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Guest Post & Giveaway: I Am (Not) the Walrus by Ed Briant

Ed Briant is here today to talk a bit about his personal history with music and the focus of his newest book, I Am Not a Walrus.

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When I started playing guitar I had dreams of being Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, so I taught myself every guitar lick from every Zeppelin record. My next step on my road to fame was to join a band, but there was this one big problem: there were way too many guitarists in my hometown. There were probably enough of them for every band to have three or four guitarists, and most bands only needed one. So, I borrowed a tenor saxophone, taught myself to toot a few notes, and re-invented myself as a sax player.

This proved to be a smart move as I was drafted into a fairly successful punk band right away. Really, I couldn’t play to save my life, but this was the era of punk rock, and an overweight, unhealthy-looking, tone-deaf sax-player was exactly what they wanted.

Success meant gigs every night, sometimes for weeks on end, and this caused complications. Firstly, I’d just got married and my wife wasn’t too happy with me coming home at 3 o’clock every morning (like a lot of musicians I got married very young). But perhaps a bigger problem was we’d play the same set of songs, night after night, and the inevitable happened. The dream job became a boring job.

Now, I’m not complaining about life as a band member in general. Being a working musician was still fun. I made the best friends I’d ever had and, decades later, they’re still my best friends. Being in a band was mostly a blast. It was just the actual live performance part of being in a band that got boring.

So, to make our lives on stage a little more exciting we started playing pranks on each other, which we called wind-ups. For example, there was this kid that used to come to every gig and bang a skillet with a stick. Our guitarist invited him to join the band––but without telling the other band-members––so one night this guy appeared on-stage, banging a skillet, which can be pretty loud when it’s being banged right next to a microphone. So we had the excitement of trying to perform the songs at the same time as attempting wrestle a maniac off the stage.

I even got around to playing a prank. I had one saxophone solo. It was right towards the end of the set, and due to my lack of playing ability the solo consisted of me blowing one, long, drawn-out, squawky note for an entire verse. One night after a we came off stage, Eamon the bass-player said to me, “I really thought you were going to pass out back there, Ed.” He was referring to the fact that I'd gone deep red while playing my ‘solo.’

This got us thinking, and the next night, we put our plan into action. Towards the end of my ‘solo’ I pretended to pass out. I let myself slump backwards onto Eamon, who caught me, and then lowered me to the ground as if I’d just had a seizure––although I still kept honking my single note up towards the microphone.

Even though we hadn’t told them, the other band-members got the joke right away, and they all thought it was hilarious. Unfortunately I hadn’t warned my wife, and she happened to be in the audience that night. She didn’t get it at all. In fact she freaked out. She leapt up onto the stage, tore off her shirt, and fanned me with it, frantically trying to revive me.

“It’s okay. I’m fine,” I said, sitting up. Everything ground to a halt. The house fell silent as seven band-members, and two hundred audience members tried not to stare at my wife standing center-stage in jeans and a sports bra. Even the skillet player stopped banging his skillet.

I’m not telling this with the idea that it’s a funny story. Even though it is a little bit funny it has a sad side. My wife never got over the prank. It wasn’t appearing in public in her underwear that bothered her, in fact I think she kind of got a kick out of it. What she hated was the fact that I’d shared a secret plan with another band-member, but hadn’t shared it with her. She was right. What could I say? I had a closer relationship with my fellow musicians than I had with her.

What she was wrong about was that my relationship with her was as close as any married couple could be. It just wasn’t as close as the bond between fellow musicians. In my experience you don’t get that bond anywhere else. You don’t get it at school, you don’t get it in sports teams, and you don’t find it in any other type of work place.

I think that loyalty is at the heart of I AM (NOT) THE WALRUS. It’s the complete and utter trust that exists between the band members, Toby and Zack. It’s their friendship that drives the story.

My marriage never recovered from the seizure prank. A year later my wife ran off with another bloke. Funnily enough, this bloke had been in the audience at the fateful gig. He must have liked what he’d seen.

Author Bio:
Ed Briant grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives just outside Philadelphia, where he writes, illustrates, and creates the popular comic strip"Tales from the Slush Pile." He has two daughters, teaches creative writing, and plays the alto saxophone (quite badly). Choppy Socky Blues was his first book for young adults. He can be found online at ebriant.com.

I Am (Not) the Walrus by Ed Briant
Publisher: Flux Books (July 8th, 2012)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Toby and Zack’s first gig could make or break their Beatles cover band, the Nowhere Men. But ever since getting dumped by his girlfriend, lead singer Toby can’t quite pull off the Beatles’ feel-good vibe. When Toby finds a note hidden inside his brother’s bass claiming the instrument was stolen, he embarks on a quest to find the true owner—and hopes a girl named Michelle will help him recover his lost mojo along the way.

Prize:

  • 1 winner will receive a copy of I Am (Not) the Walrus by Ed Briant.
Rules:
  • You must be at least 13 (or have permission) to enter.
  • Name and email must be provided.
  • Extra entries are possible and links must be provided.
  • Contest is US/Canada only and ends July 19th.
  • Once contacted, the winner will have 48 hours to respond.
  • The form must be filled out to enter.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: I Am (Not) the Walrus by Ed Briant + prize