Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994–2007) by Dan Ozzi

Loud galloping guitars… thumping bass… chest-hammering drums… soaring vocals. The pop punk surge blasted out of my college dorm window. Dookie. Enema of the State. 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. These albums were part of the soundtrack of my young life… uh yeah, I still listen to them!

Dan Ozzi’s book Sellout tells the story of these bands… from small-town formation to big-city tours and major-label signings. I loved every minute of the basement rehearsals and especially the back and forth about: What exactly is Punk? What is selling out? What is this post-grunge rebel music going to sound like and who will produce and sell these songs?

Reacting to the wild success of Nirvana, the major labels saw dollar signs on the faces of these young punk, but many didn’t see eye to eye with these stuffed shirts. They thought that the signature on the dotted line meant that authenticity would be thrown out the window and over-production would ruin the raw sound… The answer: Some bands could have given a shit… and for some, signing ruined everything. There was great pressure to put out the absolute best album for your major label debut. These story lines set up a fascinating look at the music industry. In many ways my angsty friend and I were only witness to the end result: the album and the rock show, but so much goes on behind the scenes and this is that story. Interviews with all the major players: the musicians, the hit makers, the reporters, and the fans. A complete piece of journalism that digs into all the whys and hows of the 90s and 00s music scene.

Sellout is the story of 11 bands on the precipice of their indie career… Will they or won’t they “sellout?”

I loved it. If you ever entered the mosh pit, pumped your fist to “Am I just paranoid/ Or am I just stoned?,” or ran to Tower Records looking for the latest emo sound, Get this book!

5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Mariner Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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