When a book has a truly considered foreword by someone like Jesse Malin (of D Generation and solo career) then you know there must be something in it – and Matt Stocks, on this evidence is worthy of that introduction.
You have probably heard of Matt, if not, I’ll let him introduce himself…” I’ve been let go without warning by every media company I’ve ever worked for: Kerrang! Radio, Team Rock Radio, Metal Hammer, Scuzz TV—they’ve all gone out of business at one point or another, and I’ve been laid off by all of them at the drop of a hat, without severance pay”. That misfortune led to his hugely popular podcasts and, via them, to his first book; it’s a carefully handled series of extracts from conversations (not interviews!) with numerous musical legends compiled in a unique way as Matt isn’t regurgitating discussions without reason. In his book, Life In The Stocks: Veracious Conversations with Musicians & Creatives Volume 1, he draws on common themes, puts them into chapters and provides a clever way to read numerous versions of specific experiences. Matt introduces each artists to put into context what follows, and no subject is taboo – we get very personal insights on adolescence, booze and drugs, politics and religion amongst others. The final chapter is, fittingly, about life and death where Vinnie Caruana provides a harrowing account of 9/11, Al Barr discusses the opioid crisis in America, Tom Green relives his battle with cancer… even these dark subjects are revealing and fascinating and all of them show the character and humour of the extensive guest list. You will read insights into the lives and thoughts of such luminaries as Andrew W.K., CJ Ramone, Kyle Gass, Michael Monroe and Robb Flynn to name but a few. Not all of the interviewees are as well known but they all have worthy tales to tell.
Each chapter ends with a playlist of varied songs from some of the contributors or their heroes or for their suitability to the subject matter… I’ve already picked up a few songs that I missed the first time around (Brewer & Shipley, Against Me!) and listened to some I haven’t heard in a long time but found languishing in the depths of my library.
If you have listened to all of Matt’s podcasts (and have a phenomenal memory) this may not be new, but it is still an entertaining read that can be just dipped into as the fancy takes you or read from cover to cover. Importantly, being a fan of any of the contributors is not required; they all have something to say and the way they are grouped makes it an easy journey for the reader.
Life In The Stocks: Veracious Conversations with Musicians & Creatives is published by Rare Bird Books (rarebirdlit.com) and is available internationally.