Addiction can be one of the most heart-breaking things you can see a loved one go through. Whether it’s seeing someone deal with a disease like alcoholism, or in the case of Geoff Rickly (the front-man of Thursday and No Devotion), it was heroin use. Rickly’s debut novel is called Someone Who Isn’t Me for a myriad of reasons in my interpretation of the book: he’s writing the book with a person named “Geoff” as a fictional character who just happens to be the front-man of a band called Thursday, he’s writing with the intention of replacing several key “character” names with different names, and most importantly, Geoff Rickly doesn’t recognize the person that he’s become. Someone Who Isn’t Me is riddled in tragedy, heartbreak, and luckily the real Geoff makes it out fairly unscathed in the process. As great of a lead singer and lyricist Geoff Rickly is, he is arguably a more talented writer on this loosely-based work of fiction that feels as raw as its likely intended to be.Read More “Someone Who Isn’t Me – Geoff Rickly”
On the book debut by established music writer, Chris Payne, he weaves a tangled web of quotes from bands/artists, writers, and other personalities who made the emo explosion such an exciting time period. Through his exploration of what made this scene so popular through its early days, all the way to the eventual fizzling out of most of these band’s mainstream popularity, he takes this monumental project all in stride with veteran ease. The best way to describe this time period was through the lens of people who were most closely surrounded in this scene, and that’s exactly what Payne did through his vast number of interviews. Where Are Your Boys Tonight? tackles a familiar topic, and yet there’s plenty of stories in these pages that I had never heard anywhere before. From placing the scene juggernauts, My Chemical Romance, on the cover to naming the book after one of Fall Out Boy’s biggest songs, everything clicks perfectly into place through this 464-page opus.
Chris Payne level sets in his introductory essay about the meteoric rise of key bands and personalities in this scene, and makes a few brief remarks in the epilogue and acknowledgement sections, but other than that, he allows these stories to come to life for themselves. Payne could have interjected his voice throughout this oral history to bring additional context to the series of interviews, but he instead chose a more difficult path forward of trying to connect these quotes in a way that invited the reader closer into “the rooms where it happened.” In the end, this choice was the right one, and makes for an ultra-enjoyable reading experience.Read More “Where Are Your Boys Tonight? The Oral History of Emo’s Mainstream Explosion 1999-2008 – Chris Payne”
Andrew McMahon sounds like a man who’s been through some really tough situations. From a childhood filled with several moves to different parts of the country, to his dad’s battle with addiction, and his steadfast love for the music that got him through it all, McMahon crafts a tangled web of stories that he divides up into three book sections based on three pianos that have meant something to him at different points of his life and career. Three Pianos: A Memoir is a fairly quick reading experience, especially for those familiar with McMahon’s musical references in his bands of Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, and lastly Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness. This only speaks to his ability as an author to convey such rich, vivid memories from an emotional standpoint that led him to be the man that he is today. As McMahon puts it in his memoir, referencing the transition between Jack’s Mannequin and the start of a new adventure in The Wilderness Years, “Starting over at twenty is easy. At thirty it’s a test of your mettle.” Battling through a leukemia diagnosis, to navigating through several starts and stops in his musical journey, McMahon never lets his difficult story seem hopeless. Instead, he provides a beacon of hope for others to keep pressing on when we reach our own breaking point.Read More “Andrew McMahon – Three Pianos: A Memoir”
When I last chatted with author Dan Ozzi about his book called Sellout, I asked him, “What does the word “Sellout” mean to you today?” And the author barely blinked by telling me, “Probably nothing!…And so I saw that word still out going around a lot recently, but I don’t see it as much for musicians anymore, because there’s no money in music now, right? How do you sell out?” What I wasn’t expecting from that answer was for Dan Ozzi to be completely on point with his description on the state of the music scene in this comprehensive look at eleven bands’ trajectory into dipping their toes into the major labels’ waters.
