“Everyone needs a ‘local band’,” writes zine czar Jay Hinman in his Dynamite Hemorrhage review of Dark Times’ Give LP. It’s a sentiment I wholeheartedly support. I’ve resided in both sprawling urban zones and cozy college towns, the coasts as well as the country’s middle; I always seek out the freaks making strange noises, even when they’re nothing more than a handful of lonely shagsters lurking in a dank basement or a sports bar that allows bands to make a ruckus in a seedy back room. Some of my cosmopolitan pals think culture beyond their bubbles is a dead zone. That’s garbage thinking. I’ve encountered so many great artists who were perfectly content living far outside the big shitties. To this day, I rank The Sinatras, whom I fell in love with while attending Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo (pop. 75,000), as one of the most talented DIY rock bands of the early ’90s. Another example is reverb-spewing psych-rocker Jamie Hepler, whose outfits Soft Opening and Nest Egg, always blew my mind when living in Asheville, North Carolina (pop. 84,000). Dude would be a badass anywhere he threw down his mattress.
Like Hinman, I’m an older dude who came of age when local culture and DIY culture were inextricably linked. Zines, mail order and, if you were lucky, a local record store with a decent indie/punk section all helped me learn about artists from around the globe. But that stuff didn’t dwarf the local scene, which was important to support and help foster whether you were a musician or a fan. Making your own scene–an extension of the “our band could be your life” ethos–was the primary focus. That was as true of little Kalamazoo in the mid ’90s as it was bustling Boston, where I moved post-graduation.