Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

John Niven – Kill Your Friends

Monday, January 24th, 2011

It’s not dog-eat-dog around here…it’s dog-gang-rapes-dog-then-tortures-him-for-five-days-before-burying-him-alive-and-taking-out-every-motherfucker-the-dog-has-ever-known. Meet Steven Stelfox. – Kill Your Friends

Not for the faint of heart

There’s definitely an emotional release from learning about an angry cynical anti-hero. (Malcom Tucker answering the door for example: “Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off.”) Steven Stelfox is the protagonist in Kill Your Friends and works in the esoteric world of A&R and takes his ill-natured stance as a genuine hater of all mankind. He does not discriminate and hates everyone equally, the most bigoted and obscene first person narrator since Patrick Bateman.

The novel is set at the arse-end of Brit-pop, ‘cool britannia’ and all the things it came to represent, ravaging expense accounts, buy to let mortgages, politics replaced by PR speak and copious amounts of cocaine. It’s a tribute to the writer that Stelfox’s drug, sex and food binging can be laced with humour and pathos, where often reading about drug fuelled sessions can sound baseless and misguided. The narrator’s description of hangovers and comedowns and all the guilt and self-loathing they ensue are very close to the bone.

In short, it can’t be recommended enough. It’s dark and cruel, and essentially a string of vindictive character assassinations from start to finish. As Hunter S Thompson said: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

We’ll manufacture your records and put them in the fucking shops. We’ll try not to spend a red cent unless we’re sure we’ll get it back with interest. We’ll second-guess you and interfere at every conceivable stage of the artistic process. We’ll edit and remix tracks without your permission. We’ll force you to appear on appalling, degrading kiddies’ TV programmes where you’ll shake hands with Dobbin The Donkey and have to explain yourself to a teenage VJ with the attention span of a Ritalin-fuelled infant. We’ll work you until you can’t stand up. In collusion with your publishers we’ll try and license your music to TV adverts for everything from banks to multinational petrochemical companies. (We’d license it to whaling fleets and arms dealers too if only they advertised on TV.) We’ll under-account to you and charge you for every recoupable expense from the staples used to knock your horrendous contract together to the Coke you had from the fridge in my office. And if it doesn’t all work out, you’ll be dropped faster than a Plymouth hooker’s knickers when there’s a big ship in town. – Kill Your Friends

11 Questions – Bill Brewster

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Frank and Bill

Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton founded in 2000 as a way of promoting their book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey. Since then it’s attracted a loyal following of hirsute DJs and record collectors and become a support group for vinyl-related Aspergers sufferers. In 2008 they relaunched the site with a shiny coat of paint, a music shop and a slightly more professional approach. Their aim remains the same as always: to document the rich history of dance music and to collect and share knowledge about fantastic music.

Despite growing up in Lincolnshire only several cornfields apart, Bill and Frank met on the corner of Bond and Broadway in New York in 1994. Within a week they’d decided to write a book together on New York disco, having spent several nights trading club stories collected from Sound Factory veterans, Roxy drag queens, and a couple of ancient gay truckers from Jersey. Thanks to guidance from Doug Young at Headline, this idea greatly expanded its horizons and became 1999’s Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, the first book to trace the entire history of DJing.

In the wake of their magnum opus, Bill and Frank’s partnership led to further books, including best-selling DJ manual How To DJ (Properly), and a long-running series of professional house parties known as Low Life. As well as their long-toothed experience as music journalists and magazine editors, both are DJs; Bill is also an experienced producer, remixer, chef, and catalogue consultant, and Frank has been known to be a senior digital creative in the world of advertising. Today Bill is moonlighting as our interogatee ahead of his birthday takeover of El Salon.

Skill Bill

Is there one book that you have read that has been life-changing for you?

Bill Brewster: Yes. Mrs McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie. It was the first book I’d ever read for pleasure rather than schoolwork. I was stuck indoors one summer after I left school suffering badly from hay fever, found this book and started reading it. At the end of that summer, I’d read about 20 Agatha Christie novels and was hooked.

Did your parents encourage you to work in music?

Bill Brewster: They did, yes. I played E flat clarinet in the school orchestra, but I was lazy and stopped playing regrettably.

How did you begin to work professionally in music?

Bill Brewster: I was originally the singer in a band (back in 1981) and we got a record deal with a semi-trendy label, put a few singles out, toured a bit and then it all collapsed into recriminations and all that mallarkey. We were Grimsby’s answer to Tower Of Power. Anyhow, that gave me the thirst for it, but I started DJing because I couldn’t be arsed having arguments with the bass player about how loud his amp was. As a DJ, you’re a dictator, which is probably my natural inclination.

Viva la revolution

How do you apply your past experiences to what you do today?

