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. – Hunter S Thompson
Throughout my life I’ve had tons of friends always wanting to make me a rock star. Too bad I don’t have a musical bone in my body, but…,
…yeah. Seriously; I’ve been lucky to have friends in the rock world. Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult, Danny Shonerd, the boys from Sun Red Sun (Alice in Chains), Mark Burgess of the Chameleons, and some others.
In the words Doctor McCoy could say on Star Trek: “I’m a writer, Jim, not a heavy metal guitarist!
Electric Monkeyland explores the world of the rock and roll bands of the late 70s and early 80s, which was, up to that point, dying. Many of the old guitar bands were aging and fading from the venue of pop rock to be replaced by the glittery synthesizer-influenced music of the post punk age. This is a period where the music world was redefining itself, as it is wont to do.
The novel is more than just a funny – yet often poignant – expose of rock musicians. It is an adventure tale that explores the rise of a young and innocent teenager who is a half-bred Apache Indian from Arizona; it is also a literary tale of a jaded rock star who finds himself at the crossroads of his career and his marriage; it is also a mystery tale that involves the murder of a famous guitarist whose death has changed the landscape for everyone around him; it is also the somewhat tragic tale of a caustic and doping band manager who may have seen her last days.
All the characters are written to be bigger than life, because that is what performers are. Too often literary rock novels are discarded because they do not delve deeply into the truth of the music world. Other books are often penned by the musicians themselves in edited autobiographies that never tell all. Yet, with the popularity of Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous and the hilarity behind This is Spinal Tap!, the literary rock novel has been in dire need of a makeover. The film industry here rules the day, and literature has not been taken seriously when it comes to the rock novel.
What is different about Electric Monkeyland? It is not a rock novel by itself. It is a literary novel; the characters could be from any performance industry, or as the main character Colin Morales states, “The only difference between a rock star and a high-priced prostitute is that we specialize in orgies. Big, bad orgies. Orgies that sell out to thousands of people at twenty bucks a ticket.”
This novel reinvents the rock star from an age when music was still king, and its subjects were pioneers in a world that will eventually shatter and consume itself.