Monday, January 21, 2008


One of the major factors in No Wave's lasting legacy is the press coverage it got at the time. I was happily surprised to find that there was so much written at the time about No Wave, and I'd conservatively estimate that more than half of what I found was written by Roy Trakin. Trakin primarily wrote for New York Rocker and The Soho Weekly News, literally covering every major No Wave event and figure. The sampling of headlines pictured above - from Roy's hilarious interview with James Chance, his review of No New York, and his review of the Artists' Space Festival that itself spawned No New York - is just the tip of the iceberg. Trakin's stuff was sharp, perceptive, and tireless; it blew my mind how many times his byline popped up during my research, and I really could have quoted him on every page of the book.

This week, Trakin posted some reminiscences of No Wave, and his impressions of our book, at the site he currently writes for. Check his thoughts out by clicking here and scrolling down to entry #3.

Here's an outtake from my interview with Roy, detailing what attracted him to No Wave:

"I thought it was an advance on what was called Punk Rock at the time, because it was also incorporating a lot of downtown art and avant-garde elements. That was what excited me, because I saw it within the tradition of stuff like the Velvet Underground with Andy Warhol, and Suicide. I saw it as the logical progression of what was going on, and a real statement about commercial music and about music as art. I don’t know if anyone really thought that this would be a commercially viable genre, but you could tell it was something that was going to be influential at the very least. We were all flushed with the Do-It-Yourself attitude and deconstruction was big. No Wave encapsulated a lot of my influences which were movies of the French New Wave and movies as art and music as art. It really was a big middle finger towards commercial music or melodies or verses and choruses. It was compelling for that.

The bands were chaotic to listen to; they completely abandoned any pretense to any kind of Western musical mores. But there was an excitement there, and a kind of intellectual over-reaching combined ultimately with an attitude which branded it punk. It was antagonistic and it was nihilistic, but there was a vulnerability to putting yourself out there that to me was kind of seductive. And there was a real offbeat humour to it that people mistook for arrogance and nihilism, but ultimately the No Wavers were romantics. They had a very idealistic view of the possibilities of music in terms of changing people and changing attitudes towards what pop music is, how it works."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


An exclusive excerpt from NO WAVE is up today at You can check it out here. It's a slightly condensed version of Chapter One, exploring the origins of the movement, its musical inspirations, and the conditions in New York at the time that allowed this loose collective of artists to live on practically nothing - freeing them to form bands, play shows, and influence each other. This is the most quote-heavy section of the book, so I hope it gives everyone a pretty good feel for all the voices and characters who played key roles in No Wave.

For anyone curious about what the rest of the book covers, here's a chapter rundown:

ONE: NO!: The Origins of No Wave
TWO: From Ten to One: Mars and DNA
THREE: Dissatisfied: Lydia Lunch and James Chance
FOUR: Theoretical Music: The Soho Contingent
(Theoretical Girls, Gynecologists, UT, Rhys Chatham, Glenn Branca, and more)
FIVE: The Offenders: No Wave Cinema
SIX: Too Many Creeps: The Aftermath of No Wave
(Lounge Lizards, Don King, Bush Tetras, ESG, Sonic Youth, Swans, Live Skull, and more)

Sprinkled in between chapters are sidebars delving in more detail into some fascinating crevices of No Wave. These include sections on Dark Day (Robin Crutchfield's post-DNA band), Lydia Lunch's surreal solo album Queen of Siam (which included compositions arrangements by the guy who wrote the Flintstones theme!), the psychotic trio Red Transistor (featuring Von Lmo and Rudolph Grey), the No Wave-ish cable access show TV Party, and the sub-No Wave scene based around NO Magazine and Tape #1 (including criminally underappreciated bands like Information, Blinding Headache, and Mofungo).

Also included are a foreword by No Wave archivist/expert Weasel Walter, and a ton of photos like the ones seen on Pitchfork today - we have illustrations on every page including live pictures, flyers, film stills, film scripts, and all other types of images, many never seen in a book before. Watch this space for samples of those in the coming months...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Hi, and thanks for visiting - you've reached the blog for NO WAVE, a book on the radical music and film movement in New York in the late 1970's. The book was written by Marc Masters, a contributor to the Wire, Pitchfork, and others, with a foreword and invaluable assistance from No Wave expert Weasel Walter, and the editing expertise of Ziggy Hanaor and Rob Young of Black Dog Publishing, the British imprint which is releasing the book.

Flashing through the New York underground in the late 1970s, No Wave was the ultimate anti-movement. Its bands consisted of artists and poets untrained in music, looking to explode rock and disappear before the smoke cleared. The primary perpetrators – Lydia Lunch’s howling Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, James Chance’s skeletal Contortions, the dark-noise groups Mars and DNA – all drew on primitivism, performance art, and the avant-garde.

NO WAVE traces the history of this noisy and uncompromising genre, from its most famous names down to its many offshoots and sidetracks - from early pioneers like Suicide, to forgotten treasures like Red Transistor and Bush Tetras, to descendents like ESG and Sonic Youth. The book also delves into No Wave cinema, where pioneers like Amos Poe, Eric Mitchell, and Beth and Scott B. translated the aggression and innovation of No Wave music to the screen. Illustrated with concert photos, record covers, and other ephemera of the times, and featuring over 30 exclusive interviews, NO WAVE is the definitive guide to a genre whose sounds and ideas still vibrate through alternative culture today.

NO WAVE is already available in the UK (you can order it there by clicking here), and can be pre-ordered in the US by going here. We're just getting this blog started - stay tuned for photos and passages from the book, interview outtakes and other material that we couldn't include in the book, links to reviews and No Wave-related news, and hopefully (rights permitting) video and music from the time period.