Chris Stamey of the dB's Releases Memoir

Title: A Spy in the House of Loud: New York Songs and Stories
Author: Chris Stamey
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: University of Texas Press

Popular music was in a creative upheaval in the late 1970s. As the singer-songwriter and producer Chris Stamey remembers, “the old guard had become bloated, cartoonish, and widely co-opted by a search for maximum corporate profits, and we wanted none of it.”

In A Spy in the House of Loud, he takes us back to the auteur explosion happening in New York clubs such as the Bowery’s CBGB, as Television, Talking Heads, R.E.M., and other innovative bands were rewriting the rules. Just 22 years old and newly arrived from North Carolina, Stamey immersed himself in the action, playing a year with Alex Chilton before forming the dB’s and recording the albums Stands for deciBels and Repercussion, which still have an enthusiastic following.

A Spy in the House of Loud vividly captures the energy that drove the music scene as arena rock gave way to punk and other new streams of electric music. There are engrossing backstories about creating in the recording studio, as well as insights into other people’s music and the process of songwriting. Photos, mixer-channel and track assignment notes, and other inside-the-studio materials illustrate the stories. A Spy in the House of Loud reads like a Mozart in the Jungle for indie rock, depicting a Southern artist’s coming-of-age in a New York scene that has been stereotyped as all punk rock, safety pins, and provocation. Stamey’s book shows another side of the CBGB era, as he searches for new ays to break the rules and make some noise. 

Comments on the book:
“[An] endlessly fascinating odyssey through the worlds of Southern pop, New York City art punk, and American indie rock . . . a truly essential work of music lit.”
—Bob Mehr, New York Times bestselling author of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

“A model of excellence for both music writing and memoir . . . I simultaneously learned so much and was deeply moved.”—Anthony DeCurtis, author of Lou Reed: A Life

"This North Carolina outsider gets deep inside the coolest scenes . . . [and is] a damn good writer about what he hears."—Robert Gordon, author of Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music's Hometown

“A standout addition to the crowded shelf of recollections by the underground iconoclasts of the 1980s and ’90s.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Stamey is a brilliant guy . . . I like Chris’s work in general, throughout the whole timeline; this great book fits right into the oeuvre.”—Marshall Crenshaw

“Stamey arrived in New York City just as rock and roll had begun to reinvent itself, and he was — and is — particularly qualified to bear witness to that moment.” —Steve Earle

Book Tour Events
  • 04/15 - Raleigh, NC - Quail Ridge Books
  • 04/19 - New York, NY - McNally Jackson Bookstore
  • 04/20 - Hoboken, NJ - Little City Books
  • 04/21 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
  • 04/28 - Chapel Hill, NC - Flyleaf Books
  • 05/12 - Winston-Salem, NC - The Ramkat
  • 05/13 - Winston-Salem, NC - Bookmarks
  • 05/19 - Greensboro, NC - Greensboro Bound Literary Festival
  • 06/09 - Los Angeles, CA - Book Soup
  • 06/10 - Los Angeles, CA - The Federal Bar
  • 06/18 - Asheville, NC - Malaprop's Bookstore

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