Of all the histories of not-that-long-ago local music, we’re maybe most excited for Cyn Collins‘ Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk And Indie Rock, 1974-1984 thanks to both its subject matter near and dear to our hearts. Quotes like this one from award winning author Marlon James are also an easy sell: “Complicated Fun is a great rock book that works the same way as a great rock song. Find the right voices, lead with a riff, spit some truth, then watch everything explode. The result? Punk messing with punk, and birthing indie rock.” Count us in.
And since you can’t have a book release on local punk and indie rock without the punk and indie rock, Collins will be joined on Friday at the Hook & Ladder by the Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’s, Curtiss A and the Dark Click, and others firebrands from that era.
We have a debate raging in our office about the context for this book. Some say you’re making a great case for the MPLS + STPL punk and indie rock as a wave of Post-Boomerism (without the Boomers?), but others say it’s the glory days of the Gen Xers (but somehow too early?). Which is it?
I’d say the context is a little of both, yet more the former—a wave of post-boomers (without the boomers) as most of the foundational musicians and fans were in their late teens, early 20s when they were performing at/going to the Longhorn starting in 1977. They were rejecting mainstream music and culture and generating their own new revolutionary music scene, which would inspire the Generation X to attend shows and form their own bands.
How long have you been developing this book? Is it a natural extension of your deep connection to the local music scene?
I began developing this book about 6 years ago when I produced a KFAI/Ampers radio documentary on this subject. The book idea originated before then, and from that research and those interviews. I devoted most of my time researching and writing it since The Minnesota Historical Society Press accepted my proposal in Spring of 2015. Yes, indeed it is a natural extension of my deep connection to the local music scene! I’m very inspired to share musicians stories with audiences.
Were the bars back at this time just cooler than our bars now? They sound like it.
Some of the interviewees note the bars then were cooler than our bars now. They note things like it was a small number of the same people (couple hundred) who went to the Longhorn every night, you’d see your friends there, who were also outside of the norm. There was a camaraderie, and they were there for the music, too.
We love the book readings matched up with shows, like Friday’s set at Hook & Ladder with Curtiss A & Dark Click and Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’s and the past reading at Electric Fetus with Kevin Cole and Flamingo. How much of you doing the book was for the release shows?
I’d say doing the book for the release shows, was part of it, hoping to celebrate the great artists who shared stories, many whom are still performing to this day and releasing new records this spring and summer, such as the Suicide Commandos and the Suburbs. I enjoy organizing these shows in relation to the book and possibly increasing interest and awareness of the foundation of our great music scene and these fantastic artists who deserve more recognition for their music.
How underrated is KFAI? We listen to it all the time.
We will be 40 years old next year! We have a large number of devoted member listeners and continue to reach new listeners, who love us and support us by becoming members as well! People who appreciate a vast range of great music in all genres curated by knowledgeable DJ’s listen to us. People who haven’t, are missing lots of cool music and guests you would rarely, if ever, hear anywhere else. You can hear us streaming live at kfai.org or 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 FM St. Paul.