Mommy's Little Monster:
S.L.U.G. Comes of Age
By Jamie Gadette
Counterculture movements are often connoted with youthful rebellion. So what happens when the chief representative of Salt Lake’s alternative music scene finds itself growing up? Salt Lake Underground Magazine (SLUG) will be ringing in its 14th year with a raucous celebration of debauchery, complete with four rocking bands, free giveaways and a giant birthday cake, from which a tatted-out queen is expected to emerge.
The local independent publication has come a long way since its 1989 inception. Founder J.R. Ruppel (currently of Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons) left after five years, relinquishing full control to former Guitar Gallery owner Gianni Ellefsen, who managed to take the magazine to a level that garnered national attention. Unfortunately, while enhanced exposure attracted high profile acts, local bands were relegated to the sidelines. It is that disparity that current editor Angela Brown aims to dissolve. “Since I’ve taken over, I have tried to keep a balance between both sectors,” Brown said in an e-mail interview. “SLUG should not forget its roots—the local scene.”
That said, Brown admits that it’s difficult to adequately represent the full spectrum of local acts within the confines of the monthly ’zine. Running SLUG leaves little time to scout out local talent, thus sources are limited to word-of-mouth in addition to material sent directly to their headquarters.
Brown, who initially joined SLUG as a freelance photographer, had increased her involvement as a managing editor when Ellefsen asked her to take the wheel. Although faced with several lucrative career options, Brown opted to stay true to her roots. “I knew that if I didn’t act [then], I would always regret it,” she says. “I’ve never looked back.”
Since Brown took over, SLUG’s circulation has increased by 10,000 issues. The widespread distribution has helped many underground and emerging bands gain the necessary leverage to propel them to proper (but certainly not sell-out mainstream) success.
Brown, along with Assistant Editor Rebecca Vernon, are continuing to take the magazine to greater heights. Plans are already in effect to release a SLUG Compilation, one which will trump past efforts with its emphasis on national promotion.
Hopefully the move toward increased popular exposure won’t overshadow SLUG’s characteristic do-it-yourself brand of gonzo journalism that laughs in the face of Utah’s dominant theocracy. The grassroots methods employed by the staff of photographers, graphic designers, “monkeys with typewriters” and other crucial contributors are constantly geared toward upholding First Amendment virtues. Self expression and creative license triumph over compliance with Utah’s oppressive theocratic rule.
On March 1, join RED, co-sponsors of the anniversary
party, at Club X scape to applaud SLUG Magazine’s enduring appeal.
A grab-bag bunch of local acts are slated for the event, including Anima
Nera (“broken or black spirit”), Iodina (the “iron
chef of music”), Stiletto and the Corleones (a band that inspired
SLUG’s Camilla Taylor to claim, “If I became closer with
[them] I would fear for my life”).