Punk USA: The Roots of Green Day & the Rise & Fall of Lookout Records

Punk USA: The Roots of Green Day & the Rise & Fall of Lookout Records

by Kevin Prested Author and Jesse Michaels Foreword

Updated and revised second edition with new interviews!

Updated and revised second edition with new interviews and photographs. Through hundreds of exclusive and original interviews, Punk USA documents the empire that was built overnight as Lookout launched a teenaged Green Day, sold millions of records, and rode the wave of the second coming of punk rock until it all came crashing down.

In 1987, Lawrence Livermore founded independent punk label Lookout Records to release records by his band The Lookouts. Forming a partnership with David Hayes, the label released some of the most influential recordings from California’s East Bay punk scene. Originally operating out of a bedroom, Lookout created "The East Bay Punk sound,” with bands such as Crimpshrine, Operation Ivy, The Mr. T Experience, and many more. The label helped to pave the way for future punk upstarts and as Lookout grew, young punk entrepreneurs used the label as a blueprint to try their hand at record pressing. As punk broke nationally in the mid 90s the label went from indie outfit to having more money than it knew how to manage, and the label struggled as much with success as it did from any other difficulty. Kevin Prested chronicles it all even-handedly, through interviews and a careful combing of the records. This definitive book is perfect for anyone who is curious about the unlikely, improbable inside scoop on how musical careers are made and unmade.


Comments & Reviews


“…Reading this book made me comprehend the considerable volume of releases from the label that I’ve enjoyed over the years…Their story is captivating and emblematic of a tie in the 1990’s when labels like this seemed almost invincible. Highly recommended!"


"Punk USA details every twist and turn in the story with author Kevin Prested's prose interspersed with large sections of quotes from one-time Lookout! employees and bands...it expounds both the pitfalls of running a mall business based on ideals, enthusiasm, and naivety, and what happens to those principles when their inundated with tens of millions of dollars."


"Kevin Prested's Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout! Records chronicles the whole convoluted story in less than 200 pages...chock full of good dirt and constellation of punkers who seemed like big stars to readers of Maximum Rock'N'Roll"


"[I]f you are a fan of Lookout, after all they created or documented "The East Bay Punk sound,” with bands such as Crimpshrine, Operation Ivy, The Mr. T Experience, and many more, you should read this book, since it will be good entertainment..."


"This is pretty hard to fault; Prested has created something that is easy to read but packed with information, that is gripping yet not slanderous and that is distinctly independent at its core. If another biography on Lookout! Records is ever to be written, I cannot imagine how it could be better than this."



A well-rounded look at a label that played a leading role in formulating the sound of the 'second coming' of punk rock.


"I want to read it again and again. I want my son to read it when he's old enough. I want him to pass it down to his children to read. I want this to be the new standard for text books. I want the world to know."



"an emotional, vested interest in the work [...] makes this an interesting read"



"Highly readable and tells the whole sordid story of the label that could and did, until it couldn’t."


"What’s special about Kevin Prested’s book? He gets it, the spirit and attitude and rhythm of Lookout Records jumps off the pages."

John Koenig - Stuff I Like


"this book is bound to be satisfyingly devoured in just a couple of sittings."

J Moor - Neu Futur Magazine


"a fascinating read that taught me a lot about what went on behind the scenes at the label"

The Punk Vault


"a well-rounded look at a label that played a leading role in formulating the sound of the “second coming” of punk rock—until it all collapsed."

The Big Takeover


"despite the label’s official demise in 2012, this is a hopeful story. It shows how punk/DIY ethics can succeed"

Jeremy Estes - PopMatters


"the infighting, the acrimony, the backstabbing, and mistrust. It’s shocking"

The Recoup