Selected Bibliography 
In this technology age it seems like reading books has somehow become uncool but we still like it.  The criteria for inclusion on this list:  Books must be written by or about musicians who played at the Electric Banana or must mention the Electric Banana.  Some meet more than one criterion.  We didn't read all of these books, so some of the descriptions are paraphrased from other sources.  They're listed in the classic bibliography style we all learned in fourth grade.  For those of you who were absent that day, it goes like this:  author (last name first), title, date and place of publication, and publishing company. 
Atkins, Martin, Tour:Smart And Break The Band, 2007, USA, Chicago Review Press Incorporated.  Everything you ever wanted to know about organizing a successful tour form the one-time drummer for Public Image, Ltd., among others.  Interviews with artists such as Henry Rollins, as well as club owners, tour managers, and even "sex advisers," whatever they are.  

Azerrad, Michael, Our Band Could be Your Life:  Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, 2001, USA, Little, Brown and Company.  Big, workmanlike chronicle of the careers of 13 bands, among them Black Flag, Husker Du, the Minutemen, Mission of Burma, and Sonic Youth.
Bauer, Erik, HAD TO BE THERE:  A Visual History of the Explosive Pittsburgh Underground (1979 - 1994), 2023, USA, Mind Cure Records.  Foreword by Sam Matthews, afterword by Mike Seamans, with editorial assistance from Mike Psyche.  A treasure trove of candid photos of bands and fans, gig posters, and brief band histories.  One might call it a coffee table book, but we think it can be displayed and read on any table.
Courtesy of Mike Psyche.

Blush, Stephen and Petros, George (ed.), American Hardcore:  A Tribal History, USA, 2010, Feral House.  An oral history of American hardcore that includes a page on the Pittsburgh scene that pays homage to the Five, Real Enemy, and Half Life.   

Chabon, Michael, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, 1988, USA, William Morrow & Co.  The author's career as lead singer of the Bats was short-lived but fortunately commemorated on vinyl by Mind Cure Records.  One of many novels he's written, this one is set in 1980s Pittsburgh and was adapted to the big screen.

Chick, Steve, Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag, 2011, USA, PM Press. Based on interviews with band members and their contemporaries, it's said to be the definitive work on Black Flag.

Collins, Paul with Nolan, Chuck, I Don't Fit In: My Wild Ride Through the Punk & Power Pop Trenches with The NERVES & The BEAT, 2020, USA, Hozac Books. Funny and honest memoir and coming-of-age story, loaded with classic photos and ephemera. We cheated here because this book doesn't meet our criteria for inclusion, but Collins did release a couple of albums on Get Hip and told me in an email that he and Johnny Banana had some mutual friends. Close enough!
Mike Watt.  See below for photo credit.

Earles, Andrew, Husker Du:  The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock, 2010, USA, Voyager Press.  The story of a great and influential band, although reasonable people may debate whether they in fact "launched modern rock."  The second book on this list that mentions Half Life and Mike LaVella.   

Ferris, D.X., Slayer's Reign in Blood (33 1/3), 2008, USA, Bloomsbury Publishing USA.  Meticulously-researched story of the making of the album.   

Fine, Jon, Your Band Sucks:  What I Saw at Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear), 2015, USA, Penguin Group (USA) LLC.  One-time guitarist for Bitch Magnet and Don Caballero tells of life as part of a preinternet underground music scene that reaped many rewards, few of which were financial, and also caused some hearing loss.
Gehlke, David, Turned Inside Out - The Official Story of Obituary,2021, USA, Decibel Books.  The book provides "an unprecedented look into the band's career through in-depth interviews, studio recollections, road stories and scores of exclusive photos," says the publisher.  Our photographer Dom read it and he never reads.

Gordon, Kim, Girl in a Band:  A Memoir, 2015, USA, Day Street Books.  Autobiography from a founding member of Sonic Youth and a New York Times Best Seller.  

Hell, Richard, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp:  An Autobiography, 2013, USA, Ecco.  17-year-old comes to New York with designs on becoming a poet, jump starts the CBGB's punk movement in Television and the Voidoids, and writes the anthemic "Blank Generation." 
Hogan, Guy, Compressionism:  The Pittsburgh Stories, 2005, USA, iUniverse.  "Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, a local college bar scene and the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh uncoils the story of men and women struggling to find love in this postmodern, apocalyptic world we all live in," says the publisher. 

