“We Thought We Were Going To Change The World”

New Book Explores the Influential Southern California Punk Rock Scene of the 1970s and ’80s Through Interviews with the Women Who Lived It…

The punk rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s in Southern California is widely acknowledged as one of the most vibrant and creative periods in rock and roll. Over the years, many books have come out exploring this explosive time in music and culture, but none have exclusively focused on the vitality and influence of the women who played such a crucial role in this incredibly dynamic movement.

Stacy Russo has created a unique book about the punk rock era, focusing on the women who were such a huge part of it. We Were Going to Change the World: Interviews with Women From the 1970s & 1980s Southern California Punk Rock Scene (Santa Monica Press/August 21, 2017) captures the stories of women who were active in the punk rock scene in Southern California during this historic time, adding an important voice to the cultural and musical record.

Through exclusive interviews with musicians, journalists, photographers, and fans, Russo captures the essence of why these women were drawn to punk rock, what they witnessed, and how their involvement in this empowering scene ended up influencing the rest of their lives.

“As a librarian and college professor, I have always been interested in research projects I could do with my students,” Russo explains. “I came up with the idea of interviewing women like me, now in our middle or later years, who grew up in the punk rock scene in Southern California. How did punk rock influence the rest of their lives? What attracted them to punk rock, and how did they get involved? And, most importantly, what was it like being a woman in this music scene?”

The major influential musicians and performers of the era that Russo interviewed include: Exene Cervenka, Alice Bag, Kira, Phranc, Johanna Went, Teresa Covarrubias and Jennifer Precious Finch.

Russo also interviews such highly regarded journalists, DJs, and photographers as: Ann Summa, Jenny Lens, Kristine McKenna, Pleasant Gehman and Stella.

In addition, Russo includes interviews with the fans and scenesters who added so much color and energy to the music scene.

“This book was never meant to be a who’s who of punk rock,” Russo says. “I did not want to include only well-known women and performers. It was important to include women who created fanzines and art, and those who participated solely by going to shows and supporting the bands.”

“We Were Going to Change the World” is an important oral history of the crucial contributions women injected into the Southern California punk rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s. Empowering, touching, and informative, Russo’s collection of interviews adds a whole new dimension to the literature of both punk rock and women’s studies.

About the Author:
Stacy Russo is a librarian and associate professor at Santa Ana College in Santa Ana, California. She has English degrees from UC Berkeley and Chapman University and a master’s degree in library and information science from San Jose State University. She is a poet and writer. Stacy’s writing has appeared in Feminist Teacher, Feminist Collections, Library Journal, American Libraries, The Chaffey Review, Serials Review, Counterpoise, and the anthology Open Doors: An Invitation to Poetry (Chaparral Canyon Press, 2016). Her other books are The Library as Place in California (McFarland, 2007) and Life as Activism: June Jordan’s Writings from The Progressive (Litwin Books, 2014). She grew up in the 1980s Southern California punk rock scene, which has been a big influence on her life.

Mike Watt is the son of a sailor. He was born in 1957 in Portsmouth, Virginia, but has lived in San Pedro, California, for the last fifty years. He’s known mainly for starting the Minutemen with his buddy, D. Boon, but went on to later found Dos, Firehose, and, more recently, the Secondmen, the Missingmen, Cuz, and Il Sogno del Marinaio. He does bass, spiel, and writes songs. Watt also helped Porno for Pyros, Banyan, and J Mascis and the Fog, and had the huge honor of working for the Stooges during their reunion from 2003 to 2013.

Interviews with Women From the 1970s & 1980s Southern California Punk Rock Scene
by Stacy Russo

Foreword by Mike Watt
Santa Monica Press
August 2017
Trade Paperback/$16.95
ISBN: 9781595800923

A quote from Exene Cervenka from Juice Magazine #67

My goal when I was 20 was to change the world. 
My goal wasn’t to get famous or rich. 
My goal was to reorganize our art, culture and music 
along the lines of what I thought young people wanted to hear 
and needed to know politically, and what everyone needed to be. 
That was my goal. In some ways, I achieved that goal and, 
in other ways, I did not. I achieved it for me, 
so I’m happy with what I did in my life. 
I couldn’t change the world for everyone else, 
but I changed it for me." 
- Exene Cervenka of X

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