOATS and #TURBOSLEAZE are on our way to Pittsburgh, and this time, we’re gonna be READY!