Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Health Tour

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

Billy

Kennedy: As a founding member of Health Tour, I thought it worth explaining the concept. Up until a couple of years ago, along with the memories and stories we would bring back from tour, we would also drag back our sorry, greying, bloated bodies. Touring, particularly in America, had its downsides: a shit-ton of bread, meat, cheese and booze meant that, what should be a joyous reunion with our loved ones, was often a look of disgust from our other halves and families back home. And so Health Tour was born. Our weakness for these stodgy foodstuffs means that we have to create strict rules and consequences for breaking these rules. Please read contract for further detail.
My vice items in the last tour were:
Beer
Cider
Bread
Cheese
Meat

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From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Lists

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

Grant

Grant Hutchison: When deciding on what we should all write for these posts, there seemed to be a common theme among everyone’s ideas. That theme was lists. Top-five tour smoothies, best cities for buying thyme and a few more I won’t mention just in case they make it in. I tried and tried to come up with something different. Something a little weird and highly original. All of those ideas were unfortunately total shite, so here is my contribution to our editorial takeover of MAGNET.

My top-five lists
1. Tracklist
The order we choose to put the songs on our records. This can be a very easy, natural process where the list picks itself, or you can get to the point where you’re tearing your hair out, and just think maybe it’s best to put them in alphabetical order just for the fuck of it! There are many things to consider when compiling this list. You want to keep the listeners’ attention for the whole thing. You want to avoid any “dips” in momentum. There’s also the consideration of a vinyl listener and how they might see the record as a two-sided work, and therefore there are two introductions and two conclusions. Our process is always democratic, which can make it even harder when there are eight different lists to choose from. But after many emails back and forth and listening to the album way too many times, we’ve always come up with what we think caters for every listener.

2. The Carnet
This is a rather boring one but unfortunately fairly vital to our touring careers! It is our list of gear for freighting in and out of countries when we are overseas. Obviously, ours is filled mainly with Irn Bru, Freddos and Pringle socks, but there is the odd guitar that goes on there, too. There’s a strange satisfaction in looking it over in Glasgow once it’s been delivered back and counting each piece to reach the same number that’s on the sheet. It is, of course, expected that everything should be delivered back the way it was dropped off, but it’s certainly not a given.

3. My nieces’ list for going on holiday
In between tours in June, my girlfriend and I took my nieces Morven (six) and Ailish (three) away for a weekend in a hotel. Such was their excitement at the prospect of a night away with Uncle Grant they compiled a list of essentials so as not to forget a single thing that could scupper their enjoyment of the experience!! Above is a photo of said list. My favourite entry on this has to be “swooning cosiuoomis,” which roughly translates to “swimming costumes”! Needless to say, nothing was forgotten, and mainly because this list was made we had a wonderful time. Another example of the power of the list!

4. “Alphabet Aerobics” by Blackalicious
This one isn’t strictly a list as a whole, but there are a few in there so I thought it would be appropriate, and it’s an incredible listen, so I don’t really need to justify myself! I first heard this on a mixtape my brother made for me in my teens. We used to record a mixtape for each other every birthday and then managed a couple of CDs, but the art of it all was kind of lost on a CD, so we stopped and moved on to getting DVD boxsets. I instantly fell in love with this song and started trying to memorize the lyrics. I think I made it up to about E or something and gave up. Alphabetical lists are the best kind, but alphabetical lists that are rapped?! Holy shit, they kill!! The EP this is on is actually an absolute cracker with loads of great stuff if you can find it anywhere. I can’t remember the name, but you have Google, right?!

5. The Setlist
I saved the most important one for the end. The setlist. This is something that can be incredibly difficult to get right, and much like the tracklisting on an album, there are many things to consider when compiling one. You have to grab people’s attention right at the start but keep them there until the end. You need to show a decent representation of your work meaning you have to cover all albums even if you think some are a bit shit! There’s the balance of slow vs. upbeat tracks, and whether you’ll do an encore or not. You can’t just have one list for a whole campaign, either. There’s the mind melting season of festivals, where our sets range from 30 minutes up to 80, where certain songs are better received in certain places. We now have five records, so we’ve had to drop a few that might surprise some audiences, but we always promise to play them next time so people come back again. (We will, I promise!) This is a list I see daily and live by when on tour. If it’s not visible by my side when I go on, I would be fucked. And if we didn’t have it at all, the show would be a shambles.

Lists are good. Lists are great. Keep on listing, folks!

