33 Days: Touring In A Van, Sleeping On Floors, Chasing A Dream
Paperback, 276 Pages
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For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks set off on tour in a beat up old Ford Econoline Van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour of the U.S. and Canada. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.
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Jul 21, 2011I was very cautious going into this experience, I guarded myself quite well. For some reason, I was utterly afraid such a story would become the epic of debauchery and over-glorified rock-godly human figures, which is, you know, fine by me, as long as we get to see pictures of it :D Seriously though, I was very guarded before actually starting to read it. And then, after the first few pages, I was completely disarmed. To my stupor, it wasn’t the epic of people becoming rock gods, but of young(ish) people becoming functional (I hate the term!), successful grown-ups. And the story, or should I say stories, proved to be incredibly touching, and agonizingly real. All that struggle, all that passion just sweeps you off your feet. Just like that, I was totally on board. We could have gone on a 4 years long tour, I was on board for that; 33 days suddenly felt too little, precious little no doubt, but little none the less. The first hand account makes a strong impact, without a doubt.... More > Pictures sprinkled here and there along the way really compliment the story in a beautiful way. It’s a constant reminder these are peoples lives you’re peeking into, not some fantasy story, not some ,delightful as it is, fiction. It feels so incredibly real, and vibrant, and quite breathtaking here and there. Following the events, I was constantly reminded of my artist (especially musicians) friends, and their struggles. And it struck me the struggling artist is a phrase that will never get old, no matter how times change, no matter how societies evolve (or involve, as the case may be for some). When I was done reading this lovely novel, I just had to get a hold of a few of my friends I haven’t talked to in what seems like ages, just to see how they’re doing in the grown-up world. Few, I find, have the courage Bill See has, his strength. More often then not, they abandon that dream, and after all that struggle, all that enthusiasm and creative brewing, only the memory remains, or even that is overlooked somehow. The pains of “growing up”, of going from dreaming to doing, from becoming to being are a heinous necessity. All in all, I’d say this is a brilliant read, though I caution, it can give you bouts of melancholy. It had that effect on me, that’s for sure. If I’d have to pick a favorite moment, out of all of them, it would be Epilogue 3. And my absolute favorite quote would be the last paragraph, words to live by.< Less
May 18, 201133 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream., is really several stories wrapped up into one book. It is a road trip story, a coming of age story, a story of friendships, loyalty, idealism, racism and a story of dysfunctional families. At times these conflicting themes disrupted the flow but all were essential to the telling of 33 Days. Leave out one element and you miss the driving force of what made Divine Weeks hit the road in the first place and ultimately what made them fall apart. Bill See (the author of 33 Days) was the lead singer for Divine Weeks, an indie band that was quite popular in the late 80's on the LA music scene. With the bravado that only comes from idealistic youth, the band (consisting of Bill, Raj, Dave, George and road manager Ian ) decide this is their moment and embark on a 33 day tour to break out and finally make it. What "making it" means to each band member is interesting. George wants to make it big - he wants the whole thing... More > - to be a rock god (or at least that's my interpretation) He's tired of playing small clubs for $20 a show. BTW - $20 a show?? YIKES. The other guys are in it for having that one moment that connects everyone in the band and the audience or to escape from troubled home lives. Bill seems to be the most idealistic of the group. He wants the full DIY touring experience. "Eschew major labels. Put out your own records, book your own tours." He doesn't want to sell out and be one of those asshole bands that stops connecting with the fans. He is truly in it for the music. Bill believes the music - the band - can change lives. I think sometimes his belief leaves him a little oblivious to what the other members are feeling about the tour. Raj and George in particular have a hard time leaving family and loved ones behind and Bill wholeheartedly believes that if they just have one great show it will all come together and they will see. The author name drops bands almost all the time as a soundtrack to his life. Being fairly new to music, I didn't always know the name of the bands and felt a little disconnected. Since I've started meeting writers that use soundtracks to write, I find it fascinating that people hear their lives in song. A song to mark a certain mood or event. I've never done that until recently. I had to look up most of the songs/bands but I found a few new groups to listen to. The story shifts from Bill's home life, which is very dysfunctional, his relationship with his girlfriend