BOOK CLUB WITH SNOWY SHAW
The story of a mad manboy who refused to grow up and give up his dreams.
Writing an autobiography has become a common thing in the entertainment industry for quite some time. It offers the average people a chance to take a look behind the scenes, and let’s face it; who doesn’t want to know all the juicy details of a pop, rock or even film star’s exciting life and let’s not forget the struggles and the inner battles first hand? Some books are written using a ghost writer and sometimes even just to hop on the bandwagon to get some extra cash, but some books are done with a different mind set, totally independent and for one reason only: therapy.
Swedish musician Snowy Shaw certainly wrote his life story `The Book Of Heavy Metal’ on his own for therapeutic reasons, but did it of course in his typical Snowy Shaw way. The now 52 years old rocker is definitely one of the most striking and creative musicians in the heavy metal business, a guy who has never hold back when it comes to his creativity, visuals, visions and opinions. Since Snowy entered the metal scene as a young adult in the very late 80s, by replacing drummer Mikkey Dee in the King Diamond band and toured the world, the rock ‘n roller coaster he got on went full speed and never stopped. After the King Diamond circus he has been active in many well-known bands such as, Mercyful Fate, Dimmu Borgir, Memento Mori, Therion, Dream Evil, among others and certainly has a few thoughts to share and stories to tell.
It’s been a long road of life experience and it took zillion hours, sweat, headache and tears for Snowy to finish his metal memoire. The first print is a 464 page, limited hardcover deluxe edition, only 999 copies, and each of them autographed with a personal message. Having my copy just arrived…… hell yeah…it “gags tha house…..” featuring awesome illustrations, and I can’t wait to start reading.
At the same time I recently got the chance to ask Snowy some questions about his book release and future plans and the very first thing I want to know is why he wrote an autobiography/life story book in the first place?
,,Because I’m such a super interesting character of course! Hahaha! Well, it was a far better option than killing myself I’d say,.. (if I may be frank and paint with the broad strokes here.) Truth is, it started out as home-made therapy after I turned 40 and went through the worst midlife crisis imaginable about a decade ago. I had been out touring the world for a full year with Therion and it was flat out fantastic, but also extremely turbulent and hectic, and my personal life was literally falling to pieces. For starters my house was torn down and I had no place to live, and there were broken relationships and lots of other issues. Shortly after the Therion world tour ended on December 23rd I was gonna go out on another 3 month tour with Deathstars supporting Korn, but I had no choice but to drop out a week or so in advance. I was a wreck and desperately needed to land and try sorting out my own shit, or crack under the pressure. Aw fuck! here I go again letting my big blabbermouth run bezerk. I’ve already said too much. I don’t wanna reveal too much detail. You can read all about it – In the Book of Heavy Metal.’’
,,Slowly but gradually I began to think that perhaps others would be interested in reading about my adventures, struggles and crazy trip in a rock n´ rollercoaster of constant ups and downs.’’–Snowy Shaw
At the time, did you have a clear vision of how the end result should be? What did you have in mind when you started and how did you want to present it to the readers?
,,No, after I had started writing down my whirly thoughts and reflections to obtain some sort of objectivity and perspective on things, and later when I realized that it actually helped me to come to terms with myself, I decided to keep a journal or diary in which I’d write every now and then. From time to time, on tours and such. Slowly but gradually I began to think that perhaps others would be interested in reading about my adventures, struggles and crazy trip in a rock n´ rollercoaster of constant ups and downs. In short my life story. And so, the idea of making it into a book started taking form.’’
Did you put everything on the table, or are there still stories untold, needed to be locked away in the dark?
