A hilarious inside look at the real business of popular music by the drummer of Semisonic that does for rock and roll what Jim Bouton's Ball Four did for baseball.
After years of working day jobs and making music in his basement, Jacob Slichter wondered if his dreams of rock stardom were a vain illusion. Then he was recruited by two of his successful musician friends to form a band that became Semisonic. Who could forget the smash single “Closing Time,” a runaway hit in 1998 that thrust Jake and his bandmates into the international spotlight and helped them sell over two million albums worldwide? But along the road to fame and success came bewilderment and personal chaos: How will we ever get a record deal? Which record company is the best? The worst? Do I really have to wear these ridiculous boots? Why isn’t radio playing our song? What if I have a panic attack right here on stage? What should I write on this fan’s CD? Am I famous? Why isn’t the video director getting more shots of me? Did I say the wrong thing during that interview? Help!
So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star is a telling and witty look at what happens just before and during one's time in the spotlight. Jake takes readers on a step-by-step journey of his evolution from fledgling drummer to globetrotting performer and proves to be the perfect guide—feisty and humbled—to the inner workings of the music industry and instant celebrity. So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star speaks to all of us who dream again and again of rock superstardom and shows how one kid can go from picking up a pair of drumsticks to picking up a platinum record.
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.