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From The Desk Of Everett True: Courtney Love

My name is Everett True. I released the first record on Creation Records (My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, Oasis, Pastels). I was the first music critic to write about Sub Pop Records. I founded two self-published magazines in the 2000s—Careless Talks Costs Lives and Plan B Magazine. Entertainment Weekly reckoned I was “the man who invented grunge” (1992). Kurt Cobain called me the “biggest rock star critic in the world” (check the video). Jonathan Donahue called me “our generation’s Lester Bangs,” but frankly I’m better than that.

I have written several books, a couple of which are still in print (Ramones, Nirvana).

The Electrical Storm (illustrations by reclusive French genius Vincent Vanoli is a collection of stories from my life, Some of the names have been omitted to keep me from having yet another target on my head (the list is legion), but in some of the cases if you think about it enough you can put together the clues of who the story is about. I started out by doing my own fanzine, and have long been a proponent of DIY culture. Hence this crowd-funding enterprise: an attempt to raise enough money to publish my memoirs, which come as a collection of short stories in the style of William Saroyan.

If you like this story, imagine another 100 or so of them, and donate at the link below to help get this book published.

Otherwise known as Grunge: My Part In Its Downfall, being an attempt to recollect a life probably best forgotten, the life of Everett True. Sad racy stories. Downbeat enthusiasm. Funny, cruel, clever, brutally honest … once you’ve read this, you will never be able to take music criticism seriously again. Like you ever did.

5
Camden Underworld, London, 1991
She starts screaming my name.

I’m standing near the back, taking a breather. The shots are expensive but I’m on expenses. Punters walk round wearing homemade “Fuck Everett True” T-shirts, most of them coloured by reprinted quotes. Everyone knows Thurston wants to rip my head off. My friend Delia—she’s tiny, but furious when roused—has spent most of the concert kicking at the ankles of territorial men grotesquely lurching from side to side. The singer leaps—tumbles, rather—off the stage in a spirited imitation of Mark Arm, seemingly oblivious of the territorial men and hence straight into their lurching, grotesque arms.
She starts screaming my real name.

The arrogant shithead men lift her above their heads, hands inside her dress and her knickers, clawing and fingering and feeling. Apparently, women don’t stage-dive. Apparently, women need to be taught a lesson. A lesson that only scummy indie boy/men can teach them. My female friends—and many of my male friends too—are near apoplectic, kicking out and scratching.

She’s screaming my name.

Later, everyone’s looking for us. She’s hidden underneath the dressing room table, refuses to come out unless someone finds me. I’m confused, conflicted. Not by what’s just happened—there’s no confusion there—but by the storm of emotions swirling round in my thickened, smoke-filled head. Get me a fucking drink, I command. Someone does.

Someone always did back then.

Later, everyone’s looking for us. No one knows what’s going on. There’s a rumour going round we’re having sex in the bathroom. There’s a rumour we’re making out underneath the dressing room table. She gives me a ring to wear on my middle finger. It breaks three days later. It’s a crackerjack ring. She lets me try on her lipstick.

You can help crowdfund and order advance copies of the book here.

You can find out more information about the book company here (includes the now-legendary first volume of 101 Albums You Should Die Before You Hear).

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From The Desk Of Everett True: Kurt Cobain

My name is Everett True. I released the first record on Creation Records (My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, Oasis, Pastels). I was the first music critic to write about Sub Pop Records. I founded two self-published magazines in the 2000s—Careless Talks Costs Lives and Plan B Magazine. Entertainment Weekly reckoned I was “the man who invented grunge” (1992). Kurt Cobain called me the “biggest rock star critic in the world” (check the video). Jonathan Donahue called me “our generation’s Lester Bangs,” but frankly I’m better than that.

I have written several books, a couple of which are still in print (Ramones, Nirvana).

The Electrical Storm (illustrations by reclusive French genius Vincent Vanoli is a collection of stories from my life, Some of the names have been omitted to keep me from having yet another target on my head (the list is legion), but in some of the cases if you think about it enough you can put together the clues of who the story is about. I started out by doing my own fanzine, and have long been a proponent of DIY culture. Hence this crowd-funding enterprise: an attempt to raise enough money to publish my memoirs, which come as a collection of short stories in the style of William Saroyan.

If you like this story, imagine another 100 or so of them, and donate at the link below to help get this book published.

