Bob Nalbandian, founder and publisher of the esteemed early ’80s heavy metal music fanzine The Headbanger, has struck a deal with Tokyo-based company Japanime Publishing to release all 11 issues of the Xeroxed ‘zine as ebooks. Never before has the fanzine — which featured early interviews of local and international heavy metal bands, including the very first profiles of then-unsigned Los Angeles bands METALLICA, SLAYER and MEGADETH — been available for mass distribution until now.
Bob Nalbandian founded The Headbanger in early 1982 when he was just 17 years old, and released the inaugural issue later that year. The seminal fanzine featured articles and interviews that vividly captured the emerging heavy metal scene.
Nalbandian says: “[Japanime founder] Glenn Kardy and I decided to present the readers an ebook version of the fanzine in its all its original, raw glory — without any touchups or changes to it. I’ve scanned all the pages of the first issue as is, or as was! What you’re getting is a digitized version of the original mockup, complete with cutout pictures and logos, rub-off letters, and typewriter print! The Headbanger was published long before the widespread use of home computers and desktop printing, so this is as hardcore and old-school as it gets!”
The first ebook will include an all-new introduction and reminiscence by Nalbandian, along with the entire contents of The Headbanger issue #1, which was released in May/June 1982. The issue features now-legendary all-female New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band GIRLSCHOOL on its cover and a review of the group’s debut U.S. show at the Whisky on April 25, 1982; colorful recaps of live performances by then-local L.A. bands RATT and STEELER; and no-holds-barred commentary on “new” albums by MOTÖRHEAD, IRON MAIDEN, RAINBOW, and the first “Metal Massacre” compilation. As a bonus, the ebook also includes the original full-page “Los Angeles Metal Report” that Nalbandian and his Huntington Beach metal comrade Pat Scott wrote for the March 1982 issue of Ron Quintana‘s nationally distributed fanzine Metal Mania. It was through this “Report” that headbangers living beyond the smog of the Sunset Strip were to read the first words ever published about a then-unknown Orange County/L.A. garage band … named METALLICA!
“Over the years, I’ve received tons of emails from people asking about The Headbanger and whether I ever plan to reprint the original issues,” Nalbandian says. “I figure since we are now in the digital age, it’s time I digitize those issues and give metal fans worldwide the opportunity to read and examine one of the original heavy metal fanzines in its purest format — all for only a couple bucks per issue. I originally sold The Headbanger for a dollar an issue (and the first one, I gave away for free). By turning them into ebooks, I feel I can still offer it at an ultra-low price and give readers the same experience as if they were reading the original fanzine with its wrinkled pages, typos, faded print, and atrocious spelling and grammatical errors! I can’t think of a better way to expose readers to a time in history when heavy metal music truly was an underground phenomenon, and tape-trading and metal fanzines were a way of life.”