The Zone Brothers Band Together

The Zone Brothers Band Together

For every band like the Ramones, there were dozens of CBGB acts that didn’t achieve wider acclaim, such as the Fast. Both bands shared a similar pop sensibility and emerged from unhip outer-borough neighborhoods (the Fast’s bandmates grew up in Borough Park, Brooklyn, while the Ramones hailed from Forest Hills, Queens). Unlike the Ramones—pretend “bruddahs” who adopted the same surnames—the Fast actually were brothers: Paul, Mandy, and Miki Zone. Together, they became a ubiquitous presence on the downtown scene, spanning the glam, punk, and post-punk eras. “We were a working-class family,” Paul Zone said, “but I can’t remember not having enough or not getting anything we wanted or needed. So my family could provide it if we needed an amplifier or a new guitar.” The postwar economy of abundance fueled the growth of both the suburban middle class and underground culture. Bohemians benefited from the trickle-down of the economic boom, which allowed them to live on next to nothing; a part-time job or welfare benefits could subsidize a life in the arts. And out in the suburbs, the Zones’ father could buy his kids musical instruments and other gear, even though he was a blue-collar sanitation worker. Miki played guitar from an early age, middle brother Mandy sang, and Paul tagged along and followed his older siblings’ lead. Miki obsessively bought rock magazines and gravitated to the photos of flamboyantly styled musicians, particularly late 1960s British bands like Faces and the Rolling Stones. “I always remember going to record stores with my brothers,” Paul recalled, “and picking up the covers where the members looked somewhat different than everyone else.”

From Chapter 32 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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