Otherwise known as Grunge: My Part In Its Downfall, being an attempt to recollect a life probably best forgotten, the life of Everett True. Sad racy stories. Downbeat enthusiasm. Funny, cruel, clever, brutally honest … once you’ve read this, you will never be able to take music criticism seriously again. Like you ever did.

4

Seattle, 1994
I’m walking through an airport, a bag of vinyl records under my arm.

I’m watching the lights sparkle and twinkle over the city of Seattle—my favourite sight in the world—as tears crease down my face, and I’m wishing I was anywhere but here.

I’m in a hotel room, incoherent rage coursing through me and just as rapidly dying away again. I make a great show of pouring the remains of my whiskey bottle down the sink, but it’s meaningless. “Have you heard the news,” cipher after cipher asks me on the phone. “Have you heard the news?” Oh, is the news important then, all of a sudden?

I’m dully asking the check-in desk whether they have any cheaper flight tickets because I have to get some place, and I have to get there now. They find me cheaper flight tickets, half price death special.

I’m talking to my friend Eric on the telephone. He’s in L.A., and I’m in Ohio, and he’s telling me that he and his party want to meet me at the residence. Need to meet me at the residence. I want to know what to do and he’s telling me that I should go there. Now. I want to know what to do, and in the background behind his airport pay phone I can hear a babble of voices, many raised. He says he’ll send a limousine for me. He says that’s what will happen. I want to know what will happen. He says he’ll send a car for me. He’s in L.A. and I’m in Cincinnati. We don’t talk about it.

I’m walking through the airport to the departure lounge and Steve’s taken my records from me and I have nothing with me, no hand baggage, just a passport and an old pair of jeans.

I’m in Mark’s apartment and I’m looking at my jeans and saying something about how maybe neither of us care—and he certainly wouldn’t have given a damn—but it feels disrespectful. It’s not raining outside. It’s fucking beautiful and Mark says something about that, how weather changes moods. I cut my toenail badly, clipping it with an unfamiliar tool. It starts to bleed. The TV is on momentarily. Loads of sheep in a field. We switch it off.

I’m on the plane and Seattle is twinkling and I want to stay circling the city forever. I think of all the people who’ve met me in Arrivals over the years. No friends are meeting me today, just a chauffeur who refrains from talking. The first time I landed in SeaTac it was snowing so thickly we couldn’t see the ground until the wheels hit the tarmac and even then we couldn’t see the ground. The tears spiral around my face, dried on there by the years. I’m on an airplane going nowhere. I have nothing to listen to.

I’m in a limousine and there seems to be some kind of roadblock up ahead, a scrimmage of reporters and police officers. We’ll never get through that. We’ll have to go round, won’t we? The driver turns round and looks at me, almost for the first time. “That’s our destination, buddy.”

I’m up in a bedroom and people are crying.

I’m standing by a winding staircase, and people are crying and shouting.

I’m hugging myself. I’m talking on the telephone to my mother, wondering how she’s managed to track me down to a telephone booth in an American airport. I’m missing my lost friends, badly.

I’m in a corner, and the opposing factions try and talk to me. I have nothing to say, no bag of records to show everyone to enthuse them with, to make them laugh or something. I have no stories or funny vomiting acts. Mark comes over, and says nothing.

I’m in a hotel bathroom, watching the remains of the bottle disappear down the sink.

I’m standing outside a fast food joint, looking at the sun.

I’m wondering if anyone’s ever going to want to listen to stories again.

You can help crowdfund and order advance copies of the book here.

You can find out more information about the book company here (includes the now-legendary first volume of 101 Albums You Should Die Before You Hear).

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From The Desk Of Everett True: David Bowie

My name is Everett True. I released the first record on Creation Records (My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, Oasis, Pastels). I was the first music critic to write about Sub Pop Records. I founded two self-published magazines in the 2000s—Careless Talks Costs Lives and Plan B Magazine. Entertainment Weekly reckoned I was “the man who invented grunge” (1992). Kurt Cobain called me the “biggest rock star critic in the world” (check the video). Jonathan Donahue called me “our generation’s Lester Bangs,” but frankly I’m better than that.

I have written several books, a couple of which are still in print (Ramones, Nirvana).

The Electrical Storm (illustrations by reclusive French genius Vincent Vanoli is a collection of stories from my life, Some of the names have been omitted to keep me from having yet another target on my head (the list is legion), but in some of the cases if you think about it enough you can put together the clues of who the story is about. I started out by doing my own fanzine, and have long been a proponent of DIY culture. Hence this crowd-funding enterprise: an attempt to raise enough money to publish my memoirs, which come as a collection of short stories in the style of William Saroyan.

