Don't Call It Nothing is a podcast that supplements my upcoming book, Don’t Call It Nothing: The Lost History of ‘90s Roots, Rap & Rock ‘n’ Roll. It's part-memoir, part social history, and part reference manual. Both the book and podcast are about the '90s rock 'n' roll underground that I was a part of as fan, college radio music director, feature writer, and DJ, first at Chico State (KCSC) and then at the University of Alabama (WVUA). This vibrant, grassroots ecosystem should be celebrated as an American success story. In a pre-cellphone, mostly pre-internet world, college radio, independent record stores, small clubs, zines, flyers on telephone poles, and simple word of mouth were the support network for artists who largely existed outside of the mainstream purview. It was easy to be a Nirvana fan, or Oasis fan, or Radiohead fan. You simply had to exist. It took effort to dig deeper, to get into the weeds where you could discover idiosyncratic, recombinant forces of nature like Fugazi, The Muffs, Blue Mountain, Geraldine Fibbers, and The Gourds.
Buy Me a Coffee is an investment in the book and podcast, but I believe there's a political component. You're helping preserve the memory of songs, bands, and artists who remain invisible to the broader culture in a passive-aggressive kind of erasure. It bothers me that popular recollections of '90s music erase huge swaths of creative capital in favor of commercial mediocrity. I want to reclaim the decade for us Gen Xers who came of age in the period and know better, millennials who were maybe too young to experience this music in real time, and future generations of rock 'n' rollers who need to know the ‘90s was far more than grunge drudgery, facile Britpop, and the abomination that was rap-rock.
1990s alt.country, indie rock, and rock 'n' roll was about men AND women participating, often from regional American towns like Belleville, Illinois (Uncle Tupelo), Stockton, California (Pavement), Tacoma, Washington (Girl Trouble, Neko Case), Olympia, Washington (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Elliot Smith, K Records, Kill Rock Stars), Denton, Texas (Slobberbone, Centro-Matic), Dayton, Ohio (GBV, Breeders), Louisville, Kentucky (Slint, Freakwater, My Morning Jacket), Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina (Superchunk, Merge Records, Archers Of Loaf, Polvo), and Norman, Oklahoma (Flaming Lips). Hell, great rock 'n' roll also came from Australia (You Am I), The Netherlands (Bettie Serveert), and Japan (126.96.36.199's). These are the artists I'll be discussing in the podcast and which I wrote about it in the book.
"Don’t call it nothing
This might be all we'll ever have"
–Uncle Tupelo, “Nothing,” 1991