Jakelia, Lori, Miss New York Has Everything, 2006, USA, 5 Spot.  Young woman leaves Pittsburgh in search of a more exciting life in New York. 
Jarnow, Jesse, Big Day Coming:  Yo Lo Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock,2012, USA, Avery.  The first biography of Yo Lo Tengo.
Kim Gordon.  See below for photo credit.
Lethem, Jonathan, Fear of Music, 2013, USA, Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.  The accomplished novelist's critical analysis of the great Talking Heads album.  This one doesn't meet our criteria for inclusion either.  We just think it's cool that he mentions the Karl Hendricks Trio on page 132.
Lomas, Ross and Pottinger, Steve, City Baby:  Surviving in Leather, Bristles, Studs, Punk Rock, and G.B.H., 2015, USA, Bazillion Points.  According to the publisher, it's the story of a "teenage punk rock milkman" who "strapped on a bass and joined G.B.H. onstage in 1981" and "rioted with violent skinheads, hippie metalheads, rip-off managers, Neil Sedaka[!], and the Argentine calvary[!!] and tries to make sense of adulthood."
Mattson, Kevin, We're Not Here to Entertain:  Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan, and the Real Culture War of 1980s America, 2020, USA, Oxford University Press.  The story of punk's opposition to Reagan's conservative policies.  If you think punk was just about music and fashion, think again. There are a few pages dedicated to Debt Begins at 20 (misnamed as Debt Begins at Twenty; the author got the rest of it right).     

McDevitt, Cody, Pittsburgh Drinks:  A History of Cocktails, Nightlife, and Bartending Tradition, 2017, USA, The History Press.  A section on Oakland music nightclubs is included.

Miret, Roger and Weiderhorn, Jon, My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grits, Guts & Glory, 2017, USA, Lesser Gods. Family flees Cuba for New York, lives in poverty, son deals drugs, does time in prison, and joins an influential hardcore band.  Not to be confused with Roger Moret, the 1970s Red Sox/Rangers pitcher whose career ended when he was found in the locker room, immobile and unresponsive, holding a slipper.

Moore, Thurston, The Art of Cassette Culture, 2005, USA, Universe. Sonic Youth member explores the art of the mix tape. Kids, ask your parents.  

Morris, Keith and Ruland, Jim, My Damage:  The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor, 2016, USA, De Capo Press.  Entertaining and often funny memoir by the original singer of Black Flag and current singer of OFF! who performed at the Electric Banana with the Circle Jerks.  Yes, he relates his version of "the incident."   

Mould, Bob and Azerrad, Michael, See a Little Light:  The Trail of Rage and Melody, 2011, USA, Little, Brown and Company.  A revealing autobiography of Husker Du's singer/guitarist.  We're told some of it is at odds with the Andrew Earles book, above.  Fans of the band will want to read both and make up their own minds.   

Rollins, Henry, Get in the Van:  On the Road With Black Flag, 1994, USA, 2 13 61.  Henry's detailed, no-holds-barred tour diary covering his six years with Black Flag. 
Ruland, Jim, Corporate Rock Sucks:  The Rise and Fall of SST Records, 2022, USA, Hachette Books.  From the co-author of My Damage (see above), the definitive history of the indie label that gave us Black Flag, the Minutemen, Husker Du, the Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth, and so many others, until it all came crashing down.  A story about Black Flag's July 4, 1981 gig at the Electric Banana is included.
Cover art by Chris Smith.
Sansone, Samantha, Through Our Eyes - Short Stories Told By The People Who Built The Pittsburgh Hardcore Scene, 2023, USA, Self-published.  Exhaustively researched and assembled with evident loving care, this is the history of Pittsburgh hardcore from the Electric Banana to the present.  It's essential reading for anybody who is a fan of the local scene.  If your band was omitted, it's nobody's fault but your own.    

Secich, Frank, Circumstantial Evidence, 2015, Australia, High Voltage Publishing.  Easily readable collection of amusing short tales, most only a page or two long, about the author's exploits with Stiv Bators, the Dead Boys, the Infidels, Blue Ash, the Deadbeat Poets, and Club Wow.  Jim's Records is mentioned.  

Watt, Mike, Spiels of a Minuteman, 2003, Canada, L'Oei De Cravan.  All of the lyrics Mike wrote for the Minutemen and a diary from their Eurpoean tour with Black Flag.  Joe Carducci, Thurston Moore, and Richard Meltzer contributed essays.  Art by Raymond Pettibon.   

Watt, Mike, On and Off Bass, 2012, USA, Three Rooms Press.  Photographic memoir by the legendary bassist who appeared at the Electric Banana with the Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and the Black Gang.

List last updated 12/17/23

Keith Morris, second from right with microphone, performing with OFF! at the Casbah in San Diego on 5/14/12.  See below for photo credit information.

Photo Credits
Photo of OFF!:  By IllaZilla - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Photo of Mike Watt performing in 2010 with Iggy and the Stooges:  Mikejamesshaw / CC BY-SA (

Photo of Kim Gordon performing with Sonic Youth on 7/10/09 at the Bijou in Knoxville, TN: 
kcarpenter_ / CC BY (

We're not totally sure what all this stuff means, only that we're supposed to post it if we post the photos.  So should you if you use these photos for any purpose.

Links last checked 2/25/24