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Beastie Boys to release oral history in 2015

Almost exactly a year on from the untimely death of the much missed Adam (MCA) Yauch comes word in the New York Times that Michael (Mike D) Diamond and Adam (Ad-Rock) Horowitz, his surviving bandmates in Beastie Boys, have signed a memoir deal with Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau. The as-yet-untitled book will be gettin’ stupid in your area, causin’ all kinds of hysteria in the autumn of 2015 and, as you would expect from one of the most inventive, influential musical acts of the past thirty years – especially one that has mad hits like it was Rod Carew – will emphatically not be a straightforward ghost-written tell-all.

Instead, readers can expect a freewheeling oral history of sorts edited by hip-hop journalist Sacha Jenkins, which all parties involved are comparing to the Beasties’ short-lived but legendary mid-90s zine Grand Royal as a survey of their hyperactive, hyper-eclectic interests, tastes and flights of fancy. Julie Grau of Spiegel & Grau tells the Times that Diamond and Horowitz are ‘interested in challenging the form and making the book a multidimensional experience. There is a kaleidoscopic frame of reference, and it asks a reader to keep up,’ a description which calls to mind nothing so much as their tremendous 2006 concert film Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!, which saw the group distribute fifty camcorders to fans attending their 2004 show at Madison Square Garden and assemble the final film from the resultant footage.

The Times also spoke to Beasties agent Luke Janklow, who said ‘The first words out of Mike’s mouth were, ‘I don’t want to do a straight memoir’,’ which certainly sounds like him. Plans for the book were apparently first mooted several years ago, but were delayed for obvious reasons following Yauch’s 2009 diagnosis with and eventual death from cancer of the salivary gland. Janklow says ‘After Yauch died, I didn’t push them, but I think that Adam and Mike ended up realizing that it was the right time for them.’

As the Times notes, Spiegel & Grau appears to be cultivating a reputation as the go-to imprint for high-concept hip-hop books, following their 2010 publication of Jay-Z’s lyrics book/memoir/history of rap coffee table thing Decoded. The imprint can surely expect at least one follow-up too, given one source’s claim that the group has more stories than J.D.’s got Salinger.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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