TKA's punk and alt-rock fanzine from the 1980s now available in a two-volume set, 'The Offense Book of Books'
On a recent weekday morning, Tim Anstaett compared the entry level of his Upper Arlington dwelling to the site of a plane crash, which would be true only if the plane went down carrying hundreds of CDs and records. Albums cover the floor and most other surfaces. Amid the musical rubble there's also a workstation where Anstaett puts together his WCRS radio show, “Yesterday's Top Secrets.”
Descend the stairs to the shag-carpeted basement, though, and it's a different scene. On a wood-paneled wall, show flyers and band photos from the 1980s cover just about every square inch, but it's all carefully arranged and organized. Everything in its right place. Concert flyers promote bands like the Fall, Nick Cave, the Pixies and Cocteau Twins at Columbus venues, some defunct (Mr. Brown's), some intact (the Newport).
The wall is a companion, of sorts, to The Offense, a music fanzine Anstaett published from 1980 to 1989. The Offense started out in “book” form, with Anstaett handwriting dispatches from towns he visited while working as tour manager for Columbus act the Cowboys, which featured Mark Eitzel before he started American Music Club (and Naked Skinnies). Along the way, other writers started contributing, and the zine picked up distributors.
Over time, Anstaett ended the book format and turned The Offense into a newsletter, which he published until 1989. “People were always asking me about back issues, most of which I had, but some of which I just did not, and it broke my heart to tell them that,” Anstaett said. So he began work on a book that would compile all the issues of The Offense in one place.
Enter The Offense Book of Books, a two-volume set that spans 900 pages and is available through Biblio Publishing at bibliobookstore.com, or at an upcoming reading at Lost Weekend Records on Friday, Jan. 11 (which will also feature a performance from Mike Rep), and at Ace of Cups on Saturday, Jan. 19.
The first volume includes the initial eight issues of The Offense (April 1980 through June 1981), and the second volume includes issues nine through 15 (July '81 through March '82). Future volumes will catalog the newsletter era. “They look better than the original issues because the original issues had a lot of faint ink and stuff,” Anstaett said.
As Anstaett notes in the Book of Books preface, “The letters of our name were tilted forward because we were moving forward in the direction that our arrow was pointing — ahead.” At this point, though, Anstaett appears content to look back on the archives, though he doesn't spend much time thinking about the legacy of The Offense.
“The first issue was just to show how easy something like this could be slapped together,” Anstaett said. “Some people really liked it. Some people didn't like it. But I just had to find some way to get the word out about the music.”