Saturday, November 22, 2008

[updated Feb 5 with more precise details on UK events, plus contents page]

From the author of the best-selling postpunk history Rip It Up and Start Again comes TOTALLY WIRED, a companion book of conversations with the brilliant minds who made the late Seventies and early Eighties such a creative era for radical music and alternative culture.

TOTALLY WIRED features 32 interviews with postpunk's most innovative musicians and colourful personalities--Ari Up, Jah Wobble, David Byrne, Phil Oakey, Lydia Lunch, David Thomas, Alan Vega, Linder, James Chance--as well as other movers and shakers of the period: label bosses and managers like Anthony H. Wilson and Bill Drummond, record producers such as Trevor Horn and Martin Rushent, and influential deejays and journalists like John Peel and Paul Morley.

Crackling with argument and anecdote, the conversations in TOTALLY WIRED bring a rich human dimension to the postpunk story chronicled in the critically acclaimed Rip It Up. We get to follow these exceptional (and often eccentric) characters from their earliest days through the glory and sometimes disaster of their musical adventures to what they went on to do after postpunk. We gain a vivid sense of individuals struggling against the odds to make their world as interesting as possible, in the process leaving a legacy of artistic ambition and provocation that reverberates to this day.

Along with the interviews, TOTALLY WIRED also includes a bonus "overviews" section: further reflections by Simon Reynolds on postpunk's key icons and crucial scenes, including John Lydon and Public Image Ltd, Ian Curtis and Joy Division, art school conceptualists and proto-postpunkers Brian Eno and Malcolm McLaren, and the lineage of glam grotesquerie running from Siouxsie & The Banshees to the New Romantics to Leigh Bowery.



"Dizzyingly erudite and compulsively readable, Totally Wired is a book to savour"--Hot Press

"A compelling oral history… This is also a fine cultural study: revisiting a now quaintly primitive age, when aspiring musicians staved off the boredom of interminable Sunday afternoons by re-reading the music papers and listening to tapes of John Peel's radio shows. On every level, Totally Wired is never less than fascinating"-- Q

"Essentially, what we have here are the interviews with the musicians, label bosses and producers which formed the backbone of Reynolds's research for Rip It Up… Where that first volume arched vastly over the full panoply of post-punk, Totally Wired breaks down into the individual constituents, the people on the ground level, taking punk's failed rhetoric and twisting it into new shapes. Basically, here are the human interest angles…. Fascinating reading"--Plan B

"A healthy dose of musical escapism thanks not only to the author's chats with David Byrne, Edwyn Collins et al, but his reflections on the musical events of the time. There's no finer way to learn about what happened before you were born…"--NME

"With… Rip It Up And Start Again…. Simon Reynolds became the flag-waver for the importance of post-punk to pop music from 1978 to 1984 - a scene…. where The Cure, Echo And The Bunnymen, Public Image Limited and Scritti Politti could exist in the same space simply by sharing the same double-headed ethos of innovation and oddness…. [Totally Wired] brings together a collection of people who recall that spirit of possibility so vividly you end up wanting to believe them all …. There's so much to take in and enjoy" ---Metro

"Rip It Up And Start Again… has very few serious rivals as the greatest music book of this decade…. an astonishing feat of research and a breathtakingly illuminating piece of writing. Three years on, Rip It Up has a companion piece on the shelves…. Using a simple Q-and-A format, Reynolds sets about getting to the bottom of what made these people tick creatively, why they made the strange and often magnificent music that they did, and what the social and cultural forces behind that music were. Some of these people, such as former KLF provocateur Bill Drummond or the late Tony Wilson, could talk the legs off a giraffe…. There's no shortage of laugh-out-loud moments either… Reynolds has included 90 odd pages of his own archive material as an appendix which, if anything, is even stronger than the main body of interview material….. Strongly recommended."-- Sunday Business Post

