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NickSoulsby 01.22.2017 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Severian
I don't mean to put you on the spot, but I would love to do something like this some day.


Oh you can totally breathe easy - if you have a question, I'm cool to give my thoughts.

My first step was I wrote a book in 2012 on Nirvana's Incesticide album, self-published, put the work into the Nirvana-Legacy blog. That established sufficient record that, when I came up with the idea of 'I Found My Friends' (it was originally going to be blog posts about all the mysterious little bands who played with Nirvana) an agent was willing to take a read, assess it, take a chance - that's pretty vital given publishers have no money these days, they don't read manuscripts unless they're coming from a professional. A publisher accepted that book - another asked me to do 'Cobain on Cobain'. The Thurston thing started with a set of blog posts I did 'reviewing' some of the lesser known records. I decided it would work as a book, so I hunted down the contact details for his agent, presented a brief proposal for what I wanted to do - she made the connection. I just made sure to treat him with all due courtesy and respect - basically what one would give to any person.

In terms of the choice to cut SY out of the tale - sure, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't love Sonic Youth: but that felt like a different story, one that deserved either its own book or something else. Imagine only being spoken of in terms of one component of your life - I felt it was a good thing to do to see Thurston in terms of all the many avenues he's explored outside of that entity.

NickSoulsby 01.22.2017 06:44 PM

Funny isn't it? How sparse the SY bibliography is. I've got everything I've found so far down to the 'I Dreamed Of Noise' and 'Sonic Life' books but there's nothing that's as dominant as certain volumes are on Nirvana.

I'll confess I was disappointed with Kim's book: it read like shell-shock - barely a mention of SY in a musical, creative sense. I'm not much into biographies though - I'm more interested in music than soap opera.

zelocia 01.22.2017 08:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Severian
I do not have Sensational Fix, and I'm goddamn ashamed of that fact. Certainly it's an essential for the superfan. I have Goodbye 20th and Confusion and a signed copy of Girl in a Band, but I don't own Sensational Fix. There's something wrong with that.

But I agree about the other books. They weren't, like, god awful, but I've read a lot of Nirvana bios and the like that tend to be sensational and overly dramatic. Not enough emphasis on the stories behind the songs, the time spent in the booth, production and recording decisions, etc. Goodbye 20th kind of had to offer more of this than, say, Heavier than Heaven, or Come As You Are, because at that time SY was an almost entirely drama-free band. No drug abuse woes or other big hot ticket items that people — for some reason — want to hear about more than the actual music. So it was decent in that regard, but I still thought it was a pretty poorly written book. Overly simplistic, and not in a journalistic way... just ... simple. Boring. Not great.

Girl in a Band was the most interesting because of the Kim's personal narrative voice. It was also probably the most well written, to be honest. But you're right, it really wasn't about Sonic Youth. It was about something non-musical in nature, and deeply personal. So, great as it was, it didn't hit the spot for pure SY fanboy reading.

I think they deserve better. A band like that deserves to have a massive literary presence, and a slew of thoughtful, intelligent biographies to pick from. The Beatles have this kind of library. Even Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground has a pretty damn good selection of bios to choose from. Sonic Youth deserves no less.


I've probably transcended the title of "super fan" because I've been to Echo Canyon West. I am a bit of an avid collector of mostly Sonic Youth music (I own several of their albums in more than one format (including original pressings).

I have two signed copies of Girl In A Band, and I reread certain sections borderline religiously on an almost daily basis. I love the book and I am so glad Kim wrote it. I thoughrougly enjoyed reading about her pre-Sonic Youth life.

It took me a while to get a hold of Sensational Fix because it is not a cheap book. Is it worth the cost? Absolutely, in my opinion. There are some great photographs and articles in it. Kim said in an interview that pretty much all Sonic Youth books except for Sensational Fix are awful, and I don't agree with that 100% (pun intended), but they leave a lot to be desired. There are also several inaccuracies in each Confusion Is Next and Goodbye 20th Century. The only one that I can think of off the top of my head in the latter is the author wrote that Kim was born on April 23rd. A simple error like that makes me question whether I regard most of the rest of the book as fact.

