The Annadale was a real venue, alongside Parramatta Road, and I saw a lot of bands in there cheaply. My friends lived near it, which is probably what set it immediately apart from other venues in Sydney, but I remember it fondly, regardless. I remember the International Noise Conspiracy gig we went to once where they sold anarchist books and zines after (they must have at all their gigs; they were a pretty good band live, though, even if as a whole the band was no replacement for Refused). I bought some, of course. A lot of the time, we’d leave a gig and cross the road to what was, according to legend, the most regularly held up McDonalds in NSW. Who knows if it was true, but the McDonalds is still there, with a new coat of paint and a new security system, and the Annadale has shut down, sadly. A little bit of it lives in this story, though.
‘theleeharveyoswaldband’ was a story I sat down to write without much but the opening line. The title I took from a local band around here, theredsunband, which I think I’d seen a few weeks before. But the band itself had no real impact on the creation of either of the main characters. I was pleased with both, though, enough to let them guide the story. In the end, however, what the story eventually became was a piece that tracked the change in music and how it was delivered to people. I wanted to capture that sense of transition, that moment in history when music felt as if it was being lifted out of the corporate advertisers hands, and transplanted into the power of others. I am not sure you can say that this actually happened – there just seems to be a lot more corporate owners now, but maybe that’s just the cynic in me.
Either way, in the depths of the story is the tragedy of Lee Brown, and he is the heart of it, a musician built out of the model of a thousand other musicians who felt lost in the business of it, and whose personal issues left them inadequate to deal with their fame. There were, I am afraid to say, many examples to draw upon.
The story was originally published in Polyphony Six, edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake. It began my friendship with Deb Layne, an excellent person for whom I have already said many fine things, and could say more. The books that Wheatland Press put out in the mid two thousands were uniformly excellent, books that walked the fractured lines of the genre, and gave voice to some truly unique and excellent writers. A press that does that is always worth your time, and I have been lucky, in my experiences with independent presses, to be involved with people who push the edges – from ChiZine Publications, to Twelfth Planet Press, to Wheatland Press – with a vision that is unique and demanding. It has been, and will continue to be, ever rewarding to be published in such an environment.
(This is a story note for my collection, Dead Americans and Other Stories, which is available now. The song is part of an illusionary soundtrack that I am putting into each of the posts for amusement, but if you owned the book, you could listen to it in the final moments of the story, if you were so inclined. If you don’t own a copy of Dead Americans and Other Stories and you haven’t read ‘theleeharveyoswaldband’, then you’re only hurting yourself.)