Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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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You Say Piracy Like It’s a Bad Thing

In yesterday’s Publishers Weekly, Jim Milliot reported on a new study of online book piracy done by a company called Attributor. According to Attributor, publishers “could be losing out on as much as $3 billion to online book piracy.” On the face of it, this is bad news for publishers. We all know what Napster did to the music industry. And it sure would be nice to have that $3 billion back, no? But reading further into the report, we learn that the average number of free fiction downloads was just over 2,000 copies. Wait a minute. 2,000 copies? Is that a bad thing? It isn’t unusual for publishers to give away more than 2,000 advance reading copies of a piece of new fiction. Why? Because we want people to read the book and tell other people about it. And what about libraries? Don’t we sell copies to libraries that they then lend out over and over again—for free? How much money are we “losing” to free reading in libraries? (I shudder to think of how my wife and I may have contributed to the problem, taking our children to the library every Saturday and letting them each take out ten books. Who knew that we were raising a bunch of pirates?) Furthermore, how much money are we losing to people who lend a friend a book they’ve just read, saying, “You have to read this book!” We’d better put a stop to that right away…

We need to protect our author’s copyrights, and make sure that we don’t get Napstered by massive illegal online distribution. But small quantities of people reading our books for free may not be harmful, and may actually promote literacy, and the joy of reading…and the business we’re so worried about protecting.

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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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