Nirvana and Sonic Youth are my favorite bands of all-time. I've read my share of the books about Nirvana and Cobain, but I only trust Come As You Are by Michael Azerrad because though not perfect, it came out while Kurt was alive. I'm at least somewhat skeptical of any literature that came out after his death because a lot of their history has been muddled due to either relying too much on the mythology and not who Kurt really was. He said in an interview that he was interested to hear how his fans interpreted his lyrics and to my knowledge never explained his songs in depth. He's been gone for so long now I don't think there will ever be any definite answers about his life and music, but that is why the world is still fascinated by him, even in death.

Sonic Youth has a very underrepresented literary presence which is kind of ironic because of how intellectual and well-read Kim, Lee and especially Thurston are. I think it's part because some music historians don't know how to "treat" Sonic Youth because they are unlike any band before, after and from their time.

Toilet & Bowels 01.23.2017 03:47 AM

I Dreamed of Noise, Jrnls 80s, No Setlist, & Girl in a Band are the best SY books I've read so far. I haven't read Sensational Fix, not sure I'd want to spend that amount of money. I'm looking forward to this book, i think it's an interesting decision so avoid SY, a fair amount has been said about them already and whenever i read something new about them it often says the same things that others have said before.

PLips 01.23.2017 11:45 AM

 

Severian 01.24.2017 01:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NickSoulsby
Oh you can totally breathe easy - if you have a question, I'm cool to give my thoughts.

My first step was I wrote a book in 2012 on Nirvana's Incesticide album, self-published, put the work into the Nirvana-Legacy blog. That established sufficient record that, when I came up with the idea of 'I Found My Friends' (it was originally going to be blog posts about all the mysterious little bands who played with Nirvana) an agent was willing to take a read, assess it, take a chance - that's pretty vital given publishers have no money these days, they don't read manuscripts unless they're coming from a professional. A publisher accepted that book - another asked me to do 'Cobain on Cobain'. The Thurston thing started with a set of blog posts I did 'reviewing' some of the lesser known records. I decided it would work as a book, so I hunted down the contact details for his agent, presented a brief proposal for what I wanted to do - she made the connection. I just made sure to treat him with all due courtesy and respect - basically what one would give to any person.

In terms of the choice to cut SY out of the tale - sure, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't love Sonic Youth: but that felt like a different story, one that deserved either its own book or something else. Imagine only being spoken of in terms of one component of your life - I felt it was a good thing to do to see Thurston in terms of all the many avenues he's explored outside of that entity.



Thank you for the insight.

Now, when you're taking about "professionals," what, exactly, are the publishing industry standards for this? I work for a newspaper and media group. I don't only write for a living — wouldn't call myself a "writer" — but that's most of what I do. I have no experience in actual book publishing. But, when you say "professional," are you referring to people who have written books, or do you think a background in journalism would help?

Not that I'm considering doing anything like this any time soon, but it is kind of a pipe dream, and I figure it wouldn't kill me to get some input.

NickSoulsby 01.24.2017 04:38 AM

Morning Severian, as a first step, get a copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook - it's really helpful in terms of process. So, first thing: publishers do not read manuscripts from writers - it takes a lot of time, it costs them money. They've more or less outsourced that work to agents. Agents will take a 15% cut (which given how tiny book advances are unless you're a celebrity is a pittance) and they're the people who speak to the editors at publishers - finding one with the right focus makes a real difference. The agent will employ freelance readers who will advise them if your proposal is worth a shot - the proposal is the key; it has to be exactly as they ask on their website or they'll usually turn it down because it means they can't trust someone to respect the relationship.

As part of a proposal, one section is the 'biography' where you, briefly, describe why you're the person to write this book, what it is about you that gives you the credibility - so, yeah, a background in journalism helps for sure. And don't be shy about making the most of your experience (not lying but don't hide either.) In my case, I have a normal day job, I work a full day, I write in the evenings - this whole Thurston book was done between spring of 2015 and summer of 2016 entirely at night. Showing a record of writing (self-publishing, etc.) can help; showing that you have an expertise and an audience in a field (in my case, the Nirvana-Legacy blog); social media presence (i.e., FB, Twitter, etc. with a fair follower number, etc.) coming to them with a solid and exciting proposal; being able to show them you have most of the work done so it's a fairly safe bet... It helps.

