It takes talent to be a musician, there’s no doubt about that, but once you go multi-disciplinary, that’s when you’re on a whole other level. Whilst going from penning songs to writing books isn’t too big of a jump in the grand scheme of things, the style of writing and messages being portrayed are wildly different, you need to learn to write in a whole different way.
That’s where we come in, we’re here to introduce you to the world where lyrics and novels cross over and become two in the same, whether it be authors who have a certain penchant for heavy metal, or musicians who have been inspired by their favourite Bram Stoker novel, let’s dive in, shall we?
Authors who like heavy metal
While you wouldn’t think that these two genres would necessarily cross over – you’d be surprised, with the rise of Warhammer 40k novels and online communities, there’s much to be discovered underneath the surface.
Sunday Times number one bestseller, Chris Carter is known for his spine-chilling prose and psychological thrillers featuring his main character ‘Detective Robert Hunter’. Having released a book every year for the last decade, his stream of creativity is almost endless, and his razor-sharp mind is something of a literary wonder.
Carter, before his career as an author, played for a few glam-rock metal outfits and has an illustrious history of lending his guitar for many a big name. Citing himself as a fan of acts such as Triumph and WigWam, it came as no surprise when we noticed that one of his novels coincidentally had the same name as one of our t-shirts ‘I Am Death’!
His latest release ‘Written In Blood’, published just last July, has been hailed as a literary feat and earned him a place as a Sunday Times Number One Best Seller.
Author concerned with topics related to heavy metal music, Robert Walser is a pioneer of ‘new musicology’ and contributed heavily to the multi-disciplinary field. His love of metal music followed him into his work, penning the book ‘Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music’. The book offers a critical view into the world of Heavy Metal, looking into the social aspects involved in the scene, and the consequences of Gender, identify and self-views when it comes to being involved in this incredible, unique, world.
The self-proclaimed ‘metal head horror’ author, John Boden, is a lover of all things musical. Citing adorations for creators such as Black Sabbath, Slayer and Blind Guardian, these influences creep into his writing, nodding that the children’s book ‘Dominoes’ took inspiration from Masters Of Reality and Pixies.
In an interview with Decibel, Boden told all:
“Music is the best inspiration we have. It can be subtle or heavy… It whispers and shrieks. Caresses and wrenches. It is as essential as air or water. It is timeless, I love this quote from Martin Luther: ‘My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.’
Another notable mention is the author of ‘Lords Of Chaos’, Michael Moynihan. Similar to the work of Robert Walser, Moynihan takes pleasure in exploring the metal scene (namely the Norwegian black metal scene), focusing on the satanic rise of the underground. The book centres around the birth of the dark side of the music scene and the roots from which it grew.
Musicians Turned Authors:
Now let’s jump to the flipside. There’s a surprising multitude of musicians who decided to take a dabble of putting ink to paper without feeling the need to add instruments. From Patti Smith to Gerard Way, there’s plenty of fiction to sink your teeth into.
Known for being Hole’s grunge frontwoman, she rose to tantamount fame in the 90’s on the arm of Kurt Cobain with her recognisable gritty vocals and aweing stage presence. After Hole disbanded, she took her hand at penning a manga series, based partly on her own life.
Princess Ai follows the tale of the alien title character who is transported to Japan, awakens with no memories, and attempts to piece her life together. Released in three volumes – the manga series is an interesting offering from the once punk-princess Love.
Having a musical career that’s spanned over four decades it’s an incredible feat, but add being an author on top of that and who do we have? None other than influential and inspiring, Patti Smith. Having penned dozens of books ranging in genres from poetry to self-introspection, it’s safe to say that Smith is not simply a ‘singer turned author’, but someone who is beautifully successful in both departments. Just Kids is one of her most seminal works and really shines a light on life in New York with then Partner, famed artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the 70s.
The readily recognisable Gerard Way is best known for his stint as the frontman and lead vocalist of ‘My Chemical Romance’ – the emo rock band that made waves with their dark lyrics, unconventional dress-sense and wildly operatic undertones.
In an unexpected and surprisingly delightful turn, Way decided to take his talent comic books. Co-Founder of the DC Comic’s ‘Young Animal Print’, he recently found fame from his work when one of his creations was turned into a Netflix Original Series, Umbrella Academy
Inspired by his dysfunctional music family, Way explained in an interview, “We [My Chemical Romance] were in a big pressure cooker of fame and notoriety and the characters experience that in the comic and the show”. Filled with fantastical talking chimps, time travelling and every superhero ability you could possibly dream of - the comics are a far cry from his early works as a musician.
The Australian singer-songwriter known for being the frontman of ‘Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’, one of the most endurable rock bands to come out of the 20th century are known for their dark and sultry tones that surprise and delight.
Turning the metaphorical page, Cave went on to put his brain to work on novel creations, with his first book ‘King Ink’ being released in 1988. His most famous novel ‘The Death of Bunny Monroe’ was later released in 2008 by Harper Collins books and received him critical acclaim.
World renowned and admired around the globe, the bassist gained his fame by working with the pop-punk outfit Fall Out Boy since its inception two decades ago. Known for their experimental style and ever-changing sound, their giddiness and love for music is obvious in their performance and execution of their hit tracks.
Despite the ever-rising success of his band, the Fall Out Boy member surprised fans and friends alike when he took to writing children’s books. ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ is no doubt a nod to the Morrissey track, explores the nightmares Wentz experienced during his childhood and turns them into heartfelt and relatable tales.
[unfortunately, it would seem this book is now out of print unless you're wanting to spend 50 -70 quid on eBay - Dead Ed]
The singer and poet explores a multitude of themes throughout his work, politics, isolation, mental health and romantic relationships are all prominent in his writing – sung or otherwise. Becoming one of the most distinctive voices of the 70’s rock scene, Cohen rose to fame through his use of intricate arrangements and lyrical flair that cements him as a quintessential listen for anyone who wanted to delve into pre-00’s rock.
With his poetry, he cites influences such as Walt Whitman and Henry Miller, his work is a thoughtful and honest delve into the mind of society. Sweet and impactful, Leonard Cohen’s writings are not to be missed. Try Let Us Compare Mythologies
If you come away from this article with a newfound desire to investigate the works of at least one of these multidisciplinary geniuses, then we’ll consider our job well done.
Written by the illustrious and brilliant Alannah Williams
Editors Note: Most of the books here are available to buy through https://uk.bookshop.org/ which helps to support independent bookshops in the UK, especially as they have struggled during the pandemic.
We do not receive any commission for recommending them but we wouldn't anyway. Buy books!
(Also buy Dead Head, obviously)