David Menconi (davidmenconi) Mon 8 Apr 02 13:55
Thank ya, Sonically Gorgeous. I've spent just enough time on the road with bands to figure out that that life is not for me. Between that and interacting with bands passing through my town, I had more than enough material (I would also recommend the 'Michelle' link on the http://www.offtherecordbook.com/ site; that's a fictional tour diary, written by TAB's bass player). A little bit of touring goes an awfully long way, and I've spent time with bands touring arenas as well as small clubs. In my experience, it really is one of the most exhausting things you can undertake; and it's hard to convey the insanity of it to people who have never been there -- not unlike attempting to explain the ravages of sleep deprivation to people who have never had kids. Anybody who gets out there in the trenches has my utmost respect.
sonically gorgeous with no real content (watadoo) Mon 8 Apr 02 14:28
True words. I spent my teenage and young adult years wanting to be a member of TAB; figuring road life was all fun and beer and glamour. ahahhahahhahahaha. Though when those levels of Hell are shared a camaraderie is formed. Though I can attest that when one gets home, every member of the band hates the other members for a few weeks.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 8 Apr 02 16:33
It's true. When I get home from a solo tour, I don't talk to myself for a while.
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 8 Apr 02 17:07
E-mail from Thomas Fornash: Now that you're a legend in the Raleigh area, has it been difficult maintaining a normal life with all the fawning and attention? And, are you bracing yourself for the inevitable backlash from your jealous peers and the "little people" at the guitartown list? If you become bitter do you think it'll effect your writing? I'm curious how the whole process works. Thanks... ---------------------------------------- Country music is three chords and the truth. --Harlan Howard
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 8 Apr 02 17:34
E-mail from Andrea: Have you been satisfied with Iuniverse? Do you think they did, beyond the price conflict, okay with you. I ask because I'm another IUniverse writer (Great Big Something Is the name of it, about a lesbian rock band) and was satisfied, but was just curiosu about your experience. Thanks, and I hope you don't mind my plugging my book. Andrea
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Mon 8 Apr 02 17:56
>Now that you're a legend in the Raleigh area, has it been difficult maintaining a normal life with all the fawning and attention?...> > Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Thomas Fornash -- a funny, funny guy, a.k.a. my "Theme Music." Actually, Thomas, I already am the bitterest guy I know; so I don't see how the onset of mega-celebrity will really change anything in that regard. But I do appreciate your concern. ;>
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Mon 8 Apr 02 18:05
>Have you been satisfied with Iuniverse?...Thanks, and I hope you don't mind my plugging my book.> > Hey, God helps those who hype themselves, so be my guest! On the whole, yes, I've been satisfied with iUniverse. The key is to be patient -- give them enough time, and they'll do right by you more often than not. For example, the price debate was not real pleasant; but eventually they did come around on that. There have been some persnickety things they've been unyielding on (they refused to link my iU order page to my website; not a big deal, but irritating nevertheless). Another point of frustration was how long it took them to ship books early in the process. Some of the first people who ordered copies of "OTR" didn't get their books for a couple of months, which annoyed me to no end. And iUniverse took so long to send me my first order of books that I didn't have them in hand until the day of my first reading. You can imagine how much fun *that* was, waiting around and hoping the books got there in time. By now, though, they fill orders pretty quickly and most people who order books seem to get them inside of a week. And as I said before, I'm very pleased with the layout and typeset job they did on it.
David Gans (tnf) Tue 9 Apr 02 08:31
David, as you are aware, I've done a couple of POD things, but with 1stBooks. It seems we've had similar experiences. From a pre-submission customer service perspective, you couldn't ask for a nicer group to work with. However, once they get the manuscript in hand, the difficulties begin. Though yours is the only iUniverse book I've seen, it was done much more tastefully than the 1stBooks efforts. 1stBooks does single spacing throughout and doesn't even leave spaces between paragraphs. Also, there are a lot of voids created to make the pages "fit." When I did my first piece, I never had any trouble nor did I hear of anyone having any trouble getting orders filled. This would include orders from Amazon.Com and other outlets. However, the second book which I did with two other writers, has been a different matter. Someone told me last week that he had ordered from Amazon and while the shipping blurb at the site says two to three days, the response he got from Amazon was that shipping had been delayed and it would be the first weekend in May. I was told early on that books were printed (I think I'm correct here) a couple of times a week. The day Thursday seems to stand out here. I don't know if the business has grown to the extent that the printer is backed up or what. Also, the packaging was shabby during my one large order from them. At least two of the books were damaged. The one positive remark I'll make is that everyone who has gone into a Barnes & Noble and placed an order has gotten his/her book pretty quickly. OTR was a great read and I wish you continued success. Also, my provincial door remains open at all times. Carter Monroe
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Tue 9 Apr 02 09:45
Carter -- appreciate the kind words. In my experience, people seem to have the same complaints (more or less) about every POD outfit out there. I chose iUniverse over 1stBooks because iU's books looked better; and since iU is the biggest company out there, I figured they would be around. I've heard talk that iU and 1stBooks might merge, which I hope doesn't happen. I will say that iU seems to have a pretty high turnover in terms of personnel. None of the people I began working with in the summer of 2000 are there anymore. It's not a process that involves a lot of "personal touch," if you know what I mean. But like I said, just set it up to where you depend on them for as little as possible and it works out okay. (Carter Monroe's novel that he put out through 1stBooks is called "Journey," by the way.)
