I didn’t grow up in Boston, but became familiar with their hardcore scene when I was in high school. However, I moved to Boston in 2008 and am proud to call it home. Chris Wrenn, the founder of Bridge Nine Records, is also a Boston transplant, coming to the city in the late 1990s from Connecticut by way of Vermont. As a way to meet people and integrate himself in the scene, he put out monthly fact sheets on the hardcore and punk scene here, appropriately titled Boston Hardcore & Punk Factsheet.They were all short—four to eight pages—with show listings, scene news, and interviews with local bands. While the publicationonly lasted for a year (1999-2000), it’s a great time capsule of a particular place and time.
One thing that may surprise many people about Boston (but which becomes clear in reading this book) is that it’s a small city. Despite having over half a million people, the kids here were putting on shows at the same types of places that we were in my hometown of 25,000 people in Indiana: churches and VFW and Eagles Halls. Bands all seemed to know one another and interchanged members to form new groups. The “news” section of the factsheet reminded me of old, small town newspapers that would carry the local gossip: so-and-so started a new business, this person visited town, this person was drunk and disorderly, etc. It makes for an interesting read and gives one an idea of who and what was important during this time.
Boston Hardcore & Punk Factsheet also includes interviews with Converge, Right Brigade, The Hope Conspiracy, The Explosion, American Nightmare, Isis, and many more. Even though some of the questions were repeated from issue to issue, the nature of the inquiries caused band members to open up about the highs and lows of being in a band as well as things they’ve regretted. For so few pages, there’s a lot of emotion coming through. While there were some exceptions (Dicky Barrett), most of the people interviewed seemed real cool and open to what Wrenn was asking, even if the responses weren’t always very long. I still felt as though I got to know some of the people fairly well. Aaron Turner from Isis really liked pot, for example.
All that being said, unless you’re a big fan of Boston hardcore from the late ‘90s/early 2000s, live in the Boston area, or have lived here, I don’t know if this would necessarily be of interest to you. But for me, it was a real treat. –Kurt Morris (B9 Press, 119 Foster St. Building 4, Floor 3, Peabody, MA 01960)