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The Indiana Daily Student

arts books

Nate Powell’s new book ‘Fall Through’ reminisces on the glory days of punk rock

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Nate Powell promoted “Fall Through” at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 9 in Morganstern’s Bookstore and Café, explained his creative process and signed copies of his books. “Fall Through” is the story of a time-travelling punk rock band — inspired by Powell’s punk rock past — who jump between realities when they play a specific song. 

Powell first had the idea for the band in 2007, when he was considering writing a zine about the relationships between various members of a band. Despite what he said felt like a lack of direction, the band would later come to life as a small part in Powell’s novel “Come Again." However, once Powell realized the connection between these characters and his idea from long ago, he knew it had to be a novel of its own.  

“At some point along the way, I was like ‘wait a minute, this goes all the way back to that old zine I started,’” Powell said. “I can say something personal with this fictional story that otherwise doesn’t have anything to do with me.’” 

As a young man, Powell spent time on the road with a punk rock band which inspired “Fall Through.” While on tour, he would often draw and filled 20 notebooks over his time on the road. Powell used these notebooks to inform the world of “Fall Through,” although he was careful to note his own experiences were used sparingly. 

“I brought out all twenty sketchbooks to see if there is some detail that I am missing that seemed so important at the time,” Powell said. “I told myself, ‘now put them back in the box’ because what I wanted to avoid was this being like ‘this is a thinly disguised story of me being on tour with a band.’” 

However, Powell’s own experiences were not the only thing that informed “Fall Through.” Powell said in his talk that he was influenced by a variety of aspects. From his daughters’ favorite story “Sleeping Beauty: A Mid Century Fairy Tale,” he got the idea of a magical record on which to center his characters’ jumps between realities. 

Designs from famous records in punk history helped him create the design for this record, which featured the silhouette of a girl falling through stars. The design was specifically inspired by “Celebration of Love,” an album from the band William Martyr 17, which Powell said was mythologized by the punk rock community since it was recorded a week before the drummer’s death. 

Powell combed through archival newspapers to discover information about the Sex Pistols’ Tulsa concert — the last show before its infamous California concert, which inspired many future punk bands. 

The Tulsa concert was a key moment in the characters’ backstory, and Powell wanted to ensure he recreated the event as realistically as possible. Reading the newspapers, he learned that it was a terrible night due to an intense snowstorm. 

“There was an ice storm with hail and particularly in the mid-south, we don’t have snowplows,” Powell said. “When it gets iced, the city completely shuts down for days, so it's this apocalyptic, winter setting.”  

In order to fully display this idea, Powell turned to the birth of punk rock and the birth of the graphic novel, as he incorporated designs from Lynd Ward’s novels “Mad Man’s Drum” and “Wild Pilgrimage” into the concert scene where a character’s time paradox first kicks in as well as other scenes of moving between realities. It turned out that Ward’s material was also used on the punk album which gave “Fall Through” its name — the record “Fall Through” by the band Five-0 — which was why it felt so familiar to Powell. 

“All of this is just swirling around itself now, it's like falling into a black hole of my own micro-research,” Powell said. “All of these symbols are charged with meaning and power through the book.” 

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