If you like this story, imagine another 100 or so of them, and donate at the link below to help get this book published.

Otherwise known as Grunge: My Part In Its Downfall, being an attempt to recollect a life probably best forgotten, the life of Everett True. Sad racy stories. Downbeat enthusiasm. Funny, cruel, clever, brutally honest … once you’ve read this, you will never be able to take music criticism seriously again. Like you ever did.

3

Madison Square Garden, New York City, 1997
I’m lurking in a long white corridor. Bare walls. Floors swept on a regular basis. Great reverb. There’s no one around. I’ve given the laminates and walkie-talkies the slip momentarily. I’m catching my breath. A woman sees me. She says, “You shouldn’t be here”. Uh-oh. Rumbled. She says, “You should be in here, you’re late” – and pushes me through a door.

I’m in a room with five other people, one of whom is David Bowie – and he’s looking expectantly in my direction. I duck behind a cameraman. He answers some questions. He’s still looking in my direction. I offer my hand. He shakes it. I mumble something about how pleased I am to meet him. He smiles. Honour is satisfied.

In a room a little way off, a large pop star with big hair is waiting to punch me for what I said about his dullard music. We’re not on first name terms, so let’s call him Bob. He knows what the fuck I look like. He sees me several times. He doesn’t go near me. They never do, the ones who brag in print about hitting you. Think about it. If someone’s going to have a pop at you, would they warn you first?

I exit David’s room. I’m in another passageway – anaemic and white and sterile like a rerun of Holby City. No one is smoking. I can hear laughter. I try a door handle. The door opens into another dressing room with a bunch of pop stars standing round, holding drinks, trying to out-casual one another. I figure I need one – or several – of those drinks so I join one particular group and we start chatting, laughing. Exchanging the time of day.

Fifteen minutes pass.

“I don’t know why I’m talking to this cunt,” remarks one star jovially. “He was so fucking rude about my band. Every occasion he got, he was so fucking rude.”

There’s a slight lull in the conversation.

“Still…” says another, heavily. “At least your band didn’t split up straight after he spoke to them.”

You can help crowdfund and order advance copies of the book here.

You can find out more information about the book company here (includes the now-legendary first volume of 101 Albums You Should Die Before You Hear).

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From The Desk Of Everett True: Calvin Johnson

My name is Everett True. I released the first record on Creation Records (My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, Oasis, Pastels). I was the first music critic to write about Sub Pop Records. I founded two self-published magazines in the 2000s—Careless Talks Costs Lives and Plan B Magazine. Entertainment Weekly reckoned I was “the man who invented grunge” (1992). Kurt Cobain called me the “biggest rock star critic in the world” (check the video). Jonathan Donahue called me “our generation’s Lester Bangs,” but frankly I’m better than that.

I have written several books, a couple of which are still in print (Ramones, Nirvana).

The Electrical Storm (illustrations by reclusive French genius Vincent Vanoli is a collection of stories from my life, Some of the names have been omitted to keep me from having yet another target on my head (the list is legion), but in some of the cases if you think about it enough you can put together the clues of who the story is about. I started out by doing my own fanzine, and have long been a proponent of DIY culture. Hence this crowd-funding enterprise: an attempt to raise enough money to publish my memoirs, which come as a collection of short stories in the style of William Saroyan.

If you like this story, imagine another 100 or so of them, and donate at the link below to help get this book published.

Otherwise known as Grunge: My Part In Its Downfall, being an attempt to recollect a life probably best forgotten, the life of Everett True. Sad racy stories. Downbeat enthusiasm. Funny, cruel, clever, brutally honest … once you’ve read this, you will never be able to take music criticism seriously again. Like you ever did.

2

Calvin
We meet him at the train station. He’s playing with a yo-yo, and casting eyes at my girlfriend. (Even then, I didn’t mean the “my” to sound so possessive.) He feels dangerous: the type of performer who will leap down off the stage and confront a heckler. Eyes like Johnny Rotten. Salacious, and uncomfortably so. A charmer. A snake charmer.

He walks up to my girl and says, “Would you like to rub my belly?” Voice deeper than Lee Hazelwood. Voice deeper than Satan.