Severian 01.24.2017 11:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NickSoulsby
Morning Severian, as a first step, get a copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook - it's really helpful in terms of process. So, first thing: publishers do not read manuscripts from writers - it takes a lot of time, it costs them money. They've more or less outsourced that work to agents. Agents will take a 15% cut (which given how tiny book advances are unless you're a celebrity is a pittance) and they're the people who speak to the editors at publishers - finding one with the right focus makes a real difference. The agent will employ freelance readers who will advise them if your proposal is worth a shot - the proposal is the key; it has to be exactly as they ask on their website or they'll usually turn it down because it means they can't trust someone to respect the relationship.

As part of a proposal, one section is the 'biography' where you, briefly, describe why you're the person to write this book, what it is about you that gives you the credibility - so, yeah, a background in journalism helps for sure. And don't be shy about making the most of your experience (not lying but don't hide either.) In my case, I have a normal day job, I work a full day, I write in the evenings - this whole Thurston book was done between spring of 2015 and summer of 2016 entirely at night. Showing a record of writing (self-publishing, etc.) can help; showing that you have an expertise and an audience in a field (in my case, the Nirvana-Legacy blog); social media presence (i.e., FB, Twitter, etc. with a fair follower number, etc.) coming to them with a solid and exciting proposal; being able to show them you have most of the work done so it's a fairly safe bet... It helps.


This is excellent! Just excellent. Thank you!

Now, if you could just go ahead and hop back in time and unwrite this Thurston book so I can steal the zeal and goodwill of your agent and publisher for my book about Thurston, that would just be great.

Seriously though, I appreciate the advice. This is a part of the industry I'm utterly unfamiliar with, despite being from a family of academics, journalists, etc., many of whom have written books over the years, but have never had something published outside of their respective disciplines. I do have an uncle who worked as an agent before becoming an editor for a major U.S. publisher, but he's in his 70s, retired, and likely at least a bit senile. So playing the good old nepotism card is almost certainly a no-go.

I may pm you, if you don't mind, with a few follow-ups. But I don't want to make other users wade through that self-serving garbage in this thread, which, it turns out, is devoted to... you!

By the way, I think it's very cool that you chose to register on the board and comment on this thread. I love that element of the dynamic here at SYG. Lee will turn up every once in a while to say something — make a little announcement or clarify something. That just really adds to the sense of community surrounding SY.

I look forward to reading the absolute shit out of your book, and I actually think that focusing exclusively on Thurston will make for a more interesting read for the hardcore fans, who have indeed read a great deal about the SY albums over the years, but have never really been given the chance to dig deep into Thurston's music specifically.

Are you into doing signed copies for super special people like us, who might feel that having such a thing is necessary or essential?

NickSoulsby 01.28.2017 06:52 AM

Private messages welcomed, likewise my contact details are on my blog too (Nirvana-Legacy.com) so feel free to say hi anytime.

My feeling, especially has the book work went on - was that Thurston's work outside SY constantly fed impulses that fed back into the band, but also that there comes a point where SY becomes just one strand of this much wider world of activity, that's all equally important to him (regardless of the way much press wouldn't touch his wilder work with a barge-pole), as he becomes this omnivorous and more 'complete' musician.

Structurally I made the case as I saw it in the 10 page introductory essay, then the book covers around 200 releases across 265 pages (with a degree of flow and connection and theme lacing them together and allowing that insight into how Thurston was developing), then there's a 33 page Contributors section briefly outlining the work and focus of each of the 170 people who tell the tale.

Finally there's a 14 page long discography of his work outside of Sonic Youth (I'd seen lists in this book and that book, but nothing even close to completeness; the Wikipedia entry isn't complete; the Discogs entry has a few gaps and is clogged with reissues and repeats; plus Thurston gave me a few notes of stuff that isn't listed anywhere.) The discography focuses on listing the original material - no reprints, no reissues - just first release of brand new music.

