Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Talking Smack, honest conversations about drugs by Andrew McMillen

I interviewed Andrew about this excellent series of converations he had with prominent Australian musicians for Edge Radio. You can listen to the interview here

Talking Smack, honest conversations about drugs  is a collection of interviews with prominent Australian musicians about drugs and drug taking. Covering a wide range of experiences and a diverse selection of drugs, this is a non-judgemental, informative and entertaining book.
Steve Kilbey of The Church is first up, with his eleven year heroin habit and his lifelong use of hallucinogens and marijuana. He is brash and seemingly invincible. His stories include being arrested in New York and missing a show.  Kilbey contrasts sharply with Wally de Backer, better known as Gotye, who has barely touched drugs in his life, he feels little interest or desire – and nor is he judgemental of those who dabble or consume drugs more regularly.
Tina Arena is a bizarre inclusion, her interview features an unrelated rant, with bemused comments from the author throughout. She has little apparent experience with drugs – and some contradictory opinions on them and their use.
While Macmillan the journalist puts himself into the text, he is careful to provide honest and true portraits of drug use. The use of heroin, ectasty, DMT, LSD, marijuana, ice and cocaine is described in many aspects of use of these wildly varying drugs. The call for decriminalisation comes through as a theme from many of these high profile drug users.
Another interesting consideration from many of these musicians is their different responses to different drugs and how they affect the creative process. It seems agreed that a small amount of marijuana is conducive to listening to music, while heroin provides a sensation of invincibility, ice with its heady, empty power surge of a rush makes an interesting cameo as Grinspoon singer Ian Haug recounts his difficult rehab in the public eye.
Haug also says of drugs “(b)ut creatively, when it comes to music, you can enhance things, and hear things differently, when you wath a movie, you see it differently.”
Paul Kelly’s honest and unromanticised take on heroin, a drug he danced with for a long time, Is lucid and fascinating. Kelly was one of very few of his peers to have avoided a full blown habit.

The book ends with an excellent graphic essay drawn and written by the author’s brother, that recounts the history of the war on drugs in the twentieth century in the United States, which has more or less informed Australian drug policy. This is a well researched book that provides a fascinating and balanced report of drug use in the music industry.

(this review was first published in the December issue of Warp.

 Talking Smack, honest conversations about drugs
by Andrew McMillen

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