Journalist Matthew Jacobson interviews the creator of Knockabout World.

Lodged and locked inside bricks and mortar, lockdown life has been a struggle for us all. With our spirits on trial these days, and nights have been frightening. It has provided more time to explore music and to read more and more. But like millions around the globe, I am missing concerts, family and friends. 

Adapting to this new world has taken time. I do not deal with change well, but I do not deal with ‘normal’ well. And when you are stuck in 1979 like I am, I have had to upskill and utilise technology to keep in touch with family and friends via all communication avenues. 

And one of those avenues has been social media – which can be unsocial, frustrating and a conveyor belt of two fingers flashing in your face with the stranger and their strange fingers hitting plastic keyboards with a dangerous desire to upset your evening cup of tea. But some days, something shines and something captures your imagination, especially when it is about Morrissey, and on this day, Knockabout World did just that. 

The fanzine returned to my world and triggered memories of old. The advert immediately took me back to the days before the minute by minute stream by stream world whereby the myth, magic and romance of the music world, I feel, can be lost. The fanzine took me back to the days I scrutinised weekly music newspapers, magazines and weekly pop shows. It was the only stream I had to peek into the music world. The gap in between the weekly releases, updates and television/radio shows felt like a lifetime, but this also maintained the mystic and the romance of music. But, the fanzine was also part of that romance, it played a crucial and critical role for updates, stories and connected fans. And today, Knockabout World takes me back to those days I was quietly observing and quietly dreaming.

I naively thought social media had killed off the pre-existing appetite for fanzines, especially the physical copy, but the wonderful Morrissey community lapped it up, and I am so glad they did. I welcomed the fanzine with open arms, but I wanted to know more about the inspiration behind the fanzine, so I interviewed the creator and editor, Bethany.

M: Have you collected fanzines over the years ?

B: Surprisingly, no. The concept of a fanzine was something that was very new to me at the time. I believe they skipped my generation entirely! However, I always keep an eye out for them now. I want to keep it very similar to what they once were – sort of as an ode to them. I must make Celibate Cries proud!

When did you first have the idea for the fanzine? 

I first had the idea in the of summer last year when I was reading a book about The Smiths. The acknowledgements page recognised a fair few fanzines; I sort of looked up from the book and said to my Mum ‘what if I did that?’ She of course had no clue what I was going on about, but once I had explained she told me to go for it and the rest is history. It all happened very quickly.

Did you have many challenges and hurdles to overcome?

I would not say I had many hurdles as such, but I definitely had to do a lot of research. I dived into this with no experience, and not knowing if people would even want to read it. I originally only planned on printing 25 copies as I had such little faith in myself at the start. I think that was the biggest challenge to overcome, actually taking the leap to start the project.

What have been the most enjoyable aspects of creating knockabout World?

The list is endless! It has all been quite unbelievable. The most enjoyable aspect continues to be communicating with people who are actually interesting; have something to say and giving them a place to say it. I have made great friends by starting up the fanzine, and we are all passionate about the same things. It creates a deeper connection in a friendship when that happens, compared to the people you associate with merely out of convenience in your day-to-day life. Also, having somewhere to write about Morrissey has been very beneficial. Talking about him is a full-time job for me, so having this fanzine means my family gets a break from hearing what Morrissey did on this day in 1992.

I felt knockabout world created a real buzz and it received wonderful feedback – how did you feel when the fanzine landed in the hands of fans?

All of the feedback was very heart-warming for me to read. The contributors are the real stars of Knockabout World. The articles have been spectacular; I went crazy for what I was reading. The fanzine arriving into all of your hands was one of the proudest moments I have experienced. I have no words for the feeling – but it was profoundly overwhelming. I believe Matt that you were the first person to receive the fanzine, as I sent yours out the day before the others. 

And what next for Knockabout world? 

An interview with Morrissey. That is, of course, when he acknowledges my existence. 

Thank you, Bethany.

With Peace and Love,

Matt Jacobson

Author of Pieces of Morrissey

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Matthew Jacobson

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