The vice president of marketing catalog at Atlantic Records has expanded his successful website and podcast – both titled “Washed Up Emo” – into a “documentation of stories” from artists and individuals involved in the emotionally charged musical genre that rose from the punk and hardcore scene.
Tom Mullen ’00 hopes that his new book, “Anthology of Emo: Volume One,” will not only help correct some of the misconceptions of the emo genre, but also educate and entertain some of its most fervent fans.
It’s a pursuit that the Elon alumnus has undertaken since launching WashedUpEmo.com, an online community of emo fans, in 2007, followed by a critically acclaimed podcast by the same name four years later.
After more than 100 interviews with artists and individuals involved with the emo and hardcore scene, Mullen compiled the most captivating podcast stories – packaged with rare and unseen photos – to produce a self-published, 376-page book. The first volume, released in December, includes interviews with Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), Mike Kinsella (American Football, Owen, Cap’n Jazz), Norman Brannon (Texas Is The Reason, Shelter, New End Original) and many other prominent names from the genre. Additionally, Brooklyn Vegan’s Andrew Sacher penned the book’s foreword.
“‘Anthology of Emo: Volume One’ is a project to bring the full story of the emo genre to print,” said Mullen, who serves as vice president of marketing catalog at Atlantic Records. “After 100-plus podcast episodes, it was a chance to get these stories heard further. It's not meant to be a history book but a documentation of stories spoken by the artists and people involved directly in the scene. For whatever you've heard about emo, it doesn’t start or end with eyeliner and Hot Topic. It's a long and storied music genre that’s still going on today.”
The idea for a published book came to Mullen when he realized the numerous stories and first-person accounts he had accumulated through his podcast recordings. The book, he figured, could be another avenue for promoting the musicians and music he grew to adore as a youth in Jericho, Vermont. This passion for emo only amplified when he arrived at Elon in fall 1996 and became involved with WSOE, the university’s student-run radio station.
“If I'm honest, the beginning of the book in earnest, started at WSOE,” Mullen said. “It was where I had access to the bands, labels and friends that shared the love for the music. That was the start of this book. I wouldn't have had the knowledge, access to the industry, the camaraderie among friends in the industry if it wasn’t for WSOE.”
While Mullen had hours of content on his hands, thanks to his podcast, the publication of the book was no easy task. He leaned on his cousin, Matt Mullen, to help transcribe the dozens of interviews, and chose Jesse Reed to design the sizeable text. He also tabbed Polyvinyl Records, an independent record label based in Illinois, to handle the book’s distribution.
“I thought about getting a publisher, but realized I could do everything myself and make it happen. It’s fun doing something on your own, I recommend everyone try it. You learn a ton and find all the quirks and things that happen when things go wrong. Then when you're doing it again, you know every step of the way.”
Just as he learned during the publishing process, Mullen hopes to educate his readers and fellow music fans, providing stories and perspectives from an array of artists.
“It's a deep genre with a huge history and worth exploring past the common misconceptions about the genre and the word,” he said. “Editing these (interviews) for the book was fun to re-experience the jokes and stories as they came to life on the page. Even after hearing these stories the first time, there's something about a book and reading them in print.”
Providing a space to enjoy and discuss his favorite musicians has long been Mullen’s objective, dating back to the beginning of the Washed Up Emo website. From the online community grew a successful podcast as well as popular DJ nights and other social gatherings. Mullen has been the face of it all.
“The music of this genre has long been misunderstood and bastardized,” he said. “The site was started to help right the ship and give another voice out there for those searching for the history of the genre. That’s the passion of the site, the podcast, the socials and the book. This genre means the world to me and my own goal is to have the music shine and the bands be successful. I'm happy to play a small part in keeping this music alive.”