Steve Weinberger’s No Air Guitar Allowed reads like an extended Mad magazine parody. Bitingly hilarious and achingly true, it’s a non-stop giggle fest of rock-concert characters and various behaviors based on decades of attending gigs. Weinberger leaves no stone unturned. For example, in his list of Top 10 Rock Faux Pas, Weinberger writes, “Do not be the URINAL HI FIVER — this is the last place you want to be touching people.” Weinberger speaks the language of the Rock Fan. His observations are always comical yet ring true; there is nothing bogus here.
The book has a pretty light comic tone. Was this planned in advance or did it simply flow that way as you wrote it?
I had a specific tone I was going for. I always had a Christopher Guest voice in the back of my head as I was writing it.
How many concerts have you actually been to in your life? What were the best and the worst?
Quantity, not quality, as Gene Simmons will tell you about his earlier choice of women. I have seen over a thousand and counting but back in the ’80s, I pretty much would see anyone. From Richard Marx to Henry Lee Summer (you will probably have to Google him). An easy choice is Bruce Springsteen for best but there are so many great new bands like Kings of Leon, Interpol, Wolfmother, My Morning Jacket, Robert Randolph.
Have you let anybody who can fit one of the characters in here read the book? If so, did he or she see himself or herself in it?
Absolutely, actually all my 40-plus friends are caught in the music “Time Warp.” I keep telling them there are other bands out there besides Eddie Money.
Who are your literary influences?
Overall, my influences are Christopher Guest, Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen – mostly movie guys.
This could’ve been a mean-spirited romp, just humiliating the kinds of people who attend these shows. Were you afraid of readers misinterpreting the descriptions and satirical commentary in the book?
I was a little concerned. That is why I went out of my way in the beginning to say, “I am the biggest geek in the book.” I have learned in my later years to just keep to myself and observe.
Any interest from book publishers as of yet?
I have not had any interest from publishers yet. I cannot wait until I can be the guy who says this agency and that agency actually rejected me. Some publishers have told me the book is not “mainstream” enough.
When was the first time you played “air guitar” at a concert? What artist, which tune, if you recall?
I played tons of air guitar in my room as a teenager but I never got to the point to where I did it at a show. I think I knew better.
Which of the characters are closest to you?
The Makeout Couple, years ago. The Time Cop, a combination of some others.
What was Sarah Torribio’s role in the writing of this book?
Sarah was not the co-author but she was a big contributor. She is a hell of a writer and really brought in the female perspective that I needed. She got what I was aiming for right away, and I hope we work together again.
The Indie Guru is a relatively new creature to the concert circuit. Were there any characters you left out because they don’t exist anymore or new ones which didn’t make the publishing deadline in time?
There are so many other characters to still goof on. What about the “ATM Concert Guy?” You wait two months for a show and then spend half of it waiting in line at an ATM in the lobby of the venue.
Who designed the look of the characters?
The illustrator, Andy Wahrmund, with me describing what they should look like.
What has the feedback been thus far? What comments are you hearing the most?
The feedback has been amazing. Everyone who has seen it, seems to love it. It brings back great memories for people, and they all recognize themselves somewhere in the book. They respond quite a bit to how original the concept is.
How long did it take you to write? Was there anything you thought about including but eventually decided not to?
There was a lot of trial and error and people who did not work out. It took me about three years to get it all together. Some things I wanted to add, I thought might be considered to mean-spirited so I kept it out of the book. It could of been a lot more harsh.
How do you remember all of this, categorizing the types of concertgoers? Did you keep notes?
People I would see at shows, I would get home and stay up for hours writing about them. I also have a great memory. You could mention a band I saw, and I could come up with some pretty good stuff that happened at that particular show.