Recent Posts in books
May 18, 2015
by Jayson Green (of Violent Bullshit, Orchid, etc)
Jon Fine of Bitch Magnet, Don Caballero, 'Your Band Sucks', etc
Unlike most rock memoirs, Jon Fine's YOUR BAND SUCKS: What I Saw At Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear) is not a tale of triumph. It's something much more relatable. His band, Bitch Magnet, never made it big. They never defied the odds and overcame. None of that mattered. They did it anyway. YOUR BAND SUCKS is a true window into why we make art at any cost even when it seems like the world doesn't care. Jon has been making weird, loud fucked up rock music for over thirty years in bands, along with Bitch Magnet, like Vineland, Coptic Light and Don Caballero. You can hear Jon talk about it in person with Ted Leo at McNally Jackson in NYC Tuesday May 19 at 6:30 PM. After that he'll be touring the country talking with people like Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Clint Conley of Mission of Burma. All of his live dates are listed at the end of this interview.
I recently sat down with Jon over a Meat Hook sandwich in his old neighborhood Williamsburg to talk about his truly excellent book.
BrooklynVegan: I was surprised when I read the book. I thought it was going to essentially be an anecdotal history of independent rock music...
Jon Fine: ...like Our Band Could Be Your Life.
BV: Exactly, or Please Kill Me, but this is not that. It's an intensely personal memoir about your obsession with rock music. Did you know right away that's how you wanted to structure it?
JF: I knew it was going to be a memoir, but the other books that have been written as memoirs about this time period were written by people who were famous. I knew I was not and kind of had to make a virtue out of that. I was interested in the bands that I knew, and I really liked, who weren't the big bands. I mean no one knows these fucking bands. People kind of know Slint very vaguely, but Bastro, Slovenly...you probably hate these bands.
BV: I hate some of them, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you like the bands or even if you know the bands because it's not about the bands necessarily. It's about you and your relationship/addiction to music.
JF: That was kind of what I was hoping for. To me this was a very interesting moment in American culture. This isn't the kind of book that gets into it like "and on this alternate version of 'Rocks Off' is the 8th take that they did in Montreux and you can hear Keith nodding off..." (laughs). You don't need that level of interest.
It's a really personal book. I couldn't think of any other way to write it. I didn't want to write a history because that's kind of been done, but at the same time I wanted to bring other people into it. I just really wanted to know what it was like for these other bands that were in this middle to lower tier with us. Most of them eventually have to stop doing it. The other rock memoirs from this genre, like Dean Wareham, Bob Mould, Juliana Hatfield they all kind of end with them still "doing it" in a fashion. With a lot of these bands in the book, we all had to stop because it wasn't an option to support yourself. I'm not talking about getting rich; I'm talking about paying rent and feeding yourself. Whether it's Anne Eickelburg of Thinking Fellers, or Mark Robinson of Unrest, or Justin Chearno and Scott DeSimon of Pitchblende, you hit this wall in your thirties. I just find that really interesting and not just because it happened to me. I hope other people do too.
May 4, 2015
New York Magazine's pop culture blog, Vulture, is bringing back Vulture Fest for a second year of screenings, talks and live performances, happening May 30 & 31 mostly at Milk Studios in Chelsea. A few of the events (such as a talk with Jerry Seinfeld, and a screening of Amy Poehler, Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner's new show Difficult People) are sold out but tickets for most are still available, including: a talk with Lisa Kudrow about her HBO series The Comeback; a talk with Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson: a screening of Tig Notaro's short film Clown Service; a roundtable discussion with screenwriters David Goyer (The Dark Knight), Michael Weber (500 Days of Summer, The Fault in our Stars, and more), and Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer); a live taping of Kevin Smith's SModcast; and a Q&A with House of Cards creator Beau Williamson.
There's also a concert with Banks and St. Lucia on May 30 at Webster Hall. Tickets for that show go on sale Wednesday (5/6) at noon.
All Vulture Fest events are listed below...