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 9 Apr 02 11:15
Reply from Carter Monroe: I got the impression that a lot, if not all, of the jobs in the POD business are part-time. The sales guy I was dealing with in the beginning would reach his office at like four in the afternoon. Also, a guy who was working with the cover called me on a Saturday afternoon. I think you made a good point earlier. I don't care how good your POD book is, you have to get out and push it like crazy. I know several people who have read OTR and we're all in agreement in terms of what a quality effort it is. However, as much as I surf the net and with everything you've done, had you and I not connected in another manner, I have no way of knowing if I'd have found it. Another point of note in regard to 1stbooks is the almost unreasonable shipping charge per book. If the author orders as many as ten, it boils down to like a buck or so per book. However, the consumer gets hit with like a $5/6 shipping charge if he/she orders a single copy. Again, I want to emphasize that OTR is an interesting and well written book. I'm the kind of guy who will go into a bookstore and buy a book simply because it has a guitar or a sax on the cover. Therefore, I've read some measurable amount of fiction related to music. This was far and away better than any of the rest.
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Tue 9 Apr 02 20:02
>I don't care how good your POD book is, you have to get out and push it like crazy.> This isn't just true for POD books, either. There was a story recently in the Wall Street Journal, about how authors have to do most of their own PR nowadays -- even authors with books on major publishers. In this, the music industry is a pretty good model. There's nobody else who's gonna care as much about your record/book/whatever as you do; so don't assume other people will take care of things for you, and be willing to get your hands dirty. At this point, I should note that I also have some mixed feelings about this. Yes, there's a certain amount of satisfaction and cheap thrills to be had in doing my own PR and getting the book reviewed. If nothing else, the press response has been vindication that this book was worth writing. But shilling is difficult and time-consuming. I've had to put as much energy into selling/publicizing this book as I put into writing it; which is frustrating because I feel like that energy would ultimately be better-spent on another book. That said, however, I'm not ready to give up on it just yet.
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 9 Apr 02 20:36
E-mail from Thomas Fornash: David- All the discussion about how to publish is fascinating, and when I finish writing my book on STD's & Rock Stars you'll be the first person I come to for tips, but I'm interested in the stories you've accumulated over the years. Can you give a couple of specific examples of things you heard or experienced that made it into the book? Do you have a favorite story you can repeat "on-the-record"? After all this time, and a hell of a lot of ink, why do you still write about music and musicians? I'm still interested in this "rock critic" process. :^) Thomas
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 08:27
>Can you give a couple of specific examples of things you heard or experienced that made it into the book?> Well, here's one. There's a bit in the book where the rock-critic character Ken writes a story about a guy in a local band who died, and outs him in print as a heroin user; and then the mother of the deceased calls up Ken, curses him out and lays a pretty heavy curse on him. A version of this happened to me about 10 years ago, although the circumstances weren't exactly the same. It was the owner of a record store, and he turned up mysteriously dead one day at age 42. An autopsy revealed he had a good bit of cocaine in his system, and it stopped his heart. So I dutifully reported this in the paper, and the guy's mother went absolutely nuts. The conversation in the book is close to verbatim as to what she said; still makes me shudder thinking about it. Now, I don't think I did anything wrong -- everything I reported was true, and part of the public record -- but I'm still not completely sure this needed to turn up in print. And I can't tell you how awful that conversation with the guy's poor mom was. Definitely a low point. Drug use and how to cover it (or not) is a very touchy subject. I was at a convention some years back, where conversation at the critics panel turned into: What To Do When An Interview Subject Nods Off In Front Of You. For the record, this has never happened to me (although I've done interviews with people who kept leaving the room every few minutes, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't just to go to the bathroom). I don't remember that there was any consensus; some people insisted you should put this into your story, others were just as insistent that you shouldn't. I have to say, if it ever happened to me I would probably put it in -- how could you leave something like that out? >After all this time, and a hell of a lot of ink, why do you still write about music and musicians?> A fine question. I guess I still do it because it still gets me off, and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. Of course, there are aspects of the job I could do without -- schlepping out to our local shed to sit in the rain and review the Dave Matthews Band one more time, ugh, please, spare me. But it's still about the most fun you can have and get paid for (though it ain't a lavish living, let me tell you). By now, I'm more interested in writing stories/columns that get into books, movies, TV, sports and whatever else, as well as music. So I guess I'm evolving into more of a culture critic; although I think music will always figure into it in some way. It also helps that I have a very sympathetic and smart editor who gives me leeway to stretch out.
