is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization that publishes the Razorcake fanzine
, a DIY punk rock
fanzine published bi-monthly out of Los Angeles
. It was co-founded by Todd Taylor (former Flipside
managing editor) and Sean Carswell
(author and Gorsky Press co-founder) in 2001
As Flipside was going under, Taylor decided that he did not want to cease to write about music. His initial idea was to create a webzine instead of a print zine because of financial restraints. Taylor told Carswell, during a trip to Florida
, about his plan for a webzine
. Carswell suggested that a print edition be produced. Taylor concurred, stipulating that Carswell needed move to Los Angeles in order to assist with the production of the fanzine.
The name for both editions was chosen while searching for a domain name. Many of the 300 possibilities, such as “Born to Rock” and “Barbed Wire Asshole,” were either taken, too expensive, or thought to be a name that “would trap [them].” “Razorcake” was suggested by Katy (a.k.a. KT), a friend of Taylor and Carswell. The name was chosen since it meant nothing and was economical, and Skinny Dan (a.k.a. Danny) set up the website at www.razorcake.com.
March 2001 saw the first issue of the print edition of Razorcake. The inaugural issue was the only one to bear a newsprint cover. Every issue since the first has had a glossy cover. As opposed to the cover, the focus of the content within Razorcake has never changed. Also, the fanzine’s circulation has more than doubled (to 6,000) since the first issue.
In late 2005, Razorcake was approved by the IRS as an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
. Razorcake is the first magazine in America dedicated to independent music to obtain 501(c)(3) status. The new organization combined the Gorsky Press and the zine, and is now officially called Razorcake/Gorsky Press, Inc. This meant that not one person could individually benefit from Razorcake. All money earned goes back into day-to-day operations and keeping Razorcake afloat. Razorcake wanted to show that its business model was out in the open in order to demonstrate that a sustainable business could be ethical, fair, and true to its ideals long after its first issue.
From the interviews it runs (contributors interview bands based solely on their appreciation), to the advertising allowed (no major labels and “below-market price” advertising to those in the DIY community), to the method of the zine’s distribution (not via chain stores, but directly to individual stores and people), Razorcake operates outside of the corporate structures that a traditional music magazine would embrace. With only two people on staff, all of the material offered in both editions of Razorcake is donated.
Razorcake sees itself as a constant celebration and criticism of contemporary DIY punk rock. Every piece that Razorcake runs is exclusive. Razorcake provides long-format, detailed interviews with contemporary punk bands (including Dan Padilla, Toys That Kill
, Fucked Up
, The Ergs!) and with punk pioneers (such as The Adolescents
, Dead Moon
), with an ongoing attention to its own roots of East Los Angeles (publication of the East L.A. Family Tree, and including interviews with The Brat, Alice Bag
, Los Illegals
, and Circle One).
Razorcake not only interviews bands from all over the globe (Gorilla Angreb
, Career Suicide
, The Regulations), but punk-affiliated artists—photographers (Edward Colver, Bev Davies), graphic designers (Diane Gamboa
, John E. Miner), writers (Brad Warner
, Chris Walter)—and political thinkers such as Howard Zinn
, Christian Parenti
, and Candace Falk and Gary Pateman (curators of the Emma Goldman
Besides Todd Taylor and Sean Carswell, former Flipside writers Donofthedead, Jimmy Alvarado, Designated Dale, Kat Jetson, The Rhythm Chicken, Jessica T., Nardwuar the Human Serviette
, and Rich Mackin all wrote for the premier issue. Many of them remain with the publication, but Razorcake also has a raft of columnists who are well known in the DIY punk rock community as zinesters
, musicians, and artists including Ben Snakepit, Amy Adoyzie, Rev. Nørb
, Maddy Tight Pants, Dan Monick, Jim Ruland, Liz O., Kiyoshi Nakazawa, and Mitch Clem
. In addition to these columnists, Razorcake has one staff member, Daryl, several dedicated reviewers, and guest contributors.
, the book publishing arm of Razorcake, founded by Sean Carswell and Felizon Vidad, predated both the Razorcake website and zine. Its mission is similar to Razorcake in that it focuses on high quality material from marginalized and disenfranchised writers. Gorsky Press has released books by underground writers such as Patricia Geary
, Bucky Sinister, James Jay
, and Jennifer Whiteford
In 2006, razorcake.com was revamped. To reflect its non-profit status, the website’s official url became www.razorcake.org. The website provides an almost wholly different set of content than the zine, while retaining the same focus on DIY punk rock by publishing live reviews, photos, columns, and interviews different from those appearing in the print edition.
By 2007, the razorcake.org website had been updated over 10,000 times, primarily by the posting of individual record reviews. The website is updated with a new home page story every two to three days. Also, Razorcake made early issues available on the site in .pdf format for free March 2008 saw the launching of Razorcake’s first set of podcasts. For the first time since its inception, people could hear directly from Razorcake the music on which Razorcake focuses.
In 2007, the Razorcake Records label was launched. Razorcake Records is also a non-profit venture. It conscientiously selects bands from the DIY punk rock community that share the same values as Razorcake. The first two releases were part of what Razorcake calls “The Sister Series.”
The Sister Series is a cultural exchange that aims to connect Los Angeles area bands to other bands from various locations. This is done by simultaneously releasing two separate 7” records
by two similar independent bands, one of which is local to the Los Angeles area while the other is not. The first two bands in the series were Toys That Kill and Tiltwheel.
- Toys That Kill – Sister Series 7”
- Tiltwheel – Sister Series 7”
- Tiltwheel – The Heavens Declare the Glory 7” reissue (co-release with Accident Prone)
- God Equals Genocide – The World Is Wearin’ Me Down 7”
- Tiltwheel – Battle Hymns for the Recluse Youth LP + CD reissue (co-release with Accident Prone)
- Killer Dreamer - 1,000 Years of Servitude LP + CD (co-release with 45 RPM Records)
- God Equals Genocide – Life of Doubt 7" (co-release with Dirt Cult)