We No Fun shouts out Atlanta’s other punk scene

When Brian Eno spearheaded the No New York compilation to document NYC’s no wave scene in the 1970s, he heard plenty of gripes from the bands who got cut. History is repeating itself closer to home this time. The pending arrival of the Atlanta rock documentary We Fun has prompted some local bands to take matters into their own hands. We No Fun compiles 15 bands, most of whom have shaped Atlanta’s post-punk, hardcore and DIY scene for years, but aren’t in the film.

“I don’t want this to be seen as reactionary,” says Michael Keenan, who fronts the band Hawks and organized the compilation. “From conceptualization to having finished songs took three months, and never once did anyone ask, ‘Is this reactionary?’”

The title, which is a play on both We Fun and No New York, carries a negative connotation despite varying degrees of denial from everyone involved. But what’s the big deal? Punk is reactionary by design. Keenan, however, insists that the compilation isn’t a matter of sour grapes. “If it spawns an honest reaction – be it ‘Awesome!’ or ‘Why?’ – it’s legit,” he says. “We tossed names around and Helen Rhinehart of Chrissakes said, ‘Why not call it We No Fun?’ which was golden and hilarious.”

The vinyl compilation features 16 songs from 15 bands, such as Hawks, Chopper and Brass Castle, along with several others, including defunct groups SIDS and Electrosleep Int’l.

There’s an unrefined feel to the album, bound by dark, experimental punk antagonism that’s engaging but perhaps too raw for the Pitchfork world to embrace. But mass appeal was never intended.

“Naming it We No Fun is saying we haven’t forgotten where we came from,” Keenan says. “I love every band in this town and we’re just as willing to help them out now as we would have been five years ago. We should all care about each other and where we’re going.”