,,People who’ve read it so far say that I’m remarkably, no shockingly openhearted and honest. I don’t really think about it like that, I’m always like an open book I guess. As with everything one does creatively, for the greater good one needs to take a step back from yourself and ‘kill your darlings’, so to speak. But there’s enough filth and fury in there to last a lifetime. Don’t you worry about that. I can assure you that there is the whole greyscale covered between those 464 pages, from the darkest dark to the lightest most euphoric and orgasmic moments. I was afraid that it would get too dark and negative. I mean, from the beginning, writing about my messy life actually saved me from killing myself, and I certainly don’t want the readers to get so depressed they commit suicide. I sometimes say half jokingly that my life’s been a war but luckily I’m a warrior, but it’s true. Initially I thought of calling it My struggle, or in Swedish Min Kamp, but I realized it wouldn’t translate well into German, so I dropped that like a hot potato when I remembered a specific story about and behind my most popular song to date, which I wrote and accidentally exposed myself a bit more than I intended or was aware of at the time. Namely: The Book Of Heavy Metal.’’
,,I’m pretty well-known for being bluntly outspoken and speaking my mind normally, and this book is no different.’’–Snowy Shaw
Are there certain folks you talk about in the book who need to get nervous with this release?
,,Hahahaha! Yeah, you bet. Some have already contacted me all nervous, because I guess they have a bit of a bad conscience. Only yesterday I discovered that one slightly obese former bandmate with a, let’s say big Jesus complex had unfriended and blocked me on Facebook. I guess he couldn’t handle the truth being told. What can I say? Truth hurts. But just to make it perfectly clear here, this is no personal vendetta or anything like that. I’m pretty well-known for being bluntly outspoken and speaking my mind normally, and this book is no different. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. Others may have a different opinion or recollection about a certain incident, beef or quarrel but this is how I remember it, my version of the truth.’’
This must have been a hell of a job, how did you manage to remember all the stories, happenings, timelines and details? And then squeeze it into a book? Did you also get help and input?
,,Trust me, you don’t wanna know. They say it takes 10.000 hours to master something to perfection, and I must have spent 9999 hours at the very least. I don’t know, but in my household it went under the working title: That fucking book! My wife in particular was so sick of hearing me yapping about all the motions I had to go through, since I needed to relive everything emotionally in order to capture it accurately and what method of writing to apply on the different chapters and stuff. I have never written a book before and there was a lot of trial and error involved for sure. On top of it, this is an autobiography with real people and actual events that took place in real life, as opposed to some fiction novel where I could just go bananas and make up stories and fantasize a plot. So like you say it was definitely A helluva job, but I liked the challenge and enjoyed it, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it obviously.’’
,,I wanted to border a little bit at a coffee-table book with a touch of comic book, so that’s what I did.’’–Snowy Shaw
What can you tell about the illustrations?
,,As usual, I designed everything myself. In my experience that’s the only way I can get it the way I want it. Apart from a few minor flaws I am 100% satisfied with the final product visually. There’s loads of previously unseen footage from my private collection, as well as great live and backstage shoots. And it’s really nicely decorated and illustrated through out the book that rhymes well with each story. I wanted to border a little bit at a coffee-table book with a touch of comic book, so that’s what I did. I always try to create stuff in the way I would have wanted it, if I was the fan, customer or observer. That being said, I would buy this book in a heartbeat just based on the design itself. Even if I couldn’t read English, or read at all for that matter. Hahahaha!’’
How long did you end up working on your book and how did you experience this journey?
,,For as long as it took until I was satisfied I’d say. And since I’m not very easily satisfied, it took forever. From several aspects it’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever put myself through. But I like to push myself and try new things. To test my limits and wings so to speak. To quote you on it, in many ways it was like an inward journey through my past & present, a massive soul search and catharsis, or in my own words, a mental enema. I feel quite relieved now and have grown quite a bit as a human being.’’
,,From several aspects it’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever put myself through.’’–Snowy Shaw
What makes your `The Book Of Heavy Metal’ a must read for the metal heads and fellow musicians?
