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NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980–1990, by Tony Rettman

$29.95 $24.95

“A great oral-history book.”—The New York Times

“New York City has an energy that you’re not going to find anywhere else. People who have that passionate, driven mindset; they gravitate to New York City. You couldn’t match it anywhere else. Even being in that intense environment—you had to come into your own to survive that area.”—John Porcelly, Youth of Today/Shelter

ISBN 978-1935950-12-7
High-quality trade paperback
384 densely illustrated pages
Foreword by Freddy Cricien
Dimensions: 6.75″ x 9.5″ x 1.5″ (170mm x 240mm x 40mm); 3 lbs. (1.2 kg)
eBook: Kindle

Known for its glamorous 1970s punk rock scene, New York City matched the grim urban reality of the 1980s with a rawer musical uprising: New York hardcore. As bands of misfits from across the region gravitated to the forgotten frontier of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. With a a backdrop of despair, bands like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law, and Youth of Today confronted their reality with relentlessly energetic gigs at CBGB, A7, and the numerous squats in the area.

Tony Rettman’s ambitious oral history captures ten years of struggle, including the scene’s regional rivalries with D.C. and Boston, the birth of moshing, the clash and coming to terms of hardcore and heavy metal, the straightedge movement, and the unlikely influence of Krishna consciousness.

With a foreword by Freddy Cricien of Madball, who made his stage debut with Agnostic Front at age 7, NYHC slams the sidewalk with savage tales of larger-than-life characters and unlikely feats of willpower. The gripping and sometimes hilarious narrative is woven together like the fabric of New York itself from over 100 original interviews with members of Absolution, Adrenalin O.D., Agnostic Front, Antidote, Bad Brains, Bloodclot, Bold, Born Against, Breakdown, Cause for Alarm, Citizens Arrest, Cro-Mags, Crumbsuckers, Death Before Dishonor, Even Worse, False Prophets, Gorilla Biscuits, H20, Heart Attack, Inhuman, Into Another, Irate, Judge, Kraut, Leeway, Life’s Blood, Major Conflict, Murphy’s Law, Nausea, Nihilistics, Nuclear Assault, Numskulls, Outburst, Pro-Pain, Quicksand, Raw Deal, Reagan Youth, Rorschach, S.O.D., Sacrilege, Savage Circle, Sheer Terror, Shelter, Shok, Sick of it All, Side by Side, Skinhead Youth, Straight Ahead, the Abused, the Cryptcrashers, the Mad, the Misfits, the Misguided, the Mob, the Psychos, the Ritz, the Stimulators, the Undead, Token Entry, Underdog, Urban Waste, Virus, Warzone, Youth of Today, and many, many more.


“In other parts of our neighborhood, guys were breakdancing against each other; we were moshing against each other. It was all about who had the most style, as opposed to today where it’s just picking up change and karate kicking. It was all about trying to keep dancing, while still blasting into someone from D.C. or Boston, and all about who had the hardest pit for their town’s band. It was like supporting your city’s hockey team or something.”—Jimmy G, Murphy’s Law

“At that time, the Lower East Side was a warzone. It wasn’t the gentrified neighborhood that it’s been for the last twenty years. It was a fucking warzone, without question. It was worse than the worse neighborhoods you know in New York City today. It was a trip to be down there and go to those bars and A7 and shit like that. I wasn’t even eighteen yet, and I was getting a peek into a world that most people will never see.”—Eddie Sutton, Leeway

“I had my personal experiences from life; being on the streets, being locked up, and being in abusive foster homes. I was fighting. I was shot and stabbed, and that’s what came out. We sang about street justice and survival on the streets because that shit was for real. That shit was a way to express ourselves and get out that angst. It was real. It wasn’t some hypothetical bullshit.”—John Joseph, Cro-Mags

Tony Rettman is a freelance music journalist whose work has appeared in the Village Voice, Vice, The Wire, Philadelphia Weekly, Cleveland Scene, Arthur, Swindle, Signal to Noise, Mean, and Thrasher. At age 14 in the 1980s, he was the coeditor of Common Sense zine. He has provided liner notes for such artists as Hackamore Brick, Bored Youth, Beyond and many more. He is a contributing editor to In 2010, Revelation Records released his acclaimed first book, Why Be Something That You’re Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985.

2 hours and 40 minutes of NYHC, courtesy of Tony Rettman (and Spotify):

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“A great oral-history book.”—The New York Times

“A fittingly bare-bones book, with fifty-two short chapters and no editorializing from the author. But the story it tells is not a simple one: this was, to quote the title of Cro-Mags’ first album, an ‘age of quarrel.’”—The New Yorker

NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980-1990 is an essential document, which will be the go-to reference for all fans of extreme styles of music. It started here.”—The Huffington Post

“A new oral history from crucial local imprint Bazillion Points, tells the tale of Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Reagan Youth and the myriad other bands that helped put the scene on the map.”—Time Out New York

“In a word: essential.”—Terrorizer (9/10 review)

“Rettman’s exhaustive recounting includes tidbits from literally everyone who was anyone in the NYHC scene, making it invaluable punk rock history and the perfect companion to Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me.”—The Austin Chronicle

“An excellent history.”—Austin American-Statesman

“A journey into the heart of the chaos… A success.”—The Wire

“Made up from over a hundred interviews conducted by Rettman and wielding over 500 images, the tome will delight both the New York hardcore nerd and novice alike as it careens through the scene’s early days with the likes of Agnostic Front, Reagan Youth, The Mob, Urban Waste, and Cause For Alarm right into the late 80s heyday of Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law, Youth of Today, Underdog, and Sick of it All.”—VICE/Noisey

“I’m floored! Tony Rettman’s NYHC is by far one of the most informative looks at New York hardcore. An amazing read loaded with remnants of my life and a movement I truly adore. Hardcore lives!”—Roger Miret, Agnostic Front

“Thank you Tony Rettman! Great book! So much fun to read everybody’s take on our great history. So proud to be a part!”—Mike Judge, Judge/Youth of Today/Death Before Dishonor

“Kudos to you for so wonderfully addressing and bringing to life once again NYC’s almost lost, important history in rock music.”—Denise Mercedes, Stimulators

“A great read”—Paul Cripple, Reagan Youth

“A triumphant celebration of an often maligned but hugely influential scene and I cannot recommend it enough.”—Mass Movement