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So You Want to Be A Rock & Roll Star: Jacob Slichter's look at Celebrity and the Music Industry

abstract:If you are not inclined to air guitar while listening to your favorite rock riff, and playing in a Rock & Roll band was never your secret fantasy, then you must certainly go out and buy Jake Slichter's new book because you are missing-out on an interesting perspective of life.

article:

August 12, 2004
— This is not just the diary of drummer for the mulit-platinum selling band, Semisonics—who coincidentally is a Harvard graduate in African American studies and whose appearance on Jay Leno, David Letterman, Howard Stern is entertaining and enlightening listeners.   

Listening to Jacob Slichter's nasal and somewhat professorial voice on NPR radio, is not the chain-smoking, vocal chord noduled voice you'd expect; neither is his message.  This is the unique perspective of a man who has experienced fame within the machinations of the flawed music industry, whose influence effects what you (or your children) view on MTV, download to your iPods and effectivley shapes popular culture.

"Slichter's bittersweet recollections of Semisonic's rise from unassuming Minnesota trio to international rock stars navigates through the strange and uncomfortable worlds of the music business, fame and constant worry. Taken from his tour journals as the band's drummer, Slichter's insights alternate between funny and poignant as they peel back the curtain on a lifestyle that most people consider luxurious and carefree, but that is actually mentally and physically taxing. Slichter quickly learns that all the bills, from dinner to the cost of making a record, go to the artist while most of the profits go to the record label. He also finds out that the existence of profits depends on the suits at the record company picking the right song to release, a fickle radio station program director deciding to play it and MTV deeming the video cool enough to air. All this pressure to simultaneously create music and make business decisions takes such a toll on Slichter that he becomes more focused on album sales than on the fun of playing drums. Even when the band does hit it big with "Closing Time" and their 15 minutes of fame start ticking away, Slichter and his band mates Dan Wilson and John Munson never seem at home in the spotlight. But Slichter's uneasiness makes for interesting tales, like being starstruck at the Grammys or his lacking the ability to rein in his celebrity personality, which causes him to talk in sound bites. Thanks to Slichter's good-natured presentation, these stories and Slichter's work as a whole, despite their rock star origins, are surprisingly easy to relate to." Publishers Weekly

Links

New York Times review, by James McMurtry June 14, 2004

Washington Post review, by John Strausbaugh, June 20th, 2004

Minnesota Daily review, by Keri Carlson, June 2004

The Yahoo Semisonics Blog

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