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


In the late 1970s a compact circle of Milwaukeeans drew from their city’s cultural heritage as well as the example of New York and London to embrace the new in the form of a dynamic punk rock scene.

Brick Through the Window is an account of the Milwaukee scene from the musicians, artists and fans that made it happen. It chronicles a small number of people who made history in a setting that produced internationally recognized bands such as The Violent Femmes, Die Kreuzen, Plasticland and Oil Tasters. Nothing came easily for Milwaukee’s first wave of punks. The police were oppressive, city government was reactionary, the established media scoffed and mainstream rock fans were hostile. An industrial city showing the first signs of sinking into the Rust Belt, Milwaukee had a deserved reputation for thrift and hard work as well as a lingering socialist heritage. Milwaukee’s punks could build a scene on a shoestring; their work ethic lent itself to punk rock’s DIY ethos; and the scene was imbued with a sense of common purpose echoing the city’s history as bastion of progress.

Composed from hundreds of hours of interviews, Brick Through the Window brings vividly to life a short-lived period of creativity and excitement in a heartland American town that was home to a musical subculture more prolific than that of many larger cities.