Tuesday, October 03, 2006

“Normal people did not listen to hardcore, and we liked it that way…”

I have been in NYC for almost four months now, and as much as I say I miss the DC area, I do have moments that I realize that I’m in a cool place. One instance was two weeks ago when I went to see the documentary film “American Hardcore.” It was only playing in one city, in one theater in the entire United States…and it happened to be the place I now currently reside. How cool is that?

“American Hardcore” if you get the chance to see this film, it is definitely worth watching. I don’t care if you are into the music or if you were in diapers when this scene was at its peak. If you have an interest in music and where some bands you like today got some of their influence, then you must see this movie.

This film follows the underground hardcore punk years from 1980 to 1986. It tells the story of each scene in each city, starting from its birthplace, Southern California. Then it follows the story (and the bands) to DC, Boston, NYC, the Midwest, and so on. The film interviews the usual suspects: Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Greg Ginn, and Mike Watt. But then you also get some insights from Flea, Moby, and Phil Anselmo.

I never quite got into hardcore punk as much as my brother did, but I like to think I had a hand in him discovering it. My sophomore year of high school a new kid had come to town, and with him he brought this “I’m cooler than you because I don’t listen to that MTV mainstream sh*t.” attitude. His name was Jason Arnold, and even though he was only at my high school for a year before moving back to Colorado, he opened my eyes to a world of music undiscovered. He let me borrow a mixed tape full of bands I had never heard of: Black Flag, Bad Religion, Pennywise, NOFX, and the Vandals to name a few. What was this music? Why were the songs around two minutes each? Why was it so full of adrenaline and energy? Why did it make me want to raise my fists in the air and yell, “Whoo!”? I immediately shared it with my brother, who felt more of a connection with the music, and went out and got the albums of these bands. Then I had access to the music and in turn could expose it to others. See how important it is to share the gift of music?

Like I said, if this film makes it anywhere near you…GO! You will be entertained, amazed, and educated on a short-lived but influential musical movement.


The official site for the film:

A cool walking tour to do if you are ever in DC…the monuments haven’t changed sine you were there last time. Learn something new:

Ian MacKaye’s label Dischord:
Why I never visited it while I was in DC, I’ll never know…

Want to get a good idea of what life was like on the road during those days? Check out Henry Rollins’ book, “Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag.” This book is a day-by-day journal that lets the reader into the world of punk first-hand. It also shows the highs and lows of being in a band and all that comes with it.

And just because I had to…the first Black Flag song I ever heard...“TV Party”

P.S. Ken thanks for letting me be a “goofy fan” around you.

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