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Monday, July 01, 2019

Every Wave to Ever Rise

For almost two years, I have worked on a sequel to my first book, Post. Titled Forever Got Shorter: Reunions, Revivals, and Another Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 2009-2019 unless I come up with a better title, this book continues to be a DIY, labor of love project. And I’m happy to say I’ve reached a breakthrough in the research process.

Something I must address in this new book (that I was able to sidestep in Post) was how far the reach of mainstream emo was from 2001 until 2011. From Fall Out Boy to My Chemical Romance to Taking Back Sunday, it would be unfair to avoid the cultural significance of these acts, no matter how I felt about their music at the time I wrote Post

I’ve come to accept that a lot of people think emo/post-hardcore is only reflected in the stereotypes that came from fans of the mainstream version of emo. Eyeliner, flat-ironed hair, black nail polish, black clothes, and lots of yelping/screaming in a very calculated sort of way. But I still want to offer another view that has nothing to do with what was on sale at Hot Topic. 

For months, I did research on emo DJ nights. There’s the DIY, independent version and then there are touring editions that don’t often play emo (and are more of a 2000s nostalgia night). Seeing a certain touring version come back to Dallas quite often (and when the local promoter decided to mock me on Twitter when I called them out about it), I started to wonder if I was stuck in a swamp trying to make sense of this offshoot of emo’s popularity. I never considered giving up on the project, but I did wonder where the hell I was going. 

Alas, I had a breakthrough when I recently interviewed Keith Latinen from the Count Your Lucky Stars label and the band Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate). Though I’ve interviewed him before and we’ve known each other since the MySpace days, we had a really good talk this time about the emo revival. We got to talking about how important a small amount of people in 2007-2014 (something like 100-150 people) played music that wasn’t in line with the mainstream defined as emo. Instead of booking agents and bars, these bands played houses. Bandcamp was how you found out about these bands, because their ambitions were not of the grand level. 

That’s when I realized: If the focus of my first book was about DIY artists, shouldn’t the sequel be as well?

Whether it’s American Football or the Get Up Kids or Holding Patterns or Dowsing or Overo, there are a lot of bands to write about and profile. Couple that with the handful of important record labels. Something that will be much different (in terms of format) is that I do not plan to devote individual chapters to bands like how I did in Post. There is too much to go into and doing individual chapters to bands doesn’t quite fit. Then again, I might say something different when it comes down to editing this stuff down to a readable book.

This project really started out as an idea I originally had for a new, 10-year anniversary edition of Post (which itself was from an idea Hope suggested with making a documentary on this side of the genre). Since all of the bands I wrote about in Post have reunited (Fugazi has reunited, but behind closed doors), it makes sense to write about the hows and whys these bands came back together. What I first thought would make for a good afterword became a whole new book when I pitched an anniversary edition and no name publisher wanted it. 

Rather than be dismayed (not the first time, remembering the time an editor at a name publisher thought the Braid chapter in Post was boring), I decided to use “no” as a gift. Instead of sitting around and complaining about things online, I choose to do something about it. 

I wrote a few years ago that I hoped my third book would not take years to write, but here I am. I don’t have a deadline, as I plan to use the same print-on-demand service I used for Post. But whenever this comes out, I promise it will be worth the while of the reader to buy a sequel. People are still discovering that first book, so I know there is an audience out there. It’s not in the millions, but this is for the people who want to have some documentation of the emo revival. This is for them.