Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991

This is the never-before-told story of the musical revolution that happened right under the nose of the Reagan Eighties--when a small but sprawling network of bands, labels, fanzines, radio stations, and other subversives reenergized American rock with punk rock's do-it-yourself credo and created music that was deeply personal, often brilliant, always challenging, and immensely influential. This sweeping chronicle of music, politics, drugs, fear, loathing, and faith has been recognized as an indie rock classic in its own right. Among the bands profiled: Mission of Burma, Butthole Surfers, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Big Black, Hsker D, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Mudhoney, The Replacements, Beat Happening, and Dinosaur Jr...


Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 Reviews

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Nate

As I read this I felt like the stories of the bands themselves were more important to the book than the actual music. While being a horrible record geek allows me to enjoy all the music talk I can read I didn't miss any in-depth analysis because the stories were so compelling. The chapter on the Butthole Surfers left me in awe and of course the Minutemen chapter is pretty moving. Bands like Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth and Minutemen were all sacred daily listening for myself and my friends so I was pr ...more

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Joe Cross

For anyone even remotely interested in indie rock, I'd call this an essential read, and throughout I kept wishing that Michael Azerrad would do similar profiles of '90s bands like Modest Mouse and Yo La Tengo. So why 4 stars instead of 4.5 or 5? Well, at 501 pages, it's, for lack of a better word, long, and some chapters are repetitive or unnecessary (see: the Big Black chapter, which did nothing but reaffirm my dislike of Steve Albini, or the Sonic Youth chapter, which, despite them being my fa ...more

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Pamela

This is such a GUY book. The band histories are filled with the drama and backbiting you would expect from teenage girls, but are posited as Very Important Cultural Happenings. I guess that is the book's strength, and its entire reason for existing: documenting a whole bunch of assholes and taking them seriously, even at their most hapless and idiotic. I mean, he manages to write a deathly serious chapter on Black Flag, whereas I just giggle at the thought of Henry Rollins circa '81, standing on ...more

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
AJ

What a great book. I found it a bit slow at first while it went over some bands that I wasn't terribly familiar with, but it's such an informative and interesting history of indie rock in the 80s and 90s. It covers the bands and indie labels that evolved into some of my favorite music of all time.

The author has a chapter on each band covered in the book, from Black Flag to Beat Happening and everyone in between. My favorite chapters were on Mudhoney (an excellent history of the Seattle scene and
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Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Meagan

This is right up there with "Please Kill Me" and "The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones" as one of those foundational rocknroll books with a "You Are There" feeling throughout. Basically, if you were under the impression that punk died when Mick Jones got kicked out of The Clash and wasn't revived until Nirvana released Nevermind, do yourself a favor and read this book. Yes, there are a few omissions (okay, just one that kind of sticks out in my mind. Meat Puppets. They're mentioned several ...more

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Amber

In high school, I subscribed to Spin magazine like it was my job (I was heartbroken when the changed the paper and made it smaller and took out "Genius Lessons"! END OF AN ERA, PEOPLE). It pretty much was my job, I guess, as an angsty-youth with the eyeliner and ridiculous clothes, and it recommended this to me. Despite the fact that I am sure I would have been really into them at the time, I asked for (and received) this book for Christmas my Junior year (and didn't read it until, like, 6 years ...more

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Adam Dupaski

This was super enjoyable almost all the way through, and the chapters on bands I love more than compensated for those on bands I never really got into. Here's my ranking of the chapters based on insight, appreciation, and entertainment:

-1st: The Minutemen (sets the tone for ideals tracked throughout the book as well as the SST label model)

-2nd: Black Flag (dark dank Rollins + Ginn + SST + Pettibon power)

-3rd: Fugazi (great exploration of early connections to Rites of Spring, breakdown of influen
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Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
Eddie Watkins

I missed the entire “Indie Revolution” as I spent the late 80’s – early 90’s first as a psychically fragile (nearly suicidal) drifter-type (though I worked sporadically) living in Baltimore without a music collection, then as a wash-up living back in my parents’ basement in small town Delaware, and finally as a practitioner of Zen and social isolate living in Denver who listened to little more than classical music. This book helped me immeasurably in catching up with the past I missed while it w ...more