As a Christmas gift, I received Meet Me in the Bathroom, Lizzy Goodman’s book about the 2000s indie rock scene in New York City, and I have been slowly making my way through this mammoth, intricately put together anthology of interviews with the key players ever since.
Much has been written about how wildly successful the book is at capturing the zeitgeist of the time. As someone living in Glasgow, completely detached from the setting of New York, as much a character of the book as Julian Casablancas or James Murphy, this explosion of creativity only really reached me through the music.
At the time, I was just about to enter my teens and had an unhealthy obsession with Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory. Yes, the songs by the likes of The Strokes and Interpol connected like nothing I’d ever heard before, but I had no idea of the importance they represented to that city, a place I only really knew from movies and books, or how much these musicians had banded together. I was completely oblivious to how the disaster of 9/11 factored in as a key to unlocking the genius that seemed so prevalent throughout this underground community of young rock stars. Now, many years later, their influence upon me has fluctuated. Turn On the Bright Lights is still a masterpiece, The Strokes haven’t written anything great in years, and LCD Soundsystem, who I came upon much later, are one of my favourite bands.
Reading the book, though, has brought a lot of the urgency of that music flooding back and, in some quite literal ways, I’ve realised that a scene that seemed so distant was actually much closer to home than I originally thought.
This week, while reading, I reached a passage that explained how Glasgow art rockers Franz Ferdinand fit into this jigsaw. Alex Kapranos was about ready to pack it in when, inspired by The Strokes’ success, he saw one last chance to make it. And suddenly, this book about New York had a whole load of musicians I really admire waxing lyrical about how much they loved Glasgow, its people and its relationship with dance and electronic music.
After spending time away, and possessing a constant thirst to travel, to me Glasgow sometimes seems small and insular. There’s no doubt it’s a great place; it’s somewhere very cool to be a young person with its welcoming faces and openness. But, in everyday life, it can feel like a step towards something bigger and more vibrant, than the kind of place that births scenes books are written about.
But, here were musicians I really admire talking about how much they appreciated Glasgow celebrating their music and what a thrill it was to play here. The book had managed to take a deep dive into a hyper-local scene, and turn it into something universal. I felt that if these artists can appreciate my little town, then I should too.