LISTEN LIKE THIEVES: Our Band Could Be Your Life

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listen_1.gifNPR: In the decade since its publication, Michael Azerrad’s book Our Band Could Be Your Life has taken on a sort of biblical quality among fans of independent music. So it’s no surprise that this concert — 14 current bands performing the songs of 13 icons of indie rock at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan — occasionally felt like church. The lesson of the book — if nobody else is doing it, do it yourself — was repeated many times, and more than one musician credited Azerrad with clarifying the lessons of the earlier age at a moment when they seemed lost. MORE

WIKIPEDIA: Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 is a book by Michael Azerrad. It chronicles the careers of several underground rock bands who, while finding little or no mainstream success, were hugely influential in establishing American alternative and indie rock, mostly through nearly constant touring and records released on small, regional independent record labels. Azerrad conducted many interviews with band members, and also conducted extensive research of old fanzines, as well as more mainstream newspapers and books. The inspiration for the book occurred when Azerrad was watching a miniseries about rock music history. According to Azerrad after exploring the punk era “it skipped and went straight from Talking Heads to Nirvana. “I thought, This is insane. Did I black out for 10 minutes? I thought that someone should do something about this. And I had, appropriately enough, a DIY moment and I thought, we_jam_econo_the_story_of_the_minutemen_original.jpgMaybe I should do it.”[1] The title comes from the opening line of “History Lesson – Part II“, an autobiographical song written by Mike Watt of The Minutemen, one of the bands featured in the book. The song, which is on the album Double Nickels on the Dime, details the band’s working class origins and populist sentiments: “Punk rock changed our lives.” The book is dedicated to the lives of D. Boon (The Minutemen) and Bob Stinson (The Replacements). MORE

RELATED: We Jam Econo – The Story of the Minutemen, is a full-length documentary about the influential 1980s punk rock band Minutemen, created by director Tim Irwin and producer Keith Schieron in association with Rocket Fuel Films. The film premiered on February 25, 2005 at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, California, after two years in production. Poignant recent interviews with the band’s two surviving members Mike Watt and George Hurley, as well as first-person anecdotes from notable musicians including Ian MacKaye, Flea, Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore, complement the archival concert and interview footage of the band, creating an informative and moving film for those interested in the band or punk rock in general. The title is a lyric from their song “The Politics of Time.” It’s also referred to in a comment made near the end of the film by Mike Watt, in a 1985 interview, when the band is asked if they have anything else to say. He answers for them: “We jam econo.” Econo was local slang for economic and described the band’s dedication to low-cost record production and touring. It also describes the band’s (and burgeoning underground independent music scene’s) do-it-yourself attitude and philosophy. MORE

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