Bill Brewster: I think everything you’ve done in the past inveitably flows into what you do now. It’s a natural process. But, I suppose, what is advantageous to me is having been buying music regularly since the early 1970s and keeping up with current trends, it’s easier to recycle and revive older records when a particular sound is in vogue.

Where is your current studio and what is it like?

Bill Brewster: I don’t have a studio, but I’m working with Alex Tepper on a project, Hotel Motel, which we’ve been doing since last November. Alex used to be in Futureshock and he works with Steve Lawler, Nic Fanciulli and loads of other house chaps. We’ve got stuff coming out on Under The Shade and Home Taping. We’ve got our capes and leather long johns ready for the forthcoming Top Of The Pops appearance.

How much have you had to consider marketing issues since embarking on your career and how has that affected your creativity?

Bill Brewster: Ha ha. I’m absolutely shit at marketing myself. I didn’t even have an agent till a year ago despite DJing for 25 years. My wife’s always mithering me for being a bit of a div, but there you go. So I can honestly say marketing issues have never affected anything I do. I tend to jiust go with what I want to do and hope that people are digging the stuff that I do, whether it’s writing books, faffing about on websites or DJing and throwing parties. It’s in my blood to get up and do stuff, and I can’t see that changing.

Four Bills

How would you describe your work?

Bill Brewster: Eclectic. I have a very low boredom threshold, so as soon a I get competent at something, I want to stop doing it and do something else. Not good for marketing but good for sense of self and well-being.

Who were your teachers?

Bill Brewster: Roy Bainton, who used to run a musical instrument shop called Gough & Davy in Grimsby in 1970s, was the person who first introduced to me a wide variety of music; John Peel, a saviour for people growing up in shit towns in Great Britain; Danny Tenaglia, my mentor when I lived in New York.

feat. lots of Bill's old DJ mates

Your home is burgled but fortunately the culprits are caught and your possessions returned to you. What would you deem a suitable punishment for the burglars?

Bill Brewster: I’m a Marxist and, as the philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued: Property is theft. Mind you, if he touched my records, he’d get a good stomping.

You have to make one species of animal extinct. Excluding insects, which species would that be?

Bill Brewster: Cats. I don’t like the way they look like they’re plotting against us.

If you could spend one week in any period of history, which period would you choose?

Bill Brewster: May 1971. Grimsby Town won the Fourth Division championship under Lawrie McMenemy. I was there when they did it, but I was too young to appreciate how great it was and in our present straitened circumanstanes it’s hard to see it ever being repeated.

Ralph Steadman – Alice In Wonderland

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”

Gonzo In Wonderland

Gonzo In Wonderland

While most children derive pleasure from the pure prose of Lewis Carroll’s most well known work, adults try to decipher the reputed use of complex mathematical codes in the text or debate his alleged use of opium. Among the multitude of of characters – extinct, fantastical and commonplace creatures brought to life by Ralph Steadman’s frenzied, ink-splattered illustrations, Alice journeys through this Wonderland, trying to fathom the meaning of her strange experiences – turning “curiouser and curiouser”, seemingly without moral or sense. At every turn, Alice’s new companions scoff at her traditional education, readers can revel in the delightfully non-moralistic and non-educational virtues of this classic, this gives some insight to Steadman’s notoriously iniquitous illustrations in itself. The Mock Turtle, for example, remarks that he took the “regular course” in school: Reeling, Writhing, and branches of Arithmetic-Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.

Steadman’s Alice In Wonderland was first published in 1967 and is a remarkable departure from the original illustrations, remaining faithful to the book’s satirical tone while revealing the artist’s own passion for irony. Through his audacious and dynamic images, he breathes new life in the classic story with a modern illustrative approach. Steadman explains, “It is difficult to explain in words what the pictures are trying to say, and therefore my explanations are not precisely what I had in mind because they add shades of meaning which are not there. The reader can only interpret them in his own way, bringing his own observations to bear on the image he is looking at, so that he may agree or disagree with what I have tried to convey. When I set out to draw an idea, part of that idea is not yet formed and only takes shape and reveals itself as the drawing progresses. Consequently, the drawing acquires a life of its own and virtually takes over the direction it will follow – or so it seems.”

