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For Those About to Rock: A Road Map to Being in a Band

by Dave Bidini

As rhythm guitarist for the Rheostatics and author of several books, including On a Cold Road (about touring Canada with his band), Dave Bidini has excellent credentials for introducing kids to the life of a rock musician. In a breezy, friendly style, Bidini speaks directly to the reader – with a warning in the introduction that adults should stop reading immediately and leave the book as the private domain of the young.

While it does address some specifically musical issues, such as the pros and cons of using a click-track in the recording studio, for the most part this book gives anecdotes and advice about the social aspects of being in a band – choosing a name, hanging out in record stores, what to wear (raid your father’s closet, as eventually those geeky clothes will make a new fashion statement), the vicissitudes of touring in Canadian winters. The adolescent males to whom the book is directed will enjoy the disgusting episodes on tour (vomiting audiences, filthy bathrooms), which make for some of Bidini’s funniest anecdotes, though his accounts of friendships formed and broken with his fellow band members during high school blend humour with pathos.

Bidini mostly describes his own experiences and attitudes rather than giving a lot of general advice, since rebellion against advice is an essential part of the rock musician’s makeup. Perhaps for this reason, he avoids the gorilla-in-the-closet issue of drug use. However, he does weigh in on the contentious topic of downloading and music piracy: resenting the corporate stranglehold over music distribution, Bidini lauds the Internet for increasing access and variety. While a few information boxes titled Rock Talk explain terminology, Bidini’s book is no manual, but rather an enthusiastic account of what it’s like to play in a band.