Tuesday, November 3, 2009

HBO might make a movie!

Please excuse my lackadaisical blogging schedule -- the last post was February! But this news in the Hollywood Reporter bears repeating: HBO has optioned the rights to Appetite for Self-Destruction as a feature film. A lot of people have asked how this came to pass. It's pretty simple. Bob Cooper, a veteran producer who has worked on American Beauty and Barbarians at the Gate and now oversees Landscape Entertainment, called me one day and said he really liked the humor in the book. Which was great in itself. Then he said he wanted to option the rights to HBO, and six months later, I got an actual check of real money. The screenwriter is award-winning playwright Victoria Stewart, and word on the street is the working draft focuses on certain Sony Music executives mentioned prominently in the early chapters. I would say more, but I don't want Bob or Tory to send their Hollywood goons to my door.

More later, I hope ...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My surreal media month, part two

I should really update this thing more often -- but Live Nation, Ticketmaster and Bruce Springsteen started making news, so duty called.

Talking to Terry Gross on NPR was surreal enough, but one day Diana from Last Call with Carson Daly e-mailed unexpectedly and asked if I'd be interested in appearing on the show. I checked my busy schedule and responded that yes, I did believe I could make time for it. Thus began an adventure to Los Angeles with my best friend Booms as an entourage of one as well as an incredibly savvy and kind driver and "handler" named Lisa. Afterwards, it didn't really click in that I'd survived the appearance until I checked the DirecTV guide at the hotel bar and saw my name listed in the grid. Oh, then Booms and I had a LOT of margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Burbank.

Here are clips from the show, January 22nd:

As you can see, Mr. Daly knew the material pretty well and asked sharp questions. A few people have asked what he told me. I actually can't remember our conversation at the beginning, because I was nervous, as well as shocked that he pulled me into the "bro hug" -- I was expecting a plain old handshake! As you maybe can see, I had no idea what to do with my left arm. During the commercial break I asked if he ever met Lou Pearlman and Clive Calder, two of the main characters in the teen-pop chapter of the book, during his days on MTV. He said he definitely had met Lou a few times and Calder "I think once."

Afterwards, thanks to Lisa the Driver's machinations, I got to chat with Carson for about 10 minutes backstage. He took issue with my theory, in the book, that teen pop was purely a singles genre, and he defended specific albums by Backstreet Boys, 'NSync and 98 Degrees. I'll respond merely by saying it was strange indeed to be arguing with Carson Daly, the pied Total Request Live piper of boy bands and Britney, about the validity of teen pop as an album genre.

A few other great things happened. After I appeared on Denver's Jay Marvin Show earlier in the month, Jay enthusiastically invited my band, The Propane Daisies, to appear January 19th to play several songs and answer questions about our influences and such. It was quite a thrill. OK, it's not my band -- I actually joined after Eric the Singer showed up at our July 4 yard sale last year to buy some cheap princess stuff for his daughter. I think we sound good, though.

Thanks, everybody, for your kind words about the book. I've tried to respond to every e-mail but still have some catching up to do.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A crazy week -- with bonus Jello!

Last week was one of the most ridiculous weeks I've ever had. Tuesday alone, when Appetite for Self-Destruction came out, I did 11 interviews, beginning with this interview on 9News in Denver (sorry it starts automatically; I had some trouble with that 9News video site). I had to arrive at 4:50 a.m.:

Also that day I had a wide-ranging talk with mercurial radio host Jay Marvin on AM 760 in Denver. He got to mention his fave singer-songwriter, Tom Russell, and I got to mention my band, The Propane Daisies.

Just before I left for my book signing at Tattered Cover in Denver on Tuesday, I found the review in the New York Times and Rob Harvilla's Q&A in the Village Voice. Rob called it a "fantastic book." The Times gave it lots of amazing coverage with a surprisingly large color photo, but it kind of freaked me out with a couple of negative things at the end. However, a buddy who'd had a similar NYT review experience made me feel much, much better with this:

A lot of radio interviews all over the place followed, including NPR's Marketplace and WNYC's Soundcheck.

The highlight for me, though, was Thursday night's signing at the Boulder Bookstore. My 72-year-old mom was there, even though she'd been evacuated the day before from her Boulder Heights mountain home due to a nearby fire. (She's OK, and so is the house, but it was scary and frightening for a few days there.) A whole bunch of old pals were there, including Bruce, Leland, Gil and Jim. The place was packed and I got to introduce my remarks with a hearty "Hello, Cleveland!"

The very last question came from the side, sort of behind the bookshelves and removed from the audience. The questioner looked familiar. Then I got it. I said, "Can I introduce you?" and he said it would be OK. So: "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jello Biafra!" I'd met Mr. Biafra a couple of times, and even interviewed him once for his hometown newspaper, the Daily Camera, but this was a surprise. He hung around afterwards and gave me some excellent CDs from his longtime record label, Alternative Tentacles. (You should check some of them out -- there's a great one of him fronting the Melvins.) I got to introduce the auteur of "Too Drunk to @#$%" and "California Uber Alles" to my mom, and we gave him a ride home afterwards.

Here's a photo taken by my friend Pablo. I'm sitting down, and Biafra is the guy in the green shirt standing behind me. (The guy in the foreground is Andy Schneidkraut, owner of my hometown record store, Albums on the Hill, which you should all check out. Andy is quoted in the book as well.) Sorry it's so blurry. I encourage you all to blame Pablo:

Thanks, everybody, for showing up to the signings and being so supportive!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

And about those Hulk Hands...

In the Boulder Weekly, Dale Bridges writes: "While I was interviewing Knopper, my eyes kept drifting to the top of a nearby bookshelf, where there were two giant, green fists just sitting there for no apparent reason. They were a pair of those Incredible Hulk hands that you sometimes see at toy stores. When you put them on and punch them together, they say things like, “Hulk smash!” Knopper has a 6-year-old daughter named Rose (possibly named after the iconoclastic lead singer of GNR, but that’s only conjecture), but the Hulk hands were not hers. In fact, they seemed to be purposefully placed in a spot that was too high for Rose to reach."

Well played, Dale. I guess I have to respond:

1) What self-respecting 39-year-old father doesn't keep Hulk Hands in his office?

2) Rose was not named after Axl. (Or Jalen, or the Bowl, although her parents both attended the University of Michigan.) She in fact was named after her late great-grandmother, Rose Kahl.

Hulk Hands and Denver-Boulder media

Sometimes it's nice to live someplace other than New York or LA. The press in my current hometown, Denver, and former hometown, Boulder, went crazy covering the book. A roundup:

-- Boulder Weekly sent intrepid features writer Dale Bridges to my house to 1) interview me for this death-of-the-record-business story; and 2) ask me to contribute a recollection of my years covering the local music scene in the early '90s. The Hulk Hands photo was just a bonus.

-- The Rocky Mountain News, where I occasionally contribute features and concert reviews, commissioned a 4,000-word excerpt, mostly from the Napster chapter. Mucho thanks to those guys for spending so much time and space on this -- they have a lot on their minds.

-- My alma mater, the Daily Camera in Boulder, did a review and a Q&A.

-- Westword's veteran music and media critic, Michael Roberts, wrote a book-signing preview

Thanks, guys! Hope to see y'all at the signings.