150 Classic Skateboard Stickers book

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My love of the skateboard sticker seems to have lasted throughout most of my entire life, i guess if you skate then you know just how important these damn things are. Whether you are one of those who has a wall, cabinet or car full of them, or if you have a shoe box of them under your bed, stickers in our scene are like currency to us skateboarders and much loved.

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Many of us own books on skate art, sticker history and board graphics, but one book in particular came to me wrapped in birthday paper this year full of actual stickers for once. 150 of them in fact. What a superb surprise as I flicked through to see many of the finest skateboard brands represented, page by page – all covered in ready-to-peel skate stickers.

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I love the fact that so much work has gone into this book to fill it. Andy Jenkins at Girl, Jim Thiebaud from Real, Jim Phillips from Santa Cruz, Mike Hill of Alien Workshop and Ed Templeton from Toy Machine all share short interviews on the brands before your eyes are filled with memories from the brands in question via wonderful, colourful stickers.

Simple ideas are often the best and the only question you have to ask yourself once you have a copy in your hand is whether you will leave them all intact inside the book or peel them off. What would you do?

Head to Sticker Bomb World to pick one up for £17.95.

Life Changing Encounters With Music

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When the names of Jonny Greenwood, Michael Gira, Simon Reynolds, Genesis P-Orridge and Lydia Lunch align, you know something good is going on.

These five luminaries are amongst many contributors to a new book titled Epiphanies: Life Changing Encounters With Music – a collection of essays from The Wire magazine’s Epiphanies column dating back to 1998. The book is said to include over 50 of the past 17 years’ most evocative essays, and according to The Wire’s website, “subjects covered range from Sun Ra to Kate Bush; Fugazi to Ligeti; South Africa’s World Cup vuvuzelas to Hungarian prog rock; noisy street protests to the deathly silence inside an anechoic chamber.

The book is due via Strange Attractor Press from April 30th. Pre-order here.

Nick Cave details Sick Bag Song book

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Airport, car, dressing room, stage, hotel, repeat. Life on the road can be gruelling and mind-numbing at the best of times, and it seems only the most fiercely prolific of artists can curb the boredom of travel and be creative in seemingly uninspiring conditions.

Nick Cave is one of those artists, who, during a 22-date tour across the United States, spent his time in the air drafting and doodling ideas for a new book concept on the back of in-flight sick bags, which soon evolved into a “full-length epic, seeking out the roots of inspiration, love and meaning.

The 176 page work, titled The Sick Bag Song, is described by the singer as sitting somewhere between The Wasteland and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. It is available via Canongate from April 8th via thesickbagsong.com only.

Watch the trailer for The Sick Bag Song below and return to Cave’s website over the coming weeks to watch five short films, produced by the film makers of 20,000 Days On Earth, in celebration of the book.

John Doran details memoir

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Widely respected journalist and founder of The Quietus, John Doran, has announced the publication of his memoir for this coming June via Strange Attractor.

The book, titled Jolly Lad, is said to explore the authors recovery from alcoholism, habitual drug use and mental illness, and also his thoughts on the healing power of music, how memory defines us, the redemption offered by fatherhood and what it means to be working class. It features cover art by Simon Fowler and the illustrations of Krent Able.

The book is loosely based on Doran’s insightful, and often hilarious, MENK column, originally written for Vice magazine. However, the author stresses, “this is not a ‘my drink and drug hell’ kind of book for several reasons – the main one being that I had, for the most part, had a really good time drinking. True, a handful of pretty appalling things have happened to me and some people that I know or used to know over the years. But I have, for the most part, left them out of this book as they are not illuminating, not edifying and in some cases concern other people who aren’t here to consent to their appearance. Instead this book concentrates on what you face after the drink and the drugs have gone.

To accompany the book, Doran will also be releasing an album entitled Hubris featuring spoken word from Doran and music from Nicky Wire, British Sea Power, Grumbling Fur, Teeth Of The Sea, GNOD, Eccentronic Research Council, Bronze Teeth and many others.

He will also embark upon a 31-date reading tour of England as a temporary member of Arabrot for the full month of May. Gigs are reportedly booked in numerous prisons, churches, libraries, record shops and cinemas with more details to follow.

Pre order a copy of Jolly Lad here. More information here.

Mark Gonzales Non Stop Poetry book

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Non-Stop Poetry: The Zines of Mark Gonzales is a book made up of a plethora of his work that has been shared in over 145 of the the zines he has made since the early 90s.

