Review: ‘The Coldest’ zine #1

This Chicago zine reached us with the comment that its existence was partly inspired by Creases Like Knives. Music to our ears – what could feel better than motivating someone not just to moan and bitch about us on Facebook, but to make an effort and build their own platform? This isn’t the first ever effort by Warren, editor of The Coldest zine, though: as a teen in the late 90s, the contributed a couple of “crude cut-and-paste” zines filled with ramblings on what was and wasn’t “real punk” / “real hip hop”. In hindsight, he finds them all “quite embarrassing … because of their immaturity, delusions or offensiveness”, he writes, which is “always the risk of throwing out to the world what’s in your mind when you’re young”. Never a truer word been spoken, and I for one prefer to cast a cloak of silence over my own juvenile efforts.

The wild 80s: Minneapolis Baldies

In the intro, Warren admits up front that although he got into Oi, 60s reggae, soul and other aspects of skinhead culture more recently, he is not a skinhead. He is a working class person, though – for him, that’s not just an ‘identity’ to gain street cred as an individual, he actually does his class proud by fighting as a labour union activist. The same honesty that runs through his other pieces also informs an article which details his efforts to unionise co-workers at an Iowa warehouse around 2005. There are small victories and defeats, mistakes made and lessons learned. When an effort ends in failure – Warren’s nerves get the better of him and he walks out on the job instead of continuing a seemingly hopeless war against a vindictive management – he admits to his mistake. But not without passing his experience on to you, outlining what to do and what to avoid if you find yourself in a similar situation. Great, useful stuff.

There’s a short history of the Crab label, an interview with DJ Brian Engel about Hipshaker, a long-standing monthly soul night in Minneapolis, and one about the Redskins (the UK band) and their influence on the US skin scene of the 80s. On the latter issue, Warren interviewed Kieran, formerly of 80s skinhead crew the Minneapolis Baldies and later of Anti-Racist Action, who was something like the Baldies’ resident Redskins expert back in the day. “Most of the Baldies were quite open to radical left-wing politics”, he says, “and the Redskins were one of the reasons why”. But in his view the band had a “bad side” too: it remained quiet on Northern Ireland and on anti-fascism, which Kieran attributes to the Socialist Workers’ Party line at the time.

Red vs brown: Jubilee Gardens 10 Jun 1984. Martin Hewes (Redskins) first left

It’s certainly true that the student-dominated Trot cult that is the SWP expelled a disproportionately Irish, blue-collar and skinheadish faction for what it dubbed ‘squadism’, i.e. freelance street-fighting against National Front and British Movement skins. But even if it’s true that this is why the Redskins avoided singing about Nicky Crane, Chubby and other such elements that pestered them at Jubilee Gardens, then I think this was a blessing in disguise for the band. Instead of obsessing over ‘boneheads’ – an easy, obvious and boring subject to write about – the Redskins crafted anthems about more important things, such as workers’ solidarity in the fight against the main enemy. And what great, soulful tunes some of them were… Also, as I already wrote years ago: “So you’re against nazis – but what are you for, mate?” Many bands couldn’t say, but the Redskins were all about the positives.

The zine also features reviews of music releases (everything from 45 Adapters to Violent Way is covered), books (including Hunger by Knut Hamsun, a novel I never finished reading as it was so repetitive) and films (pleased to see some Italian classics here, from La terra trema to the much more recent Suburra). The Coldest zine kept me good company on a long train ride last December – it’s a really worthwhile effort and I wish Warren all the best with it.

The Coldest zine is available for $5 if you live in the US or $7 if you live anywhere else – send through PayPal at (don’t forget to include your current mailing address!). There’s also an Instagram page (thecoldestzine) and a website at

Matt Crombieboy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s