Monday, January 21, 2008


One of the major factors in No Wave's lasting legacy is the press coverage it got at the time. I was happily surprised to find that there was so much written at the time about No Wave, and I'd conservatively estimate that more than half of what I found was written by Roy Trakin. Trakin primarily wrote for New York Rocker and The Soho Weekly News, literally covering every major No Wave event and figure. The sampling of headlines pictured above - from Roy's hilarious interview with James Chance, his review of No New York, and his review of the Artists' Space Festival that itself spawned No New York - is just the tip of the iceberg. Trakin's stuff was sharp, perceptive, and tireless; it blew my mind how many times his byline popped up during my research, and I really could have quoted him on every page of the book.

This week, Trakin posted some reminiscences of No Wave, and his impressions of our book, at the site he currently writes for. Check his thoughts out by clicking here and scrolling down to entry #3.

Here's an outtake from my interview with Roy, detailing what attracted him to No Wave:

"I thought it was an advance on what was called Punk Rock at the time, because it was also incorporating a lot of downtown art and avant-garde elements. That was what excited me, because I saw it within the tradition of stuff like the Velvet Underground with Andy Warhol, and Suicide. I saw it as the logical progression of what was going on, and a real statement about commercial music and about music as art. I don’t know if anyone really thought that this would be a commercially viable genre, but you could tell it was something that was going to be influential at the very least. We were all flushed with the Do-It-Yourself attitude and deconstruction was big. No Wave encapsulated a lot of my influences which were movies of the French New Wave and movies as art and music as art. It really was a big middle finger towards commercial music or melodies or verses and choruses. It was compelling for that.

The bands were chaotic to listen to; they completely abandoned any pretense to any kind of Western musical mores. But there was an excitement there, and a kind of intellectual over-reaching combined ultimately with an attitude which branded it punk. It was antagonistic and it was nihilistic, but there was a vulnerability to putting yourself out there that to me was kind of seductive. And there was a real offbeat humour to it that people mistook for arrogance and nihilism, but ultimately the No Wavers were romantics. They had a very idealistic view of the possibilities of music in terms of changing people and changing attitudes towards what pop music is, how it works."

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