A Hardcore Heart: Adventures In A DIY Scene – David Gamage (Earth Island Books)

We all love this thing called punk rock. We’ve all made the pilgrimage up and down the various motorways that connect our great cities, to watch or even play alongside our favourite bands. The prospect of putting a smile on ten people’s faces for £10 petrol money on a wet Tuesday evening in the middle of nowhere, is truly a sign of dedication to your art. Anybody who’s been in punk band, will know this pain. It’s a passion that connects us, like nothing else can. Friends made in these cities and at these gigs, become faces that will become a reoccurring part of your life for years to come and that’s where the real heart of A Hardcore Heart: Adventures In A DIY Scene by David Gamage lies.

The first thing to hit you about this book is the sheer size of it. At 653 pages long Gamage has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to recall these events with such vivid detail, that you may ask yourself, was he really there? Of course, the answer is yes and what follows in these pages are his personal and collective band adventures, as they negotiate the DIY UKHC scene, carving out a little bit of history just for themselves along the way.

It’s a sweat-soaked slice of nostalgia, elements of which have been partially lost in the modern world, with long lost bands, people and venue lovingly remembered in countless photos and flyers, but the crowning glory of the book are the stories that rope it all together. Thousands of bands know the tales of long haul trips squeezed into the back of a van, but everyone has a unique and often hilarious take on the traditional road trip, and Gamage has crammed his anecdotes into every little corner of A Hardcore Heart with extraordinary detail and like any good novel there are reoccurring characters that you’ll love and hate, but it’s all part of the journey.

If more mainstream punk is your bag, then fear not because tales featuring the likes of NOFX, Green Day, Hot Water Music and more are dropped in, as our beloved scene, crosses paths with the big boys, as is the case sometimes and you can guarantee that these tales have not been told anywhere else before now.

A Hardcore Heart is a personal diary, a band journal and a glimpse into a very special time in underground music told by somebody who was there on the frontlines. It’s delivered with a warmth and affection that people from the scene will instantly connect to and what David has essentially done here, is written a love letter to the UK punk scene that we are all welcome to read and cherish….Chris Andrews

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