One of the reasons This Is Spinal Tap is equally loved and despised by musicians is because it rings true. Getting lost backstage, pissy members having a hissyfit over catering, technical problem, and massive egos—such is the life for a touring musician, irrespective of what musical genre. Read any biography or autobiography, and you’re sure to find mention of at least one “Spinal Tap Moment.” Such is the premise of music journalist Drew Fortune’s hilarious new book No Encore!: Musicians Reveal Their Weirdest, Wildest, Most Embarrassing Gigs, a collection of stories of life from the road by artists from all genres of popular music.
With 61 stories on offer, No Encore! offers a wealth of riches in terms of dish, and with each story being relatively short, one can flip through the book and enjoy it piecemeal. Some of the stories are interesting dives into what successful acts had to go through to earn that big break—Debbie Gibson’s story of her grueling club tour routine is both amusing and impressive, White Zombie’s Sean Yseult’s documenting a crazy show on one of her band’s early tours sounds like a blast, while Kenny Loggins offers up an amazingly embarrassing and humiliating tale of being a folkie playing for decidedly hostile crowds. Some stories offer up tales of the dangers of drinking or doping before a gig, such as those of Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux and Lou Barlow of Sebadoh. Others, however, offer tales of pure rock and roll legend, such as Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull’s riotous tale of flying objects of love, while Brent Smith of Shinedown’s story of Eddie Van Halen is both nauseating and totally true to his wild character.
But No Encore! isn’t all fun and games, though. One can sense the despair in Darrell McDaniels of Run-DMC’s story of career slump disappointment and misguided attempts to stay contemporary, Nathan Williams of Wavves’ drug-induced horror at the make-or-break festival gig is thought-provoking; Robin Wilson of Gin Blossoms’ chapter has a funny moment or two, but ultimately relates to the self-destruction of their doomed songwriter Doug Hopkins, while John Bell of Widespread Panic’s story is one of horrific tragedy that still haunts him and probably always will. Furthermore, some stories—such as Rascall Flatts’ Gary Levox and Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor—are less gossipy and more reflections on their careers, their successes, and their failures.
The musical world is one that is rich with embarrassing and amazing stories, and getting a glimpse into that world is quite an enjoyable experience. Even if you aren’t familiar with some of the artists mentioned, it matters not; No Encore! is a brisk and amusing read, as it offers up insights and compelling stories from behind the scene that leaves you wanting more.
Be sure and join us tomorrow morning as we offer you an exclusive–and uproarious–excerpt from No Encore!