Imagine yourself in a Toronto club in the mid-80s watching a band with a funny name, the musicians battering their instruments (sometimes literally into smithereens) while the vocals vacillate between careening and hacking out of the singer’s mouth. It’s smoky, dirty, and, well, grungy in there, but you’re hooked. You make a mental note to thank the friend who recommended you come to the show. Now imagine that same band in a few years time being the biggest alternative rock outfit to date– Nirvana.
While some readers were still in diapers during this period, Phil Saunders was working as a journalist (for Exclaim and a number of now defunct publications including Nerve and Rear Garde), a booking agent and music promoter, and he saw the birth of grunge from conception to international stardom. His new book, No Flash, Please! tells not only the story of early Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Mudhoney gigs in Toronto, but also of local bands that bolstered the genre in Hogtown.
No Flash, Please! is a gorgeous time capsule for music fans, and a great gift for anyone on your list whose record collection takes up a significant percentage of their apartment. Photographs by Derek Von Essen (another journo working in the scene at the time) show soon-to-be legends on stage at the Horseshoe Tavern, the El Mocambo, Lee’s Palace and other venerable Toronto venues. You may even spot yourself or someone you knew in the images– his work documented music fans as much as it did the bands on stage.
If you loved or did well with Treat Me Like Dirt (ECW, 2011) or Trouble in the Camera Club (ECW, 2011), you’ll have a real hit with No Flash, Please!. Order now for guaranteed holiday delivery.
No Flash, Please by Phil Saunders with photos from Derek von Essen
Anvil Press Publishers
Available March 15, 2016 from PGC/Raincoast Books