JOE MATERA – BACKSTAGE PASS: THE GRIT AND THE GLAMOUR
BOOK REVIEW BY AARON BADGLEY
Joe Matera is an Italian-Australian singer/songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. He has released a number of well-received solo albums. In his spare time, he is also a music journalist and author. He states in the introduction, “The aim of this book is to take you behind the scenes on my journey as a journalist and musician on tour.” To that end, this book succeeds. Backstage Pass: The Grit And The Glamour offers an interesting glimpse behind the curtain, and it serves as a memoir of this fascinating artist.
With a foreword by Phil Manzanera, Matera goes about telling his tales. He is not trying to sensationalize anything, and for the most part he reports about the history as a journalist would. A lot of credit should go to him for beginning the book with a chapter about Nickelback, a group often treated as a joke. Not with Matera. It is an interesting chapter which gives a glimpse backstage.
What is interesting about Backstage Pass: The Grit And The Glamour is the diverse artists the book includes — Nickelback to Lemmy to Pink to Swedish Death Metal. All the interviews are here and it makes for fascinating reading. Big Day Out, a huge music festival in Melbourne, Australia makes for interesting reading as well. He puts his own music aside to talk with other artists. Iggy Pop never fails to hold his own, and Henry Rollins does sound battle. His conversations with Joe Satriani are very entertaining and it is interesting to read the questions he asks from the perspective of a musician and the information he gets from Satriani.
Matera is a very talented writer. The book is very readable and an enjoyable read. He does not use a lot of jargon or insider talk, and he always lets the reader in on whatever he is talking about. It is obvious that he enjoys writing about specific artists (the Yes chapter is particularly entertaining), yet he does so without appearing to worship them. He does so with a great deal of respect and distance.
Backstage Pass: The Grit And The Glamour is a great book. In many respects it demonstrates the work that does go on in order for bands to hit the stage and play for the fans. It is also clear that the work is not as much on stage but off the stage and travelling. Backstage Pass: The Grit And The Glamour is a book that will keep diehard and casual fans happy and will be embraced by both. You don’t have to be an expert on the bands or music to enjoy this deep dive into the goings on in rock ‘n’ roll touring.