When Joe Carducci landed in Hollywood from Naperville, Illinois, in 1976, his intention was to sell some of his screenplays, not help run a pioneering indie record label for five years. “I wasn’t a good enough writer at 21, so I drifted into the music business to learn a few things in the world,” says Joe from his current home in Centennial, Wyoming. “It was my version of Jack London’s going to sea, right down to the nausea.” From 1981 to 1986, Carducci was a partner in SST Records, the label founded by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn that launched Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, and the Meat Puppets into the musical stratosphere, before they got scooped up by major labels and the WWF.
Soon after leaving SST, Joe penned and published Rock and the Pop Narcotic, a sprawling and very personalized 400-page tome directed at—in Joe’s words—”correcting the public rock-crit record.” The book was not only a pointed diatribe toward the Wenner-worshipping/punk-ignoring rock critics of the ’80s—it also found Carducci trying to right what he saw as the failures in running the record label. “We [SST] wanted our bands on commercial radio and in chain stores,” Carducci remembers. “That was our intent, and having failed in that, it seemed important to at least write the bands of the punk era into a general history of the music.”
In 2005, Joe discovered that former SST staff photographer Naomi Petersen had been mysteriously found dead in a Washington, D.C., hotel room some two years earlier. Late last year, Joe published Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That . . . , a book about his time in L.A. working at SST that also eulogizes Naomi—in a sometimes very confounding light. While Joe offers few cold, hard facts about Naomi’s slip into self-destruction, he writes volumes on ’80s L.A. as seen through the eyes of a kid from the cornfields of the Midwest. These days, Joe’s rarely seen outside the warehouse where he operates his Redoubt Press publishing company. But on Thursday, November 20, at 8 p.m., we’ll get to know this seminal punk producer when he visits Williamsburg’s Spoonbill & Sugartown to read from Rock, Enter Naomi, and his screenplays.
Spoonbill & Sugartown, 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-387-7322, free