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NYC, Rock, & the 2000s: ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ Makes You Feel Like You Were There

Describing a music scene is really, really tough. The people that were there, how they were drawn together, the music they were making, why people cared, what came of it all, what came together to let them flourish, who fell behind and why…you get it. But when a scene goes down in history and becomes mythologized along the way, there’s a need to get those facts. Think about Seattle and grunge, or Memphis and early rock, or the Bay Area and skate punk. They’re all well documented because they happened decades ago, but what about recently? What was it about post 9/11 New York City that gave us The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, and so many more? For the first time, NYC’s rock prowess in the 21st century has been captured by journalist Lizzy Goodman in her new book, Meet Me in the Bathroom.

Goodman’s take on the whole thing is based on stories and emotions straight from the sources. Six years of research and countless interviews has led to the monster 600 page recollection of what went down, from the people who were involved. James Murphy, Karen O, Julian Casablancas, Matt Berninger – Meet Me in the Bathroom holds the juicy stories about the legends that built NYC’s rock revival in the ’00s. The city itself was a significant player as well. The sudden affordability immediately after 9/11, the complicated undercurrent of emotions that fuelled creativity, the rezoning bylaws that pushed gentrification and reshaped neighbourhoods – it’s all in the book too, told through the stories of the people that experienced it all.

Of course, with the stories come neat little anecdotes as well. Like how The Strokes used to wander around together passing out flyers in an attempt to promote themselves. Or how Britney Spears was brought in for a recording session with DFA Records in a knee-jerk reaction to a betrayal by dance-punk darlings the Rapture. Or how Radiohead gained popularity in the city because DJs would spin Kid A and OK Computer to calm parties down and fool cops looking for easy busts. There’s just so much in Goodman’s retelling worth reading about – if you’re interested, you can find the book at HarperCollins’ website or at pretty much any retailer. Or if you want to judge the book by its (back) cover, check out the liner description below.

“Joining the ranks of the classics Please Kill Me, Our Band Could Be Your Life, and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, an intriguing oral history of the post-9/11 decline of the old-guard music industry and rebirth of the New York rock scene, led by a group of iconoclastic rock bands.

In the second half of the twentieth-century New York was the source of new sounds, including the Greenwich Village folk scene, punk and new wave, and hip-hop. But as the end of the millennium neared, cutting-edge bands began emerging from Seattle, Austin, and London, pushing New York further from the epicenter. The behemoth music industry, too, found itself in free fall, under siege from technology. Then 9/11/2001 plunged the country into a state of uncertainty and war—and a dozen New York City bands that had been honing their sound and style in relative obscurity suddenly became symbols of glamour for a young, web-savvy, forward-looking generation in need of an anthem.

Meet Me in the Bathroom charts the transformation of the New York music scene in the first decade of the 2000s, the bands behind it—including The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend—and the cultural forces that shaped it, from the Internet to a booming real estate market that forced artists out of the Lower East Side to Williamsburg. Drawing on 200 original interviews with James Murphy, Julian Casablancas, Karen O, Ezra Koenig, and many others musicians, artists, journalists, bloggers, photographers, managers, music executives, groupies, models, movie stars, and DJs who lived through this explosive time, journalist Lizzy Goodman offers a fascinating portrait of a time and a place that gave birth to a new era in modern rock-and-roll.”

Mathew Kahansky

Once upon a time, Mat studied journalism. That's how he became Alan's one-time intern and current-time contributor, and the rest is ongoing history - get it? Mat also studied biology and music, so he has a strangely specific knowledge set that doesn't really apply anywhere other than useless fun facts. He currently works for a music tech start-up in Halifax, and is a big fan of the em dash.

Mathew Kahansky has 289 posts and counting. See all posts by Mathew Kahansky

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