"Plenty of entertainment and interest for the post-punk reader"--Mojo

"Some former colleagues of Reynolds’ at… Melody Maker… still refer to him as “the master"…. This is perhaps because his approach to his subject is usually infectiously enthusiastic and well researched, with a finely balanced mix of theory and factual analysis…. [In Totally Wired] Reynolds has whittled an impressive 100-plus interviews down to 32, concentrating on those with interesting points to make/ stories to tell. This means we don’t get to hear from a slightly prickly Howard Devoto but we do get to hear Gerald Casale of Devo talking about the fatal clashes between anti-Vietnam protestors and the National Guard at Kent State University, and Linder Sterling of Ludus’ refreshingly different view of Mancunian musical history. Masterful indeed."--Record Collector

"As an interviewer, Reynolds's boyish enthusiasm is a joy"--The Wire



Ari Up
Jah Wobble
Alan Vega
Gerald Casale
Mark Mothersbaugh
David Thomas
Anthony H. Wilson
Bill Drummond
Mark Stewart
Dennis Bovell
Andy Gill
David Byrne
James Chance
Lydia Lunch
Steve Severin
Nikki Sudden
John Peel
Alison Statton
Green Gartside
Gina Birch
Martin Bramah
Linder Sterling
Steven Morris
Richard H. Kirk
Alan Rankine
Paul Haig
Phil Oakey
Martin Rushent
Edwyn Collins
Steven Daley
Paul Morley
Trevor Horn


John Lydon and Public Image Ltd: Two Biographies

Joy Division: Two Movies

Ono, Eno, Arto: Non-Musicians and the Emergence of 'Concept Rock'

Mutant Disco and Punk Funk: The non-oral history version of Chapter 20

London Glam City: Poseurs, Dreamers, Heroes, and Monsters from the Bromley Contingent and Blitz to the Batcave and Leigh Bowery.

A final interview: Simon Reynolds


Manchester, Thursday 12th February, Waterstone's in Deansgate
A conversation with Una Baines (The Fall/Blue Orchids) and Mick Middles (Sounds Manchester correspondent during postpunk/author).
Time: starting 6-30pm
Location: 91 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2BW
Tickets: £3 (redeemable against the book on the night) via 0161 839 1248

London, Sunday 15th February, The Roundhouse
A conversation with Colin Newman (Wire/Githead), Viv Albertine (The Slits), and Tom Morley (Scritti Politti).
Time: 7.30 for 8pm start
Location: Dr. Martens FREEDM Studio, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8EH
Tickets: £6 from the Roundhouse website


M. said...

Hi Simon. Any information on US publication and New York-area appearances?


Nothing definite planned as yet.

May I drew your attention to the fact that the pound is at its weakest against the dollar in decades, making it a VERY competitive time for Americans to drop by (where the book is priced at a 40 percent discount besides)

Jonathan said...

great stuff; a very entertaining book :)

favourite interview:
David Thomas — what a guy

and well done in speaking to Steven Morris (rather than the others) and Martin Bramah

are you doing footnotes for this book?
if so, here's a couple:

p67 Messiaen, symphonies, birdsong
he only wrote one (Turangalîla) and birdsong wasn't a huge element; most of his work with birdsong was done later

p187 Murray Flwyd
should be Mari Llwyd (the Grey Mare)


> mari llwyd

oh, bum!

i factchecked a lot of things in TW but that was one that slipped past me!

"symphonies" though = just non-classical-buff's shorthand for "classical works". he did a ton of stuff involving bird song transcriptions, though, right?

cheers for the info though... i hadn't planned to do footnotes but might work things like this into the existing RipNotes

yeah david thomas, quite a prickly character, glad to HAVE done it even if doing it was quite uncomfortable

Jonathan said...

I only know that because it comes in a children's book by Susan Cooper (Silver on the Tree) — and it's just a horse skull rather than the whole skeleton ;)

Messiaen: yes, lots of birdsong transcriptions. In particular check the Catalogue d'Oiseaux for solo piano — it's really like nothing else.

fabianthrust said...

Hi, Simon.

Just settling down to enjoy the new book, I reckon you need a new quote from me for any future publications though!

Best wishes

Jonny Melton (Specimen/Batcave/Nagnagnag/Atomizer).