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Who Cares Anyway

Post-Punk San Francisco and the End of the Analog Age by Will York

The San Francisco music underground, from the aftermath of punk to the dawn of the dot-com era. Includes interviews with over 100 musicians and artists.

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“Hate Ashbury…”

Late ’70s San Francisco. The Summer of Love is a hazy memory, the AIDS crisis is looming, and nearby Silicon Valley is still an obscure place where microchips are made. The City by the Bay is reeling from a string of bizarre tragedies that have earned it a new name: the “kook capital of the world.”

Yet out of the darkness comes a creative rebirth, instigated by punk and sustained by the steady influx of outsiders who view the city as a place of refuge, a last resort. What ensues is a collision of sounds and ideas that spans the golden age of analog DIY culture, from the dark cabaret of Tuxedomoon and Factrix, the apocalyptic sounds of Minimal Man and Flipper, the conceptual humor of Gregg Turkington’s Amarillo Records; through to the subversive pop music of Faith No More, the left-field experimentalism of Caroliner, Mr. Bungle, and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, and much more.

Drawing on extensive research—including interviews with over 100 musicians, artists, and other key players—WHO CARES ANYWAY is the first book to chronicle the wild post-punk San Francisco music scene, courtesy of those who lived it. It’s a tale full of existential drama, tragic anti-heroes, dark humor, spectacular failures—and even a few improbable successes.

Part I: The Punk Era
1 | “They Wanted Cabaret, and Then the Punks Came”
2 | “We Don’t Play, We Riot”: From Grand Mal to Negative Trend
3 | Little Ricky
4 | Seventh World: Introducing the Sleepers
5 | Punk, Art, and Anti-Art / The Mutants
6 | Terminal Fun

Part II: The Post-Punk Era
7 | In the Mission: The Deaf Club, Noh Mercy, and Pink Section
8 | 1979: The Punk Scene at a Crossroads
9 | “No Going Back”: From Negative Trend to Flipper and the Toiling Midgets
10 | Dark Cabaret: The Residents, Tuxedomoon, and Subterranean Modern
11 | California Babylon: Factrix and “Industrial Culture”
12 | He Was a Visitor: Patrick Miller and Minimal Man
13 | The Savoy Sound: Indoor Life and “Beautiful Music”
14 | Painless Nights: The Return of the Sleepers
15 | “Two Sides to the Coin”: From Pink Section to Survival Research Laboratories and Inflatable Boy Clams
16 | Club Foot

Part III: The Hardcore Era
17 | Generic Flipper
18 | Sea of Unrest
19 | “What if?” Arkansaw Man, Red Asphalt, and G.O.D.
20 | Hardcore
21 | “Get Away,” Gone Fishin’, and a Season in New York
22 | Demoralization

Part IV: The Mid-Eighties
24 | The Pop-O-Pies: In God We Truck
25 | “San Francisco as Manchester”: The Wiring Dept. Era
26 | “O”: Enter Gregg and Grux
27 | Creative Landmines: Joe’s Third Record, Tragic Mulatto, and Three Day Stubble
28 | “Institutionalized Dysfunction”: Flipper and Friends in the Mid-Eighties
29 | Shattered

Part V: The Late Eighties
30 | I’m on the Wrong Side: From Glorious Din to World of Pooh
31 | Hell Rules: Gilman Street, TFUL 282, and Bananafish
32 | “I’m Armed with Quarts of Blood”: Introducing Caroliner
33 | Introduce Yourself
34 | The Real Thing

Part VI: Into the Nineties
35 | HazTech, the Easy Goings, and the Zip Code Rapists
36 | Amarillo
37 | Life Beyond Eureka
38 | Faxed Head, Dieselhed, and the Brief Return of the Pop-O-Pies
39 | American Grafishy
40 | Son, Eitzel, and the Death of Ricky
41 | Angel Dust
42 | Wire Thin Sheep Legs: Caroliner, Part 2
43 | Nothing Solid: TFUL 282, Part 2

Part VII: End the Game
44 | “100 Bands”: Record Collectors, Side Projects, and the Yellow Paint Incident
45 | Acting, Theatricality, and “Joke Bands”
46 | Disco Volante
47 | Caroliner in Japan
48 | Leaving Has Hurt: The Breakup, Abundance, and Back to Basics – “Live”
49 | “What if you have a dream and no one’s interested?”
50 | Who Cares, Anyway?

