Sean Carswell (Razorcake)
SPB: How has working on a zine changed how you listen to or value music?
Carswell: When I first started doing record reviews for Flipside back in the '90s, I learned to really listen to music in a way I hadn't before. Doing reviews taught me to sit down with an album and do nothing but listen, to consider what the band was doing, to pay attention to the lyrics, to hear every instrument, to trace influences, to think about the packaging, everything. It taught me to experience the complexity of punk rock. I know it's basically three chords and eighth notes and a lot of screaming, but that's way too simple of a view of the music. That's like saying that Moby Dick isn't all that original because Herman Melville only used twenty-six letters when he wrote it.
When we started Razorcake, I got first dibs on the records for review, so that exponentially increased the number of reviews I did. After doing well over a thousand of them, reviews started to weigh too heavily on the way I listened to music. I found myself reviewing everything in my head. It was no fun. I finally stopped doing reviews and started just buying the records I wanted. Now, I have the best of both worlds. I've learned to really listen to music, and I don't have to tell anyone what I think about it.