March 23, 2005

Smash Your Head


I was listening to No Means No, my favorite band in high school. I don’t put on many of my old punk rock records these days--mainly because I don’t have that many. Most of them were on LP and they’re gone. There aren’t that many that I’d keep listening to after the fact, but I keep listening to No Means No. They had the best musicianship of any punk rock band. John Wright’s one of the best drummers anywhere. His brother Rob’s the best bassist. They’re kind of like a much harder, darker Devo. I discovered them with the record "Wrong" and then I bought everything I could find.

I always liked the weirder, jazzier punk rock. Victims Family was another. Their records were produced by NMN’s John Wright. Listening to their CD got me thinking about the statement I made about Richard Yates hating my writing because it’s too explicit. He would also hate punk rock pretty severely. The man loved show tunes. My fiction writing comes out of the music I grew up with as much as what I’ve gained from reading Richard Yates.

My favorite punk rock drummer was Bill Stevenson. Played for Black Flag, Descendents, All. I learned to play drums partly by playing along with Descendents records. In high school, I was in a punk rock band called Caustic. This uplifting picture was our tape cover--drawn by the guitarist/singer. I was the drummer and wrote some of the songs. Many lyrics about "the government." One line I remember is "The end of culture could prove the end of time, even if we’re still alive." Punk rock youth. So my literary outlook comes out of this, even if it was a lot of years ago.

Really Richard Yates was pretty conservative, like Kerouac who let it show later in life when he became a reactionary drunk. Kerouac’s first novel The Town and the City is almost right wing: pro small town, anti-city, anti-beat in a weird way. It sheds some light on his later descent. Richard Yates would probably hate Philip K. Dick’s writing too, and science fiction in general. He’d hate Bukowski and other heroes. Probably wouldn’t call it real writing. So I shouldn’t feel so bad.

That’s how I’ve justified my writing style recently. It feels better than being hated by a ghost.


tequilita said...

i think i sort of fell in love with kerouac in the town and the city. i went out and bought a couple gertrude stein novels after reading it, so i could be like the girls he talked about, "where are the girls who read gertrude stein?" i am, jack, i read gertrude stein. ...haunted by ghosts.

Magazine Man said...

Interesting. I never thought about my musical tastes impacting my writing, but of course it would, even if you didn't listen to music while writing (I wish I could, but I can't).

And I think I'd rather be hated by a ghost than, say, a live serial killer. I guess it's all relative...

DAH said...

I came to like No Means No late in the game, like around '99 after seeing The Urinals open for them at Spaceland. While watching NMN, I thought, "Where have I been?" I loved the Minutemen and the Big Boys and The Birthday Party back in the day, all bass-heavy stuff ("jazzy"). I went out and bought Wrong and O+2=1, both of which also survived a recent massive CD purging in our house.

Henry Baum said...

Viva Scientist Rock! Glad to hear from another NMNer. I wish you had a blog so I could check it out.

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