BOOK REVIEW: Life in the Stocks: Various Conversations with Musicians & Creatives By Matt Stocks

BOOK REVIEW: Life in the Stocks: Various Conversations with Musicians & Creatives By Matt Stocks

With his Life in the Stocks podcast now entering its fourth year and notching 180 shows at the time of publication; Stocks decided to celebrate the impressive motley of musicians and comedians featured with their takes on the following: adolescence; punk rock; success; booze and drugs; politics and religion; creative partnerships, the hero’s heroes; life and death and other rites of passage including parenthood.

Having previously written for both Kerrang and Metal Hammer; Stocks has acquired an in-depth knowledge to interview his chosen guests, including Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) and Kyle Gass (Tenacious D). Whilst Stocks guests are well represented globally; this book solely focuses on his American and Canadian interviewees who are reflected in Matt’s use of American English throughout.

As one may have guessed, punk rock is Stocks favourite music genre. Matt explains that punk rock was the only music genre to change his life which began when he was introduced to NOFX. Stocks got Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane to discuss the origins of his band who began when punk was still underground along with the changes that have occurred now punk is “mainstream”. Sane recalled Fugazi’s uniqueness by not having slam dancing at their shows. Jesse Malin (Heart Attack) reminisced over The Dickies puppet with “a penis and balls” that was “funny” whilst being “provocative and offensive”. As with each chapter in Life in the Stocks; Matt concludes with a relevant playlist. Naturally, this chapter includes punk rock tracks from NOFX and songs from The Dickies.

The most interesting and most unnerving and chilling chapters are booze and drugs, politics, religion, and success. Matt reveals that “most of my favourite memories have been sponsored by one mind-altering substance or another”.  When speaking to comedian Doug Stanhope, Stocks discussed the last time he “tripped” in Epping Forest when snowing a couple of months earlier. Stanhope responded that he preferred the “comforters” of a hotel room. One of the most upsetting and difficult accounts to read was Nick Oliveri’s (Queens of the Stone Age) who’s uncle introduced him to speed when he was just eleven. One of the more light-hearted recollections came from B- Real (Cyprus Hill) who insisted that his “weed was much better” than Damian Marley’s. Stocks’ concluding chapter playlist appropriately included Cyprus Hill’s “I Wanna Get High”.

As with booze and drugs, Matt offers his views on politics and religion (influenced by Gandhi and Einstein) by saying the two are intertwined and that “religious leaders and heads of state” are “the figureheads of oppressive systems of control, fear and manipulation…” Justin Sane revealed to Matt how the first Gulf War influenced his band's naming: Anti-Flag, he “stopped going to businesses that supported Donald Trump” and that he was “not a fan of Obama” either. More positively, Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) discussed how “music really does have the power to change the world!” In 1985, Van Zandt united musicians from Lou Reed to Run-DMC to record a song against South Africa’s apartheid regime. Van Zandt proudly recalled how economic boycott legislation was soon passed after this records’ release. “Sun City” by Artists United Against Apartheid naturally made it into this chapters’ playlist.

Concerning creative partnerships, Nick Oliveri revealed how he first learned that he was dropped from Queens of the Stone Age by reading about it on the internet. Nick opened up on how “my songs are better with him (Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age frontman)” and how he “hates and loves” Homme “just like a brother”. One cannot help but feel melancholy with Stocks’ inclusion of Queens of the Stone Age song “You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire" in the creative partnerships chapter playlist.

Elsewhere, among many other things, musicians including Machine Heads’ Robb Flynn discuss parenthood, the Mad Caddies reveal how a hiking accident introduced “New Orleans Dixieland Jazz” influences to their second LP Duck and Cover and CJ Ramone (Ramones) confessed his “disappoint” that the Ramones didn’t sign with Epitaph Records once their record deal with Sire ended.

Matt promised “education and entertainment” across Life in the Stocks. Stocks delivered on both of these whilst also providing several unnerving and unsettling moments too. Stocks would not have been able to have recorded these accounts if he was devoid of the skills required by an adroit podcast interviewer. This is just volume one! Volume two is in the works featuring Gene Simmons (Kiss), Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine).

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