Paperback eBook


ISBN: 978-1-56512-624-4

LIST PRICE: $18.95


ISBN: 978-1-56512-968-9

LIST PRICE: $18.95

The indie label that got big and stayed small.

Merge Records has remained true to the belief that you can sign bands because you love their music and respect what they’re trying to do. As giant corporate labels struggle for survival, Merge has, in the unlikeliest of times, garnered a loyal group of artists and a secure growing fan base, and, most importantly, has brought us some of the best music of our time.

Our Noise tells the story of how Merge did it and continues to do it, through the eyes of cofounders Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, their fellow bandmembers in Superchunk, their friends who helped them along the way, and the bands who signed on with them. With over 300 images—from candid photos to the first silkscreened record covers to hand-drawn posters, scrawled out setlists, postcards from the road, and letters—this is the history of the much-loved label as seen by those who were there. Featuring interviews with and profiles of Superchunk, Butterglory, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, the Magnetic Fields, and the Arcade Fire.

The story of Merge is the story of what happens when the good guys win.



"The fact that they exist and that they've survived is really kind of amazing these days. It's really difficult, and they've done really well."—David Byrne

"From small beginnings, twenty years later, Merge has become one of the top independent labels in the world." —NPR's Sound Opinions

"Merge Records might be responsible for more indie-rock classics than any other label in the past two decades." MAGNET

Meet the author

John Cook is a reporter for Gawker Media and has worked for Radar magazine and the Chicago Tribune. He first fell in love with the music of Merge Records at a Superchunk show in 1994 and has been a devoted fan ever since. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan.

Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan.

Laura Ballance graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. She plays bass in Superchunk and formed with Mac the Merge Records label, conducting the business of the label from her small bedroom. These days, they have a real office. She lives in Durham with her husband and daughter.

After Mac McCaughan graduated from Columbia, he returned to North Carolina and worked in record stores, restaurants, and a copy shop while playing in bands. He plays in Superchunk and Portastic (guitar and vocals), and founded, with Laura Ballance, the Merge Records label in 1989. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife and children.