The book is carefully and thoughtfully organized into 11 succinct chapters following each of the eleven bands’ major label debuts. As you can imagine from the back cover stating the albums covered in the book, not all of these records were major label success stories. In fact, only a handful of them could be considered to be the record that put those bands on the map and would change their lives for the better (or worse). The book is incredibly entertaining, well-researched and Ozzi lives up to the hype of describing himself as “America’s Only Music Writer.”Read More “Sellout – Dan Ozzi”
Dave Grohl is a fucking legend. That’s not hyperbole. He literally has made some of the most recognizable rock songs in my generation, and still continues to crank out memorable tracks, whether it be with Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures, guest spotting with Queens of the Stone Age, or releasing an opus of instrumental bliss under his own name, called Play. New to the stage is Dave Grohl the author, who has crafted an equally brilliant memoir entitled The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. What you may not know about Mr. Grohl is his ability to convey such a wide range of emotions in his writing. From the heartbreaking loss of close friends in his life, to the exuberant highs of getting married and having three daughters, all mixed in with his unique ability to write about his time in music with such fervor and passion for being a part of music history. I was not planning to read this memoir in one sitting from cover to cover, but that’s exactly what happened. And much like the stories outlined beautifully in The Storyteller, everything packs purpose, and lessons are learned along the way that makes the journey more important than the end or the start.Read More “Dave Grohl – The Storyteller”
Not for You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense isn’t your typical book about rock stars. For one, Ronen Givony opens his second book with this line: “First, a confession, and a caveat: I’ve only seen them fifty-seven times.” From the get-go, it’s clear that this narrator possesses the kind of voice that we can relate to. Chasing our favorite band across the world is the dream, is it not? Secondly, Not for You is an unsanctioned biography, if you can call it that. No members of Pearl Jam are involved in this book. Givony isn’t a journalist, nor a close accomplice of the band, he is simply a fan: “someone with no more credentials than you.”Read More “Ronen Givony – Not for You: Pearl Jam and the Present Tense”
Vincent “Vinnie” Fiorello is a man of many talents. Readers on our site may know him best as the co-founder and a prominent lyricist of Less Than Jake, however, Fiorello has also made a name for himself in the business world by founding the record labels Fueled By Ramen, Sleep It Off Records, and most recently Paper + Plastick. In Fiorello’s second book, 6/19, he comes to terms with what he self-describes as “being lost and being found.” The book is a collection of short stories that read very quickly and have a lyrical bounce to it in this part-memoir, part-brain attack of thoughts poured out affectionately on paper.Read More “Vincent Fiorello – 6/19”
Mike Henneberger just wants you to listen. Whether that entails listening to that voice inside your head that tells you what’s right from wrong, the music blaring through the headphones that connect with you on a deeper level than you could ever begin to describe to someone, or by taking some of his advice so eloquently written in the new memoir he has affectionately titled Rock Bottom at the Renaissance: An Emo Kid’s Journey Through Falling In and Out of Love in and With New York City. We process our journeys through this crazy thing called life in all different shapes and forms, and that’s the beauty of it. No one has the perfect pill or cure for navigating through life, but music seems to be the closest miracle for a lot of us to deal with the shit that comes up daily.
In this “mixtape memoir,” Henneberger carefully crafts his thoughts on living in New York City and how it’s easy to fall somewhere in the void of being in love with the city and loathing it just as often. Henneberger also shares his struggles with mental illness and the music that kept him alive throughout it all. By connecting each of these chapters in his book to a different song in this mixtape, he has created a clever work of art in his own right by making sense of how music can truly save us from the darkest of thoughts. I feel that everyone will be able to take something special out of this memoir by reading how Henneberger describes his emotions in painstaking detail in his quest for understanding what makes him tick. Not to mention, the music he outlines each chapter with is very near and dear to my heart as well, and I’m sure it will hit the right notes with many of us who frequent this site. The playlist can be found on Spotify and Apple Music. Pre-orders are now up, and the book will be available everywhere starting on June 9th.Read More “Rock Bottom at the Renaissance: A Mixtape Memoir – Mike Henneberger”
Now that the NBA Playoffs have begun, Elevated: The Global Rise of the NBA arrives at the perfect time. The book takes a look at the history of the league through the lens of the New York Times writers who have covered the sports over the decades, as edited and annotated by Harvey Araton. Due to the nature of the book, you won’t find one specific writing style throughout. Although, there’s a high level of quality to the writing and you get a look at how the writers have changed their approach to covering the sport as new things like social media came into play.
