We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001 is the first and only book on the last great wave of down-and-dirty rock'n'roll, one whose hangover can still be felt in bars and clubs across the globe. The book is the next chapter in the Please Kill Me/American Hardcore/Our Band Could Be Your Life succession. Musician and journalist Eric Davidson was there as this scene unfolded as the frontman for Ohio punks the New Bomb Turks, and he tracks the roots and history of this largely undocumented movement. This is the last generation of punks and rockers to conquer city after city without the diluting force of the internet.
The Black Lips, the late Jay Reatard, The Dirtbombs, The White Stripes, The Reigning Sound, The Hives — success stories who all sprang from an underground music scene where similarly raw bands, enjoying various degrees of success and hard luck, played in venues ranging from dive bars to massive festivals, but were mostly ignored by a music industry focused on mega-bands and shiny pop stars.
These bands weren’t swept up in the "alternative rock explosion." They played and acted like a bunch of punks, yawned at the Green Days and Offsprings of the world who were supposedly bringing "punk" to the masses, played Sonics bootlegs in their tour vans as much as Iggy Pop, the Ramones or Black Flag, and had soaked up just enough of music biz history to know that they would never be welcomed — even through the servant’s entrance. They reveled in '50s rock'n'roll and '60s garage rock while creating their own wave of gut-busting riffs and rhythm.
The bands that populate this book — The Dwarves, Gories, Supersuckers, Mummies, Oblivians, Billy Childish, Rocket From The Crypt, JSBE, Cheater Slicks, Teengenerate among them — gained little long-term reward from their nonstop touring and brain-slapping records. What they did have was free liquor, good drugs, guilt-free sex, and a crazy good time, all the while building a dedicated fan base that extends across America, Europe, and Japan.
Follow Mr. Lee on Twitter for a chance to win a copy of the book!
Buy: We Never Learn
Dig: We Never Learn (blog)