NickSoulsby 01.28.2017 06:55 AM

I haven't released the full 'contributors' list anywhere, thought I'd add it here:

Aaron Dilloway, Adam Golebiewski, Adam Kriney, Alan Bloor, Alan Licht, Alan Read (Krayon Recordings), Alex Ward, Amanda Kramer, Ambrose Bye (Fast Speaking Music), Andrew Clare, Andrew Kesin, Andrew MacGregor, Andrya Ambro, Andy Moor, Anne Waldman, Anne-James Chaton

Balazs Pandi, Benoit Bel (Mikrokosm Studios), Benoît Bourreau (Film Maker), Bill Nace, Brett Robinson, Brian Kinsman (Deathbomb Arc), Britt Brown, Bryn Harris, Byron Coley, Byron Westbrook

Campbell Kneale, Carlos Giffoni, Carlos van Hijfte (Tour Manager), Chris Corsano, Chris Gollon (artist), Chris Pottinger, Christian Marclay, Colin Langenus, Cory Rayborn (Three Lobed Recordings), Cris Deison, Cristiano Nunes (ZDB Venue)

Dagobert Sondervan, Daniel Sandor (Producer), Dave Keay, David Markey, David Newgarden (Manager to Yoko Ono), David S. Blanco (Blank Editions), Deb Goodge, DJ Spooky, Don Dietrich, Don Fleming. Dylan Nyoukis

Evan Parker, Frank Rosaly, Frans de Waard, Gene Moore, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Glenn Branca, Greg Vegas, Hal Rammel, Hanin Elias, Heath Moerland (Fag Tapes)

J.D. King, Jim Thirlwell, Jack Rabid, James Nares (Artist), James Sedward, James Toth, Jane Scarpantoni, Jean-Marc Montera, Jef Whitehead, Jeff Hartford (Bonescraper Recordings), Jeremy Miller, Jim Dunbar, Jim Sauter, Jim Sclavunos, Joe McPhee, Joe Tunis (Carbon Recordings), Johannes Buff (Mikrokosm), John Clement, John Corbett, John Howard, John Moloney, John Olson, John Russell, John Tye (Lo Recordings), John Wiese, Jon Forss (Lo Recordings), Josh Baer (White Columns), Justin Pizzoferrato (Sonelab)

Karl Hofstetter (Joyful Noise), Keith Wood, Kevin Crump (Wintage), Kim Rancourt, Kommissar Hjuler

Lasse Marhaug, Lea Cummings, Lee Ranaldo, Leslie Keffer, Lin Culbertson, Loren Connors, Lydia Lunch

Mani Mazinani, Manuel Mota, Marc Urselli, Marco Cazzella (My Dance The King), Marco Fusinato, Margarida Garcia, Martin Bisi (Producer), Massimo Pupillo, Mat Rademan (Breathmint), Mats Gustafsson, Matthew Saint-Germain (Freedom From), Maurizio Opalio (My Cat is an Alien), Michael Chapman, Michael Gira, Mike Gangloff, Mykel Board

Nathaniel Howdeshell (Fast Weapons), Neill Jameson, Nels Cline, Nolan Green, Pascal Hector, Patrick Best, Paul Flaherty, Paul Smith (Blast First), Pete Nolan, Phil Blankenship (Troniks), Phil X. Milstein

Rafael Toral, Rat Bastard, Rhys Chatham, Richard Hell, Richard Kern (Film Maker), Rob Hayler, Robert Meijer (En/Of), Robert Poss, Roberto Opalio (My Cat is an Alien), Ron Lessard (RRRecords)

Samara Lubelski, Sanford Parker, Sarah Register, Sérgio Hydalgo (ZDB), Shayna Dulberger, Sonny Vincent, Stavros Giannopoulos, Steve Lowenthal (Vin Du Select Qualitite), Stuart Braithwaite, Susan Stenger

T. Mortigan (Destructive Industries), Terri Kapsalis, The New Blockaders, Thurston Moore, Tim Foljahn, Tom Moore, Tom Smith, Tom Surgal, Toshi Makihara, Trumans Water

Venec Miller, Vice Cooler, Virginia Genta, Wally Shoup, Walter Prati, Warren Defever, Wharton Tiers, William Hooker, William Winant, Yoko Ono

Severian 01.28.2017 11:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NickSoulsby
Private messages welcomed, likewise my contact details are on my blog too (Nirvana-Legacy.com) so feel free to say hi anytime.

