"This

was like the dirty little secret that nobody really talked about when it came

to music," says Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore: A Tribal History, of the genre that

would become the subject matter of his book. "So it was either me or somebody

else."

First

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.

"This

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."

American

Hardcore

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

Zero Boys, the Panics, and the Gizmos and outtakes from the 2006 American

Hardcore

documentary

and the Zero

Boys live DVD Live at the Pizza Castle 1981.

Blush's

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.

"They

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."

He

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."

The

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.

"It's

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!"

Blush

salutes the Zero Boys, and lead vocalist/concert promoter/Affirmation Records

head Paul Mahern

in particular, for making things happen locally in the face of

such struggles.

"There

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."

"Indianapolis

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."

"So

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."

Event details:

"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)

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