Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interview with Bill See author of 33 Days

What have you been up to since Divine Weeks?

Well, I've put out five solo records so I never stopped making music.  When I feel I have something special to share I'll play the occasional show.  Like I just did a book release party here in L.A. and instead of doing a boring book signing, we made it like even parts club show, movie opening and art gallery opening.  Played some old Divine Weeks songs live, read some excerpts, played some old videos and served some tour grub like PB&Js and Pop Tarts.  Turned out really well.  Hmm, what else?  Well, I did write the book, or course.  That took about 12 years, believe it or not.   

Do you still follow the underground/up and coming music scene?  If so who are some people to watch out for?

I do.  Dinosaur Pile Up, Odd Future, Superhumanoids are all worth watching.   

Do you have plans for any more books?

I have a couple in the oven, as they say.  Right now I'm pretty immersed in the promotional side of pushing 33 Days.  My DNA is to finish something and move right on to the next new thing, but I'm making myself stay in the 33 Days mode and really stand up for it because I believe in it and would like to see it made into a movie.  There's a lot of pretty classic set pieces, as they call them, in the book, and everyone seems to feel it would translate well into a movie.  

Did going the indie route with your music make it easier for you to do the same with your book?

Completely.  See, going D.I.Y. is in my blood from putting out my own records, touring and self generating publicity.  Divine Weeks made the jump to a bigger label that way, and I don't see marketing a self published book all that differently.  I see young bands today utilize facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogs, and wish Divine Weeks had had that modern technology at our disposal.  We sure wouldn't have starved to death on the road like we did.  But don't get me wrong.  I'm not some bitter boring old fart.  I think it's fantastic, and I'm just glad to have the opportunity to use my D.I.Y. know how to promote 33 Days.  I kind of see it as my chance to modernize the old D.I.Y. punk ethos I learned from Black Flag and the Minutemen.  They taught us success doesn't come to you.  You go to it.  We never fell for that victim stuff.  We just put our heads down and fought for it.  And really, nothing's changed.  You can't wait for the world to notice how bloody grand you are.  So, I'm making book trailers and video tours of L.A. to show readers the club scene and give them a deeper look into the background of the book.  I'm using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and the book's website is a great portal into all the music and found in the book

Do you maintain a twitter/blog/facebook/etc for fans to connect to you?

Yeah, like I said, I'm using all that.  Go to the 33 Days website and all the links are there.  

What do you miss most about the days touring in a van?

I guess I miss that us against the world mentality you have to carry around.  There's a very possessive, gang like, defiant coat of armor you have to wear.  It's empowering.  When you're out there barely getting by, and it feels like you have no one on your side, you close ranks and you lean harder than you'd ever dream you could on those four friends and those songs you made together.  There's something almost mystical about setting off in that van, like heading off into the hinterlands to search for converts.   

What was the hardest part about touring the country in a van?

Well, we were broke most of the time, and it was pretty much a daily challenge to find money for enough gas to get us to the next town, not to mention money for food.  I mean, it was hard but at the same time, it was a time in your life when everything feels possible.  When dreams don't have boundaries.  And see, we'd taken our cues from bands like Black Flag who literally invented D.I.Y. touring in a van and went through a lot worse with no template whatsoever.  We were green as toads out there and over our skis most of the time, but we really felt like we were on a mission.  It's not that we thought that our music could change the world, but it did change ours, and we basically just wanted to show anyone who saw us that we were reborn finally doing what we were meant to do.  We really thought we could inspire people to do like we did and seize their moment too.  

Do you ever talk to the other guys anymore?

I do.  Our guitarist Rajesh was instrumental in finishing the book.  His story and my own and that friendship between us are the really crux of the story.  He was very gracious and brave in digging down and sharing with me some of his cultural background and struggles he hadn't ever shared before in order to bring the story more depth.  That enabled me to really set up what became the emotional centerpiece of the book which was this pretty big racial confrontation we faced in Edmonton.  That scene and the aftermath of it was a watershed moment.  I mean, when we left on that tour, we set out to drink in the whole world and maybe sell a few records, but after that night our little tour turned into something more profound.  The stakes were raised, and we were never the same again.  Really 33 Days is a coming of age story, and that night you could say we grew up.

If you could redo one moment from that tour what would it be?

Gosh, I'm kind of a 'regrets are vain' kind of person.  I can't really imagine undoing anything.  Even the bad stuff that happened out there we found a way to overcome, and it was crucial to our evolution.  

Why did you decide to write a book about your first tour?

Oh because there's nothing in a lifetime like that first blast out of the canon.  It was the first time out on our own with all of us sharing a dream that was screaming inside.  Things had become desperate at home.  We were living a lie.  Living someone else's dream.  And something very sinister and irreversable happens when you sit on your dreams and deny what's at your core.  In a lot of ways, 33 Days is not so much about a band trying to make it and really more a cautionary tale about the perils of sitting on your dreams.  It's a story about that now or never moment we all have at about 22 when you come to your crossroads and have to decide whether to seize your moment or fold up your tent and regret it for the rest of your life.  There's nothing like that 22 year old voice.  You'll never see through those eyes again.  When I found the journals I kept on that first tour which became the primary source for 33 Days, what struck me more than anything was the voice I wrote in.  The voice was so electric and alive, and running over with that glorious mix of bravado hiding sheer terror that can only come from someone tasting that first bit of experience on the road.    

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me Bill.  I wish you the best in with your musical and literary careers.

Thank you for the opportunity and the very cool review Scott.

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