Equipped with a notepad and pen, dictaphone and an unwittingly sharp sense of humor Sylvia Patterson scrawls through three decades of the music industry recalling her wonderful and frankly odd interviews with famous faces. I’m Not With The Band starts in foggy Perth, at a time when music journalism was arguably at its best, and follows the decline of the trade and the rise of celebrity culture.
Patterson reminisces about past interviews, from jovial tales about the Smash Hits glory days to the whirlwind of freelancing for the NME. The book not only showcases the storytelling talents of Patterson, but also pinpoints famous music and historical milestones in a way that fills you with nostalgia. This frankly honest and personal account takes you through the Britpop '90s heyday and the rise of rap, to the gloomier present day - the music industry has without a doubt changed dramatically in the last 30 years.
Musical quips with Oasis, awkward meetings with Damon Albarn, weird encounters with the likes of Eminem and unforgettable moments with legends such as Prince; through the highs and lows Patterson’s story is an exciting one. Her fast paced, yet undeniably unstable career saw her fall head first into a rabbit hole of parties, romance, feminism, bankruptcy, mouldy rentals, all whilst befriending and upsetting the industry's finest.
Her account is like a love letter to her youth, growing up alongside the bands she admired without over romanticising the notion of meeting music’s biggest artists like Madonna. She opens up a world that many only dream about, but describes each encounter as, in most cases, business as usual. Reading this book is like taking the head off of Mickey Mouse at Disneyland to reveal a weedy, under-washed guy in his early twenties trying to make some extra cash over the summer - I’m Not With The Band may kill the magic that comes with daydreaming about your favorite band or artist.
The book is broken up by a candid autobiography, which at times only mimics the running theme that flows through the pages; the decline of music journalism, its censorship and the rise of pop culture. Patterson gives a detailed account of the shift away from liberal writing into a culture where artists are media trained and ruthlessly safeguarded. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does open up an interesting debate.
Unstable yet thankfully long, her career covering three decades of music places Sylvia Patterson firmly amidst an earlier breed of respected music journalists. I’m Not With The Band is written from the heart of one music lover with the intention to be read by another. Through tales of interviews with ‘the stars’ to tribulations about growing up, you can see why Patterson took such a path and we are consistently glad she decided to relentlessly record every word.
(448 Pages, ISBN: 978-0751558685, Sphere)
Here at Musos' Guide though we have one copy of the book to give away. Simply tweet us @musosguide with the name of one of the publications Carris mentions Sylvia writing for, including the hashtag #INWTB so we can filter the entries and the first out of the virtual hat wins. Only open to UK residents as the book's a hardback copy & not open to contributors to the site. Competition closes at 17:00 on June 29.