This collection of his work opens with a foreword from Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon and has words from Harmony Korine and many more alongside Gonz’ infamous doodles, words and much more. Available from here.

Did you interrupt his clicking?

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: The Early Years

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: The Early Years
Author: Alex Ogg
Publisher: PM Press

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables- The Early Years, alex ogg, pm press, bookThe Ramones’ original drummer Tommy passed away recently, and whilst there’s no argument his band majorly defined the blueprint of what would soon become known as Punk Rock, it was San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys that can claim to have been the most important actual Punk group America produced. Their influence globally was massive.

I’ll never forget hearing ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ on John Peel; the immediate impact on this 14 year old was seismic. I just had to get a copy! It wasn’t released in the UK until a few months later and I kept badgering local record shops until, finally, in the summer of 1980, I laid my hands on one of the greatest seven inches ever. It was lifted from their debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, a classic in its own right.

This book, as the title implies, covers those key initial years of the DKs, delving into the member’s personal stories, their gravitation to San Francisco, and the subsequent formation of the band. Yeah, that’s when the real fun starts! Theirs was, as the world was to discover, a memorable formula, fronted by Biafra’s natural rebellious attitude, to take on and upset the establishment with pranks and mischief, and driven by uniquely powerful and penetrating music, awash with guitarist East Bay Ray’s twisted dark surf guitars. Seriously, hang your head in shame if you’ve never had your ears exposed to Fresh Fruit….

So yeah, these were the DKs Golden Years. More records, tours, and controversy, followed, before they called it quits in ‘86. There’s no denying the huge mark they left behind, but unfortunately the subsequent years of their history has been memorable for all the wrong reasons with singer Jello Biafra being sued by the other Kennedy’s. The relationship between the 2 warring parties remains highly toxic, so credit to Alex Ogg for managing to pull together interviews with all original members (including Biafra) but, tellingly, even the author admits that at times the rancor and animosity is exasperating, to the point you imagine his working title for the book was “Fresh Beefs against Rotten Band Mates”.

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The dialogue exposes countless disputes and disparities between the band members; Biafra’s stance is he (and he alone) injected the political vitriol that the DK’s became so notorious for, and the rest of the group were just jobbing musicians that followed his lead down the path of underground righteousness. Or something like that! I accept, certainly lyrically and presentation-wise, Biafra orchestrated much of the menace they became so notorious for, but at the end of the day, it’s a group effort to write songs, perform, and clearly the chemistry between them was tight enough for a time to produce so much musical gold. Jeez, even Johnny Rotten and Glen Matlock were able to bury the hatchet (albeit in the name of Cash from Chaos) but there’s more chance of seeing Peace in The Middle East, that a reformed original line-up DKs (and you won’t find me handing over my hard earned cash to go see the Jello-less line-up).

This book is an engaging read, and pretty much an essential pick-up for anyone with an iota of interest in the DKs and Punk in general. There are band photos, and reproductions of record sleeves, flyers, media clippings, and of course, lots of cool art by the wonderful Winston Smith. Highly recommended.

Pete Craven

‘Live At The Brixton Academy’

‘Live At The Brixton Academy’
Simon Parkes & JS Rafaeli
(Serpent’s Tail)

Liveatthebrixtonacademy_bookcoverNowadays there’s an Academy venue to be found in most major UK cities, but it all started with Lincolnshire native Simon Parkes’ acquisition of a dilapidated 1920s former cinema in Brixton, south London, in 1983. If you’re wondering why Parkes chose the name ‘Academy’, the truth is that it came to him in a random flash of inspiration, not long after he cannily persuaded the building’s former owners to sell him the lease for just one pound. Yep, this man had serious balls, and they were to be tested many a time over the next decade and a half.

Nowadays, in Brixton, you’re never far away from a health food shop or newly-developed block of flats, but back in 1983 it was very much the violent, half burnt-out, poverty-stricken neighbourhood of old. Over the next decade, Parkes and his team have to contend with all manner of challenges, from overcoming booking agents’ prejudices of the area, to local gangs attempting to take control of the Academy’s security operations, to Grace Jones refusing to perfrom until she was supplied with her desired brand of vintage champagne. Fearsome stuff, all told.

