We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California

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The assembly of the We Got Power fanzine, for its too-brief lifespan, reminded me of how Stephen King put together his home story rag as a kid—different colored inks and all—but I couldn’t find that passage in On Writing to save my life.

We Got Power relied on the use of Circle One frontman John Macias’ dad’s (phew!) printing press, putting out thousands of copies that captured the SoCal punk scene. Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz along with contributors, hit shows to grab interviews, reviewed records, and covered area music news from ’81-’83.

The wonderful photo and essay chronicle of the same name, subtitled Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California, is worthy of any coffee table—rather, any coffee table would be graced by the book’s presence. Over 400 amazing photos from the hardcore punk days of heavy drugs, shit cops (never changed), gig carpools, and crazy shows bless page after page. Also, does Henry Rollins ever take a bad picture?

Filling the book beyond photos are a bunch of fascinating essays recounting the halcyon days of LA’s hardcore punk and We Got Power’s publication. The essays—written by Rollins, the Schwartz Siblings, Markey, Sean Wheeler and others—create a non-linear narrative of those insane times. One of my favorites was Janet Housden’s (Red Kross) assault on Tony Alva. I found in her a kindred spirit as a onetime Hyperdefensive Teen.

Also included for you viewing pleasure are gorgeous scans of every We Got Power zine, from issue one to issue 666. They’re all in full color; you can almost smell the ink off the pages. The book is well worth it for that fact alone, looking like crisp, new glimpses into a scene and people that looked invincible.

We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California is a meaty, authentic piece of literature for lovers of hardcore punk. Every essay is natural and insightful, and together with the photos, they paint a picture of an LA gone by.

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