Powerfully Inspirational: American Punk & New Wave Bands and Bombed Out!
Above Photo: The Bombed Out! book cover.
Buy a signed copy of the book here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
For a book about the Liverpool Punk & New Wave scene, I’ve sold a surprising number of copies of Bombed Out! across the US too. From New York, LA and San Francisco, to buyers in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Illinois and a few other states.
In fact, after the UK, the US is by far the second-biggest market for my book, and a buyer in California recently suggested this might be because the story in the book (which obviously I won’t give away here) is very much an “American success story”, which chimes with US readers more than it might with readers in other countries.
This is great, because US Punk and New Wave bands’ importance to the British music scene can’t be overestimated, and of course these bands also receive many mentions in Bombed Out!
I have used a few photos of US bands playing at Eric’s Club in Liverpool, to illustrate this article.
Bombed Out! is a coming of age book with a massive twist. It’s about the Empowerment of Punk and about what Punk music and the dynamism associated with it brought into my own life. It’s a totally unique story, initially spanning my time in Punk and New Wave bands in Liverpool, having left school to join one called Pink Military Stand Alone at the age of 17.
It also details proceedings in Eric’s Club (the CBGBs of Liverpool).
Back then Eric’s was the epicenter of a vibrant Liverpool music scene featuring many bands and personalities who went on to have huge international success.
Elvis Costello, Echo & The Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, A Flock of Seagulls, Dead or Alive, Frankie Goes To Hollywood; Bill Drummond (KLF); the Lightning Seeds (Ian Broudie). People from all these bands hung out in Eric’s or worked there (as did I), and the club gave many of these musicians their first taste of playing live.
The book goes on to record my time with Pete Burns in Nightmares in Wax, which changed its name to the more famous Dead or Alive shortly after I (literally) walked away from the band, in highly unusual circumstances.
And then the story really takes off.
The Cramps play an important role in the book, as it was after supporting them at gigs in Eric’s and in Leeds, in consecutive years (1979 and 1980), that my musical career ended in both the bands I played in. But of course they weren’t to blame for that – they were superb. A brilliant live band and fantastic, down-to-earth people.
And both Cramps’ Eric’s gigs where I played in the support bands were also named in the top 10 best Eric’s gigs, which I feel some pride in having been a small part of.
Since the book came out, I have received a steady stream of positive comments from US buyers, some reprinted here with a selection of others from around the world. This is just some of the unsolicited feedback I’ve received about the book.
I am deeply grateful for these emails and messages, and I know I have somehow (forgive the pun) struck a chord with the book.
But for this article, I wanted to concentrate on the importance of American Punk and New Wave bands in Bombed Out!
It’s not just well-known bands like the Ramones and music icons such as Iggy Pop who play a leading role in the musical narrative of the book. Many other lesser-known (or less-remembered) US bands strongly feature in weird and wonderful ways too.
For example, The Dead Boys, who supported the Damned in December 1977 at only my second Punk gig in Liverpool, absolutely blew me away. I’m proud to say all these years later, a copy of Bombed Out! was delivered to their bass player Jeff Magnum’s home in New York – although I don’t know if he ever read it…
Similarly, Los Angeles band the Dickies receive an honourable mention in the book, because it was at their Eric’s gig that I finally got up the courage to ask a beautiful and way-out-of-my-league Punky girl to go out with me. She subsequently went on to influence the course of my entire life after my band period spectacularly crashed and burned.
I went to see many great US bands down in Eric’s, like like Wayne County and the Electric Chairs in 1979, but I’d forgotten many of them until I recently discovered my gig list. Back then, many nights were just a blur of booze, sweat, snogging, shagging and noise.
I used to have free membership and went almost every night Eric’s was open in 1979 and 1980, working behind the bar, collecting glasses or working stage security, if not actually playing there in the bands I was in.
I was introduced to Elvis Costello by club owner, the mercurial Roger Eagle, on my first night collecting glasses. Elvis was a member of Eric’s, and I was a massive fan of his. He didn’t disappoint, and I was knocked out by his friendliness and generosity (OK, he only bought me a beer, but that was like a major Yukon gold strike back then).
The story in Bombed Out! (and in the screenplay I have written based on the book) has been called ‘powerfully inspirational’, and this can be seen in some of the readers’ comments I’ve used to illustrate this article.
The action in the book takes place in a city and a country decimated by vicious economic recession; where chronic unemployment and economic malaise stalked the city. It was a time when life chances were at a premium.
After my band period ended, I was also slung on the unemployment scrapheap, without qualifications and without a hope, unless I pulled my finger out and faced down some utterly intimidating realities.
It was a hard and bitter period that has never been forgotten in Britain.
I’ve frequently been asked about the name, “Bombed Out.” It actually refers to two things: the destruction of Liverpool during the Second World War, when German bombers blitzed the docks and the industrial hinterland of the city, resulting in a barren post-war streetscape that was still very much a feature of Liverpool during the time chronicled in the book.
And secondly, the name refers to the unsympathetic economic battering British industrialised cities received in the 1970s and 1980s under Ronald Reagan’s ally, Margaret Thatcher. That’s also why she appears on the cover of the book.
And there’s an ironic link between me and Margaret Thatcher at one stage in the book too, hard as that is to believe.
I should also add that the language is quite strong in the book. This was because I used contemporary diaries to write it, and these diaries were often written in times of great personal stress, desperation and crisis, and that was how I expressed myself back then.
There are also some graphically recounted sex scenes in the toilets of the club, which I frequently found myself engaged in back then (oddly, it was quite common).
You can buy signed copies of Bombed Out! from this site by clicking here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php Or buy it in e-book format from Amazon.
And finally, some other American Punk and New Wave-related photos from Eric’s or relevant to the book, which I thought I’d share:
And finally, something I proudly liberated after the Iggy Pop gig at Eric’s and still have in my possession today – his set list…
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php