Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind

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A visual and oral history of the “Seattle Sound,” including an exclusive DVD.Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind visually documents the explosion of Grunge, the Seattle Sound, within the context of the underground punk subculture that was developing throughout the u.S. in the late 1970s and 1980s. The book serves as a companion and contextual backdrop to the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibition, which opens at Seattle’s Experience Music Project in 2011. This decade-and-a-half musical ...

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Overview

A visual and oral history of the “Seattle Sound,” including an exclusive DVD.Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind visually documents the explosion of Grunge, the Seattle Sound, within the context of the underground punk subculture that was developing throughout the u.S. in the late 1970s and 1980s. The book serves as a companion and contextual backdrop to the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibition, which opens at Seattle’s Experience Music Project in 2011. This decade-and-a-half musical journey will be represented entirely through the lens of EMP’s oral history and permanent object collection, an invaluable and rich cultural archive of over 800 interviews and 140,000 objects — instruments, costumes, posters, records and other ephemera dedicated to the pursuit of rock ’n’ roll.Taking Punk to the Masses focuses on 100 key objects from EMP’s permanent collection that illustrate the evolution of punk rock from underground subculture to the mainstream embrace (and subsequent underground rejection) of Grunge. These objects are put into context by the stories of those who lived it, culling from EMP’s vast archive of oral histories with such Northwest icons as Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, cartoonist Peter Bagge, design legend Art Chantry, Beat Happening’s Calvin Johnson, Sub Pop founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, the Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, Nirvana’s krist Novoselic, photographer Charles Petersen, Soundgarden’s kim Thayil, and dozens of others. From the Northwest’s earliest punk bands like The Wipers, to proto-grunge bands of the 1980s like Green River, Melvins and Malfunkshun, through the heady 1990s when bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney rose to the national stage and popularized alternative music, Taking Punk to the Masses is the first definitive history of one of America’s most vibrant music scenes, as told by the participants who helped make it so, and through the artifacts that survive.
Over the past 15 years, Experience Music Project has amassed over 800 filmed oral history interviews with musicians, producers, club owners, fans, and others associated with every genre of music. These interviews, along with the museum’s massive artifact collection, form the basis for every exhibition. The exhibition Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses includes footage from over 100 interviews. A selection of those interviews are included in a DVD, exclusive to the Taking Punk to the Masses book.

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Editorial Reviews

VICE Magazine
“This book rules. It is very, very fun to read if you care about this stuff.... If you… have an interest in punk or the Seattle indie rock scene then you'll love this thing to death.”— Nick Gazin
Under the Radar
“…[T]he artifacts included in the exhibit wonderfully illustrate everything that was exciting, vibrant, and anti-establishment about the scene that eventually went mainstream. The item descriptions are explanatory but concise, and the artist commentary is insightful and revelatory.”— Frank Valish
NPR.org
“Paradoxically for a volume dedicated to such a proudly ragged and rough-hewn aesthetic, Taking Punk to the Masses is a beautifully constructed gem. Even more peculiarly for a history lesson wedged between hard covers, it'll make you hear the music that has so spectacularly inflamed your speakers and headphones for three decades.”— Jason Diamond
Boog City
“Despite its coffee table book appearance, McMurray tries to keep the punk rock do-it-yourself ethic by letting the artifacts and punk denizens speak for themselves.... The quotes from the publisher/artists who created them and musicians who were featured weave together nicely to give a sense of moment.”— Ian S. Wilder
Jason Diamond - NPR.org
“Paradoxically for a volume dedicated to such a proudly ragged and rough-hewn aesthetic, Taking Punk to the Masses is a beautifully constructed gem. Even more peculiarly for a history lesson wedged between hard covers, it'll make you hear the music that has so spectacularly inflamed your speakers and headphones for three decades.”
Ian S. Wilder - Boog City
“Despite its coffee table book appearance, McMurray tries to keep the punk rock do-it-yourself ethic by letting the artifacts and punk denizens speak for themselves.... The quotes from the publisher/artists who created them and musicians who were featured weave together nicely to give a sense of moment.”
Lil Wayne
“This is a good thing right here.”
Nick Gazin - VICE Magazine
“This book rules. It is very, very fun to read if you care about this stuff.... If you… have an interest in punk or the Seattle indie rock scene then you'll love this thing to death.”
Frank Valish - Under the Radar
“…[T]he artifacts included in the exhibit wonderfully illustrate everything that was exciting, vibrant, and anti-establishment about the scene that eventually went mainstream. The item descriptions are explanatory but concise, and the artist commentary is insightful and revelatory.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606994337
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 5/23/2011
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacob McMurray is the Senior Curator of Seattle’s Experience Music Project.

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