Alan Vega spent the first three years of his life on the Lower East Side before his family moved to a more middle-class area of Brooklyn (his father was a renowned diamond setter). At the age of sixteen, he got involved with a collective named the Art Workers’ Coalition, then started working with the Project of Living Artists. “It was basically this group of about a half dozen people that got money from the New York state government,” Vega said. “With that money we got a huge loft, a big open space, by Broadway, where anyone could wander in off the street. I was basically the janitor there.” This job allowed him to pursue a career as a visual artist and sculptor, creating large light paintings with colored fluorescent tubes. “I incorporated some glass things later on,” Vega said, “and also TV sets, subway lights, electrical equipment, and anything, really, I could get my hands on.” His interest turned toward music after seeing the Stooges in 1969, when Iggy Pop enthralled him with his confrontational theatrics. Vega had never considered going onstage, but he wanted a challenge. “I wanted to evolve as an artist, because what I saw Iggy do was so futuristic and so new,” he said. “If I stayed a sculptor, a visual artist, I would have stagnated.” Vega had already been experimenting with electronic sounds, and after he saw Marty Rev play at the Project of Living Artists, the two formed Suicide.
From Chapter 27 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore