Mike Minicucci was the editor of a great fanzine back in the day called Blood-Shed and I thought it would be fun to day to take a trip down memory lane with him. (Chris Forbes)
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the South End of Springfield, Mass. It was predominantly an Italian section of town back in the day, still randomly sprinkled with fellow Paesans to this day, but since the adaptation of the MGM Springfield, the powerhouse casino muscled it's way into the South End and devoured all of the property surrounding it, took land by eminent domain, etc. We gravitated to good ol' Westfield, MA, when I was a youngster and it's where I've resided ever since.
What sort of kid were you growing up?
Well, I was always a rowdy kid, had a particularly quirky and violent temperament about myself. Not sure where it all came from, as my parents were very mild mannered, your classic all American family growing up, but then there was Mike.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I'm really not sure what I wanted to be growing up. I certainly didn't have any high asperations to become anything in particular like a cop or fireman. I guess you are influenced and inspired by certain people and certain things when you are young and impressionable. Growing up, we always loved motocross, BMX, bikers, skateboarders, hippies, etc... I always gravitated toward the rock star, long hair, burnout, pot smokin', beer drinkin' kinda folks.
Did you ever have any desire to play any instruments at all?
Actually, I come from a very musically inclined family. My Mom was very proficient at the accordion and piano, my sister played the violin, my older brother played the guitar and the trumpet, my younger brother played the guitar, bass guitar and trumpet as well. I played the guitar since I was a little dude all the way through my teens. Played in my high school graduating class band and we banged out Neil Young's "Comes A Time," for our class song, which was right up my alley as a huge Neil fan growing up. I definitely wore out the "Live Rust" 8-track.
What was the first styles of music that you heard? Was it stuff on the radio, MTV or something that your friends found for ya?
Lol, I have to laugh at the MTV part, because my musical roots go wayyy back before MTV was ever a thing. Some of my earliest records that I actually owned were Bobby Sherman, Three Dog, John Denver, etc..., before I finally graduated to the likes of Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult, etc... I used to sit in the dungy cellar of our old house obsessively listening to the top 40 tunes of the early 70's on my old AM radio. Music has always been a big part of my life.
How did you discover the wonderful work of metal? What were some of the first bands that you heard and are you still fans of those or any of those bands today?
I'm not sure if it was my record or my older brother's, but we got Kiss Alive I for a Christmas present one year and we played that darn thing till the needle wore off the record player. There was something very all-consuming about the whole album, the record sleeve, the gatefold cover, etc... especially when you are very young and impressionable. I guess KISS was the gateway to the next levels of heaviness. For me it was Scorpions, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Ted Nugent, Deep Purple, Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, etc... And yes, I still listen to all those bands today. Matter of fact, I've had Judas Priest "Unleashed In The East" stuck in my cars cd player for about 6 months now.
Now how did you discover the world of underground metal? Was it through friends, a magazine or MTV, etc? What did you think of this style, was it something you embraced or it took a couple listens to get into?
Well as an avid tape trader for many years, I was always exposed to the latest and greatest underground acts. I remember trading with people all over the country, so I was always on the cutting edge of new underground demo releases. It started with Slayer "Show No Mercy", "Haunting The Chapel" & "Hell Awaits", Possessed "Seven Churches", Exodus "Bonded By Blood", Mercyful Fate, Venom, Sacrifice and of course the mighty Metallica. I just couldn't get enough of their energy and brutality. The slashing guitars, the thunderous drums, the growling voices. It will be forever embedded into my body and soul. I still listen to all that stuff regularly today. Also the influence that the American and international press had on me was immense. It exposed me to a ton of new bands. I loved all the old metal mags Kerrang, Metal Forces, etc... They opened up so many avenues to expand my knowledge of the underground and my always growing collection of vinyl and cassette tapes (before cd's were ever a thing!!).
What were some of the first bands that you heard and liked? Was there any that you didn’t like? Are you still fans of these bands these days or have you moved on?
Again, it was the bands like KISS and Van Halen that were probably the most influential bands in my early stages. There's not much that I still don't listen to. With the advent of YouTube, etc..., nothing is impossible to find these days. It's actually fun to search out old stuff and give it a spin after 30 or 40 years.
What were some magazines that you read? Did you know about Kerrang, Metal Forces, Metal Hammer, etc or did that come later on?
Haha, that's a good one. I'm a product of the 70's, so it was Creem Magazine, Hit Parader, Circus Magazine, Rolling Stone when I was a kid. I used to love flipping through the pages and looking at pics of KISS and imagining them without makeup because back in the day, nobody ever saw them without their makeup. The metal mags were a way of getting close to the bands you loved. Later on I became a huge fan of Kerrang, Metal Forces and of course Metal Hammer back in the late 80's early 90's. These mags were always on the cutting edge of the international scene and always had new tape trading connections. So we were constantly being exposed to the latest and greatest underground trends and bands.
