Pogues Founder James Fearnley on His New Memoir, Shane McGowan's Demons and 30 Years of Folk Punk
James Fearnley, one of the founders of the seminal Irish-English folk-punk band The Pogues, will be signing his new memoir Here Comes Everybody on Saturday afternoon at Lost and Found in Hollywood.
The book has been available in England since April, where it has garnered strong early reviews, but doesn't yet have a U.S. publisher, which Fearnley is actively seeking.
Here Comes Everybody is a fascinating look at the rise and fall of The Pogues during the band's crucial first decade, going from the gritty council flats of Thatcher-era London to world tours with Elvis Costello and U2.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the memoir, Fearnley said in one way or another he has been writing the book for the past three decades; 2012 marks The Pogues' 30th anniversary.
He calls the book a "love story" about a family -- the band -- but especially his attempt to puzzle through his relationship his friend Shane McGowan, The Pogues’ frontman and lead songwriter. "I wanted to understand how someone so eloquent, so expressive about his feelings, about the human experience in his lyrics, couldn't use his words to tell us what was wrong with him, to say, 'I'm sorry, I couldn't do this [the band's relentless touring schedule] anymore.' "
He was so "gifted in self-expression but couldn't say out loud that he was done." Instead, the band had to figure it out from his well-documented self-destructive behavior.
Indeed, Here Comes Everybody opens and closes with a beautifully moving scene in a Yokohama, Japan, hotel room where the band finally confronts McGowan. All you have to do is read these two chapters to know this is going to be one of the great rock memoirs of the past decade.
Along the way he charts their fights, McGowan's colorful unraveling, Cait O'Riordan's tumultuous love affair withCostello and Fearnley's sometimes awkward friendship with gay guitarist Phil Chevron. But he also details their musical roots, relationships with other bands and hard-driving touring schedule.
He calls the book a work of "creative nonfiction." Everything that happens is true, but Fearnley used the "sensibilities of a fiction writer" to re-create scenes and dialogue to "reproduce the sprit of the event" and put himself back in the band rehearsals, dressing rooms, tour busses and concert halls of The Pogues' rise. He leaned heavily on the diaries he kept during these years, especially from 1982 and '83, when the band was on the way up, and on letters an old girlfriend sent him from that period.
The book takes readers through The Pogues' journey from early 1980s London, just as Margaret Thatcher was ascending to power and disrupting the British welfare system. The band lived in Kings Cross in Camden, a rundown part of the English capital (it has since gentrified) that was especially affected by Thatcherism but was also ground zero for London's influential music scene.
Fearnley will be reading from and signing Here Comes Everybody from 2-6 p.m. Saturday, May 26, at Lost and Found, 6320 Yucca St. in Hollywood.