Mary, which is very dysfunctional (see the common thread?) and the tour. The actual tour wasn't what I expected. I was ready for stories of wild sex (not much it seems, unless you're the sound guy), drugs (yup - plenty of that) and rock & roll, but this was really more about personal relationships between the band and how to go after your dream without selling out or losing another part of yourself. There are of course funny anecdotes about trying to get paid, sleeping in real hell holes etc. but the story that stuck with me the most was about Raj. Raj is Indian and is repeatedly the object of racism at different venues. People calling him "paki" or cornering him after talking to a white woman. What really breaks my heart is this was in the 80's and sadly not much has changed. In fact it's probably worse now after 9/11. He is torn between his culture, obligations to his family and the joy he feels only when on stage. After I read the book I went to the 33 Days website to look at pictures and listen to the music and Raj's face just emanates kindness and peace so it kills me to read what he went through. Thankfully the band was amazing as a group dealing with this crap and supporting Raj. The book is recounted from passages in journals that the author kept during that period of time. The shifts between Bill's home life and the tour sometimes felt jarring but I got used to the style. I almost wish he wrote two books. One about his family and one about the tour. Both are riveting but sometimes take away from each other in this book. But like I said you need them both to explain Bill's motivations. I also wished I had gone to the website to view the pictures and listen to the music before I read the book. When he was talking about singing certain notes to a song or performances to songs I didn't know I couldn't relate but after hearing the music I got it. It is really hard not to get caught up in Bill's enthusiasm for music. He feels it to his very core and therefore makes you feel it too. A must read if you were ever a roadie, groupie or musician. And as a fan of music I like the glimpse into seeing what makes a band tick. I also have a new appreciation for what opening acts and new bands go through. I will definitely give them more of a chance after reading this book.< Less
Apr 27, 2011Seize the moment! Follow your dream! This is what “33 Days” is all about for a Rock & Roll band from LA , Divine Weeks, who spent 33 days on the road in 1987 as they toured up the coast and into Canada, then back down into the States as they worked they way home. Bill See, the author and the lead singer of the band, says of the band during a radio station interview, “We’re losers. Nobodies in school. Music is the only thing that gives us a voice Individually, we’re just self-loathing wannabe, never-will-be’s. Together we believe we’re capable of great things.” Great things happen on the tour. Each member grows individually and together, sleeping on floors and in an overcrowded van, subsisting on pizza and peanut butter & jelly, fighting for the pay they are due so they have enough money for gas to reach the next town and gig. Reading this true story, your minds wanders to such songs as “On the Road Again,” “Turn the Page” and “Into the Great Wide Open.” This is a book that... More > should be made into a movie. This is a band that achieved some success but should have achieved more. It’s a story about what it means to be an artist in any medium. It’s all about being human even when some think you are a freak while others put you on a pedestal. While everything is seen through the eyes of Bill See, his story is as much the story of the members of his band - Raj, George, Dave and their road manager Ian. All come to life as See remembers that very special time in their lives. See makes you see past the glamor of the performers on stage. Through his well crafted words, he makes you care for these guys, suffer what they suffer and cheer them on when they succeed. About the author Though Divine Weeks no longer records, Bill See continues with a solo recording career. He lives with his daughter Maeve, his girlfriend Cindy and her two children, Emma and Alex, in Los Angeles. For more information, visit his 33 Days official website at www.33daysthebook.com for photos, videos and free MP3 downloads of Divine Week’s music. Highly Recommended. Reviewer: Peter Klein Allbooks Reviews.< Less
Apr 22, 201133 Days: Touring In a Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream is based on indie rock band Divine Weeks first foray into "touring" (a loose term by an means) in the Summer of 1987. Inspired by "DIY elders" The Minutemen & Black Flag, See and his other bandmates seize the moment of their time as a local popular band in LA to spread their live music beyond LA's insular perimeter, hop into a van rented to them by the good graces of a friend as none of them even have credit cards to experience life 'On the Road'. It is a fun blast from the past for Indie Rockers as the author references the music of the time -- Husker Du, The Replacements, The Smiths, Jane's Addiction and of course R.E.M. throughout the book. The author is adept at creating atmosphere of what it must of been like traveling in a van with 5 guys whose probably sole sustenance was big box cereal, pizza & beer (ew!). His descriptions of the venues they play are nuanced giving