,,Hmm, not to ‘brag’ or toot my own horn but tell me who else have been with more prominent metal bands than I have? On different instruments/positions too, and that has quit them all, on his own accord. That aside, I’ve turned down offers from twice as many, and certainly no crap band either. How about Saxon, Manowar, Yngwie Malmsteen, Pretty Maids, and Evergrey,.. just to mention a few. That in itself should be enough to stir up curiosity I’d say,.. “What the hell goes on inside the head of this mad manboy?” Hahaha! Moreover, I’m the first guy out from the camp of King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Therion, Dream Evil, Sabaton, Dimmu Borgir, Notre Dame, Memento Mori, Opera Diabolicus etc. to publish a Tell-All Tales about my experiences with these bands. Then, if that wasn’t enough there is a whole other personal story running along on the side, that is quite exceptional and perhaps a bit tragic too. – Read all about it – In The Book Of Heavy Metal.’’
The first print is a Limited Luxury Edition [only 999 copies worldwide]. How different is a second print going to be?
,,Very, as there won’t be any a second print of this limited hardcover deluxe edition in any foreseeable future. After this, and we’re talking in a number of days before it’s totally sold out, there will be paperback, pocket and possibly (read: most likely) my own audiobook, but it’s gonna take quite awhile.
Originally I was gonna do this book signing event tour starting late May all over Europe and then USA in August, September, where I would also play in a more intimate setting semi acoustic at festivals, record & book stores, rock clubs, cloth stores and similar. I already had two dozens events booked in Europe alone and half a dozen in America when the damn Corona thing hit and subsequently everything got cancelled. Or if you will, postponed until further notice, like next year. This, as you know put us all in a very awkward situation and one had to reschedule and re-think things. So I opted to launch it mainly through my web shop with an exclusive 999 copies, and I also shipped 666 books to California. Just to keep the shipping costs to a minimum for the American market.’’
,,If you’re looking for a more typical rock book about Sex, Drugs and Rock N’ Roll, well, you get that and more, a whole lot more.’’-Snowy Shaw
Since there are many autobiographic books out there, in the end what makes your book different in your opinion?
,,I’m well aware of that fact that there are far too many of these rock biographies out there already, but allow me to quote my old teenage idol, friend and mentor Mikkey Dee who says on the back of the book: “Unlike most other rock star autobiographies in the last few decades, this isn’t the typically glorified Cinderella story, Hell No! This is the real deal, where he tells it all – exactly like it is, uncensored.” … and so on. I’ll leave that up to the readers to judge, but recently I’ve been getting some indications outside the regular rock circuit that my life story has great depth and is a highly interesting psychological study,.. whatever the hell that means, Hahaha!’’
Which stories / adventures in the book do you cherish the most?
,,That’s hard for me to say, I just tell stories about parts of my life that I find interesting, and that I think others may find interesting, exciting and/or amusing. About my lifelong struggle, of chasing rainbows and childhood fantasies in my bucket list. If you’re looking for a more typical rock book about Sex, Drugs and Rock N’ Roll, well, you get that and more, a whole lot more. And as an animal lover I’d rather say – Sex, Dogs and Rock N’ Roll.’’
How would you conclude your life so far now that you have put it on paper?
,,Like one 50 year long rock n´ rollercoaster ride of constant ups and downs, and endless struggle at the Tivoli Shaw. Join the joyride? Buckle up and sit tight. Read all about it – In the Book Of Heavy Metal.’’
,,From a very early age I could never bring myself to do what people told me to do, so I had to find my own way in life by following my own heart, path and rules.’’–Snowy Shaw
Do you think people will get another impression of you as an artist, as a person and maybe about the industry as well, after reading `The Book Of Heavy Metal’
,,Yeah, on all accounts yes. Firstly, I know there are a lot of misconceptions about me out there. I suppose they will find out I’m not quite as ‘crazy’ as they seem to think in some ways. And in other ways, by their estimation I’m probably ever more crazy. Needless to say (perhaps), I’m a misfit, maverick and an outsider who follows my own path and don’t care much about seeking the approval from others or belonging to any specific group. And that’s very liberating, if I think about it, which I usually don’t. Without knowing it, I suppose I have always been something of an obstinate rebel, or dissident, against the grain, with a great dislike for conformity and herd mentality. From a very early age I could never bring myself to do what people told me to do, so I had to find my own way in life by following my own heart, path and rules. But also take responsibility and the consequences for my own, sometimes lesser smart actions. When people can’t easily put you into any specific little box, based on their own preconceived ideas and prejudice, I suppose it can be a little scary, weird and intimidating. On the other hand, I guess it’s also a bit exciting and fascinating. You never know what to expect. To use an old worn out cliché – Expect the unexpected.’’
