If there’s anything Eric Davidson knows, it’s underground punk rock music of the 1990s. After all, he was the singer for Columbus punk band the New Bomb Turks, which spent much of that decade playing around the world. Davidson showcases his knowledge and passion for that music in his debut book, We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001, which is full of his own experiences as well as interviews with more than 100 other musicians.
Davidson, who left Columbus for Brooklyn a few years ago, will return to read from the book July 9 at the Wexner Center. He’ll also play a New Bomb Turks reunion gig alongside other legendary Columbus bands Scrawl and the Gibson Bros July 10 at the Surly Girl’s Parking Lot Blow-Out.
City Journal: Was it awkward to write about your own band alongside others?
Eric Davidson: The editor and I decided early on that we didn’t want it to be a memoir because that would be kind of cheesy. I’m not Bono or even the singer of Jet, so nobody’s really going to care. But at the same time I felt that some of the best stuff I wrote was about Ohio or other things that were close to home. So I had to balance not wanting it to be a big long book about the New Bomb Turks with framing the stories from my own experiences.
CJ: Why was Columbus a good place for punk rock bands in the 1990s?
ED: Cheap rent and an only intermittently exciting town are perfect for getting a band going. There was just enough interesting stuff going on in Columbus and just enough very open clubs that you could form a band and find somebody’s garage or basement to practice in. There’s also the huge university, so there’s just enough hip people around who will maybe go check out a band or start their own band or make you a cool flier or whatever.
CJ: How often do the New Bomb Turks play these days?
ED: The official ‘last show’ was New Year’s Eve going into 2003, but we’re still friends and keep in touch. So we decided that as long as we can do it and can still put on a good show, we’ll still play once or twice a year. Last year, a promoter in Belgium asked if we wanted to play a festival and fly us over and give us a little bit of dough and it was like, ‘Sure.’ . . . It was hard to say no to playing with the Gibson Bros and Scrawl because it sounds like a lot of fun. It turns out that the Oblivions and Cheater Slicks are also playing the same night, so it’s five bands mentioned in the book playing in one night in Columbus.