Did you have a solid metal scene up in MASS at the time and were there clubs for bands to play and record stores to visit to buy and check out things? Was there any sort of underground record stores that stocked imports and stuff?
We had a decent scene back in the day. Most of the bigger death metal bands passed through the Western Mass area when they were out touring. It certainly wasn't as vibrant of a scene as some of the bigger cities like Boston, Providence, etc... Some of my favorite clubs were of course Katina's in Hadley, MA, Bunratty's in Boston, The Living Room in Providence, The Ritz in New York City, the legendary L'Amour in Brooklyn, Streets in New Rochelle, Toads Place in New Haven, The Channel in Boston, the Sundance out on Long Island and Club Babyhead in Providence just to name a few. For record stores, well my favorite was always Main Street Music in Northampton, MA. They always had the best vinyl underground releases and all the latest underground and import magazines. My other fave's were Brass City Records in Waterbury, CT, Platterpus Records in Westfield, MA, Rhymes Records and Cutlers, both in New Haven, CT.
What was the 1st concert you went to? What was the first metal concert you went to and what was the first metal show you saw in a club?
Wow, jeez, let me scratch my head for this one. The first show I ever witnessed live and I guess it can be classified as the first metal show was Ted Nugent and Blackfoot at the Springfield Civic Center in 1977. It was everything I had imagined a big rock show to be. Loud music, the air filled with clouds of marijuana, hippies and headbangers everywhere. Ted Nugent swinging from one side of the stage to the other in his loincloth, screaming Wango zee Tango. It was just a great and memorable experience for a 12 year old kid. The first club show, well I think it was Raven, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax way back in the mid 80's, I can't really remember.
What did you think the first time you saw an actual fanzine and do you remember what the name of the zine was? After seeing it did you find out there were other fanzines being printed and done all across the US and even overseas?
The first zine I actually bought was called Metal Mania, I don't remember where it was from, but I instantly fell in love with the typewriter written pages and crappy Xerox quality. That was more my speed. I still have it to this day. I believe is was dated like 1981, 82 or 83. As I stated previously, Metal Forces was always a great source for underground zine contacts and tape traders. And of course as you know, the small ad's that we all distributed in our never ending surplus of envelopes of outgoing mail was how I found out about all the great underground zines like Slayer Mag, ISTEN, The Book of Armageddon, The Rage of Violence, Metal Core and countless others.
Was there any local fanzines in MASS at the time? If so who was it?
I think BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE was the first that I know of, at least in the vein of death and black metal. I had it distributed through the local record stores. I always did good selling my 'zine. Even though I only put out 5 issues, they all sold out internationally at about 500 copies per issue.
Now take me through the steps of what made you decide to start up your own fanzine. Did you do any prior writing before starting up your own? Did you even have any idea what you were doing or did you seek out advice from other zine editors on what to do?
Well, I've always been an artist, drawing cartoons and caricatures and stuff since I was very young. I was obsessed with paste up's. I used to make my own cassette covers way back in the early 80's for my Ozzy and Van Halen live bootlegs. So I've always had a knack for doodling and expressing myself through my artwork. I'm not exactly sure what inspired me to do my own 'zine other than my intense obsession with the underground scene. It was also a way of expressing my own personal thoughts and feelings about the music and the underground scene that I was so consumed by. I never sought out advice from anyone. I did my own thing and had great success with it.
How did you come up with the name for your zine, which was Blood-Shed? Were any other names thrown around?
The name BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE was actually derived from some old Slayer lyrics. I don't remember ever considering any other name.
How long from when you started work on your debut issue till it actual came out? Were you the only writer or did you have other people helping you out? How did you end up getting band interviews for the 1st issue? Were they done live or through the mail or a mix of both?
I believe it was about a year in the works for the first issue to finally hit the streets. A lot of the content is from 1989 but the first issue was actually released in 1990. I was the sole person behind the entire magazine. I never asked anyone to contribute because I wanted everything to be mine, from the catchy layouts to the interviews, artwork, reviews, photos, etc... It was my baby for about 6 years before I stopped producing it. I ended up getting my first band interviews through good old fashioned snail mail. It was an exciting time, sending out those questionnaires and waiting patiently by the mailbox for a response. I started recording all my phone interviews with my little pocket recorder. I have some incredible interviews that I may release on a compilation some day. The likes of Mayhem, Immortal, Slayer, Deicide, Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Nuclear Death, Immolation, ohhhh, the list goes on and on.
Who drew up the covers for your issues? What is it the same person or different people?
As I stated previously, I am responsible for every aspect of the zine. No contributors or collaborations were really ever needed.
