By all accounts, New York in the late 70s-early 80s was probably one of the least safest places in the world for one to be in. Gang wars and general sense of unease/danger that threatened to tear the city apart, yet it also led to lower prices on lofts and studios, which allowed artists of all kinds to move into the city.
It was during the late 70s that the atmosphere allowed few separate crowd and genres to mix and co-exist – the stories of Hilly Crystal club CBGB/OMFUG and Studio 54 are well-documented, yet there was also another separate movement that isn’t often discussed, but recently a number of books and videos on the subject started to uncover the story of so-called “no wave” movement.
Inspired by the likes of Suicide and, as well as growing punk movement, musicians such as James Chance, Lydia Lunch, Glenn Branca and Arto Lindsay started presenting the world its combination of punk/ethos of bands like Ramones and noise and confrontational art of Suicide.
In the late 70s, renowned producer Brian Eno (Roxy Music, 801) moved to New York and out of his desire to document the burgeoning musical scene, he created a compilation called “No New York”, which included 2 cuts by 4 bands that, in his opinion, represented the scene/movement the best – Contortions, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, Mars and DNA.
The fact that only 4 bands were included left many disappointed – despite Eno best intentions, it also felt that many bands were inappropriately left out for one reason or the other.
“No Wave”, written by Thurston Moore (member of Sonic Youth, who, while not mentioned in the book, were also heavily involved in NY downtown music/art scene) and journalist Byron Coley seem to fill some offer a bigger picture of the scene than Eno’s compilation originally did.
The book includes more than 150 great black and white photos of members of New York music/art community, as well as interviews with the likes of China Burg (Mars), Lydia Lunch (8 Eyed Spy, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, Beirut Slump), Arto Lindsay (DNA, Lounge Lizards, Golden Palominos, Locus Solus) and Robin Crutchfield (Dark Day, DNA), among many others.
Further Reading / Links:
Litmob – Interview with Thurston Moore