Still, they persevered, and the rewards were many. After two years of surviving via (often troubled) reggae gigs, Parkes had The Clash specifically requesting to play some London shows at the Academy, and by the end of the decade, his maverick approach ensured that major acts of all genres were bypassing the once all-powerful Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo) in favour of a trip to SW9. Megastars like The Police and AC/DC booked themselves in for weeks of rehearsals, and the stories of the Academy’s outlandish club nights highlight just how much of a different world those early days were. What indoor venue could get away with hosting a full-scale fairground bumper car ride at a club night these days?

We at Crossfire have been through the Academy’s doors more times than we care to remember, and seen plenty of amazing shows to boot. If you’ve ever had so much as a passing interest in London’s live music history, this book is an essential piece of the puzzle.

Alex Gosman

DIY – A book by Richard Gilligan

If you have been following the fantastic work from Irish photographer Richard Gilligan over the years you would be familiar with his hands-on approach to shooting skateboarding. This month, a French publisher has released his new book from work that been archived for the last 4 years titled DIY, a collection of photographs of home-made skateparks throughout Europe and the US which explores the landscape and people that build and inhabit these hidden spaces.

His shots capture the hard work and endless energy that skateboarders put into a DIY project and the feeling that we all collectively receive from the end result, free from the constraints of societal rules.

Grab this hard cover book made up of 70 pages for your lounge today for €44 via 1980 Editions.

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We Never Learn The Gunk Punk Undergut 1988-2001

(Backbeat Books)
Author: Eric Davidson

Rock and roll has been heavily documented over the years in various books, documentaries and films covering the golden years, the champagne-tinged glitz and glamour, branded airplanes, piles of cocaine and fame hungry groupies but never before has a book covered the filthy underground rock and roll scene that was spawned in the 90’s as the anti-heroes of the bands that were being played on mainstream radio stations like in We Never Learn.

Written by Eric Davidson, the vocalist of the amazing garage punk band New Bomb Turks, We Never Learn delves heavily into the underground music scene that was completely ignored as major labels signed a plethora of much shinier acts such as Nirvana, Green Day, Sonic Youth, Hole, The Pixies and many others whose music was judged poppy enough to make the likes of Interscope, Warner Brothers, MCA and co a tidy profit. Whilst these bands were breaking, the garage punk scene that were influenced by The Stooges, MC5, The Cramps and various bands featured on Nuggets compilations was petering away in shitty venues all over the US, bringing their own combination of rock, blues, punk and sludge to a dedicated scene who wanted it raw.

Davidson’s version of events that were recorded throughout  1988-2001 explains the DIY aspect of how dedicated individuals obsessed with this scene released 7”s and promoted shows for the bands that were willing to tour on shoe string budgets for the hell of it. Those bands included in this retrospective include The Lazy Cowgirls, The Dwarves, The Mummies, Rocket From The Crypt, Jon Spencer, Royal Trux, Zeke, Gories, Devil Dogs, Oblivians, Teengenerate, Supercharger, Billy Childish, Reverend Horton Heat, Rip Offs and many many more, these were the bands that could go on stage and bring sleaze just as well as their contemporaries in the 50’s and 60’s but they brought their own venomous, punk vibe to the 90’s that will probably never be repeated again.

Davidson’s view as a band member singing in the middle of this scene and writing for fanzines makes this book special and he shares the history of this decade backed up by observations from various band members and record label owners that lived for the buzz of what was snowballing in the underground. This includes the tales of fun and woe from the founders of Amphetamine Reptile Records, Sympathy for the Record Industry, In The Red and of course the infamous Crypt label whose compilations bore the very best out there. Honest, positive and negative recollections fill every page so expect hilarious stories, some bitching and general facts about how this scene kept going whilst the mainstream pumped out the likes of the Offspring to the new generation of kids who opted for a glossier form of what we call ‘punk’.

This was a golden time for music, where fanzines and Peel Sessions were where we found new bands. There was no internet back then, no illegal downloading, just reviews of bands that you would order on 7” vinyl that would turn up on your doorstep 3 weeks later from America accompanied by stickers, a personal thank you letter and a feeling that you certainly don’t get by ordering from a computer these days. A trip to the local record shop was the most important part of the week alongside skateboarding but that has declined over the years now that the ‘punk’ scene has sold out to corporate brands, fashion magazines and energy drink companies. The computer age in 2011 has killed this special way of collecting music so I’m personally very happy about the fact I was around when this was all going down and the beauty of this book is that it captures this part of musical history so well.

