Commented Skolnick: “A quick flashback of all that has happened during the few years of writing this book leaves me dizzy. Some of my most definitive recordings — ‘Veritas’ (ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO), ’11/11′ (RODRIGO Y GABRIELA), ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’ (TESTAMENT) — didn’t exist when typing began. Over two hundred tour dates and incalculable miles of travel have taken place. People I hadn’t met when the book started now feel as though I’ve known them since the beginning of time while a few friendships, including some that seemed as though they’d last a lifetime, have faded away like the closing credits of a film. Seemingly immortal cultural icons, not to mention folks I’ve known personally, are no longer living and breathing while few very young ones — offspring of friends and acquaintances — weren’t yet on this planet when the first chapter was written.
“The book itself has gone through a lot of evolution. For a time, it was ‘Escape From Berkeley’, a title that made sense to me personally, but didn’t fully convey the essence of the story. ‘Escape From Berkeley’ became relegated to a chapter title and running theme throughout as I leaned towards a different title, one that came to mind in the very beginning: ‘The Guitar Chronicles’. By then, books and TV shows were using similar titles (example: ‘Man Vs. Food – The Carnivore Chronicles’). Further pondering resulted in a title that seemed to fit the story best of all, a play on ‘From Here To Eternity: From Geek To Guitar Hero’. This evolved into a leaner version, the title that has felt just right ever since: ‘Geek To Guitar Hero’.
“There was one more detour with the title: a respected literary agency came on board and suggested (code word for ‘insisted’) a one word name to appeal to potential publishers. The reason given was to tailor it to fit the recent genre of the ‘rock memoir,’ those numerous musician books with such titles, i.e. ‘Life’ (Keith Richards), ‘Red’ (Sammy Hagar), ‘Slash’ (Slash). With total respect to these books — they’re all great reads — mine is not a ‘musician sits down with journalist, hashes out life story’ book. Those are co-written, full autobiographies while mine is a self-penned, literary memoir that reads like a novel and is influenced by writers such as Philip Roth, Hiruki Murikami and John Updike (to name a few). Still, I begrudgingly tried to be a team player, before letting it be known that I could no longer live with the generic, one word title that had been chosen for me: ‘Progressions’.
“The experience of working with this agency — not to mention attending book expos, meetings and other research — shed light upon a publishing industry going through a tumultuous process not unlike what the music business – still in a tailspin — went through few years ago. As with music, a global shift from traditional units to electronic mediums has affected everyone on all levels of the industry; book publishers and agencies have been cutting rosters, downsizing and in some cases, shutting down completely. Just as the loss of music retail giants like Tower Records and Virgin Megastores was once unimaginable, the recent termination of Borders and closing of many Barnes & Noble locations is indicative of a similar process. As with major record labels (what’s left of them), not to mention Hollywood studios, there is an unwillingness to support creative, original projects and a disproportionate emphasis on replicating past successes. This results in products that are more predictable, less interesting and increasingly formulaic.
“Given all this, not to mention my stubborn determination to do this book my way, I wasn’t all that surprised when the agency stopped returning my correspondence.
“Weighing options, I decided that rather than soliciting a new agent and continuing to shop a book in a Hurricane Katrina-like environment, I would self-publish. Friends in the know confirmed that my book should have been a ‘no-brainer’ to publishers, but as things stand, it would be best to just go it on my own. And that’s exactly what I’ve decided to do.”
A synopsis of the book and a few quotes from “some very discriminating and respected early readers” can be found below.
Alex Skolnick is a true guitar hero At sixteen years old, he joined a group of twenty-somethings who’d formed a thrash metal band called TESTAMENT. Alex stayed with the band through five critically acclaimed albums and countless tours with, among others, SLAYER, MEGADETH, JUDAS PRIEST and WHITE ZOMBIE. After hearing and seeing one of Miles Davis‘ electric bands on TV, Alex relocated to New York City to play and study jazz.
ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO (AST) was formed while Alex was earning his BFA in jazz from New School University in Manhattan. AST has been lauded by critics, fans and musical heroes alike ranging from Downbeat to Jazziz to the Village Voice to Kirk Hammett of METALLICA.