Review Fix chats with â€œThe Hopefuls: Chasing a Rock â€™nâ€™ Roll Dream in the Minnesota Music Sceneâ€ author Paul V. Allen to find out what inspired the book and what heâ€™s up to next.
About the Book:
Songwriters, performers and producers Erik Appelwick, Eric Fawcett, John Hermanson and Darren Jackson were important players in an early 2000s musical collective. This collective included genres such as folk, power pop, R & B, electro-funk and indie rock. Well-known bands Storyhill, Spymob, Alva Star, Kid Dakota, Vicious Vicious, Tapes â€™n Tapes, Olympic Hopefuls and others were part of this movement. These four men worked for their rock nâ€™ roll dreams, producing well-crafted albums and exciting live performances along the way. Their shared biography draws from dozens of new interviews and hundreds of articles to document their intersecting musical journeysâ€”from playing air guitar to KISS records to rocking gyms in high school cover bands to touring the world with some of pop musicâ€™s biggest names. Equal parts celebration and cautionary tale, this book discusses both the rewards and difficulties of life as an independent musician.
About the Author:
Paul V. Allen is an early literacy specialist. He lives in Normal, Illinois.
Review Fix: What inspired the creation of this book?
Paul V. Allen: Iâ€™d been a big fan of the music of Erik Appelwick, Eric Fawcett, John Hermanson, and Darren Jackson when I was living in Minneapolis in the 2000s, and had always been fascinated by the way they had a collective that worked together on these really stylistically different projects. They had a handful of years at the top of the local scene and it really looked like they were going go national, but then things just dissipated. So I was interested in revisiting those glory years, learning how it all started, and finding out why it didnâ€™t last.
Review Fix: What makes the Minnesota music scene worthy of a book like this in your opinion?
Allen: The Minnesota music scene has produced an inordinate number of national acts with very distinctive and influential sounds â€“ artists like Prince, The Replacements, Husker Du, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Semisonic. At the same time thereâ€™s this whole other aspect of the scene where independent musicians can become prominent there and sometimes even make a living off their music without touring or getting national attention. I wanted to explore that, because thatâ€™s the story that doesnâ€™t typically get told.
Review Fix: What was the writing process like?
Allen: It was two solid years of work. I did over 30 interviews, read hundreds of articles from local papers, listened to a ton of albums, and scoured dozens of old websites on the Internet Archive. Itâ€™s a complex story, so it was a fun challenge to weave all of the different strands together into a coherent narrative. But it was also tricky trying balance all the different perspectives, especially when they differed from one another.
Review Fix: How do you feel the music scene in Minn. will be looked at in a few decades?
Allen: I think what happens over time, for better or worse, is that the bigger stories get bigger and the smaller ones fade away. The actual complexity of a place or time period gets forgotten as the decades pass. So when it comes to Minnesotaâ€™s music scene itâ€™s going to always be about Prince.
Review Fix: What did you learn through the writing process that you weren’t expecting?
Allen: There were a lot of surprises and twists related to their story, mostly because I went in only knowing the very basics. One of those surprises was the fact of why the musical collective fell apart, which was a culmination of interpersonal issues between some of the guys that are still simmering. That led me to my biggest lesson, which is that writing about living people is a minefield.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the book?
Allen: My primary goal was to get it in the hands of people like myself who were fans of the various musicians and bands itâ€™s about. But, as I said earlier, I also hope Iâ€™ve recorded for posterity this great time in the Minnsesota music scene that would essentially be forgotten if it wasnâ€™t documented.
Review Fix: How would you like it to be remembered?
Allen: I hope it survives as a record of that time in Minnesota music, both for those who lived it and those in the future who are interested in the history of the scene. I also hope it will lead more people to discover these guysâ€™ music, because they really are great songwriters and performers.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Allen: Iâ€™m finishing up writing a history of Random Houseâ€™s Beginner Books early reading series that started with 1957â€™s The Cat in the Hat. Iâ€™ve been working on it since I finished primary work The Hopefuls in the summer of 2017, and now just have a few loose ends to tie up before I start looking for a publisher.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Allen: You can buy The Hopefuls in paperback directly from McFarland, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or ask your favorite independent bookstore to order you a copy. Itâ€™s also available as an ebook. You can learn more about the books and musicians at www.thehopefulsmusic.info.
I also have a website (www.paulvallen.com) and a Twitter account (@UnrealPaulAllen) if youâ€™d like to keep up with my work.