This is Geoff Berner. If you know my music, you are probably odd, bookish, and like to drink, like me.
Well, I wrote a novel. It's called Festival Man and it comes out in exactly 1 year from Dundurn Press, of Toronto. I'll tell you more about it below.
It's always been a big dream of mine to write and publish novels, in addition to making music. To pull that off, in this tricky time in the publishing world, you have to make a splash with your first one, or people might not take a chance on your next one.
I needed to think of some special thing I could do, to help publicize the book, and give it an extra kick, so it would be more likely to be noticed. Something good.
Here's the idea I came up with:
Since Festival Man mostly takes place at a music festival, It makes sense to make an album, a kind of festival in a box, to accompany the novel. I have a lot of notorious, talented musical friends--I want to offer people an album of these friends, playing my songs. This would be an extra incentive to buy the book, and it's bound to help get the thing promoted on music radio and suchlike media. That is a big advantage.
Rae Spoon. Kaizers Orchestra. Corb Lund. ESL, Kris Demeanor. Carolyn Mark. Orchid Ensemble. Dave Lang. Some other people who I won't tell you about yet. The music will come along as a free download with the book, or separately on a nice, limited edition vinyl LP.
So I wrote to my notorious friends and asked them to do it, and they said yes. Some of them have already done the recording. Wow!
Then it was time to pay for it. Damn. The problem is: Mint Records, my label, can't do it, because they can't afford to make an album that's mostly given away free with a book. Dundurn Press, my publisher, can't pay for it, cause they already paid for the book, and they're not a record company.
So that leaves you, my friend.
Can you give me a hand? You could do it because you want to help me realize my dream of being a novelist. Or you could do it to cause a strange and possibly wonderful artifact to come into being.
What's my book about? It's the fictional memoirs of a drunk, psychotic, dishonest, ludicrous, somewhat inspirational music manager named Campbell Ouiniette. In the novel he explains his ways to humanity: specifically, what, exactly went wrong for him at the Calgary Folk Festival last year, and why. With digressions. It's a book about the power of strange music to change people's lives.
Sometimes I think it's a masterpiece, and sometimes I think it's a bunch of silliness. But I guarantee that it's not boring. It's funnier than Anna Karenina, and shorter, too. Hey--I found a Real, Reputable Publisher to publish it. That in itself is kind of a major achievement these days, eh?
This one guy, Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, an award-winning published author and all, he read it, and wrote to me to say it's "The best rock n' roll novel since Whale Music." So I'll take that.
What I Need & What You Get
I figure I need about 10 large, in order to cover some of the studio costs, paying musicians, mixing, mastering, art, promotion, and also to press 500 vinyl copies of the album.
If I get more, I'll pay the musicians more, and maybe make a video.
If I get considerably less than my goal, I'll skip pressing the vinyl, give back the money people sent to get the vinyl, and slip into a depression. That's my business plan, there.
I've been advised to "emphasize how awesome this project is, and how awesome everybody on it is."
So let me just emphasize this:
Kaizers Orchestra: A Norwegian psychotic cabaret-oompah-rock band that no less than Tom Waits referred to as "Thinking man's circus music." So big in Norway that they fill stadiums, despite the fact that they often spend entire songs pounding oil drums with axe handles.
Corb Lund: Maker of dirty, hairy, dark, real country music about whiskey-swilling, apocalyptic horror, in the fields of both politics and romance. Managed to hit the #1 spot on Canada's album chart this summer with that .
Rae Spoon: Trans gay disco singer, songwriter of devastating sophistication and honesty. Catchier than hell itself. "Let the Devil into your heart, and you will never be alone."
Carolyn Mark: The Queen of Vancouver Island. Described in the New Yorker as Canada's Boozy Chanteuse. Can out-party Lemmy.
And many, many more Stars of Today. About 8 of them.
Perks are the thingies you can get when you donate. I'm not a big believer in "multi-tiered" fan perks. I generally don't think people should get "special access" to musicians, just cause they have dough. I'm not gonna charge somebody money to drink with me. That's creepy. You know you can drink with me anytime.
But I will sell you a 2-person pass for all my future shows till I drop dead (except if it's a big festival that only gives me one pass anyway. Some of them are tricky that way). That lifetime pass'll cost you $400. If you find yourself thinking, "Holy shit, I'm rich! How can I help Geoff Berner?" I recommend that option. But I'm only selling 4 of those 2 person passes, total, cause after that it's kinda crazy.
The main thing is, though, I'd like to talk you into pre-ordering the book. If I can sell a lot of those, it'll impress my publishers, and then they'll put more energy into promoting the book. Clever, eh?. I'll sign it and write a nice "thank you" in there, mentioning how you're a true patron of the arts, which you are. Every copy of the book will come with a code so you can download the album with all the Stars of Today on it. Throw me 25 bucks for that, willya?
The vinyl LP will sound better and look cool. And I promise, I will only print one run of 500. Ever. I will sign and number them. They will have a lovely poster in them. You can pre-order one of those on its own for 25 smackers, too.
Or consider getting both the book and the vinyl for $50, and I'll throw in a "How to Be An Accordion Player" instructional booklet, as My Gift to You.
And people have been bugging me to give accordion lessons, which I don't normally do, but if you toss me $150, I'll do a one hour lesson, plus the How To Be an Accordion Player instructional booklet. Plus the novel, of course.
Or you could just press contribute now over there to the right, and that'll take you to a screen where you can donate some money, straight up. A buck? A grand? Don't let me stop you. I'll owe you a favour, that's for sure. Don't feel like you have to. But it's an option.
Everyone who donates any amount will be listed (if they want), alphabetically, in the LP, as The Kind of People Who Make Strange Music Like This Happen. You will be publicly immortallized, for better or worse.
There's two main reasons I'm doing this:
One is to give the book a helping hand. When you put years of work into something, you don't want it to just pop up and quickly fade away. I've got more novels in me. If this one succeeds, I can get the next one published, I figure.
Two is the sheer bizarre glory of hearing and having others hear these amazing artists' recordings of stuff I wrote. Whoa.
If you like my stuff, and want me to keep going on what I've been doing, this is a chance to really keep me rolling, here. I hope you're into it.
Other Ways You Can Help
Just tell everybody. Post this link on your facebook or twitter or whatever you've got. Talk about it with your fellow weirdos at the bar. That'd be a great boon to me, and wouldn't cost you anything. Thanks.