We play a show in a village hall in Hertfordshire. His band, they all switch instruments and clatter in a ramshackle daze: He sings songs about comforting beverages and necrophilia, false seasonal starts. The music sounds so poignant, aware. Perfect. The local band are composed of scurrying critters, throwing off odd angles and shadows in the deepening dusk. They play, too. So scratchy. So sweet. I soundcheck solo—my bandmates long gone, set adrift by my self-obsession and nausea—and realise my electric guitar sounds better not plugged in so that’s how I leave it. I sing soft and sweet. For once, my guitar is not the point of contention. Every song is a minor epiphany, a revelation. Not just mine or his, but everyone’s.

He makes eyes at my next girlfriend, too, and the one after that. The “my” is never possessive.

He sings songs about death and confrontation. Most people don’t read that much into them, but there again most people don’t realise the Cramps are the greatest band ever. He laughs, never carelessly. He is supportive, very. He used to drive the bus.

We play a show in a pub in Brixton and no one shows up. Everyone is dazed, hurt.

Years and years later we play a show in Brighton and the next evening he steals my backing band. Again, the “my” is misleading. I mean, think about it. Me—in control of musicians?

One time he answers the phone when he’s staying at my house and his nemesis—my lover/friend—answers it, and I don’t know what is said (both sides are protective of me, perhaps figuring me to be the innocent), but when I get on the line she says she’ll punch him next time she sees him.

And she does.

We go to any number of all-night dance parties and never bother with the alcohol. We don’t need it. His hometown is my safe place, a place in which I hide. We go for walks in forests and along railroad tracks and down by the lake and up by Capitol Hill. Not just him and me, of course: numerous others. Nikki. Lois. Tae. Al. Tobi. Slim. Bake sales and swap meets and water fountains and snow angels just when you thought it couldn’t get any sweeter. Cassette tape upon cassette tape. Vegetarian breakfasts with Tammy Wynette. Empty movie theatres. Performances like you will never experience because you were never there.

He cuts out shapes from paper, not because he can, but because it’s fun.

The smell on the stairs is fenugreek. I’m sure of it.

Everyone is a prime mover if they choose to be. Some simply have a bit more charisma.

You can help crowdfund and order advance copies of the book here.

You can find out more information about the book company here (includes the now-legendary first volume of 101 Albums You Should Die Before You Hear).

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From The Desk Of Everett True: The Rolling Stones

My name is Everett True. I released the first record on Creation Records (My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, Oasis, Pastels). I was the first music critic to write about Sub Pop Records. I founded two self-published magazines in the 2000s—Careless Talks Costs Lives and Plan B Magazine. Entertainment Weekly reckoned I was “the man who invented grunge” (1992). Kurt Cobain called me the “biggest rock star critic in the world” (check the video). Jonathan Donahue called me “our generation’s Lester Bangs,” but frankly I’m better than that.

I have written several books, a couple of which are still in print (Ramones, Nirvana).

The Electrical Storm (illustrations by reclusive French genius Vincent Vanoli is a collection of stories from my life, Some of the names have been omitted to keep me from having yet another target on my head (the list is legion), but in some of the cases if you think about it enough you can put together the clues of who the story is about. I started out by doing my own fanzine, and have long been a proponent of DIY culture. Hence this crowd-funding enterprise: an attempt to raise enough money to publish my memoirs, which come as a collection of short stories in the style of William Saroyan.

If you like this story, imagine another 100 or so of them, and donate at the link below to help get this book published.

Otherwise known as Grunge: My Part In Its Downfall, being an attempt to recollect a life probably best forgotten, the life of Everett True. Sad racy stories. Downbeat enthusiasm. Funny, cruel, clever, brutally honest … once you’ve read this, you will never be able to take music criticism seriously again. Like you ever did.

1

A Hotel Room In Oklahoma, 1997
French windows overlook a skyline that’s frankly disheartening: a handful of distant skyscrapers and endless freeways, interspersed by the odd mall. A table filled with drinks is set between the music critic and the three co-conspirators. Every now and then, a joint rolled by the able fingers of Mr. Keith Richards passes hands. Ice clinks in glasses.

Frequently, Ronnie leans over to kiss Sheryl. Sheryl, still in makeup and leather trousers from her cover shoot, looks like anyone’s idea of serious rock-chick material. And Ronnie—good old Ronnie, as large, languid, leery and louche as Pan himself—he cannot believe his luck.

