Out of the Basement scene history book cover

Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005

by David A. Ensminger

Small townAmerica built the punk rock revolution; but big city scenes have gotten all the coverage. 

No longer! Out of the Basement is a bracing, candid, democratic, and cutting edge portrayal of a rust belt city full of rebel kids making DIY music despite the odds. It combines oral history, brutally honest memoir, music history, and a sense of blunt poetics to capture the ethos of life in the 1970s-2000s, long before the Internet made punk accessible to small towners. From dusty used record stores and frenetic skating rinks to dank basements and sweat-piled gigs to the radical forebears like the local IWW chapter, the book follows the stories of rebels struggling to find spaces and a sense of community and their place in underground history.

Includes hilarious untold stories and anecdotes about Fred Armisen, Green Day, and the Misfits.

 

Comments/Reviews

11/27/2016

"...Ensminger has managed to collate a lot of facts, characters, stories and historic detail into the pages as well as lacing the story with his own personal narrative and reflection lending it not just a gritty realism but a journalistic enthusiasm and passion that only a local (as opposed to a hackneyed journo) can muster."

http://www.scannerzine.com/bookso2015.htm

11/19/2016

A great history of the scene in which I grew up. It hits many/most of the high spots of things as I remember them happening in the 1980s as written by one of the people who made the Rockford scene what it was.

10/5/2016

"...Emits in vigorous detail the lineaments of the sweat-drenched musical underground nestled in his rock hard hometown… sense impressions combine with slices of scholarly reflection and the author’s own energy and timeless enthusiasm."

http://www.quimbys.com/blog/readings/punk-then-punk-now-punk-forever-documenting-diy-culture-1118/

10/4/2016

"[Ensminger's] done his homework...Out of the Basement is a cool study of how many American cities struggle to keep their DIY talent from either destroying themselves in an environment with below average social services or leaving town..."

9/20/2016

From touting long-defunct local punk hopefuls like The Names, PineWood Box and Bludgeoned Nun to reminiscing on a kerfuffle with a pre-stardom Green Day, to the foibles of staging local hardcore shows, Ensminger walks us through a slim digest’s worth of interviews and personal accounts, warts (plenty of them) and all, without getting too indulgent in the process.

5/6/2016

"David Ensminger writes a fascinating story about the development of punk in Rockford, Illinois. He weaves engaging personal narratives with interesting historical accounts of proto-punk, power pop, punk rock, and hardcore in this Midwest town."

4/24/2016

"A vivid portrait of late 20th century 'rust city kids' skateboarding through a kind of pulp noir 'dead-end America,' sustained by punk and its DIY ethos. As so often happens, punks crafted community and beauty out of the ruins. It is, at once, both a typical story and a singular one, and Ensminger captures it all."

4/1/2016

This latest dispatch from David Ensminger emits in vigorous detail the lineaments of the sweat-drenched musical underground nestled in his rock hard hometown. Wild, subterranean notations and sense impressions combine with slices of scholarly reflection and the author's own energy and timeless enthusiasm to deliver not only the glory of a youth movement on the page, but the nearly lost art of punk itself.