Due to the explosion of music on the web in 2003 we are now smothered in bands, which arguably could be a positive factor as our ears are always filled with new music, but with record sales diminishing faster than the Middle East’s old school dictatorships and people ripping bands off daily by not supporting them or their record labels, the garage punk scene of which is so fantastically covered in this book is one of the last real punk scenes of our time. It influenced some of the bands that buzz on the underground such as the Reigning Sound, Black Lips and King Khan and BBQ/Shrines but it also produced some of the biggest names such as The Hives, The Strokes and of course, The White Stripes who formed directly from this scene and feature heavily at the end of this book when it ends at the year 2001. Their first 2 albums were released on Sympathy until they left on bad terms with the people that had paved their way for them to hit the mainstream. The news of them breaking up last month would have been music to the ears of producer Jim Diamond who tells his side of the story of the lawsuits and corporate bullying from White once the duo hit the big time in this book. It’s a compelling end to what will probably be the only book written about what happened in the 90’s on the underground garage scene.

We Never Learn is a must read for all who collected records and attended shows throughout this period and it’s also a wonderful insight into a scene that you will probably not witness again if you are unfortunate enough to be born in the last 20 years. Discover it today via this book as you will not be disappointed.

Zac
If you like this then look for these 3 titles:  Please Kill Me (book), American Hardcore (DVD), Our Band Could Be Your Life (book)

Stewart Lee – How I Escaped My Certain Fate

Stewart Lee is a comedian. A very marvellous comedian. His recent BBC2 series, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, shuffled him closer into public view with its low-key combination of stand-up and sketches. It was the culmination of several years of building up a discerning audience of people who understood and appreciated his work. Prior to this, engulfed by disillusionment and apathy, Lee had left stand-up in 2001. This book follows his efforts at re-entry into a career that now has him praised and acclaimed as one of the most challenging and original comics working today.

The book opens with a charting of his initial interest as a teenager in comedy, to establishing a successful performing partnership with fellow comic Richard Herring, and to his eventual and thorough disenchantment with the stand-up craft that had so previously enthralled him. It goes on to describe what he did in the absence of a mic and stage – most notably co-writing and directing the eminently controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera – and the circumstances that led to him reconsider his muted, virtually unnoticed retirement from stand-up.

From here, things get very interesting. What follows are three complete transcripts of full-length performances (that are also helpfully available on DVD) broken up by chapters explaining the circumstances and influences that led to him writing these particular shows. The transcripts are often funny to read, though at times I wondered if people who didn’t know of Lee could find them amusing in the absence of a mental image, without be able envision the hilariously laborious pauses that break his routines up into calmly cobbled flotsam of thought. But this is why Lee is a spectacular comedian. He needs to be seen, to be experienced in the same room as you, to observe him playing with and moderating the mood, tone and the beads of moisture between your buttocks. Which is why the transcripts aren’t just blithely strewn across the page like a pale corpse.

Each page is, without exaggeration, heaving with footnotes, appendages, and academic post-its fluttering all over the routines. Lee uses these asides to dissect even the most seemingly mundane off-the-cuff remark of a routine and delineates his thought processes behind them, not just exploring the meaning and intent behind almost every word but also every pause for breath, every gesture and sideways glance, and explains how they relate to the themes and ideas he was intending to explore on stage. It is gloriously busy, and infused with such an exciting assertion of artistic independence. Stewart Lee has such an adoring fringe audience (although it’s less a fringe now and more a long, bristly Rapunzel weave of commitment) that he doesn’t have to worry about alienating or inveigling readers. As such, the book unabashedly dances in it’s own gleeful filth of critiques and pop-shots, of snipes and finger wagging at anything and everything from unappreciative audiences, to other comedians, and even his own inadequacies and failings as a performer.

In a comedy climate where people are triumphed and fast-tracked to appearing on Live At the Apollo because they’re innocuously watchable through dead eyes, and a climate where comedians rarely criticise each other publicly for fear of compromising their career, there is solace to be had in Lee’s relentless, care-free critical shrugging. For this reason, the book is easy to recommend to those who have never of heard of Stewart Lee. The level of analysis that fills this 378 page book (that also has other transcribed routines, interviews and tidbits at the back) should be appreciated by anyone interested in the minute craft and intense deliberation that goes into building a comedy routine.

Jordan Brookes