NoMeansNo: From Obscurity to Oblivion By Jason Lamb with Paul Prescott, 336 pgs.

Mar 19, 2024

To be a person of the punk rock persuasion from Victoria, British Columbia is to have immense pride in our greatest export: NoMeansNo. The band managed to capture minds and fanbases globally with their incredibly unique style of punk rock. The thing is no one really knew the true story (outside of their immediate circle). The band, by design, eschewed press and promotion, opting to engage in a misinformation campaign that’s continued to shroud them in mystery… until now.

When Jason Lamb first told me (yes, most Victorians in punk rock know each other) he was planning to write an oral history of NoMeansNo, I had feelings of excitement mixed with trepidation. It has been tried before—always without cooperation of the band members—and the results always fell a little short. With all four members of the band on board, I knew this was going to be different.

The book is a beautiful, glossy combination of text, photos, gig posters, ticket stubs, betrayal, fear, anger, and hatred.

The oral history format was by far the best way to bring this story to life. Everyone whose life was touched by this band has a story to tell. From band members to fans around the world, the puzzle pieces fell into place. The book is a love letter to Victoria. First and foremost, it needs to be understood just how vital a part the city itself played in NoMeansNo being what it was. It may have been a D.O.A. show that sent Rob and John Wright on their path, but it was their small band of like-minded outsiders that propelled and pushed them to the heights they reached.

It’s amazing to hear the story of the band firsthand, for the first time ever. I remember being a teenager poring over liner notes and fanzine articles trying desperately to get a glimmer of what the band was all about, especially in the years before I finally got to witness them live upon my arrival in Victoria in 1994. Now, the veil of mystery has been lifted, and what remains is a multi-decade-spanning opus of inspiration and hard work. Commitment to the idea. The principles of the band. Changing so many lives in the process. The story in itself is massive and unwieldy, and I tip my hat to Jason and Paul for handling it perfectly.

Reading this was an emotional journey. My heart raced, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, I even teared up from time to time. The story of NoMeansNo has finally been told in the way it has always needed to be. From 1979 to 2013 the world had NoMeansNo, and while we may never get that experience again, at least we have a massive discography and this book. Remember, two Wrights will always make a WRONG! –Ty Stranglehold (PM Press, PO Box 23912 Oakland, CA 94623, pmpress.org)

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