Brick Through The Window - The oral history of Milwaukee punk, new wave, nosie music

An Oral History of Punk Rock, New Wave & Noise in Milwaukee, 1964-1984

How Brick through the Window came to be...

In 2009 I started to notice that many old friends and fellow musicians from the 80’s were on Facebook. I began to make ‘friends’ and reconnect with the old gang. I also discovered a Facebook page called “Lest We Forget” which Sacred Order lead singer, Michael Podolak had established to pay tribute to members of this community who had passed away. I was shocked by how many of us had passed away. While having a conversation with Die Kreuzen’s Keith Brammer, I vocalized the thought of getting our story down before any more people passed away. Keith agreed and wanted to help.

Keith suggested I read Legs McNeil’s book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk and We Got the Neutron Bomb : The Untold Story of L.A. Punk by by Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen. From Keith's suggestion, I decided that my book would proceed to write the history of Milwaukee Punk as an Oral History.

I started contacting as many band members, club owners, and promoters as possible. I used the recording app on my cell phone to record the interviews. The interviews were unscripted and the questions were based on what I knew about the bands and the people interviewed. With each interview, I would ask for contacts to spread the web of available interviewees. As I got used to doing the interviews there would be trigger questions I asked repeatedly to get things rolling. It was hard not to have the interviews turn out a little dry…”we formed in 1980 we wrote songs, we played here, we played there….”

I was most interested in having people tell me a good story. So, I would ask about notorious parties, tours, animosity between members, best show, worst show, etc. So, the First Edition of this story, titled “The Cease Is Increase was mostly concerned with just that the story. More human interest than facts and dates.

The hardest part of the whole process was transcribing the audio into written word. I would transfer the files from my phone to my computer and use a program that enabled me to slow the audio down. It was hard to understand what people were saying at times. When it came down to it I just ventured a guess. It took me days to transcribe a two-hour interview. This is the reason that from start to finish it took over 3 years to write Cease Is Increase. Towards the end, I enlisted some UWM students to help with the transcriptions because due to poor health, I wanted to publish sooner than later.

Two years later I was approached by Clancy Carroll to see if I was interested in getting some help to put out a quality 3rd edition. We put together a group of enthusiastic participants with the edition of Eric (Blowtorch) Beaumont and my good friend Dave Luhrssen. We had some meetings to lay out our plan and from there Brick Through the Window, the third edition of The Cease is Increase was born. We changed the name because we found that after a year of working on the new book it had transformed so much that was its own unique entity and deserved its own title. (although it is mostly based on the Cease Is Increase and my interviews).