April 27, 2015
Another piece of Brooklyn rock history is being documented. From the Amazon listing:
During the disco drenched year of 1978, 62nd Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was home to L'Amour, a small, unassuming discothéque thriving on a local dance crowd. "Rock Nights" on Thursdays were first brushed off as a bad joke. But in less than a year, blindsided by scores of disgruntled heavy metal misfits, the punch-line of that bad joke swelled into a quarter-century-long tsunami of hell-raising mayhem that turned a faceless disco into the world's most famous heavy metal mecca.and About the Author:
L'Amour: Rock Capital of B'klyn is a large format book jammed with over 1,000 full-color photographs, ticket stubs, and memorabilia representing the rich music history of the Brooklyn venue. Hundreds of full-color performance photos of the bands that hit the L'Amour stage are featured prominently in the book, as well as interviews with many of the musicians. Venue staff, club regulars, and show attendees contribute slices of club life. L'Amour: Rock Capital of B'klyn tells the story in stunning images and words of the famous heavy metal venue and its important contributions to the scene. If you are a heavy metal fan, or just a music history buff in general, this book is a must have.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, DJ Alex Kayne started out as a mobile DJ spinning dance music in the mid '70s. His club DJ career began when he beat a multitude of other DJs, winning a turntablist "Battle of the DJs" mixing contest at the Night Gallery Discothèque in Brooklyn. Word on the street about the winner of this battle spread quickly and Kayne began DJ-ing in several local clubs. Over the years he has worked at various venues large and small in and around the New York City area. He is considered New York City's first ever hard rock/heavy metal club DJ.L'Amour: Rock Capital of Brooklyn is out December 15.
Kayne came to work at the world famous Heavy Metal Venue L'Amour in 1979 and his residency at L'Amour lasted on and off until the venue closed. He is the venue's original metal DJ and its longest resident DJ. He is widely credited as the first club DJ in New York to spin Metallica, Biohazard, Y&T, The Rods, TNT, Queensryche, Anthrax, Megadeth, Manowar, White Lion, Helix, Talas, Motorhead, Metal Church, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Slayer, among many others, breaking and expanding their notoriety on the east coast.
With a career spanning more than 35 years, including live performances at over 65 venues performing on the same bill with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Rob Halford, Anvil, Raven, Twisted Sister, Biohazard, Type O Negative, Lacuna Coil, Kiss, Ace Frehley, Exodus, Kix, Queensryche, Warrant, Bullet Boys, Overkill, Ratt, Warrior Soul, Life of Agony, Venom, Manowar, White Lion, Motorhead, and hundreds more, DJ Alex Kayne is still actively working the Eastern Seaboard club scene where he is highly regarded and respected as a legend among rock and heavy metal DJs.
April 24, 2015
Stuart David has been making music as Looper since 1998 when he was still a member of Belle & Sebastian (he left in 2000). What started as a project with his wife, Karn, turned into a four-piece band and Looper released three albums between 1998 - 2002. (Looper's song "Mondo '77" was used in a lot of commercials and movies.) Then in the mid-'00s Stuart began suffering from chronic fatigue which all but ended his creative output. He's been getting better and 2015 makes a flurry of activity for him. He released The All-Night Cafe, a memoir of the early days of Belle & Sebastian, and a new Looper album, Offgrid:Offline which just came out via Mute. You can stream that in full, via Rdio, below.
That new album is also part of a career-encompassing Looper box set titled These Things, which rearranges the songs into five mixtapes categorized by genres. You can read more about that (and listen to it via Rdio) below. The box set also features liner notes by Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess. We've got a copy of both the These Things box set and The All-Night Cafe memoir to give away. Details below.
Belle & Sebastian, meanwhile, will play NYC's Radio City Music Hall in June.
March 23, 2015
John Lydon's second memoir, Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored was released last year in the UK and will get a North American release on April 28 via Dey Street Books. It was well-recieved in the UK, here's an exceprt of The Guardian's review:
On the face of it, Anger Is an Energy is true to the form: light on reflection and context, and told with barely a pause for breath. As with other celeb memoirs, it sometimes achieves a tone of self-importance that takes it into the realm of the Pooteresque. But it is a relief to report that it is also fascinating, and stands as a corrective to the idea that Lydon is merely a former pantomime villain. It also amounts to a 500-page yell of insistence that he should be entitled to do what he damn well likes, for two reasons: first, the superlative nature of so much of the music that he has created; and second, the life through which he struggled before music offered him an escape route. In an age in which a caste of privately educated musicians threaten to dominate what remains of British rock while singing about nothing much at all, this is what gives the book its fundamental spark: the sense of raw working-class art, and someone driven to create by the furies to which the title allude.On the day of release (4/28) at Saint Vitus, Lydon will talk with Pitchfork's Brandon Stosuy. You need to buy a copy of the book to attend. There will be a Q&A portion, but questions must be submitted in advance.
Lydon's first book, Rotten: No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish, was published in 1994 and is more of an oral history, with contributions from Chrissie Hynde, Don Letts, the other Sex Pistols, and more. It's very good and well worth seeking out.
In other news, The Sex Pistols' classic debut Never Mind the Bullocks will be coming out as a picture disc for Record Store Day in the UK.
