Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin Talks About His Forthcoming Book and Tour

You know a book is good when you dream about it. The other night I dreamt about Greg Graffin, whose book on science and religion called Anarchy Evolution (October 5, 2010) we’re publishing this fall to coincide with Bad Religion’s 30 year anniversary tour. In my dream I imagined Greg as a boy sitting in science class. I imagined the graduated cylinders on everyone’s desk and the teacher wearing a mustard colored dress. I’ll let you conjure your own image from Greg’s words:

“I’ve always had a problem with authority. When I was in the third grade at Lake Bluff Elementary School just outside Milwaukee, my teacher, Wanda Rood, knew that I hated to be called by my full name, Gregory. I have always been Greg to my family and friends, and whenever Miss Rood called me Gregory to humiliate or intimidate me, I shook with fury.

Finally, one day when I was talking too much to my friends, Miss Rood said, ‘Gregory, do you have something to say to us all?’ I replied, ‘Don’t call me Gregory, Wanda.’”

Here Greg and I talk about his book and tour. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this project. MUCH more to come:

1. When you started Bad Religion at the age of 15, did you ever imagine the band would be around for 30 years?

As a 15 year old, I didn’t even imagine where I would be in three years, so thirty years was inconceivable. The band started out as a channel for rebelliousness. We were creative non-conformists who relished provocation. We didn’t think there would be much of a future in that.

2. Why do you think your band has had such staying power?

Scientific knowledge has staying power and punk shares certain qualities with science, in particular, challenging dogma. Without the overturning of prior theories, science can’t progress. This was immediately appealing to me as a teenager, as it still is.

3. You write in the book that as a teenager, science kind of saved you. What do you mean by that?

Through my early reading in evolutionary biology and geology, the world began to make sense. I could answer the “big picture” questions that were lacking from my a-religious upbringing. I was never taught about the stories in The Bible. Science offered a fantastical narrative from which I forged my songwriting career, which also began in my teens.

4. What’s the best part about touring?

Visiting antiquarian bookshops all over the world. I spend more money on foreign postage sending books home from tour than I do on meals.

5. Will you promote the book during your tour? (Fans: pre-order here!)

I would like to meet as many people as possible who are interested in evolution and the worldview they take from it. For that reason, I hope to appear in many bookstores, coffee shops, and speaking venues on the same days that we play concerts in cities all over the world. What a privilege, talk about the issues during the day, sing about them at night. It’s a dream come true!

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Greatest Michael Jackson Tribute EVER

Some of us clearly still have Michael on the brain. Stick with this video for the first 2 minutes… You won’t be disappointed.

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Creative Hero #01: Ryan Murphy

Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project inspired me to change things up a bit (thank you Gretchen!) Each week this year I’ll single out one of my creative heroes- people whose work makes you go whoa. (This seems more likely to release serotonin than, say, blogging about e-books.)

I was first turned on to Ryan Murphy when he optioned Sin in the Second City a book I edited at Random House. Over the holiday, I finally sat down and watched Glee, the FOX show about a group of high school misfits. I know I’m late to the Glee party but I’ve just got to say: The dude is a genius.

What Glee lacks in subtlety it makes up for in imagination. A show choir performance of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” really?? Murphy is able to take the most cliche ridden material and make it fresh. Check out this clip from “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It’s like tasting apple pie for the first time.

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Beatlemania 2.0

the simpsons crossing abbey roadFor the last few weeks I’ve been eating, breathing, and sleeping with The Beatles on the brain–but with good reason. We’re publishing You Never Give Me Your Money: The Battle for the Soul of the Beatles by Peter Doggett, a British journalist and rock historian, which is slated to come out Summer 2010. As the title suggests, the book explores in meticulous detail the events that lead up to the break-up and the eventual collapse of their cooperative experiment, Apple Corps. 

Lucky for us, even though the group disbanded nearly four decades ago, The Beatles are back! Today marks the release of the highly anticipated The Beatles: Rock Band, along with remastered versions of The Beatles’ entire discography. There is something magical about listening to this montage of Beatles classics and watching the Fab Four come back to life. And of course, I can’t wait to rock out (virtually) at The Cavern or in a field of psychadellic, LSD inspired flowers. Rock bands may come and go, but The Beatles never die.

p.s. John Lennon would be happy to know that Beatlemania 2.0 would make its resurgence on 09/09/09 – his lucky number was 9!

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Look Before You Leap: What Record Companies (and Book Publishers?) Can Learn from Merge Records

Merge_300NPR’s piece about the 20th anniversary of indie record company Merge is fascinating and possibly instructive. While large record companies (and book publishers) have overextended themselves and now need to scale back, Merge has succeeded by choosing new artists carefully and marketing them frugally.  And even when they have hits (Spoon, Arcade Fire) they continue to warn their artists to keep expectations in line with reality. The result is credibility with critics, music fans and artists alike. 

 So the question is: can Book Publishers follow suit?  In a time where creative ideas are welcome, perhaps we need only look at Merge Records to realize that trust, cautious decision making and staying grounded may lead us in the right direction.

Click here  to read the article or here to listen to the intriguing piece.

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Choice of a New Generation

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Robert Greene Talks About 50 Cent and their Upcoming Book, The 50th Law

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Leann Rimes Talks About What She Cannot Change

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Jill Sobule’s Creative Record Financing

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Would you pay $10,000 to sing on Jill Sobule’s album? Someone would.

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A Good Author Website Is…. ?

I have a dumb question, one that’s been nagging at me recently: What exactly is an author or book website supposed to do?

The short answer is sell books. But it ain’t that simple.

If you stop and think about it, give or take a few bells and whistles (the ubiquitous flash intro page, for example), most author websites are exactly the same: Descriptive copy, an excerpt, author bio, possibly a trailer or Q&A, reviews, events & readings, and a link to Amazon and other book retailers. In other words: an electronic business card. It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent Codex study quoted in Courtney Sullivan’s article “See the Web Site, Buy the Book” found that 8% of book buyers had visited author websites in a given week. 8%!

So what would engage the other 92% of the book buying market? What are the elements of a successful author/ book website? (On Friday Debbie is hosting a breakfast for our authors to discuss these very questions so more to come on this subject from the rest of the HS gang). For now, here are some of my unscientific observations. I would love to hear yours….

A good author website:

- Is interactive and speaks to a distinct community

- Is inherently entertaining

- Engages someone who has never heard of the book or author

- Gives the reader a reason to come back

- Can be found easily on Google

Here are 5 authors who are getting it right.

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John Hodgman: http://www.areasofmyexpertise.com/

Tim Ferris: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/

Chris Anderson http://www.thelongtail.com/

Sloane Crosley http://sloanecrosley.com/

Cory Doctorow http://craphound.com/


(note the savvy publicist Sloane Crosley is the only author here who has used her name rather than the book title)

- Julia

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