My So-Called Punk
Written by: Matt Diehl
St. Martin’s Griffin
I have this terrible habit, well terrible isn’t the right word. The right word is compulsion; I have a compulsion to hit up the Goodwill store every weekend. I’m convinced the weekend I don’t go, someone is going to drop off every old punk album, fanzine, and comic book I ever wanted. So, like a fiend I go, and I find some cool DVD’s, some good books, and my son finds the same. A few weeks back I came across this book for 99¢, down quite a bit from the $17.99 cover price.
It’s kind of like most Bukowski books in the sense that you can leave it in the bathroom, and read a chapter, and put it down, and you don’t have to worry if you won’t be able to follow the storyline.
Here’s the thing that bothered me about the book: there is a definite animosity towards Rancid throughout this book. From the opening pages where the writer makes a remark about the spikes and outfit that Lars wears, to the constant remarks about Tim Armstrong’s marriage, and divorce, to the sober lifestyle he tries to maintain. The writer definitely is on the Brody Dalle fan train. Many chapters are devoted to her, her and Tim, her and Josh Homme, her and well . . . everything.
I’m not going to debate her talent or the personal lives of these musicians. What does bother me about this stuff is the one-sided journalism here. I’ve had run-in’s with musicians myself, singers who want websites created then don’t pay, and other singers who want to be taken out to dinner, and wines, and dined in exchange for an interview. But I don’t let their egos affect the way I review their music. They may be assholes, but they may have made a few masterpieces, so, I sweep that aside, and review.
I think what I expected was a balanced account of modern punk rock. Instead I got a poor Brody, and fuck Rancid kind of book.
Well written, and well researched, just a bit biased.
Here’s a little overview of the book:
When it began, punk was an underground revolution that raged against the mainstream; now punk is the mainstream. Tracing the origins of Grammy-winning icons Green Day and the triumphant resurgence of neo-punk legends Bad Religion through MTV’s embrace of pop-punk bands like Yellowcard, music journalist Matt Diehl explores the history of new punk, exposing how this once cult sound became a blockbuster commercial phenomenon. Diehl follows the history and controversy behind neo-punk—from the Offspring’s move from a respected indie label to a major, to multi-platinum bands Good Charlotte and Simple Plan’s unrepentant commercial success, through the survival of genre iconoclasts the Distillers and the rise of “emo” superstars like Fall Out Boy.
My So-Called Punk picks up where bestselling authors Legs McNeil and Jon Savage left off, conveying how punk went from the Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy in the U.K.” to anarchy in the O.C. via the Warped Tour. Defining the sound of today’s punk, telling the stories behind the bands that have brought it to the masses and discussing the volatile tension between the culture’s old and new factions, My So-Called Punk is the go-to book for a new generation of punk rock fans.
Here’s a link to the first chapter: http://us.macmillan.com/BookCustomPage.aspx?isbn=9780312337810#Excerpt
Here’s a little bio on the Author:
Matt Diehl is a music journalist. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, VIBE, Spin, Blender and many other publications. He served as the music columnist for Elle for four years and now serves as a contributing music editor at Interview. He has appeared as a music expert on MTV and was co-producer of the acclaimed five-part television series on VH1, The ‘70’s. His books include No-Fall Snowboarding and Notorious C.O.P..
If you don’t have it, go check it out at your local library, or visit your local thrift shop.
Rating: ** * two out of three stars
Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb