You conjure up an idea, scribble down some notes on a piece of paper, make voice memos on your phone, and voila, about three and a half years later you have a book. See how simple it is?
I came of age in the microwave generation and I've lived long enough to exist in a world ruled by Amazon. To say we're a generation (and now a race) of people who define instant gratification as yesterday, would be a massive understatement. Knowing this, why the hell would I embark on a journey that would likely take almost four years before seeing a finished product?
Waiting for anything simply isn't something we do anymore. When my daughter puts a snack into the microwave and lets out an audible and disconcerting sigh because she must wait another 14 seconds for her taste buds to become happy; or when my son finds out that the package from Amazon won't arrive until 10 AM even though he ordered it at 8 PM the night before (could you imagine the nerve?) grunts out a "this is ridculous", how can I expect to be satisfied that my book, SLACKER - 1991, Teen Spirit Angst, and the Generation It Created, won't see the light of day until nearly four years after I wrote its first word?
The answer, for me at least, is simple. In reality, this book took over 35 years to write, so three years and some change is nothing.
The music that took over the world in the early 90s, was due in large part to the first single and video released by a band with almost no following to speak of outside of Seattle, Washington. Nirvana's second album, and first major label release, Nevermind, exploded into the musical and cultural consciousness, not long after first coming out in the early Fall, of 1991. Once this happened, 18-year-old me, along with tens of millions of people around my age across the globe, found a new sonic home. Whether it was called grunge, alternative, hard rock, punk, etc, really didn't matter. It did matter to 5th Avenue and the record companies that would rake in billions of dollars on the sound and fashion they helped to manufacture for decades to come, but to the kids listening to the music, we felt heard.
I've been listening to what some would call alternative music since 1987 with my introduction to Jane's Addiction. Ironically, the band's debut, self-titled album was released on my birthday, May 15, in 1987. I guess the universe knows what it's doing because this is certainly a strange coincidence. The album was a live recording, which is extremely rare to be used as a band's debut, but as we'd come to learn about Jane's, they were anything but conventional. Regardless, this record helped move me along the musical path I was already on with hard rock, heavy metal, and rap. It was the next logical step in my evolution of sound and what would appeal to me going forward. When the planet as a whole heard it all in 1991 and 1992, everything changed.
So with roughly 36 years of listening to this music and all the variations and sub-genres it produced, I felt the time was right to put pen to paper, voice to phone, and ultimately, fingers to keyboard, and tell the story of how I took in one of the biggest and most influential music scenes of all time. You don't have to be a fan of the scene or the music it produced to understand its significance. As a matter of fact, that's typically a strong sign of something big crossing over into territories it otherwise could not have. When people who are indifferent to, or downright dislike, a certain style of music but can see and appreciate its relevance and historical impact on society, you know you're dealing with something special.
A book like SLACKER couldn't have been written by someone who wasn't there for the entire scene. It wouldn't do the music and the emotional impact it had any justice. Sure, someone could have researched facts, figures, record sales, and timelines, but I don't believe that alone would provide the value of someone who felt it and lived through it all. That's one of the reasons I chose to write it. I may not have been in a band, nor did I live in Seattle, but with every fiber of my being for the better part of 10 years, I felt like a fly on the wall in every recording studio and all of the tour busses that housed the bands that created the music. Most of this happened in the pre-internet days, and all of it happened before social media, so I devoured every magazine, book, and newspaper article I found on the subject. I read every interview and watched every documentary. I watched 120 Minutes, Alternative Nation, and YO! MTV Raps, religiously. I went to hundreds of shows, seeing both local and national touring bands, and I talked about the music and the scene with like-minded people incessantly. In my twisted mind, I knew this knowledge and love for the scene would turn into a book someday. I didn't know how, and frankly, I'm still amazed I did it, but hey, I wrote a book about all of it.
Should anyone care that I wrote a book about music that was released over 30 years ago? Yes and no. No one should care that I, Rob Janicke, wrote a book. That being said, I think millions of people who love this music and the scene it created as much as I do, should care that a book was written about it. I didn't want it to be just another book on bands and music. Not that there's anything wrong with that (I say in my best Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza voices. If you know, you know), but as a matter of fact, without books about bands and music I wouldn't have had the desire, drive, or courage to write this one. My point is, I wanted SLACKER to encompass not just the music, but what the music did to an entire generation with regard to the emotions and life-changing affirmations of millions of fans around the world. I find the emotional and biological attachment we have towards certain music fascinating. To that end, I interviewed therapists, sociologists, and scientists to help explain it all.
SLACKER - 1991, Teen Spirit Agnst, and the Generation It Created is something I'm incredibly proud of. My hope for all those who read it is that they're brought back to a time in their lives that meant a lot to them so they can relive some great memories from their childhood. Similarly, I hope that they can truly feel, and thus understand through my journey listening to the music of the 90s, how and why so many people were affected by the most unlikely commercial success that was grunge and alternative music. I'd also love it if it sparks conversation and creates the inspiration to dive back into the bands and songs with new and older ears, or if they're new to this music, listen for the first time and hopefully add the genre to your current music listening rotation. Either way, thank you all for joining me on this wild ride!
If you'd like a signed, Limited 1st Print Run Edition of the book, click this link.
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