A music fan pursues stardom in a memoir that plumbs the depths of playing bars and clubs in search of fame.
Sterling (Teenage Degenerate, 2016) recounts his misadventures while struggling to attain rock ‘n’ roll stardom. The author, by his own admission, wasn’t a naturally gifted musician; he struggled to learn how to play bass, but his persistence and devotion allowed him to eventually play a host of seedy venues in and around Denver with his buddy, Jake, and his band mates, Seth and Cody. But then, on New Year’s Eve 2000 “just like that, after three and a half years, hundreds of shows, countless hours of practice, one EP, and one full-length CD, the band was over.” The breakup of this first band echoes throughout the book. Over the next years, Sterling played with three other bands that toured out of Colorado, and the book details a blur of concerts and van trips, all soaked in beer, as life on the road brought the young musicians only privation and sleeplessness. Sterling has a natural, easygoing prose style that suits his tale of the difficulties of making it in the music world. However, the narrative often dwells excessively on the mind-numbing details of band life, so that the many gigs and road trips begin to blur together. Sterling offers his most engaging work when talking about his relationship with a woman named Ana, or when analyzing his own failures, which he reveals with disarming frankness. Indeed, this honesty is more engaging than the beer binges and gigging that make up most of the narrative; also, after a while, the author’s penchant for the F-word gets a bit annoying. One message, though, emerges from these recollections—that the author’s love of music never wavered.
An earnest elegy to the band life.