“As long as I have to live around here, I might as well try to make it suck a little less.”
That was the motivation when Kim and I split off as editors of Revue to found and begin publishing Recoil 14 years ago in Grand Rapids. I sold my guitars and convinced my brother Chris Frantz (not the drummer for Talking Heads) to put up his Henry & Wealthy Street house for a loan. Kim and I didn’t know anything about publishing, but together we managed to gather a loyal group of writers, readers and advertisers. When Eric Mitts came on as music editor in 2002 and Benjamin Hunter became head of sales around the same time, Recoil hit our stride in print, publishing what grew to be as much as 80 pages of news satire and regional entertainment in West Michigan every month for 168 issues.
My cousin Matt Schilstra has put 80 hours per week into recoilmag.com at a rate of one cent/hour since day one, and Andrew Watson has written about music for every single issue as he and Mitts have defined Recoil’s music taste. The incredible Weston Eaton has written about everything from brewing beer to naturalism. Suzanne Beveridge, Mike Church, Jen Moshpit, Ryan Cunningham, Sherrie Coke, Dr. Steve Mikulak and at least 40 or 50 other contributors have helped Recoil thrive as a free regional rag.
Reverend Charles Preston Smith has written church reviews and delivered half of Grand Rapids hardcopies every month for a decade. Sheila Streeter and Mark Ritzema talk film, Jeff Smith has critiqued local media, Karisa Wilson has written about local hip-hop, Kim Kibby has spun design, Randy Hughey has done delivery, Dick Bill is Dick Bill – all working for beer money if anything in order to keep Recoil in print.
When I was hospitalized in February of 2012, Ben Hunter literally saved Recoil, editing an entire issue in six days with zero notice. Brian Edwards saved Recoil again in 2013 while I began sorting out my alcoholism problem, Drew Miller and Adam Levine helped write satire during the last couple of years, and Jayson Bussa helped guide our most recent issues.
And now we’re excited to bring some much-needed change to the Recoil brand in both content and delivery.
In 2015, Recoil will be going even further, continuing to deliver local news satire and the counterculture lifestyle in a new print format while transitioning largely to digital delivery through video on recoilmag.com. (Even The Onion didn’t go entirely out of print.) With help from new and current contributors and readers, Recoil will be making the jump to warp speed.
Also: Hunter, Cunningham and I worked together this summer with Scott Hickok and Tim Bober to create Sext Farm: A Tribute to Spinal Tap: a band and ongoing video series intended to introduce the concept of satire to a new generation of audience through live performance and documentary film. Footage of live performance from the absolute loudest rock band I’ve ever been in is interlaced with improvised comic scenes and/or scripted material to create Sext Farm, which is available on Recoil Mag’s youtube channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvTWf409KaE.
Speaking of video, Recoil will be unveiling our new series of video satire online at recoilmag.com in 2015, along with new content and new ideas from the crew of devoted contributors who’ve worked behind the scenes too long. If the Ice Bucket Challenge taught our culture anything, it’s that the time for people doing crazy shit on video is NOW.
See you in 2015, transmitting Recoil on more levels. Here’s to not drinking,