was like the dirty little secret that nobody really talked about when it came
would become the subject matter of his book. "So it was either me or somebody
published in 2001, Blush's book chronicles the peak years (1980–1986) of
hardcore in fittingly zealous, do-it-yourself fashion. The more-or-less
definitive tome covers the big names — Black Flag, Bad Brains, the Dead
Kennedys, and Minor Threat — along with countless lesser-known bands. Yet
as Blush is quick to point out, his book — like hardcore itself —
isn't just about music.
was a social movement and a political movement," he explains to NUVO. "And
that's really what I'm getting at — that hardcore wasn't really just a
sound. And I think now if you talk about hardcore, it's just about playing
fast, or having tattoos, or whatever."
was revised and expanded to a whopping 403 pages for its second edition, which
was published by Feral House in early November. Blush's book tour/crusade is
bringing him to Bloomington on December 1, where he'll be heading up "Living in
the 80s: The Rise of DIY Music in the Hoosier State," an event which will
feature a presentation by Blush, a panel discussion featuring members of the
book offers a region-by-region breakdown of the various scenes that sprung up
around the country during the early '80s. It includes a section on Indianapolis
in the chapter "IQ 32 (Midwest Fuck You)." While his description of the city
itself won't win him any fans at the chamber of commerce, he has better things
to say about the music, specifically local heroes the Zero Boys.
were really a solid band," he remembers, "really like the future of [rock]
music — this kind of hardcore with a melodic sense. If you look at a lot
of 'mall-punk,' I guess you would call it — the modern punk — you
see that line."
adds, "I think you could actually trace the rise and fall of the Indianapolis
hardcore scene to the rise and fall of the Zero Boys. I mean, the Zero Boys
break up and the scene basically ends."
book nails home just how much independent bands struggled during the early
'80s. The support network of venues, labels, and publications — let alone
Web sites — that indie bands take for granted today simply didn't exist
in the early '80s. Mere involvement in the hardcore scene made one seem an
outcast and a menace to an extent that's hard to even imagine these days.
kind of hard to even talk about that stuff now, but people wanted to kill you
for how you looked," Blush says. "I used to promote hardcore shows in
Washington, D.C., and have the cops show up at my house. I don't think cops
even care if you, like, walk around [today] in a Hatebreed shirt and covered in
tattoos. 'Cause they are too!"
salutes the Zero Boys, and lead vocalist/concert promoter/Affirmation Records head Paul Mahern
head Paul Mahernin particular, for making things happen locally in the face of
was no backing for you. At least if you did something in New York or D.C., you
might be able to actually do it in a club or get somebody at a newspaper to
mention it. Paul didn't have that. It was really bare bones."
was never a big scene," Blush continues, "but it was a very important scene
because bands needed places to stop on the road. This is what made hardcore
different from punk rock before it. I mean, I loved the Clash and all those
bands, but you know, they played New York, LA, San Francisco, maybe Chicago,
and they were all on major labels and had managers and agents.... These
[hardcore] bands took the idea that punk had promised—this idea of
DIY—and actually did it."
this whole notion today that we have DIY music really does come back to the
hardcore bands. And every city had their guy, and Paul Mahern defined
Indianapolis hardcore. He promoted the shows — most of these shows had
about 50 kids at them — but T.S.O.L. came through there, the Kennedys
came through there, Black Flag came through there. He lost money on all the
gigs and on his records," he laughs, "but they're seminal recordings and
seminal events in the Indianapolis underground."
"Living in the '80s: The Rise of DIY Music in the Hoosier State," a multi-media event featuring a panel discussion with Paul Mahern (Zero Boys), Tufty Clough (Zero
Boys/Toxic Reasons), John Barge (The Panics), Dale Lawrence (The Gizmos) and
Steven Blush (author of "American Hardcore"); screenings of outtakes from the Zero
Boys live DVD "Live at the Pizza Castle 1981" and the documentary "American
Hardcore"; and a presentation by Blush.
(Wednesday, Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., free, 18+ at The Bishop, 123 S. Walnut St., Bloomington)