Enterprise music critic
ÒI heard the notes of the Universal Chord, the combination of notes uniting us all…
ÒWe were all one, perfect notes in a perfect chord of harmony.Ó
These are the thoughts of Daniel Travers, the lead character in Roger TrottÕs fascinating debut novel, ÒGetting in Tune.Ó
The setting is 1976, and Travers has dreams of making it big with his band, The Killjoys. The band takes a weeklong gig at the Mai Tai Hotel in Puente Harbor, Wash. The Killjoys experience girlfriend troubles, creative differences and shady business dealings. But all the chaos is worth that moment on stage, where each musician clicks and taps into the Òuniversal chord.Ó
Trott, a UC Davis grad and economist, loosely based ÒGetting in TuneÓ on his own life. He formed the band King Joe in the late 1980s.
HeÕll do a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Borders Books and Music, 500 First St., Davis. For additional information, call (530) 750-3523.
ÒThe book is loosely based on a trip I took with a band to the Olympic Peninsula, when I was 20,Ó Trott said, during a recent phone chat. ÒThe characters are fictionalized. Some of the events actually happened with various bands.
ÒI wanted to put readers in the band. And I wanted to get into the main characterÕs head, to get at the concept of creating art in the midst of chaos.Ó
The universal chord is the Òtranscendent power of music,Ó in TrottÕs words. ÒMusic is one thing that can make your life better and solve problems.Ó
The Killjoys were based on a group of TrottÕs best friends.
ÒBeing in a band is like being married to four people. You go on the road and get put in stressful situations. EverybodyÕs got his own agenda.Ó
Trott was the leader of the band, and he wanted to make it in rock ÕnÕ roll.
ÒIt puts a lot of stress on you, and makes you step back and question how important your friendships are. Are you able to sacrifice your friendships?Ó
In the novel, punk rock is just coming on the scene. Travers can sense the importance of punk, and convinces The Killjoys to play his punk-inspired originals.
ÒPunk was an epiphany in my life,Ó Trott said. ÒI was in Redding in Õ76, when I heard about punk. I read a Rolling Stone article on the British punk scene. I felt kind of threatened by it. We were playing covers, and hereÕs this new music that threatens to tear the whole thing down. I eventually understood: This needs to happen, to strip down the bloat in rock music.
ÒGreat bands came out of it: Elvis Costello, The Clash, Gang of Four.Ó
The punk influence can be heard in TrottÕs now-defunct band, King Joe. (Try some samples at http://www.rogertrott.com.)
ÒWe were influenced by the Nirvana era. We got fairly serious and made an album.Ó
King Joe played the club circuit in Davis and Sacramento. Ultimately, friction between members drove them apart.
ÒI was one of two songwriters, and we went in different directions. Then we fired our drummer and could never find another.Ó
No surprise: Trott hopes to get a new band together.
ÒIÕm interested in new music. Unfortunately, people my age want to play blues and covers.Ó
ItÕs difficult to make a living as a novelist, but Trott intends to keep writing.
ÒI really enjoy the creative process of writing. I even enjoy the promotional aspect, which is surprising; doing radio and newspaper interviews and Myspace networking.Ó
Writing is a slower process than music; he took a year to complete the novelÕs first draft, and another year to revise it and find a publisher. Trott is happy to be with Coral Press, a publisher that specializes in music fiction.
The only downside to ÒGetting in Tune,Ó is that, as the book ended, I wanted the story to continue.
ÒYouÕre not the only one to have said that,Ó Trott laughed.
He started a 10-page sequel but soon realized he wanted to create something new.
ÒMy next book takes place in 1977 with a new band in Berkeley, and the punk scene is already happening. They go see the Sex PistolsÕ final show at the Fillmore.Ó
While writing is TrottÕs top priority at the moment, heÕs still driven to play music.
ÒWhen I was in my teens, I thought playing music is what you do when youÕre young. But as I got older, I realized you can do it forever.
ÒMy guitar is always right next to me on my desk.Ó
Ready to strike that universal chord.
Ñ Bloggers and bands with inquiries or information can contact Landon Christensen at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com