Paperback Edition

Author: Will York
ISBN: 978-1-915316-05-9
Street Date: March 2, 2023
Category: Music
Retail Price: UK £22.99 / US $31.95
Binding: Paperback
Size: 216mm x 140mm
Pages: 572 
Illos: 87 B&W photos and ads

Special Hardback Edition

As the trade paperback, except that the NO-ISBN special hardback edition is exclusive to this website. Because it carries No ISBN number, this edition of the book is off the grid in as much as it doesn’t appear on any database, in any library, cannot be ordered through mainstream bookshops or online retailers. 

Jack RabidThe Big Takeover
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“This fascinating oral history paints a compelling scene, and Will York should be commended for capturing this once in a lifetime era so well. ”
Jay HinmanFanzine Hemorrhage
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Who Cares Anyway is an oral history, for the most part – which, to me, is the absolute best way to capture a scene or an era that one was not a part of, or really even one you were immersed in. […] covers a ton of ground, deeply and authoritatively without overstaying on any one band or moment.”
Molly TiePunktuation!
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“Meticulously researched. No stone is left unturned in this tome and you’ll hear testimony directly from band members about their experiences in a scene that was both demanding and life-shaping [...] anyone with an interest in cultural history will enjoy reading of the trials and triumphs of a scene that had to navigate such a period of political and social turmoil.”
Bill GouldFaith No More
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“This is a really cool book that describes a San Francisco that was such a unique and creative place, and which will probably never exist in this form again. Great stuff documented with detail and respect!”
Brian DohertyAuthor of This is Burning Man and Dirty Pictures
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“Some of the most interesting, if not always easily delightful, music and art comes from loons larking about on edges. The San Francisco-based art-terrorists, whose stories Will York captures, reveals a scene where every bizarre cranny both amuses and alarms, keenly giving the feeling of fascinated unease the musicians themselves inspire.”
Mark Prindlemarkprindle.com
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“If your concept of San Francisco rock starts with The Jefferson Airplane and ends with The Beau Brummels, then good for you because The Grateful Dead were terrible. On the other hand, you're missing out on some of the oddest, most oddball, and downright oddballest music ever created. Thankfully, Will York is determined to introduce you to the sights, sounds, sites and wounds of excellent but under-heralded artists like Flipper, the Residents, Toiling Midgets, Caroliner, Pop-o-Pies, The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and even MTV's Faith No More. Great book!”
Dame DarcyCaroliner
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“This thorough examination of a time and place in music and performance art history takes you to an astounding and beautiful realm. I admire Will York for taking on the task of explaining the unexplainable, and for putting into words an experience most could only fathom with their eyes and ears while they were in the process of living it.”
David Katz
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“An evocative deep dive into San Francisco’s leftfield post-punk underground, before it was quashed by the successive waves of dotcom booms that rendered the corporatization, unaffordability, and tech orientation of a boutique city. Through crucial first-hand testimony from some of the scene’s prime movers, the book illuminates the creative forces that sparked it, underpinned by an unprecedented blend of situationist thought, substance misuse, and psychosis. – David Katz.”
Owen KlineDirector of Funny Pages
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“A fascinating tale of self-made weirdo punk visionaries plotting revenge on the fine arts. Warning: Extremely Compelling.”
Steven BlushAuthor/filmmaker American Hardcore
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“The late-20th Century “Hate Ashbury” underground of Flipper, Dead Kennedys, Pop-O-Pies, Toiling Midgets, Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, etc. might be the most riveting, radical, nihilistic, and influential rock history never told. Will York’s "Who Cares Anyway: Post-Punk San Francisco and the End of the Analog Age” captures the time and place and attitude of the last great American subculture.”
GeologistAnimal Collective
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“TFUL282, Caroliner, U.S. Saucer, Amarillo Records, Bananafish, Great Phone Calls … so much of this is in our musical DNA. What made it all so fun and enticing was how the elements of darkness, sadness, anger, and humor were possibly part of an elaborate fiction, an inside joke, or maybe even yet, completely sincere. Reading Who Cares Anyway is like finally sitting down for a night of stories with long lost relatives.”
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Will York

WILL YORK has written about music for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Alternative Press, and AllMusic.com and is co-author (with Michael Belfer) of When Can I Fly? The Sleepers, Tuxedomoon & Beyond (Hozac Books, 2020). Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before spending his young adulthood in San Francisco. Somewhat incongruously, he holds a PhD in Cognitive Science and a master’s degree in History & Philosophy of Science, from Indiana University. He currently splits time between Raleigh and the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Who Cares Anyway


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