Published Jun 11, 2009With Merge Records' 20th anniversary celebrations in full swing, the beloved Chapel Hill imprint is set to get its very own history book. Dubbed Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small, the 304-page book is coming courtesy of Algonquin Books and due out September 15. As for the author, John Cook is behind Our Noise, but he also got a little help from Superchunk/Merge founders Mac McCaughan and Laura Balance, as well as Ryan Adams, who penned the intro.
Courtesy of Merge and Algonquin, here's what Our Noise is all about:
Launched by two 20-year-olds, Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, in a rented home in the late 1980s, Merge Records had the humble beginnings of a great success story. Hand-labeling and shipping each record themselves, Mac and Laura started to make their mark on the independent music scene. They gained popularity by fronting the popular pop-punk band Superchunk, one of Merge's first bands, in the mid-90s. Over time, the label has become known for discovering some of the best indie bands in the country.
Twenty years later, with just thirteen employees-and a real office-the label boasts some of the biggest bands on the independent music scene, including Arcade Fire, Spoon, Magnetic Fields, M. Ward, Neutral Milk Hotel, She & Him, and more. But Merge still maintains its small-label mindset by producing good music they have faith in-not only what they think will sell the most copies.
Author John Cook traces the growth of Merge along the bumpy roads that led to its success and importance today, through first-hand interviews with Mac, Laura, their friends, and band mates, and other key players in the formation and growth of the label. Featuring photographs the life and times of the label and its bands, as well as concert memorabilia, record label art, and a link to a streaming Internet soundtrack for the book, Our Noise tells Merge's story in an intimate and entertaining package.