It's been awhile since the last update, but -- as I've probably mentioned in the past -- I'd rather save them for major steps in the creative process. (Or, to put it another way...saying, "We've just buckled down on 10 pages of Chapter-So-And-So" doesn't quite cut it, for me, anyway.)
At any rate... WE ARE THE CLASH is now officially in post-production...meaning, Mark and I have agreed on the final draft, which we've duly submitted to our publisher (Akashic), who promptly sent back PDFs of their edited final copy for us to go through, and make whatever corrections we deemed necessary. For those who haven't undergone the publishing process, it's one of the most intense steps involved, because you've literally got to trawl through your creation, page by bloody page, and mark whatever inconsistencies you spot.
In most cases, you'll be redlining grammatical inconsistencies, outright misspellings, or the odd sentence or two that requires a bit of punching up. Most of these edits aren't terribly earthshaking, since the guiding assumption -- on the publisher's part, anyway -- is that this proof copy, as they call it, is as close to the camera-ready stage as possible. (For example, I remember adding an "n" that got left off the Swedish newspaper, Expressen.) We've gone through about three rounds of this process so far, which isn't unusual, though the number of bites at the apple depends on the publisher, obviously.|
(In contrast, when I completed the final manuscript for my first book, UNFINISHED BUSINESS: THE LIFE & TIMES OF DANNY GATTON, Backbeat essentially gave me all of a single weekend to go through the page proofs -- which were expressed shipped to me, in the pre-Internet explosion era -- and get it back to them.)
We spent last week attending to some other odds and ends, including our respective dedications, and the acknowledgments section, which also ranks among the bigger tasks you'll have to handle -- since this is your chance to give whatever shout outs to those who've helped along the way, whether they sat down for an interview, provided a crucial press clipping, or pointed you in a direction that might have otherwise have languished unexplored...all that sort of stuff.
Next up: sorting out photo credits and permissions, as well as seeing what lyrics, if any, we can actually quote. I, personally, would like to see a section that rounds up CUT THE CRAP, along with the B-sides ("Do It Now," "Sex Mad Roar"), and unreleased songs that have crept out over the years on the various live bootlegs, and/or recordings, like "Ammunition," "Glue Zombie," and "In The Pouring Rain" (to name three).
Obviously, time will tell how we fare in that department, but I'm hoping we can make this happen, especially since I've never seen a proper transcription of Joe's lyrics during this era, aside from the various bits and pieces knocking around online. (That being said, I recommend Marky Dread's work in that area, which you can see on the Clash II-related threads on the IMCT (If Music Could Talk) message board.)
Right now, it looks like the book is coming out around July 4th -- which would be prefect, since the noxious political winds blowing through the US and UK at the moment bring to mind that old Yogi Berra-ism: "It's deja vu all over again." Of course, that date isn't cast in stone, but, naturally, I'll update that information as the situation requires. No need to worry, though, in any case: as I've repeatedly stated, it'll be well worth the wait.
ROUGH DRAFT WRAPPED UP (5/23/17)
For a lineup often dismissed as a) not terribly memorable, b) overly loud, or c) too strident for its own good, the Clash Mark II have proven remarkably durable. One indication is the constant preponderance of new anecdotes, live tapes and photos that keep turning up, such as the badge -- created for the miners strike -- by Eddie King, the artist who created many of the graphics associated with that era, as he confirmed through an email to my co-author, Mark Andersen:
"The badge? Yep...that's one of mine...got my drummer at the time (from Middlesborough) to pose for it....we also made a stencil from it and when it came to the 'Skagill's' [Christmas Party] gigs at Brixton we made multi coloured bunting that was sprayed with that logo then hung throughout the lobby....idea was kind of like 'let's make this a party/carnival/rebellion against Thatcher'....we made it all (yards and yards and yards of it) over a period of a couple of days on the upper floor of the Clash base of operations/headquarters in Camden Stables....can't remember how many spray cans we used - let's just say if there was a hole in the ozone above Camden I'll put my hand up for it."
We completed our rough draft of We Are The Clash: The Last Stand Of A Band That Mattered in the spring, four years after we first announced it, via our joint communique. Though the editorial goalposts moved further and further back at times, we felt amply confident that the end result would prove worth the wait.
The editing and post-production phase should carry on through the summer, with the goal of releasing We Are The Clash (via Akashic Books) in 2019. That's 35 years after Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and Bernard Rhodes sought to remake the band for the fight ahead, against the twin claws of Thatcherism, and its American counterpart, Reaganomics, which works for me.
I found it equally fitting that we completed our work in March, 32 years after the miners' strike ended, without any concessions from the Thatcher regime -- and the unfettered monetarist aggression that it represented. These are the same ides of March, of course, that have seen the U.S. House of Representatives rushing to strip an estimated 24 million of their hard-won benefits through the innocuously-named American Health Care Act (ACA).
Time will tell what befalls this legislation, which the U.S. Senate is attempting to remake in its own image, behind closed doors. (Note: The Republican-led attempts to repeal the law eventually failed during the summer of 2017, as symbolized by the late Arizona Senator John McCain's dramatic thumbs down gesture on national TV.) If nothing else, those who dismiss the Clash Mark II as invalid and insubstantial should recognize its ability to soundtrack the events it decried -- such as the repression of the miners, and the union that advocated for them.
"We could either surrender, or we could stand and fight," Scargill observed, in a 25th anniversary piece for the Guardian newspaper. The need to respond in a life or death struggle overrode all other issues, such as whether the NUM should call a national benefit before it proceeded -- as Scargill made clear during a special conference on April 19, 1984, to deal with the issue: "We can all make speeches, but at the end of the day we have got to stand up and be counted ... We have got to come out and say not only what we feel should be done, but do it because if we don't do that, then we fail."
This is the landscape that the Clash Mark II's music inhabits, why people respond to it, and why it still matters, then and now. That "last stand" against unrestricted capitalism, and all the social ills it represents, is more resonant than ever, because the basic issues don't change throughout history. What matters is how we respond...which is We Are The Clash comes in. Enough said.