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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Revolver interview (full)

Aaron was kind enough to post the entire Revolver interview he conducted with me and Brian for our books.

Here's a repost of my portion of the interview:

Q: I read the foreword, but for those who haven't and don't know you, what was your motivation for writing POST?

A: My motivation came from a fear that people would forget, or worse, make light of, post-hardcore/emo-core/emo's "lost years" between being an underground thing and a mainstream commodity. I remember reading an interview with Michael Azerrad about why he wrote Our Band Could be Your Life. One of the major inspirations came when he watched Time Life's multi-part The History of Rock 'N Roll documentary. The narrative jumped from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana, completely skipping the '80s underground. Instead of complaining about it, he wrote a book on the '80s underground. Sensing something similar was already happening with a style of music that had a major impact on me in the late '90s/early '00s, I decided to do something.

Q: The cross-section of bands and notable figures you focus on in the book covers a wide range of scenes, styles and even generations - how did you ultimately narrow it down to this particular cast of characters, and what's the common thread that ties the characters together? (Note to the astute reader: You've heard this question before.)

A: Ultimately, the biggest factors came down to influence on other bands and engaging stories that could fill an entire chapter. Not to make light of bands like Samiam, Christie Front Drive, Sense Field, or Mineral, but I thought bands like Jawbreaker, Jimmy Eat World, Braid, and the Get Up Kids have had a bigger influence and had more engaging stories to tell. 'Course, that's just my opinion. The common thread that ties the characters together is friendship. Pressing further, I wanted to show what happens when you want to do a band or label beyond a passionate hobby.

Q: Why is POST relevant to the generation of music fans that arrived after the bands you feature had their time in the sun?

A: Why this is relevant to the younger generation is this: A lot of teenagers and college students have heard about these bands, but there is still plenty of room to say why these bands were great -- beyond making great records. I always appreciated it whenever older music fans described the context of the day, and specifically, why bands made an impact on them when they were active. So, I wanted to frame this that way, rather than an "Eh, things were better back in the day..." kind of way.

Q: What's the biggest lesson – whether about this era of music, these people or business of music in general – you learned through writing POST?

A: I think the biggest lesson was how, no matter how glamorous the media can make out what success is, success is ultimately a personal thing. Aside from At the Drive-In, Jimmy Eat World and couple of members of Sunny Day Real Estate, nobody got a platinum or gold record. But none of them started bands to get those awards. They just wanted to play music and hoped to make enough money to get by.

Q: How has the book changed as it's gone through the editing process?

A: The structure of the book slightly changed a few months into working it. Originally, I wanted to have chapters on a couple of well-known and not-so-well-known bands that were active and current (like Dashboard Confessional and Red Animal War). For sanity's sake (and making a tighter narrative), I dropped that idea and shrunk that stuff for the epilogue chapter.

Q: Why'd you ultimately decide to self-publish the book?

A: Originally, I was going to put this out on a friend's indie label. When his label lost most of its funding, my friend encouraged me to shop the book around. I got in touch with an amazing agent who totally got the material. However, the only responses we received from name publishers wanted me to drastically change the book. Since I had pitched this book to over fifty people as I originally envisioned it, I didn't want to go back on my word. I'm not against changes in general, but the changes suggested just didn't fit with what I wanted to convey in the book. One publisher wanted a concise pop culture book. Another wanted a book grouping together all of the significant scenes, a la American Hardcore. After working on the book for three and-a-half years and interviewing over 50 people, I decided to do what so many bands and labels did: do it yourself.

1 comment:

alisonkn said...

awesome interview!