The darkly handsome, brilliantly iconoclastic Adam Parfrey passed away from a series of strokes in a medical facility in Seattle on May 10, 2018. Although you may not recognize his name, worldwide culture has been provoked, elevated, and challenged from the underground by books he published for decades from his ranch with his sister Jessica in Port Townshend, WA. The imprint was called Feral House, and Parfrey helmed several generations of authors who were “deep heads” about politics (radical on both Left and Right and right around the corner from each other), freak spiritual movements (cults), and obsessive about extreme forms of music — whether it be extreme in sound and viewpoint, such as Black Metal or skinhead rock — or just extremely cool: swinging, singing French women from hipper times.
This list doesn’t include the (always beautifully designed) crucial, American-confessional angst-tomes as Apocalypse Culture, or pop culture breakouts like the biography of Ed Wood, and we’ll leave aside the conspiracy theories unless there’s some collectible or notorious LPs tied to the synopsis.
Parfrey and Feral House published far more than five books about music, but here’s a sampling of what we feel is a quick, tip of the tongue greatest hits when publishing in that field (in other words, these are the first ones that come to mind when talking to other rock writers and music scribes).
This is a great greasy read by a 21 year-and-going-career punk grinder, a Zelig of thrash culture who apparently has a lot to say and recently had his various columns and features from HuffPo and European magazines collected in this punchy volume from FH. This is the great kind of cultural ruminating a gifted artist does in their downtime scribing criticism and Stoic maxims and hilarious anecdotes as the tour bus ambles along, or out of night fidgets. The same area of autobiographical writing you might find in a book by a certain hardcore icon, but without all the self-importance and vengeful heaviness. Jones loves rock and roll, and you can feel his love writing about it, as he enlists Duff McKagan (Guns ’n’ Roses) to write the forward, and other very cool band guys to do spillos (spot illustrations) for his nuggets of wise guy tales.