My feeling, especially has the book work went on - was that Thurston's work outside SY constantly fed impulses that fed back into the band, but also that there comes a point where SY becomes just one strand of this much wider world of activity, that's all equally important to him (regardless of the way much press wouldn't touch his wilder work with a barge-pole), as he becomes this omnivorous and more 'complete' musician.

Structurally I made the case as I saw it in the 10 page introductory essay, then the book covers around 200 releases across 265 pages (with a degree of flow and connection and theme lacing them together and allowing that insight into how Thurston was developing), then there's a 33 page Contributors section briefly outlining the work and focus of each of the 170 people who tell the tale.

Finally there's a 14 page long discography of his work outside of Sonic Youth (I'd seen lists in this book and that book, but nothing even close to completeness; the Wikipedia entry isn't complete; the Discogs entry has a few gaps and is clogged with reissues and repeats; plus Thurston gave me a few notes of stuff that isn't listed anywhere.) The discography focuses on listing the original material - no reprints, no reissues - just first release of brand new music.


I think there's a marked division — or at least a sort of divergence — between the Sonic Youth fans, and the fans of Thurston, Kim, Lee, Steve respectively. Not that any SY fan is "average," but each member has pursued projects relentlessly over the years, and 90% of those projects don't really sound anything like Sonic Youth in the traditional sense.

Thurston has done this more than anyone else in the band, and to greater and more prolific extremes. Honestly, it's hard to keep up. How much have you heard about the Heretics album from 2016 with Anne-James Chaton? That album has some great moments and an interesting concecpt, but there was virtually no coverage or discussion about it.

Blah.

greenlight 01.28.2017 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NickSoulsby
Private messages welcomed, likewise my contact details are on my blog too (Nirvana-Legacy.com) so feel free to say hi anytime.

My feeling, especially has the book work went on - was that Thurston's work outside SY constantly fed impulses that fed back into the band, but also that there comes a point where SY becomes just one strand of this much wider world of activity, that's all equally important to him (regardless of the way much press wouldn't touch his wilder work with a barge-pole), as he becomes this omnivorous and more 'complete' musician.

Structurally I made the case as I saw it in the 10 page introductory essay, then the book covers around 200 releases across 265 pages (with a degree of flow and connection and theme lacing them together and allowing that insight into how Thurston was developing), then there's a 33 page Contributors section briefly outlining the work and focus of each of the 170 people who tell the tale.

Finally there's a 14 page long discography of his work outside of Sonic Youth (I'd seen lists in this book and that book, but nothing even close to completeness; the Wikipedia entry isn't complete; the Discogs entry has a few gaps and is clogged with reissues and repeats; plus Thurston gave me a few notes of stuff that isn't listed anywhere.) The discography focuses on listing the original material - no reprints, no reissues - just first release of brand new music.


to be honest, I am looking forward to this book after reading this and reading names of contributors. book seems to be bulky as well, taking into consideration number of pages. good.

NickSoulsby 01.28.2017 07:20 PM

There's a section on 'Heretics', also there's that film of the making and eventual performance of it out there too...? I saw a copy while making the book - very cool indeed (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5087730/)

Severian 01.28.2017 08:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by greenlight
to be honest, I am looking forward to this book after reading this and reading names of contributors. book seems to be bulky as well, taking into consideration number of pages. good.


Yeah I'm buying the shit out of it.

