I witnessed a few minor freak-outs in the music room this month after colleagues checked out the hilarious new issue of Chunklet (#20) — the semi-annual music magazine from Atlanta-based publisher and editor Henry Owings — as well as the magazine's newly published, handsomely bound The Rock Bible: Unholy Scripture for Fans & Bands.
For 17 years, Owings has been both the most celebrated and the most detested character in the Georgia music scene, setting his sights on egotistical musical artists, self-important music critics, and boneheaded fanatics in an attempt to deflate their high air of importance.
The new Chunklet features a few dozen oddball critics lists, a painfully funny "Online Music Journalist Application Form," and a phony three-page diner menu with dozens of band name puns (try ordering the Rocket from the Crepe, the Son House Salad, and, for dessert, some James Brownies and Spinal Tapioca). On the semi-serious side are interviews with comedians Paul F. Tompkins, Zach Galifianakis, and Jon Glaser, and comments on music journalists, drugs, and other neat stuff.
Chunklet #20 is a riotous read, but the big news this season from the magazine's camp is the terrific new book. From start to finish, it took Owings, longtime collaborator Brian Teasley, and many colleagues over two years to elicit, compile, shape, and arrange The Rock Bible.
"This generally accepted script, commonly referred to as the hallowed 'Chunklet version,' was culled from scribes and ciphers in its near apocryphal form," writes Owings in the preface. "Although perfect in almost every aspect, it still has holes. Just a glance at the lineage will reveal that it can be traced on a bloodline only as far back as the turn of the last century. However, it only takes a cursory glance at a used record bin at a local store to see that rock 'n' roll's family tree is considerably older, wiser, and more desperately in need of a bath than anybody could ever anticipate."
The Rock Bible successfully clarifies the language of the rock world and provides detailed rules about instruments and the manner in which musicians refer to and play them. From chapter to chapter, the book lists dozens of dos and don'ts for all.
To singers, the Rock Bible states: "When you feel like stage-diving, make sure the people in the front row like your music enough to catch you." To bandmates hanging backstage: "Couches at rock clubs have never been cleaned. Think of the crazy things that have been done on these couches, and then proceed at great personal risk." Verse 63 in "The Psalm of the Bass Player" states: "Your bass should not, in any way, resemble a bottle of booze or a lightening bolt."
The chapter "The Gospel According to the Drummer" states: "It is your drum kit. No one must help you carry it unless you help him/her to do so. However, it is acceptable to befriend at least one unsuspecting sap/fan to carry your hardware bag to the van."
As Teasley puts it in his introduction, "It is time we punished you for all your sins and sent you on the way of the enlightened ... because it is the staff of Chunklet World Industries who has suffered through all your feeble attempts at noise-making."
It makes one wonder which type of musician most needs to read this — drummers, guitarists, bassists, singers, keyboardists ... fans, critics, groupies. Probably all of the above.