you a true feel for... More > life on the road as an indie band. This was not a band backed by a major record label by any means. Affording gas money and basic needs such as safe tires for the van are a constant challenge for these guys. The main characters in the book, or bandmates and "tour manager" (another loose term) are all engaging with different plights in life. Lead singer Bill is insightful, poetic and ever challenging his bandmates. Guitarist Raj is battling his family's cultural expectations. George, the Bassist with a nagging girlfriend at home is truly at a crossroads trying to decide whether or not to pursue Grad school for Englisht Lit. Drummer Dave is the practical one of the group remembering to bring a toolbox (for van repairs) while Bill has only managed to remember his mix tapes and journal. Ian, the "tour manager" offers the non-musician perspective. As Raj, the guitarist is of East Indian descent, race relations are dealt with in a spot on natural way, never didactic. You can always find some ignorant person in a bar who still believes the color of your skin is the most crucial aspect of one's being and there is a significant scene where Raj is picked on by an invariably low brow scary woman for being a "Paki". It is one of the many heartfelt and poignant moments in the book where friendship trumps all and strengthens the band's intent. In some respects the book is 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' as See shares insight to his upbringings, a classic case of a dysfunctional family. See's writing is emotionally touching without ever becoming sappy or self-pitying. Raised by a single mother and his grandparents without ever knowing his father, music is a form of salvation for him. Now was Divine Weeks the long lost band of the '80's? Most likely not but if you venture on to the book's website to listen to the band's music you can hear their simmering soulfulness, songs written with integrity and solidly crafted music that is undeniably rockist. If you appreciate good music with integrity (obviously quite a relative term) or some of the bands referenced, wonder what it's like to chase your dream no matter how scary or impossible it might seem you will enjoy this book. It is truly a story of friendships, how they grow and are challenged over the course of being 'On the Road' together -- basically a life and dream affirming, humorous coming of age story.< Less
Mar 24, 2011‘It’s not about the having and the getting, it’s about the being and becoming.’ The story of a 33 day tour by the band Divine Weeks. Bill See, the author, was the lead singer of the L.A. band who enjoyed some notoriety in the ‘80s. In this memoir, See has collected together journal entries and memories to create much more than just a tour diary. He documents the tour with a great descriptive narrative that really captures the moment and brings his memories to life. He also talks about his own dysfunctional home life, which in some ways spurred him on to chase his dream. See is a talented writer, who is able to impart wisdom and knowledge through his prose. I enjoyed reading about the band’s progression from an unknown group who played only weekday gigs in their home town, to a successful band touring nationwide. But this is not just a story about the band’s journey, it’s also about the individual band members’ personal journeys along the way. See’s introspective and thought-provoking... More > prose make the book a compulsive and insightful read. We follow the band on their first real tour, across the US and Canada in 1987, where they play small venues, often to a handful of people. But the band’s passion is such that they are determined to do anything to reach their dream of one day becoming real rock stars. They survive with hardly any money and sleep in a van and cheap hotels, or even on friends’ floors. There is a lot of humour sprinkled throughout the book which makes it an enjoyable read. I liked the fact that the author has included photographs of memorable parts of the tour and his life in the book. It gives an extra dimension to the story. As well as being an enthralling tour diary, this book deals with such subjects as family life, alcoholism, racism, dysfunctional families, relationships, friendship, loyalty, and the power of dreams. Divine Weeks’s story is an inspirational one that shows what someone can achieve if they follow their dream. The author captures the essence of the book best, when he says: ‘This book is for everyone who’s stood at their crossroads with a dream screaming inside wondering whether to choose the road that goes off the map or fold up their tent and head back home.’ Highly recommended. Reviewed by Maria Savva as a reviewer for Bookpleasures.com< Less
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- Bill See (Standard Copyright License)
- First Edition
- Bill See
- June 7, 2011
- Perfect-bound Paperback
- Interior Ink
- Black & white
- 1.04 lbs.
- Dimensions (inches)
- 6 wide x 9 tall
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- rock music memoir ,
- coming of age ,
- on the road ,
- indie alternative bands ,
- racism bigotry prejudice ,
- alcoholic family ,
- DIY touring ,
- 80s L.A. rock ,
- 80s college radio ,
- rock music dreams ,
- firehose minutemen ,
- mike watt ,
- divine weeks ,
- jane's addiction ,
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