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The address of the 1980s hardcore band Infection, one of over 150 screenshots from Google Street View on Hardcore Architecture (all screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic via Tumblr)

Thanks to the addresses printed next to hardcore reviews in the 1980s zine Maximum Rocknroll, you could send off a few dollars and in return get a cassette tape of thrashing music from ominously named bands like Coffin Break or Cryptic Slaughter. The Hardcore Architecture blog is now using those addresses to reveal, through Google Street View, the often mundane suburban architecture behind the ’80s underground scene.

The blog, which was started last June and written about last week by the AV Club, is the project of Marc Fischer and Public Collectors, a resource for pre-internet music documentation like zines, flyers, and small mags. Hardcore Architecture was created to examine “the relationship between the architecture of living spaces and the history of underground American hardcore bands in the 1980s.” All of the screenshots are edited to remove street names and numbers for privacy.

There are some enduring groups represented on the blog, among them Pussy GaloreDead Milkmen, and Urge Overkill, but even if you don’t know the band names, it’s addictive to scroll through the over 150 screenshots (so far) of homes accompanied by details about a band’s album and some spare lines from the review. Back in the ’80s, Maximum Rocknroll — which is still publishing — was one of the few publications to which a DIY band recording out of someone’s basement or garage could ship a demo for review. Three decades on, the neighborhoods they came from might have changed, but there’s still an engaging contrast between a band name like Suburban Mutilation and the lush green lawn pictured in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Or Infection, whose members declared themselves “one of the most violent ‘live’ bands on the east coast” in 1989, and a serene, two-story brick house in Wilmington, Delaware.

Fischer told Vice that he’ll be adapting the project into a show at The Franklin, an exhibition space based in a Chicago artist’s backyard. Hardcore Architecture is as much a documentation of the American suburbs as a chronicle of 1980s hardcore, and more than anything else a visualization of the physical connection that linked listeners to their music, at a time when the postal service and mailing addresses rooted the community.

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print and online media since 2006. She moonlights...

2 replies on “American Suburban Architecture and the 1980s Hardcore Bands It Housed”

  1. Music has always been a way to escape. The doldrums of the suburban life and environment have perennially provided a situation from which many dreamers have plotted a liberating exit.

  2. For Cringer, that apartment had about 7 people in it. Two per room and one in a large closet. They were mostly from Hawaii, but others who were in LA for college. You could watch the movie “Suburbia” to contemplate how true it is that people in the suburbs are living middle class lives. Having said that, some of the people in cringer were middle class, but probably less so now. Ha ha. Of course Lance Hahn died, which is very sad.

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