Since I’m someone who doesn’t have a subscription to the New York Times, I otherwise would not have been able to read many of these articles. It’s an excellent chance for NBA fans to get a look into how devoted one publication was to covering a variety of teams, not just the ones in the New York area. You’ll find articles from the 1970s, to ones as recent as 2018, and everything in between. However, don’t expect the story to unfold in chronological order.
I made sure that 2018 was the year I finally made my way through The Sopranos. I finished the final season just before the year ended. It was quite the trek and nicely timed given that The Sopranos Sessions was set to release this month. After finishing the show, I jumped into the book and went on the wild ride all over again.
Michael Azerrad is no stranger to writing about music. He’s the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life, and he recently released Rock Critic Law. The latter is a book that includes 101 unbreakable rules for writing badly about music, as the subtitle notes. The book is an extremely quick read as the rules are presented in tweet-length format.
Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock by Steven Hyden is just the journey I was looking for. In the day and age of staring at screens most of the day, reading a physical book was a great way to unplug. I read this book over three days and enjoyed every bit of it. The book is formatted as a double LP. Sides A-D contain tracks that denote each chapter. It’s a clever way to present the book and it’s little things like that which just add a little extra to the reading experience.
This book covers all walks of classic rock. Hyden talks about Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and Bruce Springsteen, among many others. He touches on crucial points, too, including the fact that the white men in classic rock pulled influence from artists of color who never received the same kind of recognition.
Chuck Klosterman is the only writer where I’ve stockpiled the complete collection of his books. With X he’s on his tenth book, which is a feat in itself for any author to have ten books. That said, I have yet to read all ten, but this one called to me as an immediate read when it arrived in my mailbox. As someone who has similar interests in general with Klosterman, his writing always intrigues me.
This book is a collection of Klosterman’s writing over the years. Some were familiar, namely his GQ interview (or lack thereof) with Tom Brady while the whole “Deflategate” situation was going on. And despite having already read it, I read it again anyway. In a way, I would like my writing to grow to be what his is, but still something that’s my own. Hopefully that makes sense to someone other than myself. Klosterman covers sports and music in a way that many writers in those areas probably wish they could. He has access that not just anyone gets. His interview with Kobe Bryant is fantastic, and the Lakers fan in me is beyond jealous.
Jesse Cannon’s latest book takes a look at the creative process and how to get results that you’re happy with. While it focuses largely on music, it can easily apply to so much more than that. Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With isn’t a behemoth of a book like Get More Fans, but it’s equally as effective. The book takes you through the motions of finding who is a best fit to work with, how to make music you’re happy with, and so much more.
Scott Crawford took what he worked on with Salad Days and brought it to a nice coffee table book format. He compiled a list of influential punk bands from the 80’s DC scene. Each entry gives the perspective of the band members, concert goers, photographers, and more. It’s a thorough look at the history without being overwhelming. The format works well since it focuses a lot on the images and sometimes those can tell stories better than words can.
I wouldn’t say I’m in tune with all of the punk bands from the 80’s era, let alone all of the ones around Washington D.C., but I’d like to think I know at least a little about punk music. This book has the bigger bands you’d expect with Fugazi, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat, but it’s the others that will surprise you if you haven’t done your homework. Ian MacKaye sprinkled his talents around in more bands than I had thought, so he’s a prominent feature in this book.