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So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful Of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer's Life Hardcover – June 29, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Slichter's bittersweet recollections of Semisonic's rise from unassuming Minnesota trio to international rock stars navigates through the strange and uncomfortable worlds of the music business, fame and constant worry. Taken from his tour journals as the band's drummer, Slichter's insights alternate between funny and poignant as they peel back the curtain on a lifestyle that most people consider luxurious and carefree, but that is actually mentally and physically taxing. Slichter quickly learns that all the bills, from dinner to the cost of making a record, go to the artist while most of the profits go to the record label. He also finds out that the existence of profits depends on the suits at the record company picking the right song to release, a fickle radio station program director deciding to play it and MTV deeming the video cool enough to air. All this pressure to simultaneously create music and make business decisions takes such a toll on Slichter that he becomes more focused on album sales than on the fun of playing drums. Even when the band does hit it big with "Closing Time" and their 15 minutes of fame start ticking away, Slichter and his band mates Dan Wilson and John Munson never seem at home in the spotlight. But Slichter's uneasiness makes for interesting tales, like being starstruck at the Grammys or his lacking the ability to rein in his celebrity personality, which causes him to talk in sound bites. Thanks to Slichter's good-natured presentation, these stories and Slichter's work as a whole, despite their rock star origins, are surprisingly easy to relate to.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“If I was nineteen again and lusted after the game of music, this book would be my guide and charm.”
—Andrew Loog Oldham, former manager of the Rolling Stones
“Still wondering what your college band coulda been? This giddy, can-you-believe-my-luck book is for you.” —Time Out New York
“Slichter’s most impressive attribute is his unfailing enthusiasm for his craft and for music in general.” —James McMurtry, The New York Times Book Review
“[Jacob Slichter] is a self-effacing, good-humored, and intelligent guide through the musical maze…. Few first-person memoirs of the rock biz are as smart, honest, and entertaining as this tart, incisive work.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Slichter's book is a great read because he is a very honest writer recording his personal feelings and emotions well from the early rehearsal days in Minnesota to the demise of the band at their own behest after the failure of their third album "Chemistry". As the drummer, you begin to understand why they are the butt of endless jokes or maltreatment in so many bands, yet as the least road hardened of the three band members he is also the most open minded in observing and covering what a roller coaster and insecure existence the rock and roll lifestyle is.
From feelings of insecurity as to whether his drumming will cut it through his incisive views on how other performers behave; why most record companies do not succeed; and, the group are not in control of their destiny (musical or financial), the book is certainly recommended as a primer as to how it can all go wrong however much favourable reaction you garner from audiences and critics. His comments on the US radio and TV industry and its politics and interaction with music are worth the price of the book and go a long way to explaining to a Brit why the US rock industry (followed by the UK) has collapsed since the 60s & 70s so spectacularly (too much consolidation and corruption!).
The only bummer for me was a throw away comment about their final London concert having been flat - as someone who was there and certainly saw the audience rocking and still count it as one of the best shows I have ever seen, it simply showed there can be different perspectives to every story!
In some parts it's the story of a few years in the life of an newbie drummer uncomfortably trying to make it in a band with a couple of veteran rockers. In others it's a cautionary tale of how screwed you can expect to be if you sign a record contract. A lot of information on how the music industry works is already public knowledge thanks to people like Courtney Love, but this is a firsthand blow-by-blow account that any aspiring musician or music lover should read.
While it lacks a bit in places, this can be considered more the fault of the story than the author. I was surprised at how good this book was and how easily he is able to bring you into the world of the rising rock star. Jacob obviously has a lot of skill tied up in music (you have to be good to play drums and keyboard simultaneously) but it would seem that he's pretty comfortable writing as well.
I found it hard to put down and it's likely that I'll read it a couple more times. Definitely check it out.
Most recent customer reviews
The inside perspective on the music industry (in the 90s) is very interesting.