What Down the Line is and isn’t… a Letter to Nobody and Everybody

Down the Line started years ago, Matt and I had a vision that is coming to fruition with each and every issue we put out. What was the vision, you ask? Check out our zine to get it:) What we are is simple: we are a collective of people who put out a free zine, we do stories/articles/interviews solely out of our love for the music, and we hope that in some small way we can spread the word about new independent artists as well as the “established guard” that comprises the mix of music and interviews that we cover. That means that out of the 6-8 contributors for each issue, we make time in our personal lives to put out a lot of hard work and effort into doing stories that interest us, and hopefully interest you (the reader) as well. The Zine itself encompasses hours of work in not only the articles, but also the reviews and the technical aspect of the layout, etc.

I’m stoked that the Zine is growing, I regret that usually I am the hold up to an issue getting out because I am perpetually late with everything. I’m excited that we have some unique perspectives and musical tastes that vary with each contributor, and with that being said…

We cover music and artists and stories, what we have never done and will never do is cover artists personal life unless it directly relates to the music. We don’t go around dishing dirt on people we cover because we are interested in the music, not on personal shortcomings of the artist represented. Every artist represented in our zine is human just like everyone else. If we choose not to cover someone based on their ‘past’, their ‘sins’ and their ‘shortcomings’, we would quickly run out of bands to cover. Again, we are interested in the music, not the limitations of who we ‘can/can’t’ cover because of their past, regardless of how vile it may be.

Consider this as well, just because we do a story does not mean that we know the ins and outs of the people involved. I know that I don’t generally have a back story on individual people and their personal lives, I only know about the music or the art they have created. I honestly do not keep up with many things in “Christendom” (or in the CCM world), I do keep up with the music that we cover, and the artist as it relates to the music. Sometimes you do an article and find out later that the person covered is not a nice person – that happens – but to pull out because of that seems disingenuous to me.

We’ve been accused of all sorts of stuff in the few years we’ve been doing this, and most recently accused of endorsing a criminal in one of our stories. My feeling about that is that if anyone looked at my personal past, I might be considered a criminal as well. So would many of the good people we’ve done stories on in the zine. Considering what Jesus said to the criminal next to him goes a good measure in my mind, and Paul (who gets quoted more than Jesus) called himself ‘chief’ among sinners. People do crappy things, it’s human nature… does it mean that we shouldn’t discuss something positive they have done as well? How many people quit listening to The Who after Pete Townsend’s child pornography charges? If we did an article or a review of The Who’s albums, would we be endorsing child pornography as well?  How many people quit listening to Phil Spector albums after he was found guilty of murder and Lord knows what else? If I talk about how great someone’s music is when they are known to have glaringly obvious character and ethical defects, am I endorsing the music or the music and everything that individual has been involved in? What if the person was convicted and time/punishment served, does that matter? I’m asking the question because I genuinely want to know.

Why does any of this matter??? It matters because it covers a range of issues when writing in a ‘Christian’ Zine. Readers, and people who don’t read us, look at stories from a broad perspective. In the ‘Christian’ community these stories also get filtered through every readers individual bias on what is morally or ethically correct, it gets filtered through the lens of what is or isn’t ‘sin’. It gets held to a different standard because it gets judged through each person’s religious belief as it pertains to right and wrong. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time, take comfort that we’re not trying to please anyone ever; we’re doing what we do because we want to shine a light on some really great art, it would be nice to start a discussion on social issues as they relate to us all as well, but for now we cover music.

Thanks for reading the Zine to those that actually take the time to digest and flip through what’s in between the pages. There is no shortage of good music coming that we will cover, and feel free to email or message us at any of the copious amounts of social media where you find us, let us know what you like, don’t like, or what you want to see covered more or even covered less…we’re all in this together, right?

About Steve Ruff

Music is what moves, motivates and inspires me.
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