Scotto Moore is a Seattle playwright whose works include several speculative fiction themed plays. He is also the creator of the comedic web series called The Coffee Table about a couple that discovers that their new coffee table is an ancient alien artifact, and, appropriately, the music blog Much Preferred Customers. His new novella is Your Favorite Band Can Not Save You, and he recently agreed to be interviewed about it by Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.
What was your inspiration for Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You?
I’ve been a music blogger since something like 2003 or 2004, and I used to be really passionate about following dozens of MP3 blogs to stay current. So there’s always been a part of me that romanticizes the role of these bloggers in music culture. Professional critics have an obligation to act in a semi-dispassionate mode, and they have an obligation to tell you when they find a given album or track to be a disappointment. Music bloggers, though, are this self-appointed crew of music enthusiasts who generally only tell you about the stuff they love, so the energy of these folks has a different spin. And I wanted to write about a stylized, heightened version of this sort of pseudo-community that I imagined myself to be a loose part of. That dovetailed with my interest in Lovecraftian horror, which together formed the spine of my book.
Are any of the characters inspired by or based on specific individuals?
The character of Maxstacy, grandfather of all music blogs in the book, is loosely based on my imaginary impression of Matthew Perpetua, who writes Fluxblog, which he bills as the world’s first MP3 blog. I’ve never met Matthew or anything, but it’s easy to imagine a fanciful music blogger underground with someone like him at the hub. The band in the book, Beautiful Remorse, bears a similarity in style to a band I saw a couple of times in Chicago in the ‘90s called Crash Worship. They had what felt like an army of percussionists and drummers that would march all around the venue, and they used to pile furniture in the audience and set it on fire, and throw alcohol and cake at the audience from the stage, and shoot fireworks at the crowd. You’d be dancing with fireworks literally exploding at your feet. Just absolute mayhem; you’d only ever see them in warehouses, obviously.
What is your favorite genre of music? Favorite band? Favorite Song?
These days I’m almost exclusively listening to progressive and melodic house music because I’m a hobbyist DJ in my spare time. I sit with my DJ controller right next to me at my writing desk and have hours of house tracks and DJ sets queued up at all times; it’s great for keeping my energy up while I’m writing. So for all you house fans out there, I’m talking about stuff like Guy J and his Lost & Found label, or Hernan Cattaneo and his Sudbeat label, or Eelke Kleijn and his Days Like Nights label.
Are there any music blogs/podcasts that you enjoy? Other types?
I’m a big fan of the Song Exploder podcast, where they spend fifteen minutes with an artist, deconstructing how one specific track was created, from writing it all the way through the production and mixing stages. I like seeing behind the curtain on modern music production. I pay loose attention to XLR8R for electronic music, Indie Shuffle and Indietronica for my electropop and alt fixes, and even though I rarely listen to proper pop or mainstream music, I still keep my eye on Fluxblog. Some real gems flow through that site to this day. And you can find a couple of great radio shows syndicated via iTunes and on YouTube that highlight great house music: Eelke Kleijn has a weekly one hour Days Like Nights show, and Hernan Cattaneo has a weekly show as well.
Music can be tricky as the central theme of anything that isn’t actually music. Do you have a favorite music-related novel, short story or movie?
Yeah, I always think the gold standard here is the comic series Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, where you have “phonomancers” who can cast spells using music as their medium.
What’s currently on your nightstand?
I’ve been slowly working my way through The Books of Babel series by Josiah Bancroft. Senlin Ascends is the first book in that series. I’m on book three. I keep coming and going from that series because the protagonist can be very exasperating. I don’t generally read a lot of fantasy but this series seemed like a pretty unique take.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
I’m pretty sure the series that caught my imagination the most was The Chronicles of Narnia, which is why a lot of the young fiction I wrote growing up was about kids on adventures in parallel dimensions and so on. I don’t actually think I’ve outgrown that particular influence, really.
Was there a book you felt you needed to hide from your parents?
Not really. My mom used to leave me alone for long afternoons at a time at our local library branch, and I used to just consume every kids’ book that came in. Admittedly this was the distant black and white past, prior to the recent dystopian YA phenomenon that might have disturbed my mom, who knows, but really I think she understood that the time I spent reading was good for my brain.
Can you name your top five favorite or most influential authors?
I think the standouts for me would be Warren Ellis, China Miéville, Charles Stross, Kameron Hurley, and Ann Leckie. I can trace very specific aspects of my work to things I learned from reading these folks.
What is a book you've faked reading?
Oh, ha, for a long time I had Ulysses on my bookshelf because I really, truly thought I was going to read it someday and didn’t mind giving people the impression that I was clever enough to read a book like that. I did not succeed in reading it.
Is there a book that changed your life?
Not one specifically, but there was definitely a pivotal time in my life several years back where I suddenly took a massive multi-year detour into modern comics. So all at once, I found myself discovering some pretty amazing series, like East of West, The Wicked + The Divine, Black Science, Casanova, Pretty Deadly, a whole host of amazing stuff, and perhaps most importantly, I discovered Planetary and Transmetropolitan, and I rediscovered The Invisibles. I basically just went totally down a comics rabbit hole. As a result, I’m immersed in following comics Twitter, where I find the behind the scenes process talk to be endlessly fascinating. Comics pros are often really open about how they operate, and it can be so positive and instructional to see how these folks solve problems, even if you’re not making comics. I have a deep background in theatre, and one major similarity between theatre and comics is how intensely collaborative the work is. That’s something I really identify strongly with.
Can you name a book for which you are an evangelist (and you think everyone should read)?
I almost always default to recommending The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. I probably need to read it again, because my summaries are getting more vague over time, but loosely it’s the story of a suburban family of children who are being raised by a supreme deity-like father figure. I remember how unexpected the whole story felt. All right, I’m putting it on top of my pile right this minute. I think for people who are interested in sci-fi more than fantasy, I always try to find out if they’ve read Accelerando by Charles Stross, to introduce them to that whole style that he’s developed.
Is there a book you would most want to read again for the first time?
Well aside from The Library at Mount Char, I definitely think a few of the China Miéville novels would be super fun to read again for the first time—The City & the City or Perdido Street Station for instance. Actually, I think I’d probably also love to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern again for the first time, or The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.
What is your idea of THE perfect day (where you could go anywhere/meet with anyone)?
I’m actually trying to engineer a day like that in May for my birthday, where we’re trying to get a small posse together to go to Amsterdam for a one-day progressive house music festival put on by Guy J. We’ll see how that goes!
What are you working on now?
I’m currently heads down on a science fantasy novel about a cabal that invents a form of combat linguistics, at which point hijinks ensue as you can imagine. It’s a pretty big evolution for me, from Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You to this new novel, and I’m just extremely excited about it.