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Looking for a few good punks

Posted at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2006 by Euan Kerr

Paul Rachman and Steve Blush dropped by today. It's hard to tell looking at them now, but they were both heavily involved in the hardcore punk rock scene in the early 80s.

They both loved the attitude and the camaraderie surrounding the music which they admit was close to unlistenable.

Back then Rachman (that's him on the left) cut his moviemaking teeth shooting super 8 movies of punk concerts in Boston. Blush was one of the leading punk concert promoters in Washington DC (a job which from his description was even less glamorous than those of us with low expectations might expect.)

Blush went on to write "American Hardcore: A Tribal History" about how the hardcore scene exploded in 1981, and then imploded six years later. Meanwhile Rachman was shooting videos for among other bands The Replacements, and helped found the Slamdance Film Festival.

They'd known each other during their punk days and few years back they decided to make a film based on Blush's book. Half a decade and 120 interviews later they have their movie, "American Hardcore." It features a huge amount of home video shot by fans. It's raw, it's shaky and it's a lot of fun.

Rachman points out it was the time when cable access television began sprouting across America. "So I would go there and sign up and get this equipment and bring it to punk rock shows."

He says they had to look hard for tape from the early years, but they found it.

"There's a lot of Super 8, a lot of 16. There was this kid in Philadelphia, Stephen Eye, who we found who just happened to like shoot every show in Philly for a few years. You'd have these tapes that were show in SLP mode. There's like 8 hours on this tape. It's like 18 shows. It's like this one tape is a year's archive of Philadelphia Hardcore 1983. It was incredible."

For Rachman and Blush the fact the film and tape is poorly lit, poorly recorded, and badly shot is just in keeping with the spirit of the times.

"The source material was, what you got was what it was," Blush says. "Half the time you would call up these guys, and they were like "Oh yeah I've got something in a shoebox in the closet." And after five phone calls they'd finally send it to you, and it would be like a second generation VHS tape with an episode of "Star Trek" recorded over the middle of it. But you found your couple of minutes to use and that's what we worked with. But I can tell you, when you listened, the sound quality, its what it sounded like in the back of a VFW hall in 1982."

The movie will open in Minnesota in late October. Look for our interview to air then.

September 2006
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