Terminal Boredom began as a small webzine where garage rock aficionados critiqued new (preferably vinyl) releases. The site eventually added a messageboard, which soon attracted a wider arena of amateur opinionators who vented on everything from haircuts to shitty day jobs. It’s also the place where the now-ubiquitous Nathan Williams of Wavves received much of his early interest and eventual antipathy from the catty community therein. With TB’s focus on lo-fi and garage lately crossing wires with the tastes of certain popular music websites, we spoke with Terminal Boredom’s editor Rich Kroneiss about haterism and the oxymoron that is the indie music establishment.
In the past year or so, a number of bands that in a different environment would’ve just passed through a garage-punk sifter like TB have been embraced by the indie media establishment. Do you feel that TB’s at all responsible? (Psychedelic Horseshit namedropping the site in that weightless Wavves snafu comes to mind.)
I wouldn’t want TB to take any credit (or blame) for helping Wavves or Psychedelic Horseshit reaching some modicum of popularity. TB, editorially, didn’t really push either band. Indirect message board fallout, sure. I think a lot of it was just good timing for those bands, as there lately seems to be some strange overlap with indie mainstream tastes and the garage/lo-fi underground, which we’re a part of. And for the record, even though I’m not a huge Psychedelic Horseshit fan, I think what they’re doing is miles ahead of Wavves. I would like to think TB was somewhat helpful in some way for someone like Jay Reatard signing to a big label, as we’ve been covering him since the BG days. I don’t want TB to be seen as some hype-factory for flavor-of-the-week bands or anything.
Have you noticed any change in attitude since this wider public recognition of your existence?
Casual readers/visitors might think that TB operates in some bubble where we only listen to garage or In the Red releases or whatever. I think that part is untrue. I’m sure we’re looked at as “hipsters” or something by some people, probably the same people we would call hipsters. As far as whether I myself operate in some bubble, I rarely read other music blogs, unless they’re about old punk or metal or something. As far as attitudes within the TB staff/community, I get the impression a lot of us think the more widespread it becomes, the more diluted it gets. Becoming exposed isn’t necessarily bad, but it can mean you get a lot of lame people hanging around trying to stick their noses in who didn’t [originally] care. People not in line with the original vision of the community. I think we’ve become a little more guarded and suspicious (and caustic) the more that people we don’t really know come around.
An ongoing theme in both the message boards and your own editor’s space on the site (see: your fake P4k logo) draws a line between your own tastes and that of the greater indie mainstream. What distinguishes you from them?
I think a big part of it speaks to the fly-by-night/flavor-of-the-month point. The “indie mainstream” (is that an oxymoron?) seems in a hurry to pick-up on whatever is hot at the moment, and whether or not they can generate some revenue for somebody in some way. Obviously, TB doesn’t have those concerns. We cover bands we believe in based on the music regardless of whether it’s trendy or hip or sellable.
The indie mainstream would’ve given up on a band like the Cheater Slicks years ago, yet they’ve continued to release over a dozen records over twenty years, popularity be damned, and they haven’t changed a bit to try and be more accessible. The Hunches were one of the best bands (both live and on record) of the past five years and released three LPs and a slew of singles before breaking up last year, all to little acclaim from the indie mainstream, and I doubt they cared. Those are the types of bands TB’s taste lies with.
Before Terminal Boredom, you had the ‘zine Blank Generation, and to a lesser degree, you wrote for Rip Off Records. Is Terminal Boredom another roof under which the same circle of garage aficionados and friends have passed judgement and information for more than a decade?
Things were obviously a lot smaller and more insular in the Blank Generation days. I’d say all but one or two of the people involved with BG are now or have been involved in Terminal Boredom to a great extent, so it’s definitely many of the same voices and tastes from then to now. We’ve all become older, crankier perhaps, more open-minded even. I wasn’t a fan of having the message board originally, but I gave in, figuring it could propagate some sort of community around the ‘zine. People from a pretty diverse range of bands and scenes came around and it became a community of its own.
Do you think a message board has the ability to inform a wider cultural conversation?
Yes, I do think a community like TB (or something similar) could impact popular culture, but once it does that it kind of defeats the original purpose. It’s a really fine line where you start questioning whether you’ve given up some of the integrity of the original vision. We stay rooted in underground music for a reason, there’s always that desire to hear what is going unheard by most people, to see music made and performed on a really visceral and roots level. I would love for more of the world to be listening to the music Terminal Boredom covers, but also once that happened it wouldn’t be so underground anymore. Something else would spring up covering the underground, and that’s probably where I’d end up. So perhaps it’s better in the long run that we remain on the fringes.