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Reading Between the Lines: Recent Books by Musicians

book releases, Henry Rollins, Before the Chop, Saul Williams, Chorus, Let's Start a Pussy Riot, Pussy Riot, M.I.A. , Bravado, musician books, books by musicians, new book releases

Most artists of today are accomplished in more than one medium. Musicians, who write lyrics to publish songs, sometimes author or edit their own publications — think Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.

This year and at the end of 2012, Pussy Riot, Henry Rollins, Saul Williams and M.I.A. released books.

Although there are not many similarities between the releases, the authors themselves have commonalities. All are musicians. Their careers and concentrations are of different varieties, but they use music as a vehicle to drive their creativity. All are activists. They speak up about social issues, when the greater majority silently fight or do not fight at all.

It’s as if Russian punk rockers Pussy Riot said “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” and writer, actor, publisher, journalist, radio host, comedian, musician and activist Henry Rollins agreed, suggesting it be done “Before the Chop.” But sometimes it’s easier to get your point across with music and so “Chorus” was voiced by Saul Williams and colorful and controversial M.I.A. added the extra “Bravado.”

Find out more about the new book releases below…

Let's Start a Pussy Riot, Pussy Riot, Rough Trade RecordsLet’s Start a Pussy Riot
SYNOPSIS: “The book has been created in collaboration with members of Pussy Riot and links together the events leading up to and after the group’s arrest and the themes that these courageous women fight for – feminism, LGBTQ rights, freedom of speech and environmental activism. Contributors include Judy Chicago, Jón Gnarr, Antony Hegarty, Bianca Casady, Sarah Lucas, Bobby Conn, Robyn, Kim Gordon, Lucky Dragons, Billy Childish, Jeffrey Lewis and many more.” — Rough Trade Records

*Purchase “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot” at the Rough Trade Records online shop for $30.


Henry Rollins, Henry Rollins book, Before the ChopBefore the Chop: LA Weekly Articles 2011 – 2012
SYNOPSIS: “Before the Chop compiles the first one hundred pieces I wrote for the Weekly and also includes the feature interview I did with Nick Cave when Grinderman II came out.

For reasons of space, the Weekly must often slightly truncate the pieces and also sees fit to change the name of the piece. So, what you read there isn’t always what I sent them. This is one of the reasons I wanted to put this book out. Also, knowing there are a lot of people out there without the time to go to some website and read something every week, I thought it would be a good idea to have the articles all in one place.” — Henry Rollins

*Purchase a signed copy of “Before the Chop” on the official Henry Rollins website for $15.


Saul Williams, Chorus, Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, Saul Williams bookChorus: A Literary Mixtape
SYNOPSIS: “CHORUS is the anthem of a new generation of poets unified by the desire to transcend the identity politics of the day and begin to be seen as one. One hundred voices woven through testimony and new testament. It is the cry of the unheard. The occupation of the page itself. It embodies the “speak-up” spirit of the moment, the confidence propagated through hip-hop, and the defiant “WTF?” of the now. It is the voice that comes after the rebellious voice that once cried, “I want my MTV!” branded back to where punk was, slammed up and beyond it. A combination of trash, heart, and craft. An anthology in rant.

CHORUS is what all modern-day losers chant.” — Saul Williams

*Purchase “CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape” on iTunes or Amazon, for $11-$12.


Bravado, M.I.A., M.I.A. bookBravado
SYNOPSIS: “Here is a documentation of her entire visual output and a telling of her story in collages, photos, and prints from her early years in art school at Central Saint Martins London through to her hugely successful three albums, mixtapes, and live performances at PS1 MoMA, Coachella, various exhibitions, installations, and music video shoots. The artwork is comprised of a wide variety of materials and media: video stills turned to stencils pieced back together to make animated installations; spray-painted canvasses scanned then made into digital collages; photographs videotaped, then run through bad computer connections to create graphic prints; artwork on nails, walls, prints for T-shirts, handmade stage costumes—anything she could find while she was touring. Also included are assorted lyrics and portions of an exclusive interview in which she discusses candidly the personal events and themes which informed her art and music at the time of each campaign.” — M.I.A. store

*Purchase “Bravado” from the official M.I.A. webstore for $35. A bundle is also available for $80 and includes the book and a USB Necklace with “3 remixes by Danja, Switch and Leo Justi with features by Missy Elliott and Rye Rye.”

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