Merseysound: The rise of ‘fanzines’ and post-punk in the Merseyside region

Keryn Warner

Published June 2024



Merseysound was an independent fanzine established in nineteen seventy-nine, running until nineteen eighty-two, with a focus on musicians and the booming post-punk music scene in the city of Liverpool at the time. The publication gained popularity around the Merseyside region in the early eighties, featuring articles, biographies, and interviews with new musicians in the post-punk scene.

This item from the Institute of Popular Music (IPM) Archive is issue number 26, featuring Liverpudlian band Echo and the Bunnymen on the cover, with a photograph of the band performing at local music festival ‘Larks in the Park’ at Sefton Park in 1982. This issue includes interviews with Echo and the Bunnymen, Black and Unoccupied Europe, an account of Futurama music festival and other live performances, and a news bulletin for all things post-punk in Liverpool.

There was no indication when published that this would be the final instalment of Merseysound


A new movement

The late seventies saw a new genre emerging in cities across Britain: post-punk. Being defined as a more experimental mutation from the punk movement in previous years, post-punk offered a new movement driven by radicalism and stylistic eclecticism. This new experimental genre was characterised by the use of new electronic music innovations such as heavy synthesisers and warping effect pedals and is also identifiable by its fusion of various genre influences. Early pioneers of post-punk include the likes of Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Talking Heads.


Post-punk in Merseyside

The Merseyside region played a huge part in the development of post-punk. The late seventies saw Liverpool face a large amount of uncertainty due to a Conservative Party win in the general election and what would go on to be known as ‘Thatcher’s Britain’, resulting in the deindustrialisation of the economy. Such governmental changes resulted in mass unemployment, leaving the city being particularly vulnerable. The largely working-class population of Liverpool was very vocal, expressing opinions proudly and rebelling against government power. Despite this, the city seemed to maintain its vibrancy and rich history in creative industries, welcoming a new culture of post-punk with its principles of rebelling from conformist culture. Artists and bands such as Echo and The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, and Big in Japan assisted in making Liverpool a major player in the post-punk musical landscape with venues through the city becoming creative hubs for the new movement; one of the most notable venues being Eric’s club. Eric’s was set up by Roger Eagle in nineteen seventy-six on Mathew Street in the city centre and instantly became one of the city’s important music venues, creating space for emerging talent and those in creative industries. In his book about The La’s, the Liverpudlian band he co-founded, Mike Badger describes the Mathew Street area of the city at the time as being “awash with characters and individuals who never followed the pack but formed their own”.


Do it yourself

The post-punk movement’s association with freedom and freedom of expression led to the production of various publications surrounding post-punk music and culture. The ‘fanzine’ concept became increasingly popular. The defining qualities of a fanzine were identified by Stephen Duncombe in his nineteen ninety-seven book Notes From Underground: Zines and The Politics of Alternative Culture as: “non-commercial, nonprofessional, small-circulation magazines which their creators produce, publish, and distribute by themselves”. The popularity of zines/fanzines provided a  platform for music enthusiasts at a grassroots level to voice opinion in a ‘Do it Yourself’ style instead of seeking validation from large-scale established publications. These fanzines embodied what post-punk was truly about, whilst also creating a record of differences in the subculture from city to city – capturing the ethos of post-punk and the immeasurable impact it had from the very grassroots. The rise of zines also encouraged youth participation within the arts and gave young people a place of their own where they could voice opinions and get a foot in the door to the creative/music industries.


Roger Hill

Merseysound was founded by Roger Hill and Ronnie Flood. The IPM Archive cares for the Roger Hill Collection which includes material relating to BBC Radio Merseyside's alternative music programme ‘The Popular Music Show’, which Roger presented from 1982 until 2023. This issue has an advert for the show, originally called ‘Rock Around’ on its back cover:



Have ideas, carry them out

The zine was first published in nineteen seventy-nine, around the time Liverpool’s post-punk scene was at its peak. It was created with the aim to provide a fresh, personal account of the city and the post-punk scene at the time. As this example shows, the contents typically included gig listings, interviews with musicians, news, reviews of records and live performances and features. The zine was produced directly by those involved in the scene as well as fans. The very first article in issue twenty six is called ‘Audience Participation’, signalling that the zine’s creation is a collective effort:

“The magazine lives by people not just having ideas, but also carrying them out.”

This personal, low budget approach by Merseysound allowed for more opinion-based pieces and discussion of pressing issues within the community that would otherwise have been ignored.


Larks in the park, and elsewhere

Issue twenty-six of Merseysound features Echo and the Bunnymen on the cover during their performance at ‘Larks in the Park’ in Liverpool, September 1982 – recorded by the BBC for Pop Carnival. This was the first time that Merseysound had managed to get an interview with the already-established band, discussing recent performances, and offering readers insight into new works. The issue also includes an interview with local musician ‘Black’ and his collaborator and guitarist Dave Dickie. The interviewer emphasises the casual nature of the interview technique: “I’ve never seen the point in probing interviewees with carefully planned incisive questioning”. Other features of issue twenty-six include an overview of upcoming gigs (e.g Squeeze, Simple Minds, Ozzy Osbourne), upcoming record releases with a feature on ‘Sudden Departures’ compilation album, and a review/account of Futurama festival. 


A pivotal role and an immeasurable legacy

Despite the popular content of the zine, issue twenty-six ended up being the final issue of Merseysound. It was fairly common for this type of publication to have a short lifespan due to their niches and changing trends, but also because of the costs involved in production and distribution, and the limited profit made. Many other similar publications also suffered due to these matters (Sniffin’ Glue 1976-77 and City Fun 1978-84 are examples). Although short-lived, these fanzines played a pivotal role in creating cultures and belonging to certain groups in society, making their impact and legacy immeasurable.


Keryn Warner is a 3rd year Communications and Media BA student at The University of Liverpool. Keryn’s research interests include music industries, popular music, subcultures, traditional print media, and zine culture – topics she has focussed her studies on during her time in Liverpool.

Keryn is interested in the live events industry and documents attendance of such events through event photography and reviews. She is currently curating a digital portfolio for this.

Copyright Information

Please refer to the copyright information given on the Greatest Hits Exhibition main page. Merseysound fanzine, Number 26 is reproduced here for purposes of illustration in support of exhibition for non-commercial public benefit and education. Use of images seeks to remain proportional, insubstantial and fair. Limited quotation is provided for the purposes of criticism and review, as permitted by Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988). If you are a rights holder and feel copyright has been infringed, please refer to our Takedown Statement and Procedure.