Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mat Devine the Author

      I'm not sure how many of you were (or still are) fans of Kill Hannah, but, back in the early 2000's and through 2008, it was one of the biggest cult bands out there. I had been a fan since I was around eleven or twelve years old, around 2001-2002, when I read about them in some blurb in a music magazine. By the time their 2003 major label debut, For Never and Ever, came out, I was a diehard. There was something about the almost Wilde-like lyrics that really connected with me, even when I was a pre-teen. Unfortunately, they never really became huge but they did, and still do, have a massive cult following. 

     Around that time, lead singer, Mat Devine, was asked by Fuse (I actually think it was still Much Music back then) to write a blog about his adventures on the road and in the studio. These were hilarious posts with tongue in cheek word play and great music and reading selections (Mat is the reason I picked up The Picture of Dorian Gray). The posts painted a rather comical and uncommon portrait of what it meant to be in a rock band (one of my favorites featured photos of bassist Greg Corner's cookies and a story on how Mat was hiding them or something like that).

     As the years progressed, Devine ended up turning it into an advice blog where fans could ask anything from goofy stuff to serious issues. He had guest "speakers" such as Good Charlotte's Benji Madden; skateboarder and TV personality, Bam Margera; and tattoo artist and all around makeup guru, Kat Von D. He ended up calling it the Raccoon Society and, today, it's a whole site where people can ask advice from anyone, read Mat's blog, read the responses from "celebrity" guests and just connect with other, likeminded people. Essentially, Mat has created a safe haven without borders or boundaries where people can be themselves and know that they won't be judged. 

    Now Mat has turned all these questions and responses into a wonderful book called Weird War One: The Antihero's Guide to Surviving Everyday Life. I bought it the other day and read it in about two hours. While it's a quick read, it's a thoughtful one, one that you can delve into again and again and find new things to think about. Yes, it's an "advice" book in the sense that it is structured around questions that Raccoon Society members sent in throughout the years and Mat's responses. Some of his responses are incredibly hilarious others are touching. Never does the reader feel like he's judging the other person. Instead, he acts kind of like the cool, slightly off kilter, older brother we all wish we had. At the same time, though, the book itself feels much more than a conglomeration of advice posts. It feels like a story, one we are all rather familiar with. 

   Mat's style is distinct; his voice is a cross between Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray and Gandalf (Gandalf was cooler than Dumbledore and you all know it). He's a wee bit snarky and sarcastic but well-intentioned and genuinely kind and understanding. The questions picked are poignant and flow beautifully from one to another. It's almost like sitting in on a conversation and getting to interact with Mat even though he's physically not there. 

   The book also has this incredible ability to remind the reader that he or she is not alone and that there are all these amazing, wonderful and colorful people out there that are just as "weird" (as defined by society's norms) and confused as she is. Mat has singlehandedly woven a safety net for every world weary person seeking some reassurance that they are not alone or isolated; he has given these tired people a community to fall back on. 

   So, yeah, I think you should get this book. I think high schools should require every freshman to read this book prior to starting high school, right along with Catcher in the Rye. Why? Because it is a coming of age or growing up story told through the inquiries of real people going through it. 

  You can purchase the book through Amazon or iTunes (just follow this link to find links to both). It's about $5, which is the price of a coffee now-a-days, right? And, if you are a musical peasant and have no clue who or what Kill Hannah is, please check out the following video. It's a lovely audio of their song "Kennedy." I promise you won't be disappointed (btw. I didn't upload that song but that picture was my computer background during high school for about two years). 

And if you want to check out the Raccoon Society, go here: Raccoon Society
And follow their Twitter: RS Twitter
And Mat's Twitter: Mat Devine's Twitter

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