How many copies of your debut issue did you print and who exactly was in it? How about reviews. Did you write to any bands saying you were starting up a zine and got demos from them?
My first issue was released in 1990. The list of interview list goes as follows: SADUS, DECEASED, VIO-LENCE, MORBID ANGEL, MALEVOLENT CREATION, MORTICIAN and VITAL REMAINS. There could be more but I don't even own a copy of my first issue, so I can't tell you whole heartedly. Yeah, pretty much just sent out the interviews and hoped they'd get returned. And it was always your typical trade, a free demo for a review in my magazine.
How did you go about selling the 1st issue? Did you go to any shows to sell them? Did you know at this point to make up ads and have bands and other zine editors pass them throughout their mail to help you sell copies?
I made up my own ad's back in the day. I was already pretty well entrenched in the scene, so I knew how it worked and how to promote your own goods through advertisements. I never really had the desire to sell my magazines at shows. The only show I ever brought them to was the inaugural Michigan Death Fest in 1990. It was pretty much one of the first ever multi band, multi day festivals featuring all underground acts. I brought copies of BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE out to Michigan. It was a long van ride. We all piled into one big passenger van, myself, Ed Farshtey, Will Rahmer, and the entire Immolation crew. That was when I first met Will and Ross Dolan. I think I gave away and traded more copies than I sold that weekend.
If you remember, how well did issue # 1 sell and how long was it before you started work on issue # 2. Do you feel issue # 2 was an improvement over issue # 1.
As I previously stated, all my issues sold out in 500 copies. I have a few original copies of issues 2, 3, 4, and 5 left in my vault, but I don't even own a copy of issue 1 myself!! I don't really remember the transition from issue 1 to issue 2, but I always prided myself on giving the reader quality interviews, honest reviews and captivating layouts and artwork. I'm sure the layout quality got better with each each though.
How was the underground scene going while you were doing the zine. Tell me some personal highlights you won’t ever forget. What were some of your favorite interviews and not so favorite interviews?
The death metal scene was thriving when I was involved in it from the late 80's through the 90's. I guess some of my personal highlights were seeing for the first time all the bands that I was totally into at the time, DECEASED, NUCLEAR DEATH, MORBID ANGEL, AUTOPSY, DEICIDE, MALEVOLENT CREATION, SADUS, OBITUARY, SACRIFICE. I mean the list is just endless. And of course interviewing my favorite bands was also a charge. I fondly remember interviewing Glen Benton for the first time after their show in Providence back in 1992, he invited me onto the DEICIDE "War Bus" to conduct the interview, and we just laughed our asses off while Steve Asheim was a human farting machine.
During the time of you doing the zine, did you have any bands write you a really nasty letter to you because you gave them a bad review ha ha?
No, I don't ever remember having any of those situations. A lot of the crappier newbie bands would complain that the next 'zine wasn't out fast enough, so they could get a glimpse of their review, lol
What are some of your favorite shows you saw back them and favorite bands and releases?
I guess some of the best early shows and tours to pass through the area would be Morbid Angel when they played the Sundance out on Long Island in 1989, it was their first shows north of Florida, so they were pretty meaningful in the fact that it was their first time in New York. Really great and brutal show, Trey and Richard bleeding profusely from their arms, Dave Vincent commanding the stage like he did back in the day. And I guess Deicide's first East Coast tour to support their debut lp, I got to see them like 6 times on that tour. Immolation supporting Dawn of Possession, saw them 3 or 4 times with Goreaphobia. Saw the original Massacre back in the day with the classic lineup of Kam Lee and Rick Rozz, Terry Butler, Bill Andrews. Ummm, heck, I've seen a lot of shows, Mercyful Fate back in the day, King Diamond always been one of my favorites. The Chester Death Fest in 1991 in Chester, NY featuring Mortician as the headliners. I took 2 classic pics of the band that actually appear on their latest double CD "From The Casket."
How many issues did you end up doing? Did the circulation go up with every issue? How about mail. Did you ever have to get a PO BOX? Were you getting lots of demos and label promos by like issue 3 or 4?
I did 5 issues from 1990 to 1995. I never had a PO Box, never needed one, everything was delivered to my parents house, so it was fun to stop by after work and pick up a new bundle of goodies, lol. I sold out of all my issues in 500 copies, the first issue I think sold out in 300 copies. I was getting lots and lots of stuff before I even published my first issue.
What led to you stopping the zine? Was it just taking up too much of your time or was it you were getting older and you started getting other responsibilities?
Yeah, I think the level of commitment involved to put out a good quality 'zine and the fact that the underground scene had just turned into a trendy pile of shit, were both contributing factors. I mean I loved all the time and correspondence that came with it, but I don't miss it at all. And oh, by the way, I raised two wonderful children back in the 90's so that definitely consumed 99% of my life.