Toilet & Bowels 02.01.2017 01:10 PM

Crazy list of contributors, I was sold already but now I'm getting this ASAP. I didn't expect to see so many names, and some names came as surprise - I'm keen to see what they all have to say. A real deep dive. Was there any kind of criterea when it came to selecting contributors?

NickSoulsby 02.01.2017 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Toilet & Bowels
Crazy list of contributors, I was sold already but now I'm getting this ASAP. I didn't expect to see so many names, and some names came as surprise - I'm keen to see what they all have to say. A real deep dive. Was there any kind of criterea when it came to selecting contributors?


Evening T n' B! Basically I started with my discography list that I'd been using to collect records from for years, fleshed that out a bit more, was determined to cover these album-length/album-style releases, which often meant covering what certain people had been involved with at other times (whether a single song or a live release or whatever), then filling gaps (because I did want there to be an ongoing narrative running across/through releases across the years), plus maybe one person would introduce me to another and so forth. Then there were simply folks I never managed to contact or hunt down - no disrespect to them but I just never found them, or didn't know how to get hold of them...And ultimately ran out of time - these things have to end before the excitement dies. Plus if I'd pursued everrrrrrything into the dirt (which would appeal to my completist urges) then I'd have ended up with a book which was unreadable.

Records like Pillow Wand - I SO had to cover it, so Nels Cline was vital. I definitely wanted to cover the punk rock covers phase - so that made Dave Markey crucial. John Moloney for the Caught On Tape era, Mats Gustafsson...Certain people were just logical. Others were just ambition, or because the cassette fascinated me, or something seemed to fit thematically with something else (like the DJ Spooky / Root / electronica spell).

All of this starts back with the blog posts I did in 2015:
https://nirvana-legacy.com/2015/01/0...oore-part-one/

Toilet & Bowels 02.02.2017 10:26 AM

Thanks. Who were the people you tried to get for the book but couldn't?

And... if this book does well would you consider and an equivalent volume on Lee?

greenlight 02.02.2017 03:31 PM

is this going to be a paperback version? is there any photos inside of the book as well? any story behind the cover pic.?

NickSoulsby 02.02.2017 07:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Toilet & Bowels
Thanks. Who were the people you tried to get for the book but couldn't?

And... if this book does well would you consider and an equivalent volume on Lee?


Lee and I have met and chatted on - in the fullness of time let's see shall we? Don't want to over-promise before anyone (including me) has even seen the Thurston book - you might hate what I've done! :-)

In terms of people I couldn't/didn't get hold of - surprisingly few I mind missing (in the end I felt 'complete' when I viewed the work: if I'd added more people in I'd have had to chop even more words out to match the publisher's word limit - increases in text quantity increase print cost which increases cover price so I didn't want to do that.) Steve Shelley, we were in touch but went no further. Dan Ireton (Dredd Foole), I apologised to him the other night that we didn't get in touch until too late. I'd have liked to catch Yoshimi. Jim O'Rourke and Beck aren't much up for talking. I was sorry Georganne Deen wasn't available and that I didn't get hold of Barbara Ess. I'd like to have dug more into Thurston's writing and poetry...

NickSoulsby 02.02.2017 08:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by greenlight
is this going to be a paperback version? is there any photos inside of the book as well? any story behind the cover pic.?


Hey ya Greenlight, yeah, it's a paperback, I can't recall quite how many pictures but it's 25-30 I think was the final roundup. For the pictures, I asked participants if they had pictures they knew of or could volunteer - I only wanted photos of Thurston with them. So much of the focus of the book is on community, on these circles of friends and fellow travellers that I wanted the photos to reflect that vibe. Plus I thought Thurston might chuckle seeing this 'family album' of acquaintances. They're printed onto pages not as a standalone photo section.

The front and back photos are by Stefano Giovannini - the cover photo was taken at Williamsburg Music Hall a few years ago, the back cover photo of Thurston on stage is (I think) from Battery Park. I spoke to a number of people about submitting photographs...Those two were my preferences too. Not sure if there's any deep story - there's a requirement at the publisher that a book of this nature, as the cover image, should feature the artist in question looking toward the camera. I kinda liked the extreme close up and the lighting and so forth.


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