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Front cover of Ablaze! issue 8, 1991, featuring the Wedding Present

Ablaze! is a British indie music fanzine, produced in Manchester and Leeds, that ran for ten issues between 1987 and 1993, and returned for an eleventh issue in 2015. The fanzine has been made the subject of a book, entitled The City Is Ablaze!, published by Mittens On in 2012.[1]


From the cover of Ablaze! issue 10, from 1993, the Riot Grrrl issue. Huggy Bear were the cover stars

In the 1980s Ablaze! was an early champion of UK 'noisenik' bands,[2] such as Dog Faced Hermans, The Wedding Present and the Walkingseeds, and US noise rock and grunge bands such as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Throwing Muses, Pixies, Mudhoney and Nirvana.

In the 1990s Ablaze! continued to champion many of the indie, shoegaze and punk bands of the era, such as The Pastels, My Bloody Valentine and Lush from the UK, Sugar and Nation of Ulysses from the USA. Ablaze! was influential in propagating the Riot Grrrl movement in the UK.[3][4][5]

From issue 5 a free flexi disc was given away with each issue, and with issue 10 a free 7" single. These featured exclusive tracks from acts such as The Wedding Present, Pavement, and Cornershop.

From its eighth issue onwards the fanzine was distributed across the UK, Europe and North America.

In 2015, Ablaze! returned after 22 years for an eleventh issue.[6]


The style of Ablaze! was informed by the DIY ethic that had grown out of punk, which eschewed involvement with the mainstream, especially non-independent corporate record labels. The tone of the content was more personal and more political than the mainstream UK music press, as can be seen by this quote from Karren Ablaze! in 1993:

Ablaze! is a fanzine because we are fanz, fanatics, zealots, extremists, we are wild for stuff we’re wild for and that fact can’t change, except these passions are so real they have sell-by dates, determined by my own chemistry.[7]

Emblematic of this approach was the record review section of Ablaze!, which gave humorous and acerbic appraisals of the latest releases.[8][9]

Ablaze! also stood out for its feminist perspective, and later Riot Grrrl perspective, on the underground music scene, where most often both the musicians and the commentators were male. An extended editorial in Issue 7, 1990, titled 'New voices, new guitars' argued for "music that celebrates a non phallic sexuality" against the "hackneyed and objectionable thrustings of male rock". and issue 10 included Girlspeak, the manifesto of Girl Power International, and 'Five Strategies For The Unleasing of Girl Power', which readers were encouraged to photocopy and distribute.

Ablaze! operated an international fanzine distribution service, 'Worldwide Contagion', and in its pages featured coverage of the UK fanzine scene, as well as coverage of fanzines and other alternative publications in Europe and North America.


Ablaze! was edited, and principally written, designed, and edited by Karren Ablaze!. Other contributors included writers Lucy Nation (Chris Trout), Gavin B., Justine Wolfenden (Hemiola Records), Steve Albini, Andrew Truth, Mark Williams, Ian Michael Hodgson, Bela Emerson, John Robb, Terry Bloomfield,[10] Richard Rouska, graphic designer William Potter, and photographers Ian T Tilton, Greg Neate, and Tony Woolgar.


"Ask Mrs Ablaze" page from the final 'mini Ablaze!' featuring advert for Riot Grrrl gig at the 1 in 12 club in Bradford, 1993

Karren Ablaze! went on to front the Riot Grrl groups Coping Saw[11] and Wack Cat.[12][13]

There has been growing interest in the pre-Internet era of fanzines. Music critic Simon Reynold wrote about the continuing legacy and appeal of the fanzine movement[14] for The Guardian in 2009, and in the same year Karren Ablaze! was invited by The Cribs to write about fanzines in general, and Ablaze! in particular during their guest editorship of The Guardian music section.[15] Ablaze! is featured in Teal Triggs book 'Fanzines' (Thames and Hudson, 2010).[16][17]

Ablaze! has been cited in discussions about women in rock music, including the books Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender (Routledge, 1997),[18] and Riot Grrrl. Revolution Girl Style Now! (Black Dog, 2009).[19]


  1. ^ http://louderthanwar.com/the-city-is-ablaze-the-story-of-a-post-punk-pop-in-1984-1994-book-review/
  2. ^ "I'll Go To T'Foot Of Our Stage - The Story Of Yorkshire Pop Music" Archived 20 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Craig Ferguson. FYP 2009.ISBN 978-0-9545333-8-0
  3. ^ But What of Us? UK Riot Grrrl - Part 2 Cazz Blase, The F Word, 4 November 2004, Retrieved 5 July 2011
  4. ^ The sound of my love will kill you Marceline Smith, Diskant. Retrieved 5 July 2011
  5. ^ Andy Roberts' 1993 Linusland Blog about the beginnings of Riot Grrrl in the UK. Retrieved 6 July 2011
  6. ^ https://www.thefourohfive.com/music/article/ablaze-interview-144
  7. ^ "Karren Ablaze! quoted in 'P-Rock Paradigms, Queer Hip Hop and Riot Grrrl Whiteness: Exploring the intersections of music, gender, and ethnicity in feminist zinesby Red Chidgey and Elke Zobl with Haydeé Jiménez". From 'Dig me out Discourses of Popular Music, Gender and Ethnicity' edited by Maria José Belbel / Rosa Reitsamer. Art Centre Arteleku, Spain/Austria 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2011
  8. ^ "SCRATCH Issue #1" "Not real kind to what's not good, but not mean either"
  9. ^ "Trenchant Judgements"[permanent dead link] A list of reviews culled from the British music press. "...Like a bastard shotgun marriage of Foreigner & A.R. Kane; their label offered us loads of cover flexis for nothing, which would have propped up our ailing finances no end, but f**k it, we'd sooner eat out of bins the rest of our lives than put out a Chapterhouse flexi." - Chris Trout (writing as Lucy Nation), Ablaze! zine. Retrieved 7 July 2011
  10. ^ Cambridge Journal
  11. ^ "Biography of Coping Saw" From Chris Trout's blog. Retrieved 7 July 2011
  12. ^ Wack Cat listing on Paroxysm Records Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 7 July 2011
  13. ^ Friends of Shellac website Brief biography of Karren Ablazes (sic). Retrieved 7 July 2011
  14. ^ "How the fanzine refused to die" Guardian.co.uk 2 February 2011
  15. ^ "Cribs takeover Guardian music: Hey Zinesters! How fanzines empowered a generation", "The Cribs have always been obsessed with the DIY culture surrounding music. They asked their favourite fanzine writer Karren Ablaze to write about how 'zines changed her life". Guardian newspaper 15 September 2009
  16. ^ "'Fanzines' by Teal Triggs" Thames and Hudson 2010, ISBN 978-0-500-28891-7
  17. ^ "List of 'zines included in Teal Triggs book 'Fanzines'" Website cataloguing controversy in the zine community caused by publication of Trigg's book
  18. ^ "Sexing the groove: popular music and gender" Ed. Sheila Whiteley. Routledge 1997. In chapter: 'Rebel girl, you are the queen of my world: Feminism, 'subculture', and grrrl power', by Marion Leonard
  19. ^ "Riot Grrrl. Revolution Girl Style Now!" Susan Corrigan, Julia Downes, Red Chidgey, Cazz Blase, Introduction by Beth Ditto. Black Dog Books, ISBN 978-1-906155-01-8

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