How I wrote Elastic Man
This is the third of our Paperback Writer interviews and it features the writer who delivered DRONE001, DRONE002 and DRONE003 for us. Who knows, he may even get to provide us with more books in the future if he behaves himself and spends more time in front of his laptop rather than being at gigs or association football matches.
Our first Paperback Writer interview was with Dave Redford, the author of our next book Pop 365, which is coming soon. Read Dave’s interview here.
Our second Paperback Writer interview was with Paul Cuddihy, a noted Scottish author with a number of releases behind him and he released a short story collection inspired by Duran Duran song titles with us. Read Paul’s interview here – and don’t forget that you can grab Paul’s ebook for just 99p before close of play on Wednesday 29th of July (information available in the link).
Now though, the third in our Paperback Writer interview series where we chat with Andy Reilly – a man that does need an introduction but we can’t find too many interesting things to say about him!
For people who don’t know you, how would you describe yourself?
Better than I think I am, not as good as I should be. Likable not loveable. Gets a round in. Enjoys football but dislikes a lot of football teams and fans. Enjoys music but dislikes a lot of bands and fans. Self-deprecating.
How would someone else describe you?
My mum would say I’m a worry but at least I mean well. Not sure if anyone else has bothered to form an opinion about me.
We focus on music at Drone Publishing – are there are any artists/musicians that have inspired or influenced your writing?
It’s hard to say, there are definitely artists and musicians who influence my outlook on life and what I want to be, so that will inevitably bleed into my writing. I don’t think my writing style has been influenced by any artist though or at least none that I would like to saddle with any blame.
Who are you listening to right now?
The new Wilco album is excellent while Drenge, Pins and Wolf Alice have all made great records and played really good live shows this year. The FFS collaboration works a lot better than it probably should, especially Johnny Delusional and Piss Off while the Paul Vickers record from earlier this year was chaotically charming. Add in the midlife crisis-tastic enjoyment of the High Flying Bird’s second album and the culturally necessary Sleaford Mods album, you get a pretty decent year of music so far and we’ve a good few months to go.
Are you a writer who can have music on in the background when you write? If so, who or what style of music/genre?
If I’m writing, I’ll usually just stick with instrumentals or foreign language music where I don’t fixate on the lyrics. This means Follakzoid is never too far away while Can and Neu! are always great options.
Frank Zappa was famously disparaging in his opinions about people who wrote about music – Frank Zappa was rubbish isn’t he?
100% yes. To be honest, I’m not going to say that I’ve heard the majority of his output but what I have heard, I’ve not been inspired or excited by any of it. I admit that some of this is down to his attitude but a large part of it is also down to the fact that the only person I’ve met who professed a love for Zappa was an accounts teacher at school.
This guy took it to extremes, he actually looked like Frank Zappa. Well, if Zappa’s hair was grey and he had to wear a suit to work. Okay, the teacher looked more like Rudi Voller but being the responsible kids we were I don’t think that was ever developed into an insult…oh wait. Mind you, he also supported Partick Thistle (properly, not one of they fake Thistle fans you find when adults can’t bring themselves to admit that they supported Celtic or Queen’s Park.) He was also a bit strange.
So moving on from Frank (who we were initially discussing), what is your take on writing about music?
It’s as valid as writing about any art form, sport or milk. I can see why Zappa hated it, he either experienced writers who he felt were completely missing the point of what he was doing or who were exposing the Emperor’s New Clothes bullshit that he paraded around in. It’s now easier to hear music yourself, you can go on YouTube, Soundcloud or Spotify and just roll from one song to another, one artist to another, one genre to another. Back in the day (sorry), music writers would have had held a lot of power over influencing people and what new music people were introduced to.
That can be good and bad, if you found a writer whose taste you shared or approved of, their recommendations could see you uncover new bands. Then again, there’s bad writers, writers with bad taste in music and writers with agendas. However, that is a valid comment for virtually everything from baked beans to spirituality so why should music be any different? I enjoy reading about music so I’m glad that there are music writers out there.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite music books/books about music?
Revolution In The Head is wonderful, you can genuinely imagine being in Abbey Road as some of the most historic pieces of music were created and perfected. I’m delighted that both of the other interviewee’s have referenced the book as well, it’s great work. It’s a brilliantly well written and interesting book about the most important band there has ever been – it’s a must read.
England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage is excellent and even if you hadn’t heard a second of punk music, you would have a sense of the excitement, tension and drama of the time by reading it. Peter Hook’s Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club is great fun and Wolfgang Flur’s I Was A Robot is an interesting read, laying to waste the mythology surrounding Kraftwerk while also shining a light on the band and their working. As you’d expect, it was a better read than the official Kraftwerk tome.
There’s a good few great books about The Fall. The Fallen provides brilliant insight, The Big Midweek by Simon Hanley is very funny and enjoyable while Renegade, Mark E Smith’s take on it all is really funny…but I’m only about halfway through that. Throw in Kevin Cummin’s Manchester Book and you’ve got a good few weeks of music reading right there.
While saying nothing about the book itself, because that really isn’t my place to say, I loved working on Rock N’ Roar in 2014. There were some great interviews with a lot of talented people in the business and it helped me to slightly justify so much money and time spent at gigs. That and I fitted in some hefty rants, which is always a worthwhile activity.
What about your favourite books (of any kind), what are they and how would you rate your favourite music books alongside them?
I’m maybe in danger of becoming a caricature but I read more music books than all other books combined! When your entire life is a work of fiction it is good to ground yourself in a bit of reality! I’d still say Lanark by Alasdair Gray was my favourite book and Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail by Hunter S Thompson is always worth a re-read every so often as is Down & Out In Paris and London by George Orwell. As you can see, I’ve opted for rarities from unknown writers…
Fiction wise, I’m not sure what I’ve enjoyed of late, Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth was probably the last one that really gripped me and I ended up ploughing through that in one sitting. I also read Irvine Welsh’s latest, A Decent Ride. Juice Terry is one of my favourite characters and he lives up to his previous misdemeanours but on the whole, it falls a bit short…well, certainly when you compare it to Irvine’s previous high points, which is a really high bar.
Mind you, let’s not get too carried away, Brian The Robot from the Confused.com adverts is another one of my favourite fictional characters.
For a fiction book that has music right at the core and which drives everything along, Trackman by Catriona Child is a great example of how music can be woven into and throughout a story. It probably takes a few darker twists than I would normally like, I prefer my serious tales with a comedic twist, but it’s going to hit the spot for many people.
So, as for the original question…I probably view music books and other books as different mediums – much like trying to compare albums and films, so I don’t spend much time comparing and contrasting them.
Traditional music writing is declining in numbers (like many traditional print options) even the NME is going free – any concerns about the future of music writing?
Nah, it’ll be fine. People will always listen to music, people will always talk about music and people will always write and read about music. The format will change, I think there will be scope for strong and consistent music writing for ebooks in some form, but music is far too important for music writing to fade away.
Any plans for any other music books in the future?
Oh aye…hopefully there’ll be one before the end of the year and I’ve a few ideas beyond that but I probably need to work through a fiction book or two…either get it out of my system and realise that it’s not for me…or come up with something that is worth reading. There will be music elements to whatever I do next though. Who knows, I may even call it Elastic Man and then try and cash in on the millions of The Fall fans with the documentary called How I Wrote Elastic Man.