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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These amps go up to 11, 3 Jun. 2011
This review is from: We're in the Band (Paperback)
I remember buying a book because a few words on the back cover struck a chord with me: 'this is a book about coming from nowhere'. Like most of us, I suppose, I'm from nowhere, or at least nowhere worth mentioning - a nondescript part of Hertfordshire. Will Bowden grew up not far away, in a humdrum market town called Bishop's Stortford. His book is about the years he spent toiling in local bands, dreaming of stadium-filling rock god status, but mostly just struggling to impress girls and avoid being rubbish.

In his early days, he says, he got kicked out of a punk band for ideological reasons (he liked Deep Purple), auditioned exotic dancers for a teenage metal band, and played his bass with a spoon. There were bands with terrible names (Snufkin and the Woodchildren, Noah's Boatyard), mixed reviews in the Herts & Essex Observer, and rehearsals at a cucumber farm. Eventually, one of his bands became local heroes, able to play to sellout crowds on their own patch, but the further they went from their hometown the faster the crowds dwindled, and even at their peak there were indignities: their dressing room was a caravan in the car park, and the video of a triumphant performance was sabotaged by a feminist camera operator.

This is a funny, smartly written book, with a cast of eccentrics and wannabes, and digressions into important subjects like why it's great to be 18 and why drum solos aren't necessarily a bad thing. The writer has a nice line in self-deprecating humour (there's hardly a page where he doesn't brand himself and his band-mates as geeks, deluded fools, or worse), and there are plenty of good jokes. (About the friction between a difficult girlfriend and the band: 'She could have fallen out with Gandhi... At least I never suggested that she sing backing vocals.' After playing fey psychedelia to a psychobilly crowd: 'I could already place the gig in my own personal rock mythology as part of my time in the wilderness before the onset of global superstardom. Little was I to know that the wilderness was all there was.') Looking back at youthful failures is a good source of humour, but there's an even better reason to read this book: it's about some of life's most important things - being young, hanging out with your mates, and that time in your life when optimism is guaranteed to trump reality every time, no question.
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