The four of us—plus security—we’re drinking and working, and discussing the blues and nipples that double as hat stands. Maker’s Mark and vodka. Ron’s wife raps on the door. “Go away,” barks Keith. “We’re working.” He turns to me and inspects my drink. “What’s that you’re drinking?” he commands. “Maker’s Mark! Good call.” He lights up a joint, satisfied that honours are even. He passes the joint to me.

Several thoughts run through my head.

How strong is this joint, that Keith Richards is smoking it?

I don’t smoke weed—well, not recreationally.

If I don’t take this joint from Keith and smoke the fucking thing right now, the interview’s over. That’s as clear as day.

I mutter “thanks”, and take a deep long toke. Keith looks away, distracted by Ron laying his head in Sheryl’s lap. I breathe out again—through my mouth. The Bill Clinton of the fucking music press, that’s me!

So, I ask bravely, how does it feel to have fucked up rock ’n’ roll. Are you guilty?

He mishears the question and laughs to himself. “Guilty? Sure, I’m guilty. Guilty of every crime you could name … ”

He becomes diverted by my accent. “Where you from, man?” he drawls.

“Brighton,” I reply.

“Brighton … ” He stops and thinks for a moment, lazily. “I think I own a property somewhere near there.”

Someone’s knocking on the door. Ronnie’s wife sticks her head round the corner again.
Keith: “Mind your head. It may get squashed in the door.”
Jo (Ronnie’s wife): “Ronnie. Can I have a word with you?”
Keith [stern]: “No, you can’t. We’re working. Go away.”
Ronnie [joking]: “What? What? Did my horse win?”
Jo: “Alright, I’m going.”
Keith [nasty]: “Go away.”
Ronnie [friendly]: “Come in, say hello.”
Keith [even nastier]: “We’re busy.”
Jo: “I’ll come back later.”
Keith [slowly and with emphasis]: “Go away. Go away.”
Ronnie [trying his damnedest to ignore the threat of Keith, and not succeeding]: “We’ll meet you downstairs.”
Jo: “You’re not going to … ”
Keith [with absolute finality]: “Josephine. Go away.”
Jo closes the door.
Sheryl: “I need a husband, so we can tell him to go away.”
Keith: “Ronnie’s lucky. He’s got me to do it for him.”

At the concert the following day, Sheryl decides she wants to watch the Stones play on the tiny stage in the centre of the arena, and so—without ceremony— the Stones’ personal security clears a path through for us just as “Sympathy For The Devil” starts up. Yeah, fuck. Sure. A thrill races right down my spine.

So the three of us, we’re stood there watching the Stones, right next to the stage—and fuck me if the beer I necked earlier hasn’t had its usual effect. I am beyond busting. I am also aware that I’ll never get back to this spot if I take my leave. (The previous evening, Ron had to physically intervene to stop hotel security beating me to a pulp.) So I stand my ground as piss trickles all the way down my jeans leg and out onto the ground.

Anything for the fucking story.

You can help crowdfund and order advance copies of the book here.

You can find out more information about the book company here (includes the now-legendary first volume of 101 Albums You Should Die Before You Hear).

Posted in GUEST EDITOR | Comments closed

From The Desk Of Robert Ellis: Merle Haggard

After a pair of solid releases that established Robert Ellis as an eccentric singer/songwriter with a traditional country foothold, his new self-titled LP is as definitive and weirdly beautiful a statement of defiance as you’d expect from a guy whose primary touchstones are Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as opposed to Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. Perhaps that’s why the two best tracks on a uniformly great record—the structurally sophisticated yet effortless opener “Perfect Strangers” and the brooding, soulful “California”—are keyboard-based. Already an acknowledged ace on guitar at 27, Ellis has been reacquainting himself with the keys over the last few years. Ellis will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on him.

MerleHaggard

Ellis: I’m sitting at City Winery in Manhattan right now. It’s 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, and we have an “off” night on tour. Yesterday, I got a call from my buddy Aaron Lee Tasjan, who noticed I had a hole in the schedule in New York and wondered if I would want to come sing a Merle Haggard song at a tribute that he put together last minute.

What song to sing?

When you are talking about Merle Haggard, that’s an incredibly tough decision. He’s one of my biggest heroes and arguably one of the greatest and most prolific songwriters of all time. I ended up settling on “Misery And Jin.” We are about to get up there and run through it, so in honor of Merle I will leave you with this playlist.

I love you, Merle, and your songs have meant so much to me. Thank you.

