Mutations: The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk

Sam McPheeters (Author) Tobi Vail (Introduction by)


Inaugural pick for the Pitchfork Book Club

GQ's One of the Best Books to Read Right Now

How can so many people pledge allegiance to punk, something with no fixed identity? Depending on who and where you are, punk can be an outlet, excuse, lifestyle, escapism, conversation, community, ideology, sales category, social movement, punishable offense, badge of authenticity, reason to drink beer forever, or an aesthetic of belligerent incompetence. And if someone has a strong belief about what punk is, odds are they have even stronger feelings about what punk is not.

Sam McPheeters championed many different versions. Over the course of two decades, he fronted Born Against, released dozens of records and fanzines, and toured seventeen times across the northern hemisphere. In this collection of essays, profiles, criticism, and personal history, he examines the diverse realms he intersected--New York hardcore, Riot Grrrl, Gilman street, the hidden enclaves of Olympia, and New England, and downtown Los Angeles--and the forces of mental illness and creative inspiration that drove him, and others, in the first place.

Product Details

$18.00  $16.56
Rare Bird Books, a Barnacle Book
Publish Date
February 11, 2020
5.4 X 8.4 X 1.0 inches | 0.65 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Sam McPheeters was born in Ohio and raised in upstate New York. In 1981, at age twelve, he co-authored Travelers Tales: Rumors and Legends of the Albany-Saratoga Region. Starting in 1989, he sang for Born Against, Men's Recovery Project, and Wrangler Brutes, touring seventeen times across North America, Europe, and Japan. Since 2009, he has written for Criterion, Vice, and The Village Voice, among others. He currently lives in Pomona, CA, with his wife.


"Mutations is the memoir that hardcore punk needs."--Pitchfork

"I couldn't put Sam McPheeters' book Mutations down. I tore through it in a day and a half, skipping meals and work along the way."
--Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"An absolutely essential study for students and fans of the Punk Rock movement in music, "Mutations: The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk" is an extraordinary and pitch-perfect history."
--Midwest Book Review