A SuperRockumentary

I was interviewed yesterday evening by Geoffray Barbier of Cold Cuts Productions, who’s making a documentary film about the Fleshtones. It was a little odd, being asked to explain just why I wanted to publish our forthcoming Fleshtones book so much, but with any luck I managed to convey my enthusiasm for the project without sounding like a total knob.

We have some great advance quotes on the book itself, which will be in stores and available for your reading pleasure by the end of September…


Joe Bonomo has written a fine book; a book not only about a band or times passed, but also about the rare virtue of endurance. – Nick Tosches

Rock and roll is a pretty egalitarian affair. On any given night any band can be the best band in the world, if only for ten minutes. The amazing thing about the Fleshtones is that every night for the last thirty years they have consistently been the best live band on earth. Year in, year out — high, low and in between — the Fleshtones have embodied the very essence of rock and roll. This great book by Joe Bonomo really gets to the heart of who the Fleshtones are, and the price they paid. Now it’s up to you to check out the Fleshtones when they hit your town. And in my own defense, that fire that Keith and I started in France was really a very small fire. Not worth mentioning at all. Please. – Peter Buck, R.E.M.

More than an account of a particular band, sound, or specific era in rock history, Joe Bonomo’s compelling, well-researched, and thoroughly riveting account of the Fleshtones is an homage to a way of living your life — one that revolves around raucous music, what Jack Kerouac once called the “quest for kicks,” and most of all a whole lot of sweat and passion. – Jim DeRogatis

In Sweat, Joe Bonomo confronts the realities of life in one of America’s great unsung bands of heroes: the Fleshtones. Rocking the house down night after night, holding on to their unique vision forever, whether laughing in the face of failure, caught in the rip tides of American culture, battling on the New York streets, or crowded in the back of a van on its way to the furthest reaches of the solar system…It’s a ‘Blue Whale’ of a story: hilarious, harrowing, and ultimately inspiring. – Peter Case

Imagine the myth of Sisyphus recast as a garage band—and a good one—and you have the story of the Fleshtones. One of the latter-day CBGBs bands, championed by REM and critically adored for their explosive concerts, the ‘Tones shoulda been contenders. But what happened? First-time author (and fan) Bonomo tells their cursed story with religious fervor and a near-lyrical quality to his prose. Bonomo expands on a history that would otherwise be summed up by a pithy entry in All Music Guide over a sprawling 400 pages, packed with new interviews and anecdotes. In cataloging a decadeslong litany of indignities and misfortunes that did little to deter the Fleshtones’ passion, the book raises deeper questions about what making it in music means. Does the distinction of being the only CBGBs-era band to keep going without an inactive year count for anything? Consider this the mad-eyed older brother of James Greer’s biography of the indie-rock band Guided by Voices or Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life. This is the secret history that even NYC punk histories like Please Kill Me couldn’t handle. – Library Journal


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