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From The Desk Of Robert Ellis: John Hartford

After a pair of solid releases that established Robert Ellis as an eccentric singer/songwriter with a traditional country foothold, his new self-titled LP is as definitive and weirdly beautiful a statement of defiance as you’d expect from a guy whose primary touchstones are Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as opposed to Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. Perhaps that’s why the two best tracks on a uniformly great record—the structurally sophisticated yet effortless opener “Perfect Strangers” and the brooding, soulful “California”—are keyboard-based. Already an acknowledged ace on guitar at 27, Ellis has been reacquainting himself with the keys over the last few years. Ellis will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on him.

JohnHartford

Ellis: I would simply like to share one of my favorite records with you guys. I’ve been a big fan of John Hartford for some time now, and probably listened to Down On The River thousands of times. Every time I hear “Right In The Middle,” I feel completely in love. The arrangements on this record are pretty unique across the board. I love the fiddle ensemble, harmonized and thickly layered all over the album. Whether I’m walking around Manhattan or driving across west Texas, this is one I just keep coming back to. In the “wrecked on an island scenario,” this would definitely be on my list.

Listen to Down On The River here.

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From The Desk Of Robert Ellis: Jonny Fritz

After a pair of solid releases that established Robert Ellis as an eccentric singer/songwriter with a traditional country foothold, his new self-titled LP is as definitive and weirdly beautiful a statement of defiance as you’d expect from a guy whose primary touchstones are Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as opposed to Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. Perhaps that’s why the two best tracks on a uniformly great record—the structurally sophisticated yet effortless opener “Perfect Strangers” and the brooding, soulful “California”—are keyboard-based. Already an acknowledged ace on guitar at 27, Ellis has been reacquainting himself with the keys over the last few years. Ellis will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on him.

JohnnyFritz

Ellis: Jonny Fritz and I have been friends for what seems like an eternity now. We have travelled all over the world together, written songs, played in bands and somehow remained good friends despite all that. He is one of my favorite songwriters and people on the planet. He just got a hip replacement. My hope is that this interview shows up on google searches for other hypochondriacs who notice a little pain in their leg and immediately start searching the internet as I would.

What happened to your hip? What was wrong with the old one?
My problem is I’m too extreme. Not in like a Monster energy/Calvin pissing/Oakleys-on-top-of-a-hat/Fox-racing tattoo kind of way. But in a way that I get too excited about something, and then I overdo it until it destroys me. In the case of my recent hip replacement, it had to do with running. I marathon’d my hip into breaking about five years ago. My surgeon says I probably had a series of microscopic fractures in the fermoral head that eventually made it cave in. As you know, I spent a long while trying to better it with massage and physical therapy. Nothing did any good. In fact, it made it worse and worse until I started making appointments with hip surgeons. I got shots of cortisone into my hip, took oral steroids, acupuncture, massage, tinctures from hippies who love giving advice. Nothing did anything but make it worse. The worst part was that these crock-of-shit surgeons wouldn’t give me an MRI! They kept telling me that I was making it up! That I needed to come back when I was 50. What kind of sick fuck would accuse a 32-year-old man of faking an injury to get surgery? Well, I can show you four of them from all over the country. I’m still so angry at these fuckers, and it breaks my goddamn heart to think of how many people are walking around with bum limbs because some dickhead doesn’t want to risk it on someone with more than a handful of good years ahead of them. I’ll cut this short because I don’t want to, but actually, no I won’t. This is where I should talk about it and rant. Well, if you’re at all like me, you’re asking “WTF? Why wouldn’t they help someone who actually has a life to live? And not just an old fart who doesn’t walk at all anyway?” Here’s my theory, and I think it’s a good one. I think they don’t want to help someone like me. There’s no real incentive; only risk. I think they are worried that they’ll screw something up on a young person and then they’ll have to explain to an insurance company why they were performing surgery on a relatively young adult, instead of the thousands of geriatrics lined up out the door. At least with the old timers, they probably won’t complain much, even if it’s worse than before! But with me, I have a lot of years left, and it’d be easier to just tell me to go away. Which is exactly what happened, until I went to UCLA and talked to surgeon willing to give me an MRI. Immediately, he saw that the bone was dead and needed replacing! We booked a surgery date for a month later and then it was done. Incredible, eh?

