Books - A

THE ANTI-MATTER ANTHOLOGY - Norman Brannon (258 pages, Revelation Records)
This is the second book Revelation Records has published and it comes from the pen of former SHELTER, TEXAS IS THE REASON and NEW END ORIGINAL guitarist Norman Brannon. Predominantly, it features interviews taken from his zine of the early 90s, Anti-Matter, which ran for a mere four issues but achieved a revered status. Additional interviews are added from his work with Alternative Press.
I guess the main point of interest about the book (from a reader’s point of view at least) is just who is interviewed. So, here are a few names: RANCID, DOWN BY LAW, SAMIAM, SICK OF IT ALL, SNAPCASE, SHELTER, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, JAWBOX, JUDGE, QUICKSAND, Ian MacKaye and more.
What makes these interviews worthy of a full reprint? Well, Brannon knew many of those he interviewed as friends and, in just about all cases, delved into the subjects’ personality, feelings and composition to draw out a personal and, at the time, original form of interview. His style of interviewing took a few by surprise - none more so than J Robbins of JAWBOX. He also got confessions and statements that the stranger, or more formulated interviewer, wouldn’t have a hope of (Porcell admitting to getting drunk is one!). Occasionally there is a refreshing sense of naivety about some of the questions as they are so austere, but within the context of a specific interview - and on a wider scale the whole book - they work to create a sincerity and depth to both the interviewee and to Brannon.
The book also features a plethora of new photographs both in a posed and live platform. There’s also a neat mini-interview ‘Quotables’ section that adds the likes of AVAIL, LIFETIME, AGNOSTIC FRONT, CIV, PROMISE RING and SAMUEL to the line-up before finishing with an ‘Essential Listening’ guide to each interviewee which could prove essential to any band new to the reader.
Brannon himself also contributes an introduction that gives a brief history of Anti-Matter and what lead up to it. He is also interviewed as the book’s finale about Anti-Matter, his music and his life. He comes across as a personable kinda guy, witty and intuitive.
Ultimately this is a book that is gonna sell by the bands interviewed within and, even if you have only a passing interest in the aforementioned bands, this will make for fascinating reading. Budding zinesters could also do a lot worse than look at these interviews for a few tips and inspiration; there isn’t any/many of the reliable stock questions used here!
For me - I found it great ‘coffee table’ reading, taking one interview at a time and digesting which resulted in a very pleasing multi-course feast of Punkage and HC verbalism.