Three new books, by the members of Metallica, Linkin Park and Wilco, offer fans a behind-the-scenes peek into the highs and lows of rock & roll stardom, anecdotes about life on the road and firsthand insight into the bands’ inspirations.
In The Wilco Book, written during the past two years, Jeff Tweedy and his bandmates elaborate on nearly every detail of band life. “It’s a total geek book,” says Tweedy, “about where our artistic and literary influences come from. We wanted to share stuff that we find inspiring — that could be a vacuum cleaner in Munich, or a beach ball in Australia, or why a particular guitar or tube amp is so special to me.” These memories are combined with photographs and diagrams (as well as essays by Henry Miller and Rick Moody), many of which knowledgeable fans can directly relate to Wilco’s music and lyrics. The Wilco Book also includes a CD containing forty minutes of previously unreleased music, from outtakes to experiments and improvisations recorded during the sessions for their latest album, A Ghost Is Born.
“Our fan club puts out a magazine four or five times a year,” says Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. “It’s probably the area where we connect on the most personal level with our fans. We write stories for it, and nobody gets to see it but our fan-club members. This book is a ‘best of’ from that material.” So What!: The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly offers a scrapbook-style visual history of Metallica and mines the members’ personal lives. Guitarist Kirk Hammett reflects on a Hawaiian vacation, and singer James Hetfield waxes about the joys of deer hunting. “It’s a deep and honest look into us as humans and the fun and pain we go through,” writes Hetfield. “It shows us inside and out, warts and all.”
Linkin Park’s From the Inside (out in November), with a foreword by Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke, offers a primarily photo-driven perspective of a band on the road. After the release of Meteora in March 2003, photographer Greg Watermann was hired to document Linkin Park’s eighteen-month world tour, capturing images ranging from rabid fans to the group’s tour-ending performance at Atlanta’s Philips Arena, where they were joined onstage by a gang of male strippers clad in bondage gear. “Anytime Greg’s been around us, seeing us on tour and hanging out, he’s really captured our personalities,” says singer Chester Bennington. “[The book] might be looked at by some people as stupid, but it also might be looked at as risky, different and cool. That’s our vision for everything we do.”