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The ‘90s saw the rise of indie rock and the disappearance of hair metal. At the forefront of this movement was Jon Fine, music journalist and author of the new book Your Band Sucks. Tonight, he’s here with Austin American-Statesman writer Joe Gross to discuss the evolution of the scene and his journey playing alongside a number of the notable bands to come out on the other side of the last decade of the 20th and into the 21st century. Join us for the conversation!
ABOUT JON FINE
Jon Fine is the executive editor of Inc. magazine. As a guitarist—in Bitch Magnet, Coptic Light, and Don Caballero, among others–he’s performed around the world and appeared on MTV. As a writer, Fine’s long-running BusinessWeek column “Media Centric” won both American Society of Business Publication Editors and National Headliner awards, and his work for Food & Wine won a James Beard Award. He has served as an on-air contributor to CNBC, and his work has also appeared in The Atlantic, GQ, and Details.
ABOUT YOUR LIFE SUCKS
Jon Fine spent nearly thirty years performing and recording with bands that played various forms of aggressive and challenging underground rock music, and, as he writes in this memoir, at no point were any of those bands ever threatened, even distantly, by actual fame. Yet when members of his first band, Bitch Magnet, reunited after twenty-one years to tour Europe, Asia, and America, diehard longtime fans traveled from far and wide to attend those shows, despite creeping middle-age obligations of parenthood and 9-to-5 jobs, testament to the remarkable staying power of the indie culture that the bands predating the likes of Bitch Magnet--among them Black Flag, Mission of Burma, and Sonic Youth --willed into existence through sheer determination and a shared disdain for the mediocrity of contemporary popular music.
In indie rock's pre-Internet glory days of the 1980s, such defiant bands attracted fans only through samizdat networks that encompassed word of mouth, college radio, tiny record stores and zines. Eschewing the superficiality of performers who gained fame through MTV, indie bands instead found glory in all-night recording sessions, shoestring van tours and endless appearances in grimy clubs. Some bands with a foot in this scene, like REM and Nirvana, eventually attained mainstream success. Many others, like Bitch Magnet, were beloved only by the most obsessed fans of this time.
Joe Gross writes about books, music and popular culture for the Austin American-Statesman. He's worked for the American-Statesman since 2002 and has contributed to Rolling Stone, Spin and other publications. He lives in Austin with his family.