“HITLESS WONDER is a thoroughly enjoyable rock and roll memoir—funny, honest, and full of inside dope. I’m sorry Watershed never made it big, but I’m glad Joe Oestreich wrote this wonderful book about a lifetime devoted to music and friendship, a book about a scrappy band that doesn’t know how to quit.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Election and Little Children
“I love Watershed’s music so much, I used a lyric from one of their songs as the epigraph for my last novel. Joe Oestreich is a musician and a writer of uncommon skill—a virtuoso of language, a teller of tales, a cultural critic, a man eager to show us where he’s been and where he’s heading. The first time I listened to a Watershed CD and then saw them perform live, I couldn’t get their songs out of my head. Now I can’t forget this glorious memoir, Hitless Wonder—a story of rock and roll, passion, friendship, and the communities that sustain us. I dare say, you won’t be able to either. Get ready to rock!”
—Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever and Break the Skin
“Finally, somebody gets it right: the real story of rock and roll is not about limo drivers and paparazzi; it's about driving all day in a beat-up van to play your ass off in a scroungy dive for gas money, year after year, hoping for that big break. Believe me, Joe Oestreich's superbly written Hitless Wonder is the best and most honest memoir about the thwarted desire for rock stardom that you will ever read.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff
“Zippos up for Joe Oestreich’s smart, funny, touching, unputdownable Hitless Wonder—my new favorite memoir and a shoo-in for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
—Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home and What You Have Left
From Publisher's Weekly:
This insightful and entertaining story of a band that almost-but-didn’t-quite make it big in the 1990s is equal parts fascinating autobiography and a hilarious and savvy look at the harsh realities of the music industry. Oestreich, a professor and writer, is also a singer, songwriter, and bass player for the rock band Watershed. Formed in high school with his longtime friend guitarist Colin Gawel, Watershed grows from its home base in Columbus, Ohio, to Midwestern regional favorite, and finally gets a recording deal with Epic Records. Unfortunately it’s a brutally quick ride from almost having a hit single to being dumped by Epic—although it is the most fascinating part of the book. But this is not a story of failure, just a different kind of success. Oestreich basically agrees with his drummer that “by most quantifiable standards, playing in a rock band is stupid”—low pay, bad food, and sleeping in a van on “straight nine-hour” drives to gigs—but he just flat-out loves playing his music, and Watershed still makes the occasional and always well-regarded performances.
From Kirkus Reviews:
“From obscurity to music’s majors and back again with the Ohio band Watershed. . . .
Oestreich has an eye for telling nuance, and his knowing recounting of life in an ascendant band in ‘the Pros’ is juicy stuff. He’s equally adept at depicting day-to-day humiliations in music’s minors, like a pay-to-play gig with a bunch of no-name Baltimore acts. . . . To quote another rock memoirist, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter: ‘Rock ’n’ roll’s a loser’s game / It mesmerizes and I can’t explain.’ ”
From the Back Cover
We all know the price of fame. Hitless Wonder measures the price of obscurity. Years after getting signed—and dropped—by Epic Records and watching their more famous peers call it quits, Joe Oestreich and his band, Watershed, keep climbing into the Econoline and touring mop bucket bars. But Joe can’t help but wonder: Are he and his bandmates—torn between the lure of the road and the call to finally settle down—admirable or pathetic? Successes or failures? And most importantly, in their quixotic struggle to live out a dream, do they risk losing the people they love?