It’s been a very strange couple of years…
…In February 2012 I read an advert seeking book proposals for one volume accounts of significant albums…Voice in my head said “you could do that,” the other voice sneered, “yeah right…Go on then! Prove it!” So I did. Whatever got in the way I just kept going and by that winter created a self-published work “Dark Slivers: Seeking Nirvana in the Shards of Incesticide” tackling the much-neglected Incesticide compilation.
The Nirvana Legacy site started up simply because I wanted a place to share leftover thoughts that never made it into the book…Now here we are in 2018 and it’s somehow still going 600 posts later. Back in March/April of 2013 I was preparing material for the blog and grew fascinated by all the unusual bands Nirvana shared the stage with over the years and it became for the basis for “I Found My Friends: the Oral History of Nirvana” (St Martin’s Press, 2015) built on the memories of 210 people from 170 bands who shared the stage at around three-quarters of the shows Nirvana ever performed. I was asked at that time to create “Cobain on Cobain: Interviews and Encounters” (Chicago Review Press, 2016), part of a series in which the best interviews by significant artists are compiled into single volumes for scholars, music studies, fans and those seeking to understand them.
Across 2016-2017, with the support and permission of Thurston Moore, I created the book “We Sing A New Language: The Oral Discography Of Thurston Moore” (Omnibus Press, 2017). The title is drawn from a lyric (written by poet Radieux Radio) from the album ‘The Best Day’. The book tells the story of Moore’s vast discography outside of Sonic Youth via the experiences of around 200 of the artists who played on them.
My latest endeavour was the book “SWANS: Sacrifice And Transcendence” (Jawbone Press, 2018) – the first volume ever to tackle the tale of Michael Gira’s legendary band. My personal feeling is that a lot of my experience over these past years came together on this book, the ability to make pages electric, to craft people’s voices and memories to make their voices sing, to draw a reader through a journey they can see in their mind’s eye.
In 2014 I helped Soul Jazz Records compile the “No Seattle: Forgotten Sounds of the North West Grunge Era” compilation (and wrote the band histories and inlay) and then, for Dekema Records, prepared the liner notes for the expanded reissue of the Fire Ants’ 1992 EP “Stripped”. Around that I’ve written for Words & Guitars and The Vinyl Factory. I’ve been featured in the Washington Times and done articles for a wide range of newspapers and websites. I’ve been a featured speaker at SMILEFest and Louder Than Words – and appeared on BBC Radio as well as a number of U.S. radio stations. It’s been fun!
…But it’s also been an odd few years. My grandfather died in the autumn of 2013 – we gathered round and watched him go – having had his girlfriend arrested for swindling his bank accounts only the week before. I arrived in Spain in April 2014 to share birthdays with my father and to hand in ‘Friends’ on deadline…Instead I finished the book at a Spanish hospital while sat on the tiled floors doing whatever I could alongside my family to make him comfortable, to keep his spirits up as he slipped away having been unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal cancer. Then, at the start of 2015, my godfather died – all gone in 14 months…It reminded me that writing of Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore, Michael Gira, of anyone, they’re not just fodder for commerce. These are real people: someone’s friend, father, husband, son, comrade. Each person matters and should be treated accordingly. I hope I’ve shown the appropriate respect.
Oh! Forgot! My name is Nick Soulsby, hi, nice to meet you by the way (he says shaking off the maudlin vibe.) I did a History degree, then an MPhil independent research degree (also in History) at Cambridge University. Presently I work at the world’s largest IT advisory firm. Why is this relevant? Well, firstly, I’m not a journalist; I have a different focus and style of writing. Secondly, I’m interesting in the question ‘why’ and in giving you, the reader, the evidence to make your own decision. Thirdly, my work has led me to an enjoyment of using data and analysing it to explain events rather than just capturing feelings and impressions.
What feels most important to me is to only write about what I love and to do so in a way I love – to only write books that I want to see on my shelf and want to read. I have a normal job, a normal life – writing is what I do for pleasure and I hope I’ll always stand on the right side of the line as someone paying tribute to and drawing inspiration from the things I respect.
I hope you enjoy some of my ramblings.