Friedrich Nietzsche wrote “without music, life would be a mistake”. Fellow German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer also declared music to be the highest art form.“Music is magical,” affirms Marty Jourard, keyboardist and saxophonist from 1980s hitmakers,

The Motels. Matera opens his book with these quotes and proceeds to tell us that he finds music is pretty wonderful and he has written a narrative that includes stories from his work a rock journalist, whilst also and reflecting on his experience as a guitarist and musician.

When Joe Matera first picked up the guitar at the age of fifteen he experienced a vivid feeling that he would play the guitar for the rest of my life. More than that, music brought him company, friendship, and loyalty. It was his refuge from the outside world. In some of his darkest moments music has pulled him through, saved him, helped him understand, guided him and connected him to the deeper mysteries of life and the interconnectedness of human existence. It is food for his soul and spirit. Then, as he discovered his favourite music artists and lost himself in their music, it pulled him in even more, and he wanted to know more about the artist; their music, their story, and what lay behind the music they created and performed. Matera links the various strange and rewarding experiences on his 2014 tour of Europe with tales from rock history or ones that interviewees have told him over the years. He was being driven to a gig at the Bulwar Sports & Music Pub in Poland. The driver got up to 140 kilometres per hour on narrow unsafe roads and Joe ties this in with the tragic death of Cliff Burton from Metallica, when Metallica’s tour bus crashed in Sweden during the band’s tour in 1986. There are a plethora of stories about the difficulties of touring. Guitarist Mick Box from Uriah Heap played a full tour with two broken arms after falling off the stage at the start of their 1975 American tour. Snowy White fell asleep on stage during Pink Floyd’s 1977 tour. In addition, there are the temptation of drugs, the drudgery of travel, illness, cancellations, venues that don’t suit a bands style or demographic, and exhaustion.

The stress and pressure of touring is a major factor in bands breaking up and this applies to major artists as well as groups that had one hit or appeared to be on the brink of a successful career. John Steel from The Animals said endless touring along with bad management and money issues led to the band breaking up. Phantom Planet, a band that featured actor Jason Schwartzman and the son of songwriter John Farrar, found the pressure of touring a factor in their disintegration.

The book features an extensive look at the impact of videos and especially the arrival of MTV on the music industry, radio airplay and songs and bands that were popularised. Huge money was spent on producing videos and famous directors were enlisted to create memorable images.

The final chapter is devoted to Bryan Adams. Matera expresses his admiration for Adams’ music and specifically for his “utmost devotion to his musical craft, boundless energy, steadfast work ethic and business acumen.” His work ethic is one factor that separates him from other artists that didn’t have the same career success or longevity.

OUDER THAN WORDS : BEYOND THE BACKSTAGE PASS has a strong focus on seventies and eighties music and contains many fascinating anecdotes and insights from this period. Joe Matera puts these bands and music into context by discussing specifically and generally what came prior and what followed. It is an inciteful look into behind the scenes in the world of the popular music industry.

Joe Matera’s LOUDER THAN WORDS : BEYOND THE BACKSTAGE PASS is published by Empire publications and will be released on Tuesday 30th April 2024. The book is available worldwide on Amazon as a paperback and a kindle book.