Hello everyone during this tumultuous spring that has been hectic, productive, and somnolent too — from a death in the family to a benefit for Oxfam’s humanitarian efforts in Syria, which my bands the Hates and No Love Less played. For those keen to know more about my upcoming books, I just received the copy-edit files for the Politics of Punk, which numbers a bit over 200 pages right now, and if the process remains smooth, that book should be released in August, right in time for the Fall. In the meantime, my other book, Out of the Basement, which chronicles my own hometown scene in a slender, but graphics-loaded volume that skirts between memoir and oral history, will not officially be “released” until 2017, but I have pushed Microcosm to make copies available for purchase as early as November, in time for your holiday reading pleasure. Right now, I have three book events planned in the Fall — Oct. in New York City and Nov. in Chicago — plus a local Houston release party in Sept. As the details emerge and solidify, I will provide information.
As you might know, Dave Dictor of MDC just published his own work, Memoir of a Damaged Civilization, which sold well during the band’s latest jaunt across the states. I helped edit his work here and there over the course of a few years, and anyone that enjoys the triangulation of politics, humor, and history needs to read this breezy text. Dave is a character like no other — plus he helped me raise $200.00 to benefit the treatment of John Stabb of Government Issue, who unfortunately died a few weeks back. Those bills will affect his spouse for the foreseeable future, so if you have some money to spare, and love their songs as much as me, please find the time and heart to help here, a special Go Fund Me page dedicated to the issue.
Also, click here, to read my interview with Dave Dictor, which the Houston Press published in April.
On a much lighter note, below I will list a handful of new articles that have emerged.
Speaking of Washington D.C., Razorcake just published my interview with members of Red Hare and Swiz. Here is my intro, and click here to read the full piece.
Jason Farrell, lauded guitarist/singer of Bluetip and Retisonic, is a mythic figure who imprinted his legacy on Dischord Records by designing plentiful albums, including the postmodern packaging of Fugazi. As a teen bravado guitarist, he made sizzling records with Swiz, whose fiery prowess injected some bile back into the music of Washington D.C. Shaped by tough-as-nails vocalist Shawn Brown’s vehemence and intelligent wordplay, the tunes of Swiz were brash and emotive. After decades apart (since Swiz’s initial run in the late-‘80s and the short-lived Sweetbelly Freakdown in the mid-‘90s), nimble guitarist Jason Farrell and barbed vocalist Shawn Brown have returned full-force in Red Hare, whose ferocity is nuanced and shaped by elastic, rhythmic complexity.
The music is an amalgam: shards of Farrell’s sonic past weave into a tough fabric, plus he still dispatches songs with panache, merging hardcore’s neurons with nimble pop hooks, elastic rock’n’roll, and winking nods to metal. Joined by the dizzying wrist gymnastics of drummer Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety, Bluetip, Retisonic) and Swiz bassist Dave Eight, they simply shred. Dischord has not offered something as acerbic as Red Hare’s “Fuck Your Career!” and bitterly anthemic as their “Be Half” and “Dialed In” in years, which renew and invigorate even jaded hardcore audiences.
To reflect even further on the past, including some of my idols from the 1960s and 1970s, please check out my tribute to David Bowie, Prince, and Lou Reed (with a little nod to Lemmy from Motorhead too), published recently in the Houston Press, click here. The collage above, with an indelible image of David Bowie from Heroes, is the original paste-up for a flyer that I made for a Visual Vitriol poster exhibit at Umpqua Community College in 2008.
Last Nov. (though I did not realize until last week), The Long Islander ran a piece about the current local DIY and punk scene, and they were kind enough to quote me at length, just to supply a sense of context and history. You can read their article here.
To read a short profile of my visit and free workshop at the University of Houston last month, where I discussed punk, DIY /self-made media, digital literacy, graphic arts, and feminist pedagogy with graduate students in the communications program, see this bulletin here.
Lastly, the work of conceptual artist Alison O’Daniel has been receiving much press recently, especially her work that acts as a tribute to the Deaf Club, an iconic San Francisco venue that hosted a range of penetrating punk bands in the late 1970s due to the efforts of people like Robert Hanrahan, whose perspective is captured in one of the chapters forthcoming in the Politics of Punk. Though the blog Bedford and Bowery did not mention me as author/compiler, I do appreciate them using portions of the Deaf Club oral history published in my book Left of the Dial, which you can find here.
In fact, I am interviewing a member of the Units this week, which will be submitted to Razorcake. Their tunes like “Cannibal” represent some of the smart, manic, foreboding, wrenching, and percolating synth punk that emerged in that era and foreshadowed portions of the rave, techno, and industrial scene.
Continue to work hard and be well…I will see you in the future.