True Stories from Rock & Roll’s Frontline
Edited by Sleazegrinder (Headpress/Critical Vision)
by Brian Varney
This book could be classified – depending on one’s point of view – as both entertaining and cautionary. What Sleazegrinder, a fine writer by the way (check his website www.sleazegrinder.com), has done is asked a bunch of bands, some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t, to contribute their most outrageous tour story, and then compiled the best of ’em into what is essentially the perfect book to sit alongside the crapper in any house of rock. The stories range from a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages, and range from wildly hilarious to kinda depressing.
The stories themselves are generally of the “This one time at band camp…” variety, most of them tales of hilariously gross misfortune. The difference between band camp and this is that, of course, these are grown men and women, people who by rights should have pension plans and 401(k)s and 2.5 children. People who should be at home reading the newspaper and creating hatred in the family, not slogging it out in front of tiny crowds in dirty rock clubs for no money. However, these are the people who have chosen the road not taken, and the results vary wildly from rock ‘n’ roll transcendence to, well, some of the not-so-heartening stories collected here. Most of the contributing folk seem to be quite road-weathered, so things that would destroy the resolve of a normal person are things they’re able to let roll off their backs, even laugh at. Indeed, many of the stories are ones of misfortune that are played for laughs, such as the collection’s opener, where The Peasants are playing in the back of a pizzeria in Memphis to two disinterested people and a cranky owner who didn’t give them any money, or even free pizza. Doesn’t sound very pleasant, I know, but I guarantee you’ll be laughing by the end of the story, thanks to the involvement of a pepperoni pizza costume and a welfare mother. Read on for fabulous fun involving vicious attack dogs, a “pissicle,” and Columbus, Ohio legend Don “Batman” Bovee.