Deanna Evenbeck is a fanzine editor I knew back in the 90’s as she did a fanzine called Metal Mafia. I thought it would be fun to interview her about her days as a fanzine editor so here we go.
Here we go. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Born and raised in a small town in Ohio called Fostoria.
What sort of girl were you growing up?
I was always extremely shy. I didn't talk to anyone unless they talked to me first. I've grown out of that for the most part, thankfully. I had my small little group of friends and never cared about fitting in with the "cool" kids.
What were some of the first music styles you liked or bands?
Started out with 80s hair bands. I remember when we got cable TV and watching all of the videos on MTV -- you know, back when they actually played music videos. I was obsessed with Poison when I was in junior high. Then in high school, I started getting into the heavier stuff. I think I was the only kid to wear a Death shirt in our school.
Did it take you a bit to get into underground music or did you take to it right away?
I started getting into the heavier stuff via Headbanger's Ball, then a friend of mine recommended a local college radio show that played mostly all underground metal. I was addicted to it immediately. I would wait for it to come on every Friday and Saturday night, so it didn't take me long at all to get into some of the underground bands.
What were some of your favorite bands at this time?
Underground wise, Internal Bleeding, Dying Fetus, Decay, Scattered Remnants, Fleshgrind, to name a few
What was the first concert you saw and the first underground metal concert you saw?
I became friends with one of the DJs on the underground metal radio show I listened to. When I was 19, he and I went to a show in Michigan that was in someone's basement. I don't even remember what bands were playing, but thought it was so cool!! Other than that, my very first concert was Pantera and Sepultura when I was 17.
Did any record stores around your sell any underground music and/or magazines at the time?
There was one in Bowling Green called Madhatter Records that I frequented. The owner always gave me free sampler CDs and stickers. I was so sad when they closed down.
What were some early fanzines that you read? Were there any local fanzines around your area?
Oh wow, now you're really going to make me think back. Of course, always read Metal Core. Canadian Assault was one. Brutalized (I think). I really can't remember the names from so long ago. I'm old now, ya know? As far as I know, Metal Mafia was the only 'zine in this area.
Yes, Brutalized was a fanzine out of PA. So how did you decide you wanted to do a fanzine? Did you have any idea what you were doing in the beginning?
I've always love to write, and growing up, I thought it would be cool to work for a big magazine and interview bands. Once I was introduced to the world of underground zines, I knew I wanted to do my own. I really wasn't sure what I was doing in the beginning, but I learned a lot along the way, Once I brought Jen and Jill on, we put our 3 heads together and came up with some pretty good ideas for it!
How did you approach them about doing the zine, when I say approach obviously it was by phone or regular mail as no internet back then. Were they right on board rather quickly?
Jen and I were penpals before I started doing the 'zine and soon after I started the 'zine Jill and I became penpals. We all ended up meeting in person at a fest and then I think I approached them about helping out with it. They were excited about it! Everything was done through the mail back them.
Tell me how many names were tossed around before you came up with the name "Metal Mafia"?
I honestly don't remember. At first, I named it after a Pantera song, but then decided it wasn't the direction I wanted to go. I then had a contest to change the name. We had quite a few entries, but it's been so long, I honestly don't remember any of them!
What was the first issue like and around what year did it come out? Do you remember how many copies you printed around?
The first issue came out in the late 90s. Not sure of the year, maybe '97? It was done on an electric typewriter and all of the logos and photos were pasted on to the pages. I think I made like 50 copies at a local copy store and then hand stapled them all. Man, that was a lot of work!
What was the feeling like having that first issue in your hands?
Amazing! I felt so proud. I probably flipped through it a hundred times! It's an awesome feeling to see your work in print!
How soon did you work on issue 2?
I honestly don't remember, but I'm sure it was probably fairly soon!
Who was in lovely issue #2?
Well, that was over 20 years ago, and I really don't remember. Unfortunately, I don't have copies left either. I'm very sad about that!
Well let's move onto issue #3. Were you starting to get more demos, and promos by now? Was the circulation of the zine up at all?
Oh yeah, by number 3, word was starting to get around and I was spreading hundreds, if not thousands of fliers. At this point, everything was still done through old school snail mail and I spent hours upon hours writing bands back, listening to demos..etc. Those were the good old days. By then, I had definitely printed more than the first issue. I was taking them to shows and passing them out, sending them out through the mail..etc.
Did Jill or Jenn have free reign on who they wanted to interview? Were there ever any bands they ever interviewed you were not a fan of yourself?
They usually asked if it was ok to interview the bands they wanted to, but I always let them do what they wanted. I don't think there were ever any problems. We all had similar tastes in music.
Looking back, do you think your reviews were pretty fair and did you give any band or bands a bad review that they sent you a letter back ripping into you so to speak?
