Punk, Bitch Magnet and the Awesome Power of 20-somethings
This week's Uprising Podcast features a wild interview with former Punk rocker and author Jon Fine about his former group, Bitch Magnet and his new book "Your Band Sucks," activism, and other fucking awful shit. Click here to give it a listen.
Dig a little deeper and Scott Goodson uncovers the awesome power and energy of angry young men and women and their ability to change the world.
When discussing the culture of his Punk Rock days Fine says: "We were all about saying go ahead, put up a building and we will knock it down."
One of the best descriptions of fine: "I imagine, in a small van, Jon Fine is very hard to take.”
Getting to the roots of the activist punk movement of the 1980s, Fine explains the life and death and reunion of his band and the Punk Movement as a whole. Where has this energy gone today? What hole is it trying to fill now? "Just look at Bernie Sanders," says Fine.
The interview discusses how art students made up many of the acts of the '80s scene, how the music scene has evolved today, and splintering into a vast array of subcultures into everything from Christian Death Metal to Italian Disco and indie Synth.
Like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, Your Band Sucks is an insider’s look at a fascinating and ferociously loved subculture. In it, Fine tracks how the indie-rock underground emerged and evolved, how it grappled with the mainstream and vice versa, and how it led many bands to an odd rebirth in the 21st Century in which they reunited, briefly and bittersweetly, after being broken up for decades. Like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Your Band Sucks is a unique evocation of a particular aesthetic moment. With backstage access to many key characters in the scene—and plenty of wit and sharply-worded opinion—Fine delivers a memoir that affectionately yet critically portrays an important, heady moment in music history.
Jon Fine spent nearly thirty years performing and recording with bands that played various forms of aggressive and challenging underground rock music, and, as he writes in this memoir, at no point were any of those bands “ever threatened, even distantly, by actual fame.” Yet when members of his first band, Bitch Magnet, reunited after twenty-one years to tour Europe, Asia, and America, diehard longtime fans travelled from far and wide to attend those shows, despite creeping middle-age obligations of parenthood and 9-to-5 jobs, testament to the remarkable staying power of the indie culture that the bands predating the likes of Bitch Magnet--among them Black Flag, Mission of Burma, and Sonic Youth --willed into existence through sheer determination and a shared disdain for the mediocrity of contemporary popular music.
In indie rock’s pre-Internet glory days of the 1980s, such defiant bands attracted fans only through samizdat networks that encompassed word of mouth, college radio, tiny record stores and ‘zines. Eschewing the superficiality of performers who gained fame through MTV, indie bands instead found glory in all-night recording sessions, shoestring van tours and endless appearances in grimy clubs. Some bands with a foot in this scene, like REM and Nirvana, eventually attained mainstream success. Many others, like Bitch Magnet, were beloved only by the most obsessed fans of this time.
Jon Fine is the executive editor of Inc. magazine. As a guitarist—in Bitch Magnet, Coptic Light, and Don Caballero, among others—he’s performed around the world and appeared on MTV. As a writer, Fine’s long-running BusinessWeek column “Media Centric” won both American Society of Business Publication Editors and National Headliner awards, and his work for Food & Wine won a James Beard Award. He has served as an on-air contributor to CNBC, and his work has also appeared in The Atlantic,Vanity Fair, GQ, and Details.