Henry Owings is the editor and publisher of the music magazine, Chunklet. He recently released the book, "The Rock Bible: Unholy Scripture For Fans and Bands," which outlines the do and don'ts of being in a rock band. Casey O'Brien talked to Henry about his new book and the sins that rock n' roll has committed.
What spiritual awakening led you to be a prophet of future and current generations of rock musicians? In other words, what called you to write The Rock Bible?
Well, Casey, it happened like this: While editing an issue of Chunklet one beautiful Friday night, I was pulled from my work by the door bell. Because I live in the crime-ridden, redneck-ravaged South, I slipped my unregistered "throw-down" piece - a Smith and Wesson .38 long-barrel revolver with a filed-down serial number - in the back of my belt, pumped a shell into my Winchester 12 Gauge "Snake Popper" (sawed-off for...uh....easy storage), and answered the door. It was our veterinarian, making a house-call to deliver heart worm pills for my two standard poodles. Now, this was odd, as our vet would usually make this stops in the morning. That is, if we even had a vet. He was a middle-aged man in a vet/doctor's coat, which was unbuttoned to reveal a medallion resting at eye-level, as I was still confined to a wheelchair due to violently flipping my Baja Bug just seven days prior to this visit. When I tried to sign the invoice for the pills, the medallion blinded me with a beam of light. That's the last thing I remember before waking up, in front of my computer, my head loaded with the divine assignment of writing The Rock Bible. My, shall we say, "editor", if you will, did not phone this one in...I was missing five hours from the evening. And, it should be noted, this is just the first volume of three books I've been instructed to call "The Final Collection of Rock and Roll Writing." After a glass of water and a sandwich, the book simply poured out of me over the course of a week. Then, as I was listening to the Groundhogs "Solid" album, a voice coming from my computer's speakers instructed me to enlist the talents of Patton Oswalt, Brian Teasley, Andrew Earles, Dag Luther Gooch, and the other individuals in the "contributor's" section. That took a little bit of time.
In verse 71 of The Gospel According to the Band, it states "Never take anything you do seriously." This manifesto fits right in with your magazine, Chunklet. Why is not taking yourself seriously so important in rock music?
Because when rock musicians take themselves too seriously, certain tragedies occur. Not only does The Rock Bible teach the helpless how to avoid taking themselves too seriously, it teaches them how to do so correctly. When musicians attempt but fail at not taking themselves too seriously, you have an entirely different set of tragedies. There's a huge difference between not taking yourself seriously and actually being funny/inspired/clever.
When you say that "certain tragedies occur" when bands take themselves too seriously or don't take themselves seriously incorrectly, what is it that makes it so tragic?
It's very simple, Casey, both of these situations breed one thing: Mediocrity, and mediocrity is a virus that infects rock music to a degree that, if not monitored, could prove terminal. When, for instance, a band ham-fistedly avoids seriousness by adopting an 80's theme (video games, video game music, Hyper Color wear, out of date
technology), they create mediocrity. It is not inspired or clever and must be stopped.
Tenacious D, School of Rock, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band have become popular by parodying classic rock while simultaneously praising it. How does your book fit in with those other entities and what is your opinion of this trend?
It doesn't fit in. The Rock Bible is not a parody; it is a manual for daily living. The examples you've given are nothing more than pedestrian poppycock designed to amuse cigar-chomping dart-tossers that hang out in suburban establishments with names like "The Fox and Hound." The bottom line is this: Those entities despise the source material. The Rock Bible hemorrhages passion for the source material.
What lessons can your followers look forward to in the upcoming volumes of "The Final Collection of Rock and Roll Writing"?
The helpful truth. It will either encourage the break-up of the bands that need to break up, or the improvement of artists that use the teachings wisely. With the content's incendiary nature and book sales in mind, it should come as no surprise that I cannot go into great detail about the two upcoming volumes. Let's just say that fists will rise into the air and tears will fall to the floor.
You can get more Henry Owings at Chunklet magazine or by picking up a copy of The Rock Bible. You can also listen to his interview on The Sound of Young America.