An illustrated and wide-ranging survey of the underground U.S. punk scene in the 1980s
The product of decades of work and multiple self-published editions, Going Underground, written by 1980s scene veteran George Hurchalla, is the most comprehensive look yet at America’s nationwide underground punk scene. Despite the misguided mainstream press declarations that “punk died with Sid Vicious” or that “punk was reborn with Nirvana,” Hurchalla followed the DIY spirit of punk underground, where it not only survived but thrived nationally as a self-sustaining grassroots movement rooted in seedy clubs, rented fire halls, xeroxed zines, and indie record shops. Rather than dwell on well-documented suspects and trendsetters from LA, NY, and DC, Hurchalla delves deep into the underground’s underbelly to root out stories from Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, Lawrence, Annapolis, Cincinnati, Florida, and elsewhere. Like most of the truly great books on punk that have emerged to date, Hurchalla mixes his personal experiences with the words of dozens of band members, promoters, artists, zinesters, and scenesters. This revised second edition includes new photos, zine scans, and flyer collections from around the United States.
„The book is out since 2005, but it took some while until the meanwhile second edition found it’s way in our Po Box. Anyway, I’m very glad it did, since it is a great book! At least for me it was fun and interesting to read. Sometimes I thought you need to be a real expert in US-Punk/Hardcore in order to understand sometimes what George Hurchalla writes, since his writing is so detailed when it comes to names and bands and scenes and stuff. But I might be wrong there, find out, it was no problem for me. It is roughly A4 sized, paperback and has 300 pages, tons of great photos and flyers for illustration. It contains ca. 30 Chapters that deal with either different scenes in different parts of the country and move along from 1979 – 1992.
It would be too much to list it here, but George has a good way of combining his own writing based on his own knowledge or research and quoting people, use oral history or using clippings from original interviews. Because of that you get the story presented as just that a story in the right order with lots of information and anecdotes. Unlike in other books the author does not concentrate on the already well documented scenes / bands / persons, but barely touches them and concentrates on all the other great stuff that was going on in punk rock america back then. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, DC, Austin you name it, it is all there.
And this book is not only concentrating on bands and the music, but also on all the political/DIY content the scene had back then, which is great, it shows that punk/hardcore was so much more than it appears to be today. Interesting also that a lot of bands from the east coast that seem to be big in Europe have had not very much impact in the usa, in other words, Hurchalla concentrates on the more interesting people/scenes.
Which does not mean you will not read certain names in the book. I really do like the balance and the way it came out. I could rave on how great the book is and what other stories are being told so well, but that would mean that this review is a couple of pages long. So, you better go out there and get this, it will give you some quality reading pleasure and on top a good lesson in US Punk/Hardcore history! Thumbs up!“ Trust Fanzine
“Going Underground’s subtitle may say “American Punk”, but the book almost exclusively covers American Hardcore. Of course author George Hurchalla couldn’t really use that phrase because of Steven Blush’s similar book American Hardcore. Even though Hurchalla’s survey of the regional scenes that dotted the map of American hardcore has some redundancies with Blush’s better known book, it has plenty of unique merits which make it valuable. Most importantly, it focuses heavily on bands whose stories haven’t already been told in great detail. So, while there are obligatory passages on the big guys – Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains…etc. – there’s an equal amount of ink spent on smaller acts like The Fix, Government Issue, and Toxic Reasons. Even when Hurchalla writes about hardcore’s biggest acts, he finds new avenues to explore, like Minor Threat’s cold war with T.S.O.L., or the night Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys led a one-off group called Lucifer’s Imperial Heretical Knights of Schism in a musical roast of sorts at the expense of the Bad Brains and their Rastafarian beliefs. Hurchalla’s own experiences as a fan in Florida and Philadelphia play a large role in the book, with firsthand reports from shows by both local outfits and national touring acts. He also takes excursions into music that was important to him during this era which doesn’t neatly fit into the hardcore genre tag, like The Gun Club or the SST art-punk comp Keats Rides a Harley. Lastly, Going Underground features a ton of photos that capture the raw excitement of the era, most of which I haven’t seen published before. Like the music itself, Going Underground moves quickly, providing a raw and unflinching look into one of the most important youth movements of the 20th century.” Midnight to Six
Format Paperback | 402 pages
Dimensions 152 x 229 x 30.48mm | 469g
Publisher PM Press