Pictured: Al Jourgensen of Ministry, live on stage. Photo will appear in "Chicago Rocked," and is courtesy of Jeff Kroll (jeffkrollphotos.com)
Urge Overkill. Ministry. Smashing Pumpkins. Liz Phair. Smoking Popes. Disturbed. Steve Albini. Veruca Salt. The Jesus Lizard. Screeching Weasel.
"CHICAGO ROCKED! 1990-1999" (working title) is a book I've spent the past four years working on and writing; pulling together hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews and stories from the artists, label owners, studio engineers, club owners, and scenesters who made the Chicago music scene "happen" in the 90s.
Adding to their stories and memories are my own recollections, thoughts, and observations. During the 1990s, I hosted a Chicago music radio show on alternative station "Q101" (WKQX) called "The Local Music Showcase" (later "Local 101"). Through the Local Music Showcase, I got to know every musician, band, and player around town--if not personally, then through their songs and live performances. I'm uniquely qualified to tell this story, and you can feel confident pledging your support to help fund it.
The 90s were an unforgettable decade for Chicago music. There were soaring highs. Depressing lows. Lots of beer. Quite a few major label deals, too. The narrative of "Chicago Rocked" is factual, funny, and informative. It's pure Chicago, and totally rock and roll.
Adding to the story are dozens of photos from the 90s, taken by some of Chicago's most celebrated rock photographers, as well as the artists themselves. This story has never been told, and it likely never will outside of this book.
A very early and very different version of this book was planned for release by an independent publisher in late 2007, but those plans changed in mid-'07. After that, I decided to rewrite the entire book from beginning to end, and I'm currently in the final stages of self-editing the manuscript. But what to do next? I decided to take a lesson from the bands I wrote about. They taught me a few valuable things:
* Don't drink too much before walking out on stage.
* The quickest fix is usually the quickest way to ruin.
* Ego will always come back to haunt you.
Most importantly, many of their stories showed me that D.I.Y. is the way to go. As such, I've decided to self-publish my book and get it on shelves by Summer, 2010. By self-publishing, I can guarantee and execute a long-term strategy faithful to the mission of the book: To preserve the memories of this watershed decade in Chicago music history. Doing things myself means that other concerns like distribution, content, and publicity would be exclusively under my control, not a third party publisher looking for any sign or excuse to cut bait.
The catch to self-publishing is that it's a serious investment (P.O.D. services--sketchy and disreputable as they are--are not a consideration). In order to do this right, I'm going to personally handle every aspect of editorial and production, including the hiring of a professional manuscript editor, book indexer, cover designer, layout designer, web host service, entertainment lawyer, and offset printer for a projected initial pressing of 2500 copies. Additional expenditures for the project include acquiring an ISBN, securing a copyright, paying photographers, and covering mailing and promotion. I've estimated the total cost to be a jaw-dropping $17,000. That's a five digit number. In the current economy--hell, in the previous economy--that's a lot of dough that I simply don't have.
In order to finance the book and get it into stores and Amazon.com, I've opened the project up to the community. Any dollar amount is helpful, though I've created an investment program to make it more attractive (spelled out to the right). Note that most of the pledge rewards allow for written contributions to be added to specific areas of the book. Contributions are subject to basic grammar editing, and nothing of a hateful or potentially litigious nature will be considered. Author's judgment is final. In simpler terms, please be cool!
Pledge money is only collected once the goal is hit.
One final thing--if this works out, my goal is to move forward as a media publisher, releasing books and music by people whose work I admire in multiple formats. This could be a wonderful, um, kickstart to helping establish a new and dedicated independent contributor to the arts scene.
For further information, and lots of Chicago-in-the-90s discussion, visit my blog at
Relevant to the book, my blog started running a feature-within-a-blog called "90s in 90 Days," on 6/1/09.