Young guys Paul Connolly and Mat Milinkovich spend lots of time in a world where they might often be perceived as "those two old dudes."
Like a couple Friday nights ago, when they helped put on a six-band, all-ages heavy metal show for which more than 200 kids paid six bucks apiece...at a church on Duluth's Central Hillside... despite three venue changes, the last just a week before the show.
"I don't know where those kids kept coming from," said Connolly, who's 26, but whose round baby face and record-store-clerk clothes could make him look 20. "I got there at five o'clock, and they were still paying to come in after the last band started. I kept thinking I'd get to go eat something, but after cleaning up I didn't get outta there till after one."
The show was a fundraiser for Duluth Presents, a promotion outfit run by a couple teenagers. They need a new public address system.
"The one they used for that show kept cutting out," said Connolly, laughing. "It's just a little rehearsal P.A. It was begging for mercy after a couple of those metal bands."
Peace United Church charged $75 for the room; Duluth Presents netted about $1,100 toward the new system.
What They Really Do. No, Really.
That event was something of a lark for Connolly and Milinkovich, who organize and promote quite a few shows, most often to celebrate (and offset costs of) their 'zine ...And the Heroine Screams Help! It was also right in line with their reasons for publishing ...ATHSH!
"We have showcases the last Wednesday of every month at Pizza Luce," said Connolly. "Our first show, last December, was huge, and now we have free rein over booking. We try to put on shows by bands that don't seem like they'd otherwise get the chance to play in here. Lots of young kids' punk and metal bands."
Bands like Bear Garden (http://www.myspace.com/beargarden), whose members were high school juniors when Connolly and Milinkovich booked them to play that December showcase.
"They're a phenomenal hardcore band," said Milinkovich, who's 28, big, with black-rim glasses and cartoonish tattoos all up and down his thick arms. “They drew 200 or 250 kids on a Wednesday night in the middle of winter. I was just amazed."
Consistent numbers like that mean ...ATHSH! has been self-sustaining. Connolly and Milinkovich have released a compilation disc of bands that have been written about in the 'zine, and plan to do a few more.
They both work full-time--Connolly as an ad designer, Milinkovich as manager of an adult foster care home--so the 'zine, like their membership in multiple bands, is a prototypical labor of love: all passionate emotional and physical investment for returns that people outside the scene might consider worthless.
"We're both really busy without the 'zine," Connolly says. "We've got wives and houses and full-time jobs. We try to squeeze in ...ATHSH! work in our free time. We want people to be able to count on it.
"Mat does a lot of the writing. We assemble all of them by hand. As a designer, I want it to look good."
"It's great when you get a hundred of them assembled and have three extra pages left over," said Milinkovich. "Then you go back through every one till you find the ones missing pages."
"We're basically working on it all the time," says Milinkovich. "We try to go bi-monthly. We had a release party to celebrate one of our last issues on a Wednesday, and the day after that we met for beers and to discuss the next issue on Thursday."
They drop about most copies of ...ATHSH! at Pizza Luce, across Superior Street at the Electric Fetus, and at a couple other spots nearby.
"We try to centralize it to be available downtown, where people most often buy and talk about independent music," Connolly said. "We don't see a lot of copies in the garbage."
Attention to their MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/andtheheroinescreamshelp) means they occasionally send a copy to somewhere unexpected.
"We sent one to a guy in Arizona," Milinkovich said. "He PayPaled the money within 10 minutes of me saying I'd send one. I don't think he'd even been to Duluth. It's a bizarre concept. I look at the friend requests for [his band]Farewell Tour's MySpace site , and it's like, 'But you're from Scotland!' "
So Is It Just a ‘Zine, Or . . . “
"It's a 'zine that focuses on the Duluth-Superior music scene," Connolly said. "We don't sell ads. We let our writers do stuff that they couldn't put in places that do sell ads. We love music, and we've put a lot of time into this music scene"--both he (a guitarist) and Milinkovich (a drummer) have played in multiple bands for a few years--"and we feel that while there were some big local bands a few years ago, younger bands will be replacing them, and we want to help them out. We don't directly state that we're a collective, but I suppose we are.”
Milinkovich said, "Honestly, the only reason we do the 'zine or the shows is so that when young bands are playing, we can get our old, shitty bands on the bill."
...ATHSH! isn't like the Junior League of Duluth's independent music scene, but Connolly and Milinkovich say they remember what it was like to be young(er) and starved for attention and opportunity--both as musicians and music fans.
Both Connolly and Milinkovich say that they appreciate using their deep experience as musicians and promoters to help younger people who want to know what goes into putting on a show, get a gig, record a CD, or just contact the people who can help them figure out how to be a "real" band.
"When I was in high school and playing in bands, I would have been giddy to be interviewed by someone who was publishing a 'zine," Connolly said. "Even just to have somebody to ask questions about how to do the stuff we wanted to do.”
But What About That Name?
"That's just what it always was," said Milinkovich. "It wasn't even the winner of a short list."
"I took a drama class when I was at UMD, and that phrase was part of the comments in the margin of a script," Connolly says. "I knew it was going to use it for a band or song name or something, and when we decided to do a 'zine, it seemed to fit.
"People think it's cumbersome, but it gets remembered. I suppose you could find significance in it if you looked at it hard enough."