Mass Movement: The Digital Years Vol. 1 by Tim Cundle

Rating: 3.5/5
Released: 2020
Pages: 484
Publisher: Earth Island Books
Buy Book:

Zines: they are something every music movement has birthed, some of which have gone on to become the most successful music magazines of today. However, it must be noted that the late 70s punk explosion gave a whole new rise to the music zine format owing to the do-it-yourself ethos.

One such author who came from this world and started such a zine in the late 90s was Tim Cundle, whose writings have covered some of the biggest and most influential artists of the punk, metal and alternative music worlds.

Mass Movement is the zine Cundle created in 1998 with very little ambition of it going further than a zine music fans would pick up for free at whatever gig was happening in their local venue. But, it evolved and moved from a strong printed format to an online zine in 2009. Here we have the collected works of its earliest online issues compiled as one.

Speaking as a music journalist who has written for underground music zines for the best part of a decade, I was impressed and taken slightly aback by the inclusion of film, literature and commentary pieces thrown into this compilation. Mass Movement covers more than just music which is pleasing for anyone who wants to hear more than just about their favourite bands in a homemade zine.

A very insightful and humorous interview with Stewart Lee stood out well for me in particular, as did an interesting piece looking into the mysteries surrounding the death of Edgar Allan Poe. Not to mention the hilarious comic strips “Thrashville Hardcore,” that gave the zine a likeness to a fully-functioning newspaper covering all types of quirky and arty topics that cross the minds of the alternative crowd.

What is great about Cundle is his want for including some of the biggest names in punk and metal to the more obscure or forgotten, namely the underrated 90s punk/grunge outfit: Seaweed, which had me wishing I’d read this when I discovered said band in 2008.

One of the best selling elements about a compilation book like this is the pleasure in opening it at any point and read something fascinating, be it what your favourite band got up to on tour or a review of a funny and gory b-movie that deserves a wider audience.

Interview wise, the questions are all very well thought out and insightful showing how committed Cundle is to his work. It was interesting reading what Billy Bragg said about the political scene in 2009 and how it made me realise how much things have changed since then. Or hearing how even the most financially successful bands on the scene today have their fair share of hardship both on the road and in the studio.

I would recommend anyone aspiring to be a music journalist to give this book a read, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it is included on music journalism courses in the near future. Cundle has fashioned a system of insightful and intelligent questions to give all artists and have them tailored to their style, outlook and attitude to provide in depth answers making Mass Movement an intelligent zine.

Or if you’re someone who remembers some great pieces from 2009 to 2014 in this publication, give this book a try, you won’t be disappointed. Music journalism at its most DIY and most intellectual.

Review by Demitri Levantis