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Going Underground: American Punk 1979–1989, Second Edition

The product of decades of work and multiple self-published editions, Going Underground, written by 1980s scene veteran George Hurchalla, is the most comprehensive look yet at America’s nationwide underground punk scene.

Despite the mainstream press declarations that “punk died with Sid Vicious” or that “punk was reborn with Nirvana,” author Hurchalla followed the DIY spirit of punk underground, where it not only survived but thrived nationally as a self-sustaining grassroots movement rooted in seedy clubs, rented fire halls, Xeroxed zines, and indie record shops.

Rather than dwell solely on well-documented scenes from Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC, Hurchalla delves deep into the counterculture, rooting out stories from Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, Cincinnati, Miami, and elsewhere. The author seamlessly mixes his personal experiences with the oral history of dozens of band members, promoters, artists, zinesters, and scenesters. Some of the countless bands covered include Articles of Faith, Big Boys, Necros, Hüsker Dü, Bad Brains, Government Issue, and Minutemen, as well as many of the essential zines of the time such as Big Takeover, Maximum RocknRoll, Flipside, and Forced Exposure.

Going Underground features over a hundred unique photos from Marie Kanger-Born of Chicago, Dixon Coulbourn of Austin, Brian Trudell of LA, Malcolm Riviera of DC, Justina Davies of New York, Ed Arnaud of Arizona, and many others, along with flyers from across the nation.


“Hurchalla’s efforts are impressive, given the fragmented and regional nature of American hardcore in the Eighties, a time well before the Web made for a truly Punk Planet. Mimicking an Eighties-era tour, it meanders all over the place without ever fully wearing out its welcome.”
—Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

“Chapter by chapter, Hurchalla captures each major cities’ contribution, with the formation and rise of seminal clubs, bands, and indie record labels, all told through the anecdotes of the musicians, club promoters, zine publishers and scenesters themselves. Peppered with original show flyers and rare photographs, this anthropological perfect storm might leave latter-day punks thirsty at the trough, as baby, those were truly the golden years.”
—John James, Cincinnati CityBeat

“What makes Hurchalla’s book so important is that it captures the spirit of the movement, its idealistic sense of purpose that, despite punk’s many shortcomings, has managed to survive and continues to influence a wide swath of people.… Going Underground now stands as the definitive statement on the history of America’s punk/hardcore scene. George, I tip my worn-out beret to you.”
—Jimmy Alvarado, Razorcake

“Drawn in large part from zines of the times, every page brings another memory. Naked Raygun on one, countered by Black Flag or the Butthole Surfers on the next. This isn’t some prettied-up, big publisher look at ancient history, but rather like the music it documents, it’s a raw and passionate take on a revolution of sorts. This music never died, but it did get co-opted, yet Hurchalla steers clear of all that, and just records what matters. Good stuff!”
—James Mann, The Big Takeover

“Punk is an integrated part of American culture now, but it hasn’t always been that way. Hurchalla’s book serves as a window into a time and place where punk meant something completely different. Celebrities didn’t have Mohawks and people didn’t always think you were cool for dressing totally punk. But it was an independent movement where people were taking complete control over their music and culture.”
Encore Weekly, Wilmington, NC

About the Author:

George Hurchalla spent most of the 1990s as an itinerant wanderer and snow/music/wilderness writer and photographer, editing The Hell with Politics: The Life and Writings of Jane Wood Reno in 1994. After years of poverty pursuing his dreams and contributing sporadically to Heckler magazine, he broke down and took a paying gig to write Exploring Florida Beaches: The Atlantic Coast and Exploring Florida Beaches: The Gulf Coast for Falcon guidebooks in 2002. In February of 2004 he launched the first imprint of his own press, Spot X Guides, and published the results of a decade-long involvement with the Tahoe wilderness, Backcountry Snowboarding and Skiing in the Northern Sierra. Currently residing in Huatulco, Mexico, Hurchalla continues to write when he is not out exploring senseless beauty.

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