Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming, Edited by S.W. Lauden, foreword by Lucky Lehrer, 218 pgs.

May 24, 2022

When I saw there was a person who endeavored to write about punk drumming, I’ll admit that (as a punk drummer myself) I was equal parts intrigued and skeptical. I wondered how it would hold my attention on a seemingly simple subject. Never have I been so pleased to be proven wrong. Not only did it hold my attention, but it had me captivated. It can be challenging to rate a book and to attempt to summarize and quantify the greatness of it, but I find it telling that while reading it I was inspired to actively look up songs, musicians, and bands on the spot and add them to my own personal repertoire of practice tunes. Not only was I learning the (perspective) history of certain punk beats but I was hearing songs with new ears. I re-listened to Circle Jerks songs and thought “Dang, I never realized how hard that song is!”

This book talked about punk in the best and most apropos way, from multiple perspectives, in varying formats, with and about people from different backgrounds and genders. What makes this extra special is that it features writing/words directly from some of the very drumming heroes who are mentioned, making it a beautiful and chaotic web diagram of influencers and musicians admiring and learning from each other and from comparable—and sometimes very different—inspirations. This book embraces the unspoken respect of differing opinions; opinions that were all dependent on when and where they were in their lives, overlapping with similarities and contradictions but, overall, an understanding that it’s this exact kind of disorder and attitude that’s essential to the indefinable yet very real and experiential subject of punk. Reading about punk ethics/aesthetics and specifically the drumming aspects of it made me feel more passionate, validated, understood, and humbled as a punk drummer. I delighted in reading about my personal favorites Chuck Biscuits and Derrick Plourde and am eager to delve into some of the lesser-knowns (to me).

This should be required reading for all music majors. And while you might think that that might be an okay idea, but jazz or classical musicians won’t get it, you’d be wrong because, as this book shows, punk drummers are all over the place. It was made for the people who can barely hold sticks and for the classically trained and everyone in between; as long as the music speaks to them. I look forward to keeping this book on my shelf for years to come and revisiting constantly for motivation. This is a stellar example of how punk is expansive, complex, indefinable yet existential, and infinitely more that boom ch boom boom ch. Now excuse me while I go try to play along to “Slumlord” by DOA. –Rosie Gonce (