Punk Faction – David Garage (Earth Island Books)

It’s taken me absolutely ages to get around to writing this. Partially due to it taking me ages to getting round to reading it, and subsequently coming at it from something of a piecemeal approach. Reading sections on the bog; reading snippets while waiting for the connection to works server to stop being shit blah blah de fucking blah.

So the chances are you are wondering what this even is. Basically it is a compendium of the full run of BHP fanzine (British Hardcore Press), which ran through the early to mid 1990s. The principal author, David Gamage also runs Engineer Records, perhaps best famed for the Hot Water Music / Rydell split 7in in years gone by.

The existence of this fanzine predates my “true” indoctrination into the ways of punk rock by several years, but nevertheless touches on stuff that I was peripherally aware of at the time, as well as stuff that I’d come to know some years further down the track.

The contents, whilst perhaps not being the most well written of all time certainly capture the essence of young bloods discovering and writing about the bands and politics and ethical stances that were important to them. Whilst some pages certainly come across as somewhat naive or even a bit cringeworthy, there are others that balance things out by being unexpectedly mature by comparison. Either way, I got the impression of world views being formed, as viewed through the lens of subcultural interaction.

The range of interviews contained in this volume (looking back from 2020) present a sometimes cartoonish rogues gallery of never-weres, has-beens, upstarts-become-veterans and road warriors. It’s interesting to read into the varying tones of the interviewees ranging from idiocy, snideness, bemusement that anyone would be interested enough to want to hear what they had to say to enthusiasm and gratitude.

Where in places this collection can on reflection come across as a bit overly earnest, I think this stands as a worthy document of what was going on at the time from the point of view of young ‘uns that were deeply invested in a scene that was well off the beaten path for most. An extended sequence of snapshots if you will, of the British face of a scene that was on the cusp of booming and subsequently exploding in the US.

The only thing I that boggles my mind, in a similar way to Tim Cundle’s book Compression, is why odious fucking blow-hard dullards like John Robb and in this particular case, Frank jeffing Turner are being asked to write forewords to what are otherwise decent books?

You can pick up a copy of this from Earth Island Books.

Tony of Nurgle is a true child of the North, recently returned to Yorkshire and residing in Leeds (after close to a decade living in exile in Croydon and South East London). He used to co-run a specialist record store in Manchester (Roadkill Records), and also several years as a promoter, and put on shows for the likes of Leatherface, the Loved Ones, Lucero, Minus The Bear, These Arms Are Snakes, Spy vs Spy, Latterman etc. He also spent several years DJing at shady rock clubs in Manchester, and started the infamous Thursday night "punk room" at Jilly's Rockworld. Also responsible for Middle Finger Response, and collaborated with a couple of friends on a monthly night called Refuse to Lose, which will still occasionally reunite the original DJ line-up - next event at Retro in Manchester on 07/09/2019. Apart from that, it's all bitterness and a jaundiced view of human nature, occasionally skateboarding, always exhausted, often reading books with maps in the front.

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