Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fargo Rock City

Nearly finished reading Chuck Klosterman's debut book Fargo Rock City tonight as I munched out on my curry dinner. You may be wondering what this has to do with anything and why I am wasting my valuable comic book making free time reading a book on heavy metal. Well, in keeping with finding inspiration for Pop Zeus where I can get it (check my School Of Rock post), I decided to read Fargo Rock City after flipping through it in the store. And that store being Green Apple Books here in SF, the venue I cannot leave without dropping some serious moolah, and the price being less than 10 bucks for a hardcover, made it irresistible. Plus I'm tired as shit tonight and readings all I'm good for!

I should preface my thoughts on the book and say that in the last few years, the music of my high school years has made a big resurgence. That music would be old school hip-hop (or rap as we liked to call it) and heavy metal- pretty much anything that can be played at ear-splitting volumes in the car. This may have something to do with feeling like I am 15 again, in other words extremely frustrated, pissed off and gloomy! So I must say that I was already on board from page one.

Fargo Rock City is basically a love letter to 80's heavy metal music. But do not expect to hear the praises of Slayer, Metallica, or Iron Maiden. We are talking cheesy hair (or glam) metal- Poison, post-makeup Kiss, Cinderella, Guns N' Roses, the Crue, you get the idea. And as such, the book succeeds brilliantly- not unlike my favorite music book of all time Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth (sing the praises of The Archies or the Banana Splits and I am yours). And you don't even really need to be that familiar with the music in question, like me. Klosterman is extremely opinionated and so earnestly loves this crappy music. And therefore he is extremely funny and a delight to read, even for the casual metal fan.

The only rub is that my metal love tends to be in the more serious stuff, like pre-"Black Album" Metallica, Sabbath, Megadeth, and early industrial like Ministry and old Nine Inch Nails. And as such, Klosterman would be quick to dismiss me as a hipster unable to appreciate the more fun and frothy metal that informed his youth. He may be right.

But Klosterman really crosses the line with me when he declares that the 90's "alternative" rock that killed the hair metal of the 80's was even more pretentious and more fake. I detect sour grapes. I was as aware as anyone of 80's hair metal through MTV and pop radio. Even then I knew that a dude in spandex, teased hair and lipstick was not cool and a complete phony- and that was the point. And the backlash that rang in the likes of Nirvana, R.E.M. Pearl Jam, and ultimately Guided By Voices was that their music sounded like it was made by regular dudes expressing something more emotive, subtle and real. Maybe I am naive in thinking that those artists were authentic. But the only one Klosterman gives credit to is Kurt Cobain because he killed himself. I guess that makes him real?

Either way, Fargo Rock City is a great read and I highly recommend it. Klosterman's enthusiasm has motivated me to dip even further into the world of heavy metal. I see a trip to Amoeba in my future. But I will likely be sticking to the more serious stuff!


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