Did you know at the time you were doing a last issue or you didn’t know at the time? From what I remember, none of your issues were on newsprint correct?
Well I'm not really sure what you mean by newsprint, but it basically got down to the fact that it was taking longer and longer to put out an issue, and my interest had pretty much dwindled by 1995, so it was issue 5 and done, it just kinda died out it wasn't a clear cut decision to stop. I still have some excellent unpublished interviews that I may publish some day on a BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE interview compilation, stuff like Dave Lombardo, Mayhem, Immortal.
What did you do after you stopped doing the zine? Did you do any writing for any other publications at all? If so which ones?
Well with the advent of social media, I started a BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE page on Facebook and also an Instagram page called @bloodshed_zine. I basically use it to show off my concert photography as I was still (until Covid) getting out to a lot of shows using my BLOO-SHED 'ZINE credentials. I also posted an interview with Canada's Necronimicon that we did in upstate New York, my friend Darren and I, on the Belphegor/Suffocation tour in 2019.
Do you have original copies of all your issues? Would you ever possibly release them on the internet one day? Have you ever gone on say Google and did a search for Blood-Shed fanzine or gone on Ebay to see if anybody was selling a copy?
I have a few copies of each of the issues besides issue number one. It's funny cuz I see them pop up on eBay every once in a while and the last one sold for $52, lol. So there's still interest out there.
What were some of your favorite fanzines you traded with or read back in the day?
Oh jeez, I really don't remember all of them but there was No Glam Fags, The Book of Armageddon, Slayer, Isten, Metal Core, The Rage of Violence. I really didn't care for the cheapo ones that were people just hopping on the bandwagon. I enjoyed the ones that were truly hardcore fans of the scene and dedicated every part of their being to putting out a decent publication. That's how I became really good friends with Joe Pupo, Ed Farshtey and John Verica.
So since the demise of your zine, what have you been up to in a nutshell? Do you ever miss the days or doing the zine? Do you have a favorite issue?
Well I have raised two very bright and successful children. My daughter is a dental hygienist in Boston and does really well for herself, and my son is in finance and living in Connecticut. To tell you the truth, I miss the old days of the scene, and I've tinkered with the idea of putting together a compilation of BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE issues one through five, like SLAYER MAG did a few years ago, all of them squished into one big, thick book. I think my favorite issue was issue number 4, which had a censored nude of Paul Ledney on it, and the Profanatica interview was classic, with questions about the Norwegian scene, church burnings, and I even asked him about tossing off on a bible way back in the day. He's a great guy and I love that band as one of my favorites ever. I've seen them a bunch of times in the last ten years or so and Paul and I always have some great conversations about the past. Matter of fact, the last time I saw them in November of 2019 in Providence, I gave Paul one of the original issues of BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE #4.
Do you think you were a good interviewer and fair with the writing of your reviews?
I always tried thinking outside of the box for my interview questions, rather than the run of the mill stuff. I always prided my work on being a cut above the rest in terms of quality, originality, etc... And yes, I was always honest about my reviews, sometimes brutally honest and that would offend some people. But you have to call it like you see it or else you are just another poser jumping on the bandwagon.
A bunch of us old farts have reconnected on Facebook and to a lesser extent years ago on MySpace. Have you found many people from the zine days on Facebook and cool is it writing and chatting with people from the golden oldie days?
I've been friends on Facebook with a lot of the old timers from the early 90's, Ed Farshtey, Joe Pupo, John Verica, yourself of course and obviously a shit ton of people in the metal community in general who I've been friends with since the old days, Terry Butler, Rick Rozz, Jeff Becerra, Will Rahmer, Chris Gamble and a slew of others. I don't even remember my MySpace password, but it was filled with lots of metal content for sure.
If asked, would you ever consider writing for a website at all?
Oh, for sure I would do it. I love getting out to shows and taking pictures and would have no problem conducting an interview or writing a review.
When I say the words Blood-Shed zine what comes to mind?
The good old days of chilling with cool people, going out to see shows and just the great vibe that the scene gave off back in the late 80's and early 90's.
Mike if somebody reading this and remembers you and stuff where can they contact you at?
I am on Facebook at Mike Minicucci, the bald guy with glasses, or you can find me on Facebook at BLOOD-SHED 'ZINE. You can also visit my Instagram page at @bloodshed_zine and check out my concert photography. Reach out!!!
Horns up for doing this chat and any last words to wrap this up?
Thank you Chris, its nice to stay in touch and thanks for taking the time to conjure up this great interview. Hope to be back out on the concert circuit in 2021 taking my pictures. Peace brother!!!
Interview by Chris Forbes
Answers by Mike Minicucci