How does the stress of a pending operation compare with other stresses in your life? Recording, touring ect.?
Nothing has ever come close to this. I realize now, five weeks after my surgery, that I’ve had a low level depression creeping around for the past couple years. I couldn’t sleep well, couldn’t walk much, sitting was horrible, standing up from sitting was even worse, but the psychological toll it all took on me was the most profound. The other month, I found these cheap flights to Argentina, with a 24-hour-layover in Mexico City. When you’re me, you constantly need to know where you can fly to for cheap. I need an out at all times. I kept the idea of the trip in my back pocket for a while until I remembered that I couldn’t walk more than a block, without calling an Uber. Then the idea of being in Mexico City for 24 hours and not being able to walk around hit me. It felt like prison. Coupling that with not knowing if I’d find a surgeon who would help me and not being able to tour/make money. That was rough. I really had a hard couple of years.

How long were you in the hospital? How much of that time where you hopped up on pain killers?
I was supposed to be there for three nights, but they let me out after two (for good behavior). The pain killers were rough. I’m sort of scared of that stuff, so I took too little. My parents were helping me, and they had to remind me to take them. I was scared of liking them. Everyone always says, “Stay ahead of the pain. Because if you let it get ahead of you, you may never catch it again.” This is a daunting prospect, and it happened a few times! Man, it hit me in such weird ways. The pain in my hip was intense and never really went anywhere (even with meds). But the fevers and chills and nightmares were from somewhere else. I would get up to pee in the middle of the night and be covered in sweat, but by about mid-stream I’d be reaching for towels on the rack to keep from freezing to death. Then I’d have to get myself back into bed and just hope I could sleep again or that I’d warm back up. Sometimes it would take hours.

Do you worry that they did anything strange to your body while you were under? Do you hope that they did?
Oh, I know they did. As I was saying my goodbyes to my sweetheart my and parents, they injected something into my IV. My dad, in response to the injection said, “You’re gonna be in another world in about 1.5 minutes.” Then they wheeled me into the operating room and a giant man helped me to the edge of the bed. We locked arms like in an eighth-grade dance while they put an epidural into my spine. As I drifted off to sleep (in that giant man’s arms), I remember him saying in a very deep voice, “You gonna do just fine.” When I woke up, they had also put a catheter in my urethra! I couldn’t feel anything below the belt. Not my leg or any of my “importants.” Couldn’t control anything down there. I didn’t even wanna look at it! But I like to think that after still-life-slow-dancing me to sleep, that giant sweet man also inserted that thing into my little man. I’m glad I was asleep for that part, but I’m sorry I never got to thank him for it.

You don’t take drugs recreationally very often compared to most musicians I know. What was it like to be “high” for that long? Did you do anything while under the influence that is out of character for you?
Ah shit, I was afraid you were going to ask me about this. The answer is yes, yes I did. But let me preface this by saying that the meds I was on gave me a lot of energy and drive but they also made my memory only last a little while. It was great because I was really inspired and I was able to stay in the moment really well! But the embarrassing part was that I felt really inspired with bad ideas and I was compelled to write lots of emails, to lots of people. I sent a few to some “higher-up” people in the music business, asking for really odd favors and then completely forgot about them! I didn’t really understand when I started seeing nervous and anxious replies in my inbox. This was days later, so I started to look in my outbox to figure it out, because the emails I had apparently sent seemed too weird to be from me. Shit, it was so embarrassing. Like this one: I had written a song in the hospital about the movie Her and I thought it was the best song and that maybe it would finally put me on the map! And maybe, just maybe, if I could get it in Rolling Stone, Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix would probably feel compelled to visit me in the hospital! I figured I’d bypass the Make A Wish Foundation and cash in whatever semi-celebrity chips I was holding

You are pretty much healed up now? What’s next in your life? Do you feel like this operation will give you a “leg up” in the music business?
Nice one. Well, I have a new record coming out this year. It’s called Sweet Creep, and I’m very proud of it. I’m planning on touring it and really pushing it, like we do, but not sure yet where the hell it’ll get released. I don’t know, man, I’m just really happy with life these days. I feel brand new, and I just want to “stay ahead of the pain,” as they say in the hospital. I want to keep making music that I want to make. I want to never read another review of mine. I want to keep treating people well. I want to keep my van running well. I want to exercise and love my sweet woman, and I want to not answer to anyone. That’s really it. I’m doing a great job, and I’m really grateful that I have a lot of people who love me and a lot of people I love. I think I’ve cracked the code. Stay ahead of the pain! Because if you let it get ahead of you, you may never catch it again.

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