Amped: Notes from a Go-Nowhere Punk Band

Amped: Notes from a Go-Nowhere Punk BandJon Resh
Viper Press ($4.50)

by Kevin Carollo

With extended similes to rival Raymond Chandler—for example, "slobber over 'good' amps like a cheap salesman ogles middle-aged lap dancers after a few stiff drinks" and self-deprecating refrains along the lines of "in those first few weeks, we had zero chemistry . . . lacking any sense of musical cohesion," Resh's tribute to his former band Spoke is a funny and insightful document of what X called the "unheard music." From the dedication which thanks "everyone who stuck around for more than two songs" to the final pages when Resh implores the reader to "Start a band,² Amped is as much about the unsung people who seek out the unheard music as it is about Spoke's years in the punk underground.

Though the Florida-based band broke up in 1993, "because we wanted to, because the time was right," Amped illustrates how vital independent music continues to be for American culture. Making music allows us the possibility of being "born into something better." Resh encourages us to see the DIY aesthetic as an ongoing commitment to creating communities not defined by the acquisition of wealth or fame. His Viper Press maintains this ideal by putting out these notes at an indie rock price.

Resh¹s episodic narrative focuses on the myriad relationships that derive from being in a band—to each other, to the fans, to the music, to the road, and to one's equipment. It reads like an extended-play collection of greatest hits, with chapter titles such as "Hazards," "Pastacore," "Walterboro," and "Spokehouse." Amped's reverence for the punk scene (as well as the beautiful freaks of America) resonates throughout its 30 chapters. Though he consistently undercuts Spoke's importance and intentions, Resh knows that making music counts. As it encourages the reader to plug in and make noise, the memoir eventually crescendos to an unsettling epiphany about the nature of dissent, resistance, and making music. Combining the words of former Justice William O. Douglas, Operation Ivy's "Sound System," and the fatigue of a tour's final leg, these few pages alone are worth the price of admission. Now go start a band.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Spring 2002 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2002