PUNK ROCK GHOST STORY by David Agranoff (Deadite Press)
Take an entire discography of old school punk and hardcore, a haunted van, add a dash of angry youth, a liberty Mohawk, some drugs and alcohol, and you’ve got yourself a driving force of a novel that pushes the boundaries of the serial killer and ghost story tropes and binds them together with the gritty underground of 80’s punk. What I’m talking about is David Agranoff’s PUNK ROCK GHOST STORY.
So there’s a modern day punk band from Indiana called People’s Uprising. They’re about ready for their first tour, and their singer Nate, who’s obsessed with old school hardcore, wants to hit the rode like the punks used to, crammed together with their equipment in a van listening to music at maximum volume. There’s a local punk legend about a short lived band called The Fuckers, whose lead singer Frank disappeared in Houston while on tour. Nate is helplessly focused on not only The Fuckers’ music, but what happened to Frank on that one tour the band embarked on. When Nate locates the very van The Fuckers toured in, he buys it for People’s Uprising to tour in. Soon he begins to learn the secrets of that fateful Fuckers tour in 1982 and his band-mates lives will never be the same. This is the story behind Frank Fucker’s disappearance, and it’s a hell of a good ride.
Yes, this is a ghost story, but there are no haunted houses and rattling chains and spirits whose bones yearn for the discovery that will finally put them to rest. There’s more to the ghost motif. For one, Agranoff examines the social duress of punk rock from its brazen early days of being the new whipping post for conformist hatred to becoming everything punk was never to be. I bet you bought that Misfits shirt at Hot Topic, didn’t you? Times are always changing and there is often a need, a longing for nostalgia, to experience times past vicariously through books or movies or music. PUNK ROCK GHOST STORY captures this sort of longing through Nate’s obsession with the ghosts of punk rock’s past, but living through the music isn’t enough. This book also deals heavily with obsession and the negatives that can come from drowning in the stuff.
I would be remiss not to mention that this book, yes, a Deadite Press release, a horror story, is also a love story. Sure, Nate’s love for Hardcore music, but a human love story as well. The question is, does Nate’s love for the scene (or at least his romanticized view of a scene long past), rival what he feels for the girl of his dreams?
It is clear that David Agranoff has a serious passion for punk, and I suspect that his personal views on how the scene has permutated over the years bleeds onto the pages of this story. That’s what makes it so real. That’s what makes me believe in the ghosts, the punk rock ghosts. (Robert Essig)