Anthony Bozza – Rolling Stoned

Anthony BozzaIf you are a music fan chances are you will have read something written by Brooklyn born author Anthony Bozza. Apart from his regular contributions to Rolling Stone Magazine, he has assisted in the writing of some of the most successful Rock Biographies in recent years.

In addition to major books on AC/DC and INXS, he was on hand to help Slash with his autobiography and was there to document Tommy Lee’s incredible Tommyland book.

Together with best selling author Neil Strauss, he runs the Publishing House, Igniter Books. Their mission: to nurture new and talented writers into the mainstream. Their first book ‘The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage’ by Roxana Shirazi enjoyed a roller-coaster ride of controversy on it’s release, and you get the feeling Igniter are not going to release any gardening manuals anytime soon. Flush the Fashion grabbed 5 minutes from his busy schedule.

Who are you literary heroes?
My literary heroes are almost entirely novelists. Charles Dickens was the first I read voraciously as a kid because his ability to bring his times to life through well-chosen details captured my imagination. I love Denis Johnson and Chuck Palahniuk for their brooding, terse minimalism.

Amy Hempel is personal favorite, and a New York City gem. She can say more with less than I thought was even possible. Raymond Carver is the master of the short story. Nabokov, Roald Dahl and Kurt Vonnegut in any form always inspire me. William Burroughs is another visionary who pushed the limits of the written word. Truman Capote, particularly In Cold Blood, is as good as it gets when it comes to non-fiction and journalism. And Hunter S. Thompson is definitely a hero of mine.

Bradford Morrow The Diviners TaleThe first thing I did when I got my job as a researcher in the Rolling Stone library was to pull the first edition issues that featured Fear and Loathing in it’s original form and read them on my lunch hour.

In the past year, I’ve become friends with a few literary guys in my neighborhood that inspire me too. Bradford Morrow, who just released a great literary supernatural thriller called The Diviner’s Tale, is a real poet. I’m a third into it and and can’t put it down.

Peter Straub is another new friend who is a famously scary horror writer but as jovial as could be. And the iconic Barney Rosset, the publisher of Grove Press who, at 88, is still so full of life that you can’t help but be moved to be better at whatever you do.

Barney is the guy who published Beckett, Burroughs, Henry Miller, Ginsberg – and fought lengthy, expensive court battles to do so.

The documentary Obscene details Barney’s life, and the sacrifices he made to fight censorship. It’s definitely worth seeing.

If you could be in any band what band would you be in?

My answer to this question hinges on a very important detail: would I be in said band with my present level of musicianship intact? Because if that’s the case my options are limited.  I’d have to be a back up dancer for Digital Underground or some Bez-like hype man.

I can sing in key, however, so I could add back-up singer to my slash/hyphenated purpose in the band. Dancer/back-up singer/spirt animal – something like that. If I were to be endowed with skills on par with everyone else in the band, I’d have to say Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones or Bon Scott-era AC/DC, in which I’d choose to be Malcolm Young – only taller if that’s alright.

Let’s face it, being The Rolling Stones in the 70’s probably didn’t get any better. But it does mean you have to live through the neon-blazered 80’s. And of course there’s the Velvet Underground – but I’m not sure I’d have been able to take what we were doing or myself seriously enough to gel with the Warhol crowd.

If we’re talking modern bands, I’d be in Radiohead, preferably in the Johnny Greenwood spot because he is the magical mad scientist in his little corner of the stage and in the music. And they’re the most conscious, conscientious and forward-thinking act at their level that we have today.

Being in that band would be something to be proud of. I’m going to stop here because this is the kind of question you ask someone like me if we’re stuck in an airport and have six hours to kill. I could go on forever.

Of all the biographies you have done, who surprised you the most?
TommylandThat’s tough…
Probably Tommy Lee. He and I lived together and became great friends, which we still are. It cracks me up and amazes me how quickly Tommy responds when I Tweet something he’s into.

Usually he’s on the other side of the world DJ’ing but boom, there he is. It’s really cool. But what happily surprised me the most when we wrote Tommyland was how into the process he got. He focused and sat with me and went over every line and every page until we both liked it, which is above and beyond what I needed.

His attention to detail made the book so much better.

I’ve found that celebrities are of two minds about their books: some jump in and become part of my writing process, which is the path I recommend, because it yields the best results, while others see it more as an extended magazine feature.

They give me the interviews I need and keep it at that. I’ve gotten better at identifying those types and passing on their projects, but a few have snuck by me, damn them.

Slash was a wonderful surprise as well. I’d interviewed him before and knew he was a quiet, soft spoken guy so I was aware that I’d have to earn his trust carefully. But he really opened up.

I was down to write the book strictly to learn the insides and outs of Appetite for Destruction. What I got from him was so much more. His upbringing from 7-12 years old was more rock and roll than all of Kings of Leon’s present lives combined.

How is the book going with Wyclef Jean? Do you have a release date yet?
Wyclef’s book has been a journey. Last year for me was tumultuous in terms of my writing because the two projects I took on were thrown into turmoil in the first two weeks of January. Two days before I was scheduled to show up to begin co-writing the sequel to Too Fat To Fish with comedian Artie Lange, he attempted suicide.

I had grown really close to him during the writing of the book and was truly distraught to learn how much he’d been struggling with depression and addiction since I’d last seen him just a few months before.

Artie is still in very much in recovery but doing better. A week after that, the Haitian earthquake occurred, which sent Wyclef’s world into chaos to say the least. Add to that his bid for the Haitian presidency and you can understand why we pushed the publication date on his book a bit. It’s on track now and I think we’re looking at the Fall, but no official date has been set.

I can tell you this – any fan of the Fugees is going to want to pick it up because what he reveals about the group and the making of the music is incredible. Revisiting The Score, from the inside, has been insightful for me to say the least. I can’t wait to share it.