Three Musicians that Put Pen to Paper – Literally.

On Nov. 10, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Halsey released a collection of original poetry called “I Would Leave Me If I Could.” This book, which is her first published work, goes into detail about her struggle with bipolar disorder, as well as other topics like sexuality, abusive relationships and family struggles. I have not had the opportunity to purchase a copy of her book yet, but from the poems I’ve read online and the ones I’ve heard during the singer’s live stream for the book release, her writing is absolutely amazing.

Halsey’s book release and the aftermath of it also had me thinking about other novels I read that are written by some of my favorite musicians. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the kind of person that reads for fun, but when it’s related to an artist I enjoy in some way, my inner child’s love for reading finds its way to come to life. Here are some books written by artists I love that I highly recommend.

The cover of Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz’s novel “Gray,” released Feb. 19, 2013.
  1. “Gray” – Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy

Let’s be real, if you guys thought that I was going to write this blog and not include Fall Out Boy, then you clearly don’t know me at all. Fall Out Boy has been one of my favorite artists since I was 12 years old. Music-wise, this well-known rock band has been pretty quiet. They released a second album of their greatest hits, “Believers Never Die: Volume Two,” featuring two new songs, a year ago, and their massive concert tour with Green Day and Weezer scheduled for this past summer was rescheduled to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the end of the band’s hiatus in 2013, founding member and bassist Pete Wentz added “author” to his list of many talents with the release of his book, “Gray.” This novel, which heavily draws inspiration from Wentz’s own life experiences, tells the story of Pete, a musician in Chicago who leaves college early to pursue his passion for music. As his band begins to find acclaim, Pete struggles with his difficult relationship with his girlfriend, a woman he knows he loves. Gray does not provide easy answers. Pete openly struggles with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. He falls into negative behavior patterns, gets out, and then falls back into them again, ultimately attempting to take his own life. In raw and emotional prose, the first-person narrative puts the reader directly inside Pete’s mind and in the middle of his struggles to make sense of his relationship with his girlfriend, his blossoming stardom, and his feelings of loss and isolation.

The cover of Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker’s autobiography “Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums Drums Drums,” released Oct. 20, 2015.

2. “Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums Drums Drums” – Travis Barker of Blink-182

Growing up, one band that I enjoyed was Blink-182. Not only are their songs, like “What’s My Age Again?,” “I Miss You” and “All the Small Things,” classics that always got me hyped, their 2016 album “California” was a record I played almost every day during the summer going in to my senior year of high school. Since then, the band has released material including their ninth studio album “NINE” in 2019 and their single “Quarantine” last August.

In 2015, Travis Barker, the band’s drummer, published an autobiography called “Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums Drums Drums. Barker discusses a wide range of topics about his life within the memoir, including his past relationships, his vegan lifestyle and his battles with drug addiction. He also gives a first-hand account of surviving a devastating plane crash in September 2008 that resulted in second and third-degree burns, 16 surgeries, 48 hour blood tranfusions and a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. Though admittedly, I have not listened to Blink-182’s music in quite a while, reading Barker’s autobiography gave me a deeper feeling of respect for the band because it showed how Barker and the band’s resilience despite numerous obstacles.

The covers of hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance’s graphic novel “Tale of the Robot,” created by writer Eliot Rahal and illustrated by artist Ian McGinty.

3. “Tale of the Robot” – Dance Gavin Dance

Okay…this book technically isn’t written by a musician, but hear me out.

One band that has become one of my absolute favorite artists in recent years is Dance Gavin Dance. If you’re not into artists that mostly scream instead of sing, I understand; they’re not for everyone. But trust me, whenever I hear the phrase “breaking genre rules” or “genre-bending,” this band is the picture-perfect definition of what comes to mind. Their latest album, Afterburner, released in April 2020, best showcases the variety of this band, mixing heavy metal, pop rock, rap – and even Latin music – into something wild and enjoyable.

One storyline that is common in a number of songs in their discography is “The Robot with Human Hair.” Though the lyrics of each of these songs within this storyline may not match, the music videos of these songs tell the story of an unnamed, hairy robot trying to save other robots from…something. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve watched each of the music videos in this story multiple times, and all of it looks like one prolonged, giant acid trip. The graphic novel, released concurrently with “Afterburner,” goes deeper into the story of the robot with human hair, touching upon “heavy themes of existence” through a story during which the robot discovers that it, along with everyone else in existence, is trapped in a simulation and attempts to escape.

Like Halsey’s “I Would Leave Me If I Could,” I have not had the opportunity to purchase a copy of “The Tale of the Robot,” but from what I’ve read so far, I hope that it will answer the many, many questions I have about the “robot with human hair” storyline.

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