KEXP Songbook Series: We Are The Clash Contextualizes The Hardest Years of the "Only Band That Matters"

Songbook, Book Reviews
Owen Murphy

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, KEXP will host to latest edition of our Songbook series looking at Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki's We Are The Clash. Anderson will join KEXP Morning Show producer Owen Murphy to chat about the book in our Gathering Space. Ahead of the event, Murphy shares some thoughts on this remarkable new book.

We Are The Clash by Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki, is a truly engaging read as it juxtaposes the conflicts within the band amidst social and political strife in both England and globally, and the band’s reaction to it. While England drowns in unemployment under Margaret Thatcher, Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and the new members of the band try to reinvent a group that they hope will ascend to even larger popularity while still being true to the roots Strummer held while a squator in his youth.
The authors have chosen a path of entrance to the band in what is their least popular, but in some ways, most dramatic, thus most interesting period, as the band, under the (cough) guidance of manager Bernie Rhodes, finds itself burned out from touring and tired of the rock-star antics of founding member, singer, guitarist and songwriter Mick Jones, who they subsequently fire. It’s a hole that proves to be difficult, if not impossible to fill, and produces their least popular work, 1985’s Cut the Crap.
Interestingly, the bonafides are strong on this tome. The book is co-authored by Mark Anderson, who as a college student, cut his teeth as part of the punk movement in Washington D.C., and went on to chronicle that scene as co-author of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital for Akashic Books, which was founded by one-half of one of my all-time fav’ rhythm secions (Rockets are Red), Johnny Temple, from the amazing D.C. post-quartet Girls Against Boys. Most importantly, it’s a story that feels timely in this social and politcal climate and I hope you’ll join us Wednesday in the KEXP gathering space as we tell a new story about (forgive me) “the only band that matter(ed).”

Here's what Ian Mackaye of Fugazi has to say about Mark Andersen:

“Mark loves to dance with words: he finds struggle in right as well as wrong, all the while keeping time with a cadence of thoughts and approaches. He is a free-agent believer open to possibility. His decision to reflect on his personal journey through what he refers to as ‘revolution’ may lull the reader with the packaging, as the written word is often mistaken for the truth. The fact that questions in a written form can at times resemble answers is a danger for most activist writers, as well as writing activists. Be that as it may, it is Mark’s content, the inexhaustible work ethic and boundless hope for the better, that serves as the true ballast of his conviction.”
—Ian MacKaye 

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