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‘American Hardcore: A Tribal History’ Second Edition Is Like a New Book

Paul Rachman

American Hardcore: A Tribal History‘ was initially released in October 2001 and was celebrated for how it encapsulated the cultural movement of hardcore. However, the scene is a fluid one without an end point, so author Steve Blush has interviewed 25 more people, added 100 new pieces of art and arrived at a new conclusion in the expanded second edition, which sees the book’s page count increase from 328 to 408 pages.

The second edition is due out on Nov. 1. It’s also worth nothing hat the book was translated into a documentary, ‘American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986,’ which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

The second edition isn’t merely a second edition; it’s actually a new book. All chapters have been updated, while ‘Destroy Babylon’ is an entirely new one, as it looks at spiritual movements that sprung from the head of hardcore. Over 200 new band bios and an expanded discography make up the second edition. If you already own the first version, you certainly aren’t dropping coin on something you already own when you buy the new one.

Blush will conduct readings and question-and-answer sessions at public libraries across the country. The first three occurred in New England last week, with more to be confirmed as the book’s press blitz continues.

“When I started on this thing in the mid ’90s, there was no information on the subject,” Blush told Noisecreep. “Aside from my memories, records and fanzine collections, all I had was interviews and dusty boxes of archive. I had to fashion archeology and artifacts into a narrative. Flash forward a decade and there’s all the information I’ve learned, from networking and the Internet over a decade later. I learned more and reached new conclusions.”

The key conclusion that the author come away from this with was that the original movement was 1980 through 1986 and that you can’t ignore the larger picture of today. “It’s like saying Christianity ended with death of Christ,” Blush said. “I am filling in the cracks and setting the record straight.

“Like all other forms of rock and pop subculture, there was a next generation that carried it on and I was correct in my assessment that hardcore was a political and sociopolitical movement made by kids — young misfit kids — who went about creating a culture. These were the pioneers. Now there are the followers, and I don’t like the ideas of the followers of any kind of music or thought, but I can’t fight city hall. The reality is there.”

Blush was bitten by the hardcore bug in the flesh himself. “My first good fix of it was Valentine’s Day 1981 — the Valentine’s Day Massacre at the original 930 Club. Me and my college friends went and we saw Black Flag before Henry Rollins joined. Seeing the intensity and a new style of music? I was never the same person again!”

Blush also viewed hardcore as something that literally changed the face of music, saying “Before, it was all long hair, slick music like Journey or Styx [and] Led Zeppelin. Not that that was all bad, but look at bands today. Fast music and mosh pits are like modern primitivism. All this stuff can be traced back to hardcore.”

Blush hopes his book is a call to arms for kids, and that’s why he is going to speak at libraries. He wants to turn them on to ideas that can’t be found at the local Hot Topic. “Corporate culture tries to kill this stuff,” he admitted. “So I hope it can set the record straight.”

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