The Rock Bible: Unholy Scripture for Fans & Bands (Quirk Books) is a humor title that came out a few years ago, but I recently recommended it to a friend, which got me perusing through it again, and what do you know—it’s still a hoot.
When not working as a concert promoter, indie record producer or label owner, author Henry Owings is the editor of Chunklet, a particularly snarky music zine from Georgia that does things like dismantle VH1 “100 Greatest”-type shows with nasty—but hilariously true—comments about each choice. Owings’ book focuses that wit with jokes—and occasionally good advice—in the form of hundreds of commandments for bands, roadies, studio mavens, fans and anyone else who comes into his crosshairs.
Some sample commandments:
• If your amp has more than six knobs, you are one of them.
• If you don’t laugh at the studio engineer’s jokes, he will ruin your album.
• If you say “My friend Neil is in that band; I’ve always wanted to see them,” Neil is not actually your friend.
• Rhythm guitar players should always look like they want to be somewhere else.
• All drummers wearing headset microphones should be required to take a food order.
• Everybody thinks they’re funny. Most people aren’t, especially soundmen.
• The only excuse for using a megaphone on stage is if you’re a fire marshal.
• Lo-Fi means “couldn’t afford to record in a real studio.”
• Never personally master your own recordings unless you really don’t want anyone to listen to them.
• If you’re one of those drummers who sets up at the front of the stage, back the hell up. You are the goalies of rock; play your position.
…and so forth. Interspersed throughout are sidebars like Recommended Phrases To Say To A Not-So-Great Band As They Come Off Stage (“It’s nice to hear a drummer who really knows how to put some step into the kick drum”), and there’s additional essays by comedian Patton Oswalt and others. A particular highlight is Bryan Teasley’s Genesis, a goofy, but surprisingly thorough Cliff Notes of Rock History, presented as the world’s longest run-on sentence.
It’s not for everyone—folks who accidentally pick this “bible” up expecting to learn more about CCM may walk away offended if they read the section about groupies, for instance. For many road dogs or studio rats, however, Owings’ jokes and sensibilities will ring true, and thanks to the paperback’s extra-tough cover, it’ll survive living in your road case or being kicked around the studio indefinitely. In all, The Rock Bible is a fun, simple way to pass the time while waiting for that guitar to finally get tuned.