Quarantined fanzine has been among my favorite hardcore punk zines since the start of the pandemic. Their well thought-out interviews, old school layout and, above all, a sturdy mix of both straight edge hardcore and crustier, d-beat bands that are all among my favorite punk music to listen to, has made the range extremely desirable to my taste.
I was thinking of reviewing its five issues for a while now, but interviewing Marcus Ericsson, the sole author of Quarantined Fanzine, will do more justice for this great publication from Sweden.
Hello Marcus! Can you present yourself, who are you and what do you like to do?
Hey! I live in Sweden with my family and my daytime job is teaching kids in middle school. My real job comes at night when I work on my fanzine instead of sleeping. The zine is called Quarantined and I did the first issue in 2019. I’m currently working on the sixth issue. Besides the zine, I play guitar in a band called Manic Ride, reading zines and spinning records. I’m also doing a lot of typical dad-stuff like taking the kids to the park and so on.
How did you get interested in hardcore punk zines? When was your first touch to zines as you’ve been part of the hardcore scene for a long time?
I started going to shows more regularly in 1995 after listening to hardcore punk music for a couple of years before that. At one of those early shows there were some zines lying on a table next to records and other stuff. I had no idea of the concept fanzines, but they looked cool and intriguing with the front page that stated it had interviews with some of my favorite bands. I bought two of them and started reading immediately. I read them over and over. The fact that kids my age had done this, interviewing their favorite bands, expressing thoughts and emotions, putting it all together to print and sell to like minded kids, that whole thing totally blew my mind. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. DIY in full effect and total freedom.
These first two zines I bought were Insight #1 and Paska #3. Two zines no one outside of Sweden ever heard of. But they were fundamental to me. I eventually wore these out until they barely held together, but later on I have managed to score other copies in better shape. I made my first effort soon after and it was terrible. Possibly the worst zine in history. But I loved the handicraft and kept at it throughout the 90s and 00s. After a ten year break and a lot of thinking back and forth, the itch had to be scratched and Quarantined was born.
The first issue of Quarantined fanzine came out in 2019. How did you choose such a prophetic name? I bought the first three issues in a batch during the first lockdown. Do you think that the pandemic has skyrocketed the interest in your zine?
It was just a name I took from a song with the same name by Career Suicide. I felt a bit distanced from the scene since I became a dad, especially during the years when the kids were very small and you needed to be home alot. I felt like I had put myself in quarantine from the scene for a while, so that was the reason for choosing the name. I missed being an active part of the scene, so I came up with the idea to make a fanzine again.
I was never satisfied with the ones I did back in the day and knew I could do much better. It was also a good choice because it’s an activity you do at home. It’s funny that I happened to name my fanzine after a song that deals with the SARS epidemic in 2002 and six months after the first issue came out a new pandemic broke out worldwide caused by a related virus. I was worried people would think I chose the name for that reason, it would make me look really opportunistic. I hate it when people jump on the train and name their project after the latest event. Some people probably think this is the way with Quarantined Fanzine, but I haven’t really gotten any feedback on that.
I don’t think the name in particular has helped the zine, but I think people being home in quarantine and feeling bored have helped with sales through mail order. I might have been able to sell even more if there were shows and tours happening, but I have never gotten so much response and people ordering stuff for any prior project I have done. So it’s really fun and motivating when people support and appreciate your stuff.
How important do you think are zines for today’s hardcore punk scene? What do you feel after finishing an issue of the zine and what keeps you motivated?
I think they are important in telling stories and documenting the scene. There’s really no use today for a fanzine to focus on spreading the latest news or gossip—online/social media does that better. After having finished a fanzine I mostly feel relieved. It’s usually pretty intense work at the end of every issue.
Sometimes I feel like diving into the next issue right away, while other times I feel the need to step away for a moment and let myself a room to breathe. I honestly do this fanzine all for myself, it’s a kind of a therapy. But it’s of course a lot more fun when I get so much great feedback and people genuinely seem to appreciate the work.
