Book Your Own Fucking Life: the pre-internet guide that connected the indie scene

Written by Nathan Jolly on 1st June, 2018
Book Your Own Fucking Life: the pre-internet guide that connected the indie scene

In January 1992, Nirvana’s Nevermind knocked Michael Jackson’s Dangerous off the number one spot on the Billboard album chart, and the musical world changed forever.

This shift was largely an attitudinal one, and mostly resulted in major labels scooping up any band with long stringy hair and ripped jeans, hoping against hope to land the next Nirvana. In the end, bands like Pearl Jam and Green Day sold better, but impacted the world less, and a number of decent indie bands were destroyed by being put through the major label ringer.

But the groundwork had already been laid for the rise of independent music by countless, nameless people who were developing a network of like-minded bands, venues, bookers, zine publishers, and share-houses to stay in. Maximum Rock N Roll helped pull together all these threads into a 1992 guide named Book Your Fucking Life – and it changed the entire musical world.

The magazine’s manifesto is laid out at the beginning of the guide, and points towards the kind of social networking that now runs rampant. Back then it seemed innocent and filled with possibilities. The burgeoning “DIY movement” is described as vibrant. This guide is filled with hope.

“Over these past years the DIY movement has grown at an unprecedented rate, in some cases fueled by profit-making trends, but for the most part on a real grass-roots level. The national and international communication within the DIY movement is what has kept it strong over the years. Through the efforts of certain individual and fanzines, people have been able to make concrete connections between people of similar interests and have created an entire underground economy based on the spreading of our own living culture and ideal. Bands have been able to promote themselves, book tours, put out records without bowing down to the corporate music industry. That is the essence of DIY. People helping other people without an eye for profit, only for creating a better world and having some fun. Networking has played a major role in making all this happen. That is why we present “Book Your Own Fucking Life” for just this tool.

“We hope this magazine will help us make a giant step forward towards international solidarity for DIY people and organizations. This is the first attempt at such an interactive listing in recent years where people have been given equal and free opportunity to take part.”

The full text is available to read here (with the many spelling errors that come with digital translation) and Maximum Rock N Roll later launched the guide as an interactive website. This came too late, however, and as social media took over, the site was finally abandoned in 2011.

The many highways that were connected through this one simple guide remain, though – and we have some of the greatest art to ever come out of America to thank for it.

The article was originally published on The Industry Observer

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