EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW BONAZELLI, AUTHOR OF THE NEW NOVEL, A REGULAR, AND MANAGING EDITOR FOR DECIBEL… PLUS A FREE EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK!
As managing editor of Decibel, Andrew Bonazelli makes your life better each and every month by helping to give you an outlet to discover awesome new music, learn what your favorite bands are up to, sound more intelligent to your friends by plagiarizing opinions that aren’t your own, and have something to read in the bathroom.
Now, with the release of his second short novel, A Regular — the first literary endeavor from Vitriol Records, the label founded by Justin Smith of Graf Orlock/Ghostlimb/Dangers fame — Bonazelli has enriched your life even further, giving you something smaller and more portable to read in the bathroom. Bonus: the book also happens to be really, really good. Here’s a description from the publisher:
“A morose barfly drowns his misguided affection for barely legal trollops in crossword puzzles and wells whiskey. But Murray Baron isn’t just a regular at Seattle dive haven the Kapital — he exists in the bar in perpetuity, days and weeks bleeding formlessly into one another, punctuated only by cock-crushingly banal conversation. When he finally literally unseats himself to save a friend’s life, the decision ignites a series of overlapping absurdist confrontations straight from the id of a 12-year-old. Murray’s fate seems to have been halved into either suffocating barstool inertia or outlandish hyperactive lunacy, and only a highly dubious psychic can help him revisit the pivotal adolescent event that put him in this very literal state of arrested development.”
And if that doesn’t entice you, please be aware that the story also features a robot called “The Eraditroid.”
Awesome. Simply awesome.
After the jump, get the author’s thoughts on why metalheads should care about his book, how Linkin Park and Dennis Cooper have inspired his writing, releasing a novel through a record label, and willfully farting in public. (It’ll make sense if you read the book.) Plus, get a free excerpt from A Regular, so you can have a little taste of how great it is…
First thing’s first: where the hell does a metal writer get off writing a novel, let alone two novels? Don’t you know that you’re supposed to be a borderline-illiterate neanderthal?
Honestly, due to intense work obligations, I’m more of a metal “editor” than writer at this point. Albert [Mudrian, Decibel‘s editor-in-chief] can attest that I get way more worked up about semicolons or writers overusing “explain” than whether Motörhead have, like, 19 or 20 full-lengths.
The quality of the writing is borderline-illiterate.
How did you even find time to work on A Regular while acting as the managing editor of Decibel?
I feel that for a lot of people, once work is over, the inertia totally sucks what passes for their lives dry. So rather than spend meaningful time with my friends learning about their hopes/dreams/fears, I like to spend most nights pretending I’m doing something “creative.” It’s either that or slowly cheese-grating my penis during a Real Housewives marathon.
What, or who, was the inspiration for A Regular? Have you yourself been a regular at a seedy bar like the one in the novel? Do you have a lot of experience with psychics? Underage girls? Killer robots?
It’s half-based on a real acquaintance back when I used to live in Seattle (well, my artless interpretation of elements of his life, none of which are nearly as pathetic as what the protagonist endures), half-based on the Linkin Park video for “Somewhere I Belong.” I’m actually not kidding about the latter — I thought the notion of items from a kid’s room coming to oversized life in dream had a lot of potential — which was completely wasted on them, of course. I’d say “there goes my cred” if I had any whatsoever. I’ll let you all know which new Papa Roach single informs my forthcoming short story anthology.
As for the last three questions, fuck no, not enough and not enough.
You have a very specific writing style. Can you discuss some of your influences?
I like Flannery O’Connor, Dennis Cooper and Bill Watterson a lot — just getting into Larry McMurtry now. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer [by Patrick Süskind] is also one of the best-researched, most disturbing and evocative pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. And everything I appreciate about everyone I just mentioned I’m not remotely talented enough to even fantasize about ripping off. A Regular is very conversational, snide and tangential; my first book, Mechaniks, was also extremely stylized (probably over-, but on purpose, and who cares), and I’d like to not do that so much in the future.
What’s your writing process like? Do you outline? Use notecards? Just get drunk and let ‘er rip…?
Usually come up with a loose start-to-finish outline, then I go to a bar and write shit out longhand. But I’m not the hi-look-at-me-I’m-writing-in-a-bar asshole, I swear. (Even if I were, better that than some dickwad in Starbucks on a MacPro.) If I try to write at home, there are too many excuses/distractions. If I force myself to go somewhere miles away, I invariably accomplish enough to justify the expense. It’s probably because I’d feel like a dick going halfway across the city and then just sitting there staring at people.
How did you end up publishing the book through Vitriol? It’s obviously unusual to see a record label put out a book…
I was gonna put it out on a wonderful old friend’s start-up press, but she had some money issues and shit wasn’t getting done. I had already researched what it would cost to do a small print run, done the shit work formatting the book on my own and gotten a friend — Jamie Leary, Decibel’s head designer — to knock out a great cover. So I was ready to just say fuck it and put it out myself, but asked Justin Smith of Graf Orlock for advice on self-releasing. He was building his own small empire in L.A., and I think Ghostlimb and Graf Orlock are unfuckwithable — the accompanying art, the songs, the whole jam. After a few emails, he graciously offered to co-release the book. Not to put words in his mouth, but I feel like his ultimate vision for Vitriol entails a community of friends whose artful inclinations aren’t just limited to music. (Although I imagine the literature they’ll release in the future is more politically-oriented.) Since I can’t play anything but “In the Meantime” on guitar, this was the closest I’ve ever gotten to a legitimately punk DIY venture, which is pretty exciting for a 33-year-old lifelong “journalist.”
The names of the story’s chapters are listed on the back of the book, the way a band would put a track list on the back of their album. Did you consciously want to invoke a connect between this story and a record? And if so, to what end?
Simple answer is I wrote a synopsis for the back of Mechaniks and thought it was crap in retrospect. Also, see previous answer about never being in band; I thought the titles looked sweet stacked up that way.
Let’s pretend that Hollywood shelled out egregious amounts of money to adapt good books as opposed to, say, Twilight. Who should play Murray Mortimer Baron? I’m thinking Lindsay Lohan.
Even though he doesn’t look anything like the character, John Leguizamo. Just ’cause he’s never been in a good movie ever, and I’d wanna be his first. (Checking IMDB.) Okay, he was in Out for Justice for two seconds, but that doesn’t count.
Finally, do you fart in public willfully? And, if so, what kinds of farts?
Usually near-sharts. I almost sharted on the way to Wendy’s yesterday for one of those Bacon Bleu monstrosities. Nice intervention, “God.”
A Regular is out now; you can order a copy here. And check out an excerpt below! (Click on the image to embiggen.)