The Kind & Queen of Hearts by Ralph Steadman

The Kind & Queen of Hearts by Ralph Steadman

Steadman describes the picture above as, “The Monarch having evolved or developed into a shapeless mass of hangers-on, the State, H.M. Forces, the Church, the establishment walking on one pair of very well-worn legs. The King and Queen born into it and enveloped in it and lost in it, obliged to go through the motions automatically but surprising even themselves by their own outbursts.”
The White Rabbit by Ralph Steadman

The White Rabbit by Ralph Steadman

The artist says that his inspiration for The White Rabbit comes from todays commuter, “worried by time, hurrying and scurrying. Sane within a routine, slightly insane but more engaging when the routine is upset.”
A Mad Tea Party by Ralph Steadman

A Mad Tea Party by Ralph Steadman

He describes the Mad Hatter as, “the unpleasant sides of human nature. The unreasoned argument screams at you. The bully, the glib quiz game compère who rattles off endless reels of unanswerable riddles and asks you to come back next week and make a bloody fool of yourself again,” and says the March Hare “is always standing close by. The “egger-on” urging the banality to plumb even greater depths. He always seems to be around to push someone into a fight.” As for the Dormouse, Steadman says he’s, “Harmless and nice. The man anyone in the office can take a rise out of. If you tread on his face he will smile right back at you.”
The Card Guards by Ralph Steadman

The Card Guards by Ralph Steadman

Taking inspiration for his Card Guards from British workmen, “Bickering about who splashed who and standing in the stuff all the time anyway.”
The Pool of Tears by Ralph Steadman

The Pool of Tears by Ralph Steadman

Steadman explains that the animals in his illustration of The Pool Of Tears “remind me of people I know, rather as Lewis Carroll apparently created them around friends and associates. The reader can place his own interpretation on them. It was never my intention to set everything in concrete.”
Advice From A Caterpillar by Ralph Steadman

Advice From A Caterpillar by Ralph Steadman

And finally, defining the Caterpillar as a “young intellectual. Smoking hash, pedantic, who thinks he has something to say and sheds his opinions as easily as his skins.”

Check out some more Alice illustrations by Salvador Dali here. And more about our obsession with line drawing in general here.

Jack Black – You Can’t Win

Friday, February 12th, 2010
You Can't Win

The right people are working on the wrong end of the problem

When you hear the name Jack Black you’re more than likely to think overweight, overpaid, under-talented actor come musician; when in fact you should think crook, opium fiend, vagrant, outlaw, cross-county stick up man and author extraordinaire. You Can’t Win is the 1926 roughshod autobiography of Missouri based Jack Black chronicling his life and exploits spent as a hobo and vagabond during the late 19th century to early 20th century in the american Wild West. Unlike much of the Beat Generation which followed, many of who were heavily influenced by You Can’t Win, Black tells his stories from first hand experiences having lived for much of his life on the fringes of society. From seeing a fellow vagabond crushed to death in a freight train journey gone wrong, to bribing crooked cops in order to escape from jail, Black’s tales of life on the road are fraught with angst and a stubborn resilience to the pressures american society tries constantly to enforce upon him. Told with a style seeded form a life short of education and clearly no literary schooling the book immediately drops us into the hobo underworld of the mid west. Having spent a particularly long stint in prison Black was introduced to Frermont Older, a wealthy business man who afforded Black the chance to work for his newspaper The San Francisco Call. It was here that Black began writing his autobiography with help from Rose Wilder Lane. Originally intended as a sort of self help manual for persistent criminals, Black began lecturing at prisons and reform centres across the country until in 1926 the full book was picked up by the Macmillan Company and went on to become a best seller. With a film adaptation from Robinson Devor in pre-production, the book is sure to gain more publicity which can only be a good thing for such a greatly talented and underrated author. Its also worth a note that any incarcerated person can write to the publishing company and receive a copy of the book for $10 where as the rest of us will have to cough up and extra $6. One of Black’s biggest fans was William S Burroughs who went on to write Junkies as a direct homage to You Can’t Win and wrote the introduction to its re-release.

Cormac McCarthy

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

“The judge was seated upon the closet. He was naked and rose up smiling and gathered him in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh and shot the wooden barlatch home behind him.” Blood Meridian

There is no God and we are his prophets.

There is no God and we are his prophets.

A master of the terrible and all things macabre, Cormac McCarthy is a firm favourite here in the We Love office. His tales of destruction and torment, from the scalp hunting gangs of the Deep South at the time of America’s birth to the scavenging degenerates of a post apocalyptic world, offer welcome relief from the sun-kissed paradise of Ibiza. And its not only us that think so, Hollywood it seems has the same opinion. The 2007 film adaption of his novel No Country For Old Men saw massive critical and commercial success winning four Academy Awards including Best Picture. With an adaptation of The Road (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize and my personal favourite) set to hit the big screen any minute it seems McCarthy’s views on death, destruction, trials and tribulation have struck a cord with the cinema going public.

Frequently sited as one of, if not the, top american writers of our time, McCarthy has that rare ability of depicting a world the likes of which we have never seen.

“He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.”
The Road

Along with The Road, Blood Meridian and No Country For Old Men I also recommend Child Of God and Cities of the Plain. All great reads perfect for these long winter nights.