My Weekend Rockstars series is not about that. The first book is about a middle-aged bloke who joins one of those dreadful bands that turn up on a Saturday night down the Dog and Duck at the same time as your main course and start playing Mustang Sally.
(And you can download it for FREE for a limited time only when you sign up to my mailing list)
In the second he drags his teenage daughter into it after her rock and roll dreams crash out spectacularly.
Available to preorder now for February 14th when it comes out)
Only they’re not really about the band, they’re about love, sex, friendship, family, death, grief and how there’s nothing like a midlife crisis and a band to amplify the tensions between them.
If that sounds a bit bleak (and it’s not, it’s actually 'a really fun romp, with a gallery of great comic characters' according to Fiona Leitch (writer of the extremely funny Dead In Venice)) then maybe you’d like to try some of these other fictional books about bands that aren’t really about bands.
It’s really difficult to explain what’s so good about this book without spoiling the end. I can tell you it’s a great twist on the fake documentary genre. I can tell you that if you know anything about Fleetwood Mac and the making of Rumours then you’ll love it. And I can tell you that if you love all the madness and debauchery of big ‘70s rock music you’ll love it.
Told as an interview transcript with members of the band, their families and various hangers on, the narrative’s delivery method sounds like it could be a bit dry, but you very quickly get drawn in, start to wonder if anybody is actually telling the truth and realise it is absolutely the only way the story could be told.
See this post for why he was so important to me.)
Any Discworld book with Death in is great, add Susan Sto-Helit, Albert and the Death of Rats and it is even better, throw in CMOT Dibbler as Colonel Tom Parker and it’s gold (or glod).
The puns are par excellence (Cliff, on a mission from Glod, he looks a bit elvish, etc. etc.) and The Band With Rocks In are almost certainly the greatest band to never exist. It was the first Pratchett book I ever read and as such is probably the most important book in my life and I will not hear a word said against it.
Here’s some of the Band With Rocks In’s songs in case you’re not yet all in.
1) "There's a Great Deal of Shaking Happening"
2) "Give Me That Music With Rocks In"
3) "Pathway to Paradise"
4) "Born to Rune"
I mean, come on. I feel no need to give an actual review as if you haven’t read it we probably can’t be friends.
In a wonderfully believable bit of coincidence, Cassie ends up messaging her teenage crush - Bass player Jessie Franklin of short-lived (fictional) 90s boy band Franko (who aren’t Hanson, definitely not Hanson, not even similar). He’s now just a regular session musician in California and almost nobody remembers who he used to be.
They meet up and embark on a fantasy transatlantic love affair which gets all the twists and turns and ups and downs you want in a rom-com thanks to his family/former bandmates.
It’s a story with so much heart, and such likeable, relatable characters that I instantly fell in love with it and recommend it to anybody who has ever had a teenage celebrity crush. It has given me hope that Tiffany (off of the 80s) will one day know that I exist.
Mikko Kristensen, singer and lead guitarist of Death Metal Band Total Depravity (and font of all Satanic knowledge, obvs) steals the show, (and is eclipsed by his drummer, Knut, in the third part of the series, Sound, though that might just be because Knut reminds me of all the drummers I have ever known). Music - and particularly metal music - is a central theme to the story, and Fearns describes the unbridled joy of a fuck-off-loud concert in the most perfect way I have ever read.
I realise this is not really a book about bands, but it does feature a band and has one of the most beautifully grotesque openings of any book I’ve ever read.
Also, GEVA have recorded an EP based on it that I only just discovered and I really, really like.
In all honesty, I read it in my early 20s and it stayed with me, so my recollection of the details is sketchy at best. In doing my minimal research for this blog post I am disturbed to find that Daniel Weir, the old, washed-up rock star protagonist is only 31. 11 years younger than I am now. It’s kind of funny, so I include it in the Bass Player based Romcom genre currently only occupied by Stephie Chapman and myself.
Joseph O’Connor, however, manages to tinge it with more poignancy than most, ignoring the glamour and painting the realities of sleeping in vans, squatting in old industrial units and having to sell that one perfect guitar to carry on living over the usual depravity, debauchery and reckless spending.
Robbie Goulding owes more than a passing nod to Danny Weir from Espedair Street - but that’s no bad thing, neither are the multiple perspectives and album reviews/press cuttings that may in turn have inspired some of Daisy Jones and the Six’s style.
Ultimately, like being in a real band, it’s about friendships and the terrible things that can happen when you drop them into the high pressure world of rock and roll.
They’re not big books, they’re not complicated books, and they’re not realistic books (actually I don’t know, I’ve never been in a band that made it, this could be exactly what happens). But they are utterly joyful and I read all four in a row at great speed with a massive grin on my face because they made me feel like the 13 year old kid desperately writing awful love songs to the pretty girl in the year above me at school on my dad’s guitar I once was.
Written as blog entries, twitter feeds and the diaries of the title, it’s a format that suits itself to stories of bands - especially sulky, uncommunicative teenage bands.
Scallion also wrote and recorded the songs (with a bit of help from real band, The Script) as well, enjoy.
Anyway, I couldn’t leave it out.
And yes, that’s true, but given everything they detail having done in this book, I don’t believe they recall any of it, and thus I’m calling it fiction about a real band - like KISS save Santa.
(I haven’t read it, I just watched the movie, sue me.)
Honourable mention needs to be made to John Niven’s Kill Your Friends, and Caitlin Moran’s How To Build A Girl, although I think those two gave fictional names to real bands (in order to avoid legal action).
And you can find Caitlin’s How To Be Famous, and The Rock ‘N’ The Roll, ‘N’ That... by Steven J. Gill on my to read pile - I can’t recommend them yet, but they’ve got bands in and purport to be funny. Will report back - keep your eye on my Goodreads account for more.