March 20, 2015
The Sick Bag Song chronicles Nick Cave's 2014 tour of North America with The Bad Seeds. The account of this 22-city journey began life scribbled on airline sick bags and grew into a restless full-length epic, seeking out the roots of inspiration, love and meaning.Nick Cave's new book, The Sick Bag Song, will be out in two different editions. The "Unlimited" edition comes boxed and includes 44 color "sick bag images," as well as a download of Nick reading the audiobook as well as an E-book copy. That's out April 8. There are also 10 "Limited" made for for each of the 22 cities covered in The Sick Bag Song. Those are out June 1 and, at around $1000, they are not cheap, but they are pretty cool and come with:
• A unique sick bag customised by Nick Cave with notes, doodles and musings. Hand drawn by the artist onto a specially produced (and fully functional) sick bag, these are individually decorated, signed and rubber-stamped with the relevant city, displayed in a protective mounting. Each one is a completely bespoke piece of artwork. 10 are available for each of the 22 cities.Order yours now (The 10 NYC editions have sadly sold out).
• A highly collectible recording of The Sick Bag Song on 2 x 180gsm vinyl records in a limited edition run.
• Limited collectors' edition hardback of The Sick Bag Song by Nick Cave, specially printed and bound in real cloth, signed and numbered in a limited run of 220 copies.
•Anyone who buys a copy of the Limited Edition will receive a complimentary copy of the Unlimited Edition bundle (featuring a print copy of the Unlimited Edition, plus ebook and audio download editions*).
Meanwhile, Nick will be doing special The Sick Bag Song events in Los Angeles, New York and London next month where he'll read from the book, talk with a TBA host and take questions from the audience. The NYC event happens at Florence Gould Hall on April 10. Tickets go on sale Monday (3/23) at 10 AM.
Watch a video trailer for The Sick Bag Song below...
March 18, 2015
photo: Carrie w/ Sleater-Kinney at T5 this month (more by PSquared)
Carrie Brownstein has briefly mentioned she had written a memoir before, and now it has a title, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, and a release date: October 27, 2015. Penguin Publishing describes it as a " deeply personal look at life in rock and roll" and...:
intimately [capturing] what it feels like to be a young woman in a rock-and-roll band, from her days at the dawn of the underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s through today."It will cover her earlier days in music but, unfortunately, "today" ends right around 2006 when Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is available for pre-order now.
In other Carrie news, the always funny Portlandia, which just wrapped up its current season last week, just got renewed for two more seasons. Carrie was just in NYC with Janet and Corin for two sold-out Sleater-Kinney shows at Terminal 5.
March 17, 2015
Since October, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver has had a retrospective of Mark Mothersbaugh, who in addition to being co-founder and frontman of Devo, is an accomplished artist and filmmaker. Titled "Myopia," the retrospective collects drawings, films, paintings, sculpture and music -- if you're in Denver, you've got till April 12 to check it out.
There's an accompanying Myopia book as well, and Mark will be in NYC on Thursday (3/19) at The Strand to talk about it with the MCA Denver's Adam Lerner (who also edited the book). To attend you either need to buy a copy of Myopia or a $15 Strand gift card. Mark will be signing copies of the book as well.
March 9, 2015
Mexrrissey: Mexico Loves Morrissey
RadioLoveFest returns for a second year at BAM from May 5 - 10, reimagining some of your favorite radio programs as a live show. This year's highlights include science show Radiolab Live (5/5), "An Evening with Terry Gross" (5/6), "Don't Look Back: Stories from the Teenage Years" (5/6) which is hosted by Molly Ringwald, quiz show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me" (5/7) with contestants Mike Birbiglia, Jessi Klein, and Peter Grosz, and the music of The Smiths and Morrissey interpreted by Mexican musicians for a show called "Mexrrissey" (5/10).
Plus: "Death, Sex & Money" (5/8) with host Anna Sale plus married couples W. Kamau Bell and Melissa Hudson Bell, Ph.D, and tastemaker Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler, plus music from Luscious Jackson; and "Bullseye Comedy Night" (5/9) with Aisha Tyler, Maria Bamford, Aparna Nancherla, Ali Wong and host Jesse Thorn.
There's also a film series (including The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Last Waltz and Naked Lunch), live music in the BAMcafé and more. Tickets are on sale now for BAM members and will go on sale to the general public on March 16. Full RadioLoveFest 2015 schedule is below.
February 25, 2015
Contemporary composer great Philip Glass has a memoir on the horizon. Words Without Music traces his formative years as an artist, from growing up in post-World War 2 Baltimore to finding mentors while living in '70s NYC, as well as stories behind such seminal works as Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha. The book is due out April 6.
To celebrate the release of the autobiography, Glass will discuss the book with NPR's Kurt Andersen as part of BAM's "Unbound" literary series (which featured several other greats last year). The talk takes place April 20 at Howard Gilman Opera House. Tickets are currently on sale for BAM members and go on sale to the general public March 4.