Do you think that hardcore punk webzines are way too promotional these days? What do you think about digitizing old zines and making their content available online?
I think it’s cool to make things available for everyone, but I prefer the printed media. There’s been some cool fanzine anthologies printed lately and I love that. I hope there are many more to come. When I brought the first issue at shows people couldn’t believe a dude walked around at a show in 2019 selling a zine, but they were stoked as hell. I appreciate what No Echo and other webzines are doing and that format definitely has its benefits. But nothing beats getting a new zine in the mail after waiting for days or weeks before you start flipping through the pages. It’s just a completely different experience. Also, the webzines/blogs/etc. tend to disappear and go offline after a while. If it is printed, people are more likely to keep it.
The fifth issue of Quarantined came out along with the amazing Greetings From Sweden compilation LP! How did you come up with the idea to make such a great compilation that reminds me of the MRR hardcore punk comps in the ‘80s!
I had been toying with the idea of releasing records for a while before my friend Eric said we should make a compilation together with an issue of the fanzine. I jumped right at it and we really shared the same vision of what the compilation should be. I appreciate the past and like to read and write about it, but often feel the present doesn’t get the attention it should.
We also felt that there are so many new bands coming around in Sweden that people should know about. We wanted the comp to be closely connected to the zine, so we asked some of the bands that I had interviewed for previous issues to join and they all agreed. The first pressing that came out along with Quarantined #5 was sold as a package with interviews with the rest of the bands on the comp that haven’t been in the zine already.
We asked Magnus who used to do Crash Mag to do the artwork. We also got a great help from Staffan who did Law & Order zine, and Jacob, who is the man behind Flubber. Every detail was carefully thought out and we were very happy with how it all turned out. The response has been amazing so far. We are currently waiting for the second press to arrive, with colored vinyl and updated sleeves and insert.
I’m a proud owner of all the five issues, plus the compilation LP. Can you talk a bit about the bands featured in your zine? What is your favorite interview so far?
I always try to have a good mix of bands in the fanzine. Different kind of hardcore sounds: Swedish and foreign, past and present. I was never into only straight edge youth crew bands or crust bands, and Quarantined is a product of that I guess.
My favorite interview… Well, that’s hard to answer. I haven’t really read them since they got printed, maybe I should? But I like the more lengthy ones that go deep and try to cover everything about a band. Like the Rain On The Parade, it was great working on that interview with those guys and it turned out great I think.
Another one I feel proud of is Modern Love that turned into more of a conversation between two friends and I love talking to Erik Anarchy. Exil turned out great thanks to 138 giving me awesome answers. I like it when bands have a little attitude, it’s a good read when it’s done well. I haven’t thought about it, but I feel like most of the interviews I’ve done for Quarantined are really good. Makes me stoked!
Are there any hardcore punk zines from 2020 and 2021 that you really like? Honestly, I’m really disappointed by a bunch of zines with bad layout and boring interviews recently, but there are some amazing projects still going on as well!
My two favorite hardcore fanzines at the moment are both from Belgium. Rage! and Ball Of Destruction. They really deliver both in writing and in the layout department, through and through. And while I feel I’m doing a solid fanzine, they are definitely ahead of me. And it’s not even a competition thing, we’re all supportive of each other’s stuff and both of them inspire me to always make Quarantined better. So that’s great. There are alot of other fanzines that are quite cool and have cool feats, but Rage and Ball Of Destruction really stand out for me.
Should we expect more surprises from Quarantined HQs? Anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t know about surprises, but there’s definitely more stuff coming soon. I have a goal of doing 10 issues of the fanzine before I quit. But if it stops being fun or I feel that it doesn’t turn out good, I will put it to rest. Fanzines are all about having fun, really. It’s hard work and it doesn’t pay off in any other way, so if it’s no fun there’s no use. But #6 is on the way and I have a couple of more ideas lined up.
Me and Eric also wanna keep it up releasing records. We have some projects in the works, but nothing that is set as of now. Thanks alot for the interview and support. Read more zines!