How is the response so far from fans and media and are you overwhelmed?
,,Hell yeah! I’m over the moon here! I usually don’t have much expectations or even think about how things are going to be received when I do stuff. I just do my best by my own standards and then it’s up to people how they perceive it and there isn’t much I can do about that. It was a similar situation the other year when I released my first official solo album `White Is The New Black’. The reception was astounding, just flat out fantastic and I couldn’t have been more happy. It got nothing but top notch reviews and rates all over the world, and I received no less than 5 nominations for Best Rock/metal Album of the Year, in as many countries. This makes me super happy and grateful of course. I have the most wonderful and supportive fans, and I’m almost shocked and I certainly don’t take that or them for granted. I can only congratulate them for having such exceptionally great taste,.. or at least, that they share mine. hahahahaha! Love you all to death!’’
,,I bought Paul Stanley’s book as audiobook on the day of the release and listened to it nonstop.’’–Snowy Shaw
What are your most favourite autobiographic books that you read over the years?
,,I like to read biographies on interesting people and interesting life stories. A portrait of a character is immensely fascinating I think. The story behind that persona, and what made that person become the way they did is super interesting I think. Marilyn Manson’s book was exciting but so was John McEnroe’s and Zlatan’s book, even though I’m not into sports in general. But I can relate to a struggling person with ambitions above the average. My drummer friend Anders Johansson, was highly entertaining too, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I’m not afraid to admit that I haven’t read an awful lot of books in my life, but in the event that I do, 9 times out of 10 it’s autobiographies and rock documentaries. I bought Paul Stanley’s book as audiobook on the day of the release and listened to it nonstop. That’s probably my all time favourite and Stanley is one of my biggest heroes and persons I admire the most. So is Bruce Dickinson and his book was very good, if yet with a little too much babbling about airplanes, which I personally couldn’t care less about. But that’s just me. I bet you’ll find people who think I should have left out this or that from my autobiography, but you can’t please them all, all the time.’’
Is the first print still available and where can people buy it?
The first print, limited deluxe edition is only available through my web shop [here] and in North America through steelcartel [here]
Do you have other plans for the near future, you would like to share with our readers?
,,Yeah, it’s not without reason people sometimes call me ‘Man of a thousand projects’. I guess some of them would also call me a workaholic overachiever. However, in the near future I will primarily be working with everything connected to the book, in every shape or form you can imagine. On the side of that I still I have a lot of catching up to do with shitloads of stuff like more boring business oriented necessities to attend to that had to be put aside while focusing on finishing up the current project – “Das Book”. I can’t wait to get back and pick up where I left off with my music and the multiple albums I’ve been working on somewhat simultaneously, but,.. (There’s always a but, is there?) First things first, and life itself has a nasty tendency of getting in the way of your grand plans. Like renovating on an old house I bought outside of Sweden. That, and a thousand little things more, but that’s another story. Now the main focus is on the book, and the story of a mad manboy who refused to grow up and give up his dreams. [smiling]’’
Snowy Shaw Facebook here
Snowy Shaw Website here
Snowy Shaw YouTube channel here
HBLS interview with Snowy 2018 here
HBLS review `White Is The New Black here
HBLS Trick Or Treat with Snowy here
HBLS Hotlist on Spotify with Snowy here
Me hanging out with Snowy somewhere in time @Graspop Metal Meeting
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