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 08:42
Thomas -- since you're wanting war stories, here's another: The part in the book where the rock-star character Tommy gets shot by his crazy drunken girlfriend is based on something that happened to Phil Lee. For those of you who don't know Phil, he's a very fine singer/songwriter/raconteur who currently lives in Nashville. He had to leave Raleigh a few years back over some female trouble, if you know what I mean (he's had a lot of it over the years). Anyway, Phil's an amazing character. I keep hoping he'll blunder into a hit record someday so I can ghost-write his memoirs -- talk about a book that would write itself! Later in the book, Tommy and the aforementioned girlfriend play a very bizarre and disturbing game of Russian roulette. Lots of people have asked where on earth *that* came from, and I must confess that one was a product of my demented imagination.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 10 Apr 02 08:49
>After all this time, and a hell of a lot of ink, why do you still write >about music and musicians? I don't understand the question. It's his field of expertise, right?
David Gans (tnf) Wed 10 Apr 02 09:33
Brian Zabcik writes: Talking about real-life inspirations for tales in the book--the musician who peed on the record exec's desk is a true story, right?
Chris Clark (jonl) Wed 10 Apr 02 09:59
Email from Chris Clark: So whaddya make of "The Osbournes"? After decades of interchangeable "Behind The Music" exposes revolving around booze, barf, bongs and babes, the world has now seen an alternate reality to la vie de la musica rockarolla, and it smells like a head-on collision between John Philips and "The Addams Family." Did Ozzy sell his soul (again) and drag what was left of the glamor myth down the drain? Chris Clark
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 11:00
>I don't understand the question. It's his field of expertise, right?> Yes, but I have a lot of readers who would dispute how much actual expertise is involved. ;>
David Gans (tnf) Wed 10 Apr 02 11:01
Well, sure. But you wouldn't just suddenly become a gardening columnist, right?
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 11:06
>Talking about real-life inspirations for tales in the book--the musician who peed on the record exec's desk is a true story, right?> > Yes indeed. Inger Lorre from a band called the Nymphs. She did that to Tom Zutaut, a big wheel at Geffen records, back in the early '90s. Definitely an incident that has entered The Lore Of Rock in a big way. I actually heard from Ms. Lorre last year, after one of the reviews identified her as the inspiration for that. She was surprisingly cool about the whole thing (given how sick she must be of hearing about it by now); also said she's working on a tell-all book. If that ever comes out, I expect it will be essential reading.
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 11:10
>Well, sure. But you wouldn't just suddenly become a gardening columnist, right?> No, but if the right column came along I would jump all over it; something along the lines of Rob Sheffield's "The Sheffield Report" in Rolling Stone or Greil Marcus' "Real-Life Top-10" in Salon, in terms of a wide range of content spieled about from a rock-&-roll perspective. I get to do a certain amount of that where I am now, would love to do more.
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 11:23
>So whaddya make of "The Osbournes"?> > Heck, it makes perfect sense, given the reality-TV wave of recent years. They definitely picked the right family, too. Someday, the Osbournes might be mentioned in the same breath as the Loud family in the pantheon of TV lore. Although I cringe to think where they'll take this next. Behind the scenes with bands who hate each other's guts?... Um, wait, guess they already did that (VH1's "Bands on the Run"). By the way, to anybody who has an interest in televised "real-life" spectacles, I would highly recommend a book called "Bear V. Shark" by Chris Bachelder; very smart and funny, but also terrifying. >Did Ozzy sell his soul (again) and drag what was left of the glamor myth down the drain?> > Well, that would assume that Ozzy had any soul/glamor left to begin with. Every interview I've read with him the last 10 years, he has come off as the ultimate sad sack. As a career move, letting a camera crew record his dysfunctionality for posterity does seem awfully perverse, but it beats "Hollywood Squares"; even though it seems like this will end any hope of his kids turning out anywhere close to normal (not that there was much chance of that, anyway).
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 10 Apr 02 12:48
I think Sharon's the star of the show, anyway...!
David Menconi (davidmenconi) Wed 10 Apr 02 13:16
>I think Sharon's the star of the show, anyway...!> > She has always been the power behind that particular throne, no doubt. She's also the queen of the big annual Ozzfest tour -- I don't think that would be nearly as successful (or even happen at all, probably) without her pushing it.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 10 Apr 02 14:27
Yeah, he was screamin' at her the other night because she'd booked him two nights in a row. "I'm not gonna *bleep* do it!" Fade to Ozzy in concert, doin' it.
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