Praise for "Off the Record"
“A pure American tale of insanity, lust and gonzo, flat-out rock-n-fucking-roll!!!”
As a rise-and-fall-of-a-rock-band novel -- here about a Nirvana-like
trio from Raleigh, N.C. -- “Off the Record” is distinguished by
thrilling accounts of songs coming together and songs coming apart:
Menconi, who writes for the News & Observer in Raleigh, can get music on
the page. He can get his words off the page: A producer compares
recording a note or a phrase at a time “to filming car wrecks by leaving
cameras running on street corners.” On signing with Gus DeGrande, the
Don King of the music business: “Ken could only assume that, with Joseph
Stalin and Colonel Tom Parker unavailable, Tommy had settled for the
next worst thing.” But then comes the first show of the band's tour
behind their smash album, which the Kurt Cobain figure opens and closes
with his version of the Sex Pistols’ “Holiday in the Sun.” Played once.
“From the halls of Ol' Missoula to the shores of Myrtle Beach, there’s
a lot of gigs out there. Dave insightfully brings the excitement,
anxiety, ridiculous volume and stale beer smell right to your living
room with the eyes (and nose) of one who’s been there.”
“The book kept me laughing and wondering if it was about a real band
I’d missed somehow. Intellectually, I knew it wasn’t real; but I went to
the website and it looked so real. And it sounded absurd and real. Like
all the irritating and funny and creepy things that really happen in
this fucked-up business I’m in, but a twist. A really sick twist, and
I’m going, ‘What if he’s right? What if, behind all the normal bad luck
and jive-ass junk that happens to bands, there are people this
insidious?’ And then I think, ‘Hell, he made this stuff up! He must be
the ultimate sicko!’”
“David Menconi writes from the perspective of someone who understands
the people in the industry as well as the music — the latter far, far
better than I ever did. Even as fiction, it waves a warning flag at kids
dying to get into the business at any cost. Not that they'd be ready to
buy into the truth as readily as they would a sweet deal that looks too
good to be true (and likely is). Good show, David. Rock on.”
“‘Off The Record’ is funny, touching and all too real to anyone who
knows the insides of the music industry. Whether it’s the Southeast
scene, the lower East side or the Great Northwest, the tale Menconi
tells of a rising band rings all too true. Those who know this world
will find laughs in this novel — and those who don’t will find insight
into a world of talent, ego and all the things that make great rock ’n’
roll stars worth writing about.”
“So you want to be a rock ’n roll star? Read ‘Off the Record’ first.
David Menconi understands the music business — from the seamy bars to
the towering superdomes — and knows how to spin a first-rate tale. The
result is a fascinating between-the-lines look at how the Pearl Jams,
Aerosmiths and Kurt Cobains got where they are (or were). A must-read
for the serious music fan.”
“I really couldn’t put it down. I had trouble NOT reading it, I just
had to find out what was gonna happen to this band. The part about the
first tour they did really hit home so close. Reading about this poor
band playing towns like Columbia, Greenville, South Carolina, I really
envisioned actual nights we had to go through — no hotel rooms, no gas
money, the van breaking down. That was all there.”
A great read, a gripping tale for people inside and outside the music industry.
Should thoroughly entertain the average reader while rewarding more
avid music fans with plenty of thinly veiled references to actual
persons, both living and dead.
“The evil twin of ‘High Fidelity.’”
“One of the best reads I’ve had in a long time...Move over ‘High
Fidelity,’ and tell ‘Almost Famous’ the news.”
"Off the Record" is alternately horrifying in its realistic take on how
young people can be destroyed by the star-making machine and funny as
hell in its wordplay and inside take on how it works.
cautionary tale embraces the gut-kick power of a tell-all biography.
“An imaginative, well-constructed plot with enough sex, guns, drugs,
death, greed and treachery for a junior Jackie Collins potboiler.”
“Menconi writes like a lead singer sings, and ‘Off the Record’ rocks!”
“Could become a touchstone...in much the same way all musicians swear by
the satire/reality of ‘Spinal Tap.’”
“A real eye-opener.”
After page 38, I had a hard time putting the book down.”
“Off the Record” should be required reading for anyone dreaming of a
career, from pop star to critic to bouncer. An enjoyable, eye-opening
adventure, the story moves swiftly, concisely, and smartly over terrain
often presented in any way but truthfully. The interweaving characters,
feel like people you've met, lead us behind the scenes and into the lies
sell records and destroy lives. Turning on the radio will never be the
once you know what happens Off the Record.”
Menconi has succeeded where so many have previously failed: He has written
an interesting, thoroughly enjoyable book of rock and roll fiction. And I’m
not just saying this because he gave my solo album “Look At Me, I Can Sing
Too” four stars. It’s good!
“Off The Record” had me glued to its pages. Mr. Menconi spins this mystery
like the deadly black widow spins its web of webby goodness. However, the
critic in me did take issue with one item I came across in this book: I’m
pretty sure The Clash did “Holidays In The Sun,” not the Sex Pistols. Kudos
to Menconi nonetheless.
For those of you who read Elmore Leonard's 'Be Cool' and thought it provided some nifty insight into the record business -- wait until you get your hands on this. Of the 40 or 50 books I've read this year, 'Off The Record' is in the top three.
The tale follows Tommy Aguilar from his first appearance on the Raleigh music scene (jumping onstage during a set break at a local venue), through the rough first few tours and his meteoric rise to pop stardom and sold-out arena shows. Along the way Tommy and the reader meet up with incompetent label owners, evil managers, dinosaur headlining acts, groupies, aspiring music writers, club owners both benevolent and malevolent, two-faced band members and, of course, mechanical problems with the tour van.
After I read this book, the Woodstock '99 fires and riots seemed like deja vu. Keep your eye out for it: 'Off The Record,' by David Menconi.
You will not be able to put it down until the last page is turned.