Last Monday night, I spent the evening with Zach Lind, drummer in the band, Jimmy Eat World. They’re on a tour in advance of their next album, which is due out sometime in September. I showed up for their sound check, then I took him over to Solomon’s Porch and gave him a couple of books. We ate dinner at Chino Latino (curry shrimp with rice).
Most interesting about our conversation were the similarities and differences between the music industry (which he knows well) and the book publishing industry (which I know). For instance, bands choose their CD titles, while authors do not choose their book titles. On the other hand, I’ve known the release date for my book (February 1) for a year, and he still doesn’t know the release date for his CD (even though it’ll come out in less than two months).
One interesting stream of the conversation was over categories. I had read earlier in the day that his Jimmy Eat World is considered and “Emo-Core” band—that is, a cross between Emo and Hardcore. He said that label doesn’t really fit, but once a band gets categorized by the media and the retailers, there’s no getting out of it. The problem with this, of course, is when a music category (Zach mentioned “Ska”) goes out of fashion, all of the bands in that category are pretty much screwed.
Some of us are wondering about the future of “emerging church” or “emergent church,” especially as a book category. The former is now an official category among Christian bookstores (which means that you can find it above the bar code on the back of the book). For some of us authors, this category is helpful because it tells retailers where to stock, and how to sell, the book. But for more popular authors (Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, etc.), this category is probably too confining, and they’d just as soon be shelved with general Christian nonfiction.
After dinner, we went back to the Fine Line, where I stayed for the first four or five songs. Backstage, before the show, we had a couple beers and hung out with the band. The backstage vibe was very laid back. They had a great sense of camaraderie (after all, they’ve been a band for 13 years). It was a bit like the feeling I had running camp for many years. I could definitely see the allure of being a rock star.