Seb Hunter was a heavy metal fan and he's not proud. In fact, he was more than a fan; he was a blind devotee who threw away his education and future prospects to become a rock star. Hell Bent for Leather is his toe-curlingly funny confession of fifteen years spent trying to hit the big time -- taking readers on a (very loud) musical journey from first guitar (his dad's) to first gig, and on through groupies, girlfriends, too many drugs, spiraling egos, musical differences, and, finally, the end of the dream and a much needed haircut.
Along the way, Seb offers a crash course in the way of heavy metal, with choice illustrations. You will learn to spot a Fender Telecaster from a Gibson Flying V, Thrash Metal from Glam Metal, and "the Priest" from "the Gunners." Hell Bent for Leather, with a wink and a nod, will also show you how to play a drum solo, wear spandex and white leather sneakers, and exactly what to do in the middle of a muddy field when you are surrounded by a mob of screaming metalheads and you desperately need to relieve yourself.
But Seb Hunter's memoir, more than anything, is a moving story of adolescence, of playing air guitar in your bedroom, of living with parental disapproval, and of struggling for acceptance among friends when you carry a shameful secret obsession. It is an affectionate and irreverent memoir told with the nostalgia inspired by a love letter to an old flame.
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Anyone who's ever perused the headbanger press can attest that, when writing about heavy metal, one should not attempt to emulate the music's crushing, extravagant, vehement brutality. No, the excess of metal is best conveyed in more subdued tones, and it would seem that Seb Hunter concurs. Thanks to the first-time London author's light touch, the part primer, part memoir works well. Chronicling his devotion to the genre from his first encounter with an AC/DC record as a 10 year old through stints as a guitarist for a progression of bands with names like Armageddon's Ring, Excalibur, Rag 'n' Bones, the Trash Can Junkies, Cool Hand Luke, Cat Ballou, and Love Knuckle (that last one signaling his split from metal in a post-Nirvana alternative universe), Hunter relies heavily on humor, peppered with pathos and stark realism. Hunter's sad sack telling of his own rags-to-leather story is interrupted periodically for lessons on the fundamentals of metal, like why keyboards suck and how to tell the difference between thrash metal and speed metal. Useful stuff, and, in Hunter's hands, deftly delivered. Metalheads will appreciate Hunter's keen understanding of their beloved music and its attendant folkways, but one needn't know the difference between Stryper and Slayer to get a rush from Hell Bent for Leather. --Steven StolderAbout the Author:
Seb hunter was born in 1971 and went to a variety of schools in England before throwing it all away to become a rock 'n' roll star, at which he eventually failed. Since then he has worked in the book trade and currently lives in London.
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