I continued listening to the 70s rock and glam metal my older brothers fed me, easily floating up and down the radio dial from classic country to new wave and everything in between, but punk rock really captured my imagination. It was the springboard into a universe of art, culture, and ideas that I never knew existed.
Even when my tastes evolved and I followed my ears into glam rock, alternative rock, and grunge, punk rock continued to inform my worldview. A lot of that is on display in my Greg Salem punk rock P.I. trilogy including BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION (2015), GRIZZLY SEASON (2016), and HANG TIME, which was released last week.
I've blogged about my musical background and tastes in previous posts, but I haven't explained how punk rock also led me to read for pleasure. I don't know about you, but the two are inextricably linked in my mind. Black Flag and Kurt Vonnegut go together like peanut butter and jelly. Coffee and cigarettes!
I spent countless after school hours bouncing between a fantastic used record store run by some of the same punks I read about in Flipside magazine, and a hippie-dippy bookstore a couple of blocks from the beach (with a cat in the window, duh). My mind had been blown open, creating a gaping counter-cultural wormhole that led me to writers like Jack Kerouac, Raymond Chandler, William S. Burroughs, Dashiell Hammett, and Charles Bukowski.
By the time I got to college, I discovered spoken word performances by former Black Flag frontman, Henry Rollins, and Dead Kennedys founder, Jello Biafra. I also saw writers like Spalding Gray, Jim Carroll, and Michael McClure. It blew my mind that musicians were making words and that authors could perform their works like musicians.
Rock and reading have long been two of my biggest obsessions, but I have discovered a third in the last few years—podcasts. Radio shows like Somewhere Out There with Joe Frank, This American Life, and Radiolab were my gateway drugs. Once in the podcast universe, I quickly expanded to WTF with Marc Maron, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Cracked, Re:sound, Freakonomics, and Snap Judgement. Lately, I’ve been digging Desert Oracle Radio, Kurt Vonneguys, and The Hilarious World of Depression. And you better believe I grab tickets when I hear my favorite podcasts are doing live shows around LA.
It was a discussion about our favorite podcasts that compelled Eric Beetner and me to create the monthly crime and mystery podcast, Writer Types. And now my podcast fascination has led me to a new solo project that I’m calling Books on the Bus—a five-part podcast mini-series about the intersection of rock and reading. Each episode features a musician sharing about their favorite books and authors, how books inspire their lyrics, the best rock biographies, and what they like to read on the road—in addition to some unexpected tangents. A new episode will be posted daily between January 29 and Friday, February 2 over on the Rare Bird Radio podcast platform.
To say that this project brings together all of my favorite things would be a huge understatement. My guests include:
- Jeff Whalen—Tsar
- Joey Cape—Lagwagon, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
- Todd Pasternack—Ominous Seapods, author of LESSONS FROM THE ROAD: MUSICIANS AS BUSINESS LEADER
- Marko DeSantis—Sugarcult, Bad Astronaut
- Jim Lindberg—Pennywise, author of PUNK ROCK DAD
I’m so excited about this project that I’ve prepared a sneak preview for you. Hope you dig it!
S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novellas, CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, GRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.