The Past, Present and Future of KC's Metal Magazine

I started getting the idea to start Banzai sometime in the summer of 1986. At that time, The Pitch was a little 8 page monthly that ran mostly album reviews and calendars of a few clubs. I wanted to put something out that wrote about local bands. I put together the prototype issue of Banzai in September of 1986, it was a flyer describing what it (Banzai) was going to be and it dropped a few names. I passed these out at a show at the Uptown Theater on September 19. Banshee was the headliner with Mortal Reign and a band called Forced Entry on the bill.

A week or two later I got the first issue printed, it featured a review of that Banshee show and another show headlined by Leather Toyz that was at the Uptown a week after the historic Banshee show. The following few months I put one out every couple of weeks as a double sided 8.5x11 flyer. In 1987 Banzai moved into the folded 11x17 format. In October of 1987 I turned 21 and I was able to get into bars and see more bands, things started moving forward. By March of 1988 the mag had become a newsprint tabloid. It was during this time that Jeff Shibley did the layout of the mag. Jeff was the publisher of The Note, a music mag that he started in Wichita and moved to Lawrence. I did the leg work distributing The Note around Kansas City and he more or less designed the layout of Banzai. By the spring of 1989 though, Shibley had other people distributing his mag and I subsequently got my own Mac and started doing it all my own. 1990 was the biggest year for Banzai in terms of output, there was a new issue released every three weeks. In 1991 not only did Banzai hit the streets once a month, I started another paper called Metro Music Journal that I published monthly for about a year.

In 1992 it seemed like Banzai was almost on cruise control. In 1993 I got divorced and had a 1 year old son I spent a lot of time with and Banzai wasn't an important thing in my life. Banzai started coming out bi-monthly and it was looking like a shadow of it's former self. In June of 1995 I published what at that time was the last issue of Banzai. The scene was changing and I just wasn't into it anymore. It was a few months later that I officially announced that I was ceasing to publish Banzai. Traci Wild had a Sunday night show she did on "The Rock" that was called Unsigned. She let me come on the show and announce how I was ending the mag. Some months later a former Kansas City musician who called himself Bishop Steel sent me some copies of a magazine he put together in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where he was now living. He called this publication Rock City News. I told him he should use the name Banzai and he published a few issues in 1996 before running out of steam. In 1997 I started thinking about getting the mag going again and in July of that year the new era of Banzai began. The mag has a different look but since I started Banzai again it has only come out 2-3 times a year. I haven't sold any ads and I have mostly financed the printing by having the "release parties" at America's Pub. Now with the dawning of the "electronic age" of Banzai I think that things are heading in a good direction.

Jim Kilroy

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