The thing is, everyone has different musical tastes. When I reviewed bands, I tried to be as fair as possible, even if I didn't like their sound. Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean you wouldn't, so I tried to describe the music and how well the music was put together. I don't remember ever getting any hate mail for bad reviews. Most bands thanked me for being honest despite a negative review.
What were some memorable shows you saw over the years and what were some of the farthest places you traveled to go see a show(s)?
I think the big metal fests were the most memorable! Went to Milwaukee Metal Fest in '97 and '99. Also went to the New Jersey metal fest once or twice. My favorite though was always the Ohio Death Fest. It was such a blast every single year. Amazing bands and amazing people!
With each issue the 3 of you were releasing did circulation go up as the amount of pages? I recall one issue was at least on newsprint? Did you which at some point from using white xerox paper to newsprint?
Yes! Once we switched to newsprint, we started at 1,000 prints. We began selling ads and charging a couple bucks to help with the cost of printing. It wasn't cheap and we were paying for the majority of it out of our pockets. We ended up doing 4 or 5 issues in newsprint. People were buying them from all over the world. It was a great feeling.
How many total issues did you end up doing? Do you have any original copies of each issue? Do you have any extra copies for sale?
We only released 10 issues, unfortunately. I wish we could have done more, but life took a different route. I have a couple original copies, but no extras for sale any more.
What made you decide to stop doing the zine? Was it a combo of things and was it your decision alone or all 3 of you?
It was a culmination of a few things. Once internet started taking off, no one wanted to buy ad space or purchase a zine when everyone had a website and zines were going online. We did have a website going for awhile. I think we all discussed moving to an online zine. Then I ended up getting engaged and pregnant, and life was just too busy to keep up with it after that. I do miss it a lot!
Did you do any sort or writing at all after the zine folded up till today?
Yes, I did some freelance writing and am published on various websites. I also wrote a book!
Tell me all about this book.
It's a book about my life with my abusive narcissistic sociopath ex-husband. I was living in Hell for many years, but came out on the other side a better and stronger person!
Is the book still for sale? What were sales and reactions like to it? Sad to hear you went through such a horrible experience.
Thank you. It actually made me a stronger person, so all is good now. I had great reactions to it. Some people said they read it a few times! I am not getting rich from it or anything like that, but I do get some royalties every month. It is still available on Amazon Kindle. It's called The Devil's Masquerade.
Throughout the years did you continue to go to shows and stuff and buy music?
I tried as much as I could. It was just difficult after having 3 kids within one year, time and money were both cut short.
What are some of your favorite memories you have?
Oh man, so many great memories. The best memories were made at the big fests. Seeing Cradle of Filth perform their first US show. Hanging out with Killjoy in New Jersey and the Ohio Death Fest. The metal fests were always like big family reunions and were some of the best days of my life. One night after watching Cannibal Corpse in Cleveland, my friend Carolyn and I asked George Fisher if we could interview him. He said of course, just give him a few minutes. In the meantime, everyone had left and the bouncer told us we had to leave. We explained that we were waiting to do an interview. He didn't care and made us leave. George saw this happen, so he walked out into the parking lot to get us and walked us back in right in front of the bouncer. That interview was hilarious.
What would you say was the best fanzine you ever read and why was it the best?
Probably Brutalized and of course, Metal Core! I just loved reading all zines and seeing how they were done, how they were put together. I always loved reading interesting interviews.
What have you been to for say the last few years and how many new people did you reconnect with via Facebook?
I've just been living the dream, Chris! Raising 3 teenagers on my own keeps me very occupied! Facebook has been amazing for reconnecting with people from the old days. Unfortunately, there have been a few people whom I used to be close with that are no longer into the music, so they act they don't know you. It sucks when you get excited about finding a long lost friend only to have them completely ignore you. Thankfully there have only been a few like that. I love having the ability to keep in touch with everyone else!
Would you consider doing some writing for a webzine whether it be reviews or interviews if offered the chance?
Most likely! I've thought about starting up some kind of web zine or blog, but just wouldn't have time to keep up with doing everything, but would love to contribute!
When I say the words "Metal Mafia Fanzine", what goes through your mind?
A lot of really great memories! It reminds me of a very fun time in my life. I interviewed some great bands. Made amazing friends. Went to some awesome metal fests. I loved everything about doing the 'zine.
Do you still talk to Jill or Jenn these days?
Yes! I talk to both of them on Facebook or texts. Jen came to visit a couple of years ago, and we had a blast!
Oh that is great to hear. Now horns up for doing this chat and any last words for everybody?
Thank you, Chris. It was a lot of fun reminiscing about the good old days. Anyone who remembers me from the Metal Mafia days can feel free to add me on Facebook. Horns up!
Interview by Chris Forbes