I wasn’t sure I had the stomach to read exactly which “random sections” (as my girlfriend, the informant, called them) Amazon or my publisher (who I should probably call on Monday…we have some catching up to do) chose as the free, perusable content in my book, Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock, I can never remember the full title, until I noticed this:
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
I was just trying to explain this band to my girlfriend. In the past, I’ve actually had one or two incredulous responses when people have learned Personal Best is one of my top five albums of the 90′s. These are always people who have heard ABOUT the band, not HEARD the band. I’ve probably owned over six copies of this record because I literally wear them out. This band isn’t what Sleater Kinney “should have been” or “wishes they were” or what have you. This band informs other bands of their place in rock, which is almost always “Let’s make the best of what and where we are, cuz it’s never going to be anywhere but many, many levels below THAT”.
I MUST END ALL POSTS WITH A PARTING SHOT OF SELF-PROMOTION!
My first book, Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock will be in stores on November 15th (2010) but you can pre-order it by…..
As of this writing, my book has the #42 sales ranking in the “Punk Rock” category’s Top 100 on Amazon. Nice to be back!
When I stumbled upon THIS BLOG, I admit that it stung a tad (read his mission statement). Why? Well, for the past two years, I have fancied the idea of releasing a Nuggets-style series based on the wealth of forgotten brilliance released after 1988 and before 2003 or 2004 (this is a rough time-frame). I’ve made lists and even mentioned it to a select few. I think about it at least once each day, and “you better get your shit together and figure out how to do this because it’s not an original idea and someone’s gonna beat you to it” is often the theme of each thought. Sure, a blog is one thing, and an actual release is another, but it’s not exactly a crooked, convoluted line running between each of the obscurity-worshipping, 90′s-focused blogs (of which there are more than I’d imagined…nice to see the good fight being fought) and a relatively successful (at least critically) series of comps. I’ve even made several mp3 postings that featured what I considered way ahead of the curve or totally neglected, and all of that music was released in the 90′s. My problem was (and is) consistency. And my problem on the “Why not, just go ahead and do it” front is, of course, that old booger-bear known as “ENOUGH MONEY” (along with “TOO MUCH OTHER SHIT ON MY PLATE”).
….but soon enough, I will be releasing the first 7″ under the “Andrew Earles Productions” (not incorporated) banner. Picked up the sleeves a few days ago, in fact. STAY TUNED!
Eric Davidson’s We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988 – 2001 far surpassed my expectations, though having never met Davidson, nor read any of his past work, my expectations had nothing to do with his writing skills or personality. My expectations were based in my own experiences as a close observer of the book’s subject as it went down. As far as participation goes, I went to a lot of shows, posted a lot of crap on the Goner BBS, and count some of the book’s participants as long-time friends. I was never in a band, nor did I release any records that could be considered a part of the late-80′s/entirety-of-the-90′s garage revival/garage-punk scene dissected with great care within this book. Also, I never considered The New Bomb Turks (Davidson was the singer) to be fully-embedded in said scene, but I suppose they were.
A word about that band:
My second or third year of attending shows by myself, before I made friends that didn’t listen to Phish or say things like, “What the fuck is this, Metallica?” when I would play My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything, I witnessed a Supersuckers/New Bomb Turks show that knocked my dick off. Both bands, neither of which had graced my car stereo or turntable at that point, were so loud, tight, and all-around great that the record collection was soon representative of each (I did not do merch tables at this point). The Supersuckers sat down during part of their set because, if I remember correctly, the show (at The Antenna Club) drew a rather anemic crowd. Still, they were really powerful and in hindsight, totally predicted the Hellacopters/Turbonegro sound by over half-a-decade. There wasn’t much around that sounded like early Supersuckers, save for The Dwarves, who sounded a lot better and faster, and in a far-removed manner, Monster Magnet. The New Bomb Turks parted my hair. The big fat guitarist played a Flying V, and the entire band was very clean-cut….almost preppy. Not preppy like Tar or Helmet, because no cargo-shorts could be found on stage, but preppy in a very, very dialed-down thrift-shop/retro way. Button-down from a bygone era, but the kind you could wear to your corporate job and nothing that screamed “RETRO!!!” like what soon be blanketing the garage scene in a year or two. This band was so fast that I remember thinking, as I drove back to my mom’s East Memphis apartment, that there should have been more hardcore people in attendance. My understanding of hardcore, or rather, the people at hardcore shows, was a nascent one at best. I also remember the forcefulness of the music and Eric’s version of a front man made me think, “I would never recommend this to any of the girls I know.” But back then, the guys I knew might have rocked some bad taste, but the girls I knew rocked NO taste….in anything. Lastly, both bands had major hooks and songwriting chops – easily as powerful as the volume and visceral thrust of everything else. Only The New Bomb Turks translated these hooks to record…for me personally, that is. I made cassette dubs of “Destroy Oh Boy!” and the 2LP “Pissing Out the Poison”…..they didn’t leave the car deck for at least a month.
…and a word about that book (the real reason for this post):
See…The New Bomb Turks were so much catchier, louder, and faster than 98% of the garage-rock scene of the 90′s. Sonically, they little to do with the boobies-on-the-cover, retro-robot, Big-Daddy-Dumbshit agenda of said 98%. And barring The Turks, The Cheater Slicks, my hometown’s own Oblivians, The Necessary Evils, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and a few others, none of these bands truly ROCKED. When you play with little vintage tube amps and sub-shit quality pawn shop Silvertones, it’s kind of impossible to rock. Throw in the fact that hooks and songwriting appeared to comprise a major allergy in this scene, and you get a great big “Check, Please!” from me. I mean, it’s pretty hard for me to take someone seriously when they look like they’re gearing up for a bike chain-swinging rumble in the park or a sock-hop. It didn’t help that rockabilly revivalists, garage-rockers, and later, swing revivalists, had a lot of crossover, and that the majority of these folks were as musically close-minded as your garden-variety Baptist preacher. Davidson knows this, and is obviously a soul with a wide range of musical loves, though the chasm between his “thing” and some of the more short-sighted of interview subjects…is tastefully handled, of course. That’s why he’s been able to make a living as a music writer. Oh, that and the fact that he’s clearly not a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather (another problem lumbering around that scene).
Another refreshing development, yes DEVELOPMENT, is the style of first-person prose in which the book is written. The mere fact that he decided on this may not be surprising, given the author’s participant status, but the frequency of hilarious opinions and a sort of “meta-biographical” intermissions (stopping to give a humorous anecdote about a source that declined to be interviewed for the book), could have caused the entire affair to fall flat on its face, but it works perfectly and Davidson should get credit for breathing life into the form.
Ok, let’s get selfish. See that t-shirt Davidson’s wearing in the above picture? MY BOOK about THAT BAND will hit shelves in less than a month. Not to state the obvious, but Husker Du: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock is a different animal. It’s an animal I’m proud of, however, and you should pre-order it by visiting this link: