The working title of my third novel in progress had been Death Trip — there is a fictitious band from Detroit with that name in the book — but after doing a Library of Congress search, I discovered that there is a Christian fiction novel of the same name, and, recently, a very poorly reviewed thriller with the same title has popped up on Amazon. Arabella and I were tossing around alternate titles and she came up with Sunset Trip as a play on Sunset Strip. Weirdly enough there is an inside joke in the novel where a character accidentally refers to the Strip as the Trip. I was shocked to discover that there is nothing with that title in the Library of Congress database or on IMDB — seems like it would be a perfect name for a ’60s L.A. rock scene documentary. So for the moment, at least, the new working title is Sunset Trip.
As much of the novel is set in Los Angeles between 1999-2001, I think it’s a good title. As for the story, I’m about 25,000 words into it thus far. Without giving away too much, it is the least autobiographical novel I have written. This will wrap up the Drew trilogy. Personal events over the last year have shaped the direction of the book. I have been sober for a year now and it’s been a journey to say the least after having been a regular / semi-regular drinker since I was 17.
Sunset Trip begins with Drew two years out of rehab. People who knew me then will know that I was far from sober at that point in my life. At the beginning of the novel, October 1999, Drew gets fired from an office job in Boston and reconnects with his best friend from rehab, Mark, a touring musician, who has reformed his almost famous ’80s band called Solarstar. The new lineup features three younger L.A. musicians ,who have one thing in common — they are all former or current members of the Brian Jonestown Massacre! If you read my old fanzine Vendetta, you will remember Bryan Thomas’ ‘Notes From The Left Coast’ column, which chronicled the tremendous scene which took place there c. ’99-02. At this point in BJM history, Anton was playing gigs around L.A. but had bit of a revolving door lineup until he solidified things when Bravery Repetition and Noise came out in late 2000. With no ties in Boston, Drew joins Solarstar on tour as their merch guy. Also on tour, is Ian Gray, an English expat, who had signed Solarstar to his London label, Cherry Smash, back in ’85. Ian has been hiding away in L.A. keeping the label alive with reissues and garage rock compilations.
I’m at the point in the novel where the band has arrived in L.A. and Drew has been offered a job with Cherry Smash. The rest of the novel is outlined, so you can expect some record label office hi-jinks, based on my experiences and those of friends who have worked in the industry. Three of Clubs, which was the heart and soul of the scene, will play a big role as well. Kind of like Gilley’s did in Urban Cowboy. Anyway expect some twists and turns, cameos from actual L.A. bands at the time, and a love story or two as Drew tries to keep afloat and stay sober.
I’m hoping to get this published by a UK press (I have someone in mind 🙂 ) but if not, I may just self-publish.