ECW Press Canada's underground indie heroes of the past decade -- Arcade…
- Posted on Jul 8th 2010 2:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
"He said, 'Your book is either going to be right on time or five years ahead of it,'" Davidson, a longtime rock journalist, former CMJ editor and founding member of super-charged Ohio punks the New Bomb Turks, tells Spinner.
Arriving nearly a decade after the Strokes' landmark debut, 'Is This It," 'We Never Learn' centers on the generation of bands that predated the early-'00s "garage rock" boom.
The book offers a fresh look at the years leading up to and following the rise of Nirvana, serving as both a sequel to and alternate-universe version of 'Our Band Could Be Your Life,' Michael Azerrad's acclaimed treatise on the American post-punk underground. Davidson focuses not on dogmatic hardcore outfits or flannel-wearing grunge opportunists, but rather the trashy, retro-minded likes of the Raunch Hands, Gaunt, Pussy Galore, the Gories, the Cynics, the Dwarves, the Devil Dogs and Rocket From the Crypt.
While fronting the Turks -- who reunited June 26 at the Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., to celebrate the book's release -- Davidson met and befriended these and other '90s artists, joining them on boozy adventures around the world.
From a commercial standpoint, Davidson might have done well to release the book seven or eight years ago, when the industry was still abuzz with talk of the Strokes, the White Stripes, the Vines and other back-to-basics rock bands. Although Davidson had, by then, been writing rock criticism for years, supplementing his Turks income with pieces for various publications, he says the idea of recounting his '90s exploits didn't come until recently.
"I wouldn't have thought to write a book back then, and it wouldn't have been worth it anyway," he says. "If you think most people haven't heard of most of the bands in this book now, they certainly didn't hear of them back then."
If few of the groups Davidson half-seriously labels "gunk punk" -- a term he came up with in response to his editor's request for a genre name -- achieved mainstream success, many retain devoted cult followings. On a recent reunion tour, bandage-clad garage heroes the Mummies sold out Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J., something Davidson says they never would have been able to do back in the day. Could it be that gunk's influence is beginning to be felt?
"There must be some bubbling thing," Davidson says. "What it is, I don't know or care, but I thought it would have been more interesting to people now rather than a few years ago."
"And a few years ago, I actually had a job," he adds. "I haven't had a job the last year, so I could work on the book a lot harder."