Friday, January 12, 2007

FOOTNOTES # 14 / Chapter 13 FREAK SCENE San Francisco

can be found here at the Rip It Up Footnotes blog


Andrew Jackson said...

Hi Simon,

I enjoyed your book Rip It Up and Start Again for a number of reasons. One is that I was in a couple of post-punk bands and wondered if your book might reach far enough to find a mention of my band (you came close, but stopped just short). Another is that I too was profoundly impacted by the music of the punk and post-punk period, and in the current iPod era, have been immensely enjoying filling in the holes in my once extensive record collection with gems from that period. And I too have wondered to myself just what it was about that point in time that sparked such a volatile mixture of elements that it seemed to shape my whole life afterwards.

To begin with, I admit to looking in the index when I saw your book in Cody’s Bookstore and checking the index for “Zru Vogue” or “Science Patrol” (my two early 80s bands). No mention, but I did find a paragraph about The Sleepers, Ricky Williams and Michael Belfer – our label mates on San Francisco’s Adolescent Records with whom we played gigs and jammed once or twice (it was Michael Belfer that brought our demo tape to the label and got us signed); and we played with DNA (Arto Lindsay’s no wave band) at the Savoy Tivoli. In 1981, Sub-Pop magazine named Zru Vogue’s “Nakweda Dream” single of the year, and in their review said “The whispers of San Francisco are sometimes more haunting than the screams of LA.” It’s an amusing side-note that we had taken the recording to Ralph Records (home of The Residents) and they didn’t “get it.”

And I found mention in the book of Mabuhay Gardens, the Polynesian supper club turned punk venue where my first band Idiot used to perform with the likes of Roky Erickson and Zolar X. Our first gig at the Mabuhay was during the same time week when The Dictators and Blondie played there, so it was indeed an exciting time.

Music has always been important to me, as a musician in a band, as a DJ on a college radio station circa 1980, as a singer-songwriter, and as a husband and father. Punk and post-punk music was one of the things that brought my wife and I together. When I met my wife she was an east coast urban black girl in her mid-twenties, and I was a California boy just turned 21, but we both loved The Stranglers, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, etc., and this mutual love of music has since extended to our kids (now teenagers) who were raised to the tunes of Eno, The Smiths, and The Ramones, and have both grown to have a passion for music that matters.

So yeah, I was at that intense PiL gig where Flipper played and saw The Specials at Stanford and Talking Heads whenever they were in the bay area, and marveled at the PiL Metal Box import and played Death Disco on my radio show alongside The Damned, Gang of 4, The Human League, and The Velvet Underground.

As a musician, writer and producer, I learn something from all the music I listen to, and as an artist just trying to get through life and make sense of this crazy world, listening to music keeps me sane and on track. And it helps me to feel like I’m not alone. It’s that aspect of punk and post-punk that means the most to me, and keeps it personally relevant. There’s no way to know how much feelings of nostalgia are inextricably interwoven with the music itself, and how much I love the music as opposed to what the music represents in my mind and spirit, but what matters is that something very valuable and personally meaningful did come from the music of that period, and not just for me and you, but for lots of us. So thank you for taking on the post-punk topic and treating it with the respect it deserves.


Andrew L. Jackson
Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist for Zru Vogue

simon reynolds said...

hi andrew
i'd be interested in checking out the Zru Vogue (and indeed Science Patrol) stuff if you fancy doing me a CD-R... am planning on doing an expanded version of the postpunk esoterica discography, chasing down as many of the things i missed as possible
simon r