Here Goes Nothing is about the complex relationships that are created and destroyed by a band’s touring experience. McGrath’s second novel explores the corrupt and selfish nature of the music industry and ultimately offers a courageous story of how the road can bring people together while also tearing them apart.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding about recording Here Goes Nothing?
The experience of trying to reconnect to a text that was written and completed in what feels like a far away time was by far the most challenging part. Books take so much out of you, so much time passes in the experience of finishing them, so much changes in the world in the course of their creation, and so much changes in yourself, that it really does feel like you’re re-discovering a world that lay closed on a shelf for a very long time. It feels like you're reading the work of someone else at times, and focusing on getting into the headspace of the person who wrote it and channelling the same energy on recording is a very laborious exercise.
Despite its challenges, however, the process is a very rewarding one: you can learn a lot from having such a distant, ghostly relationship with your own writing, in the sense that along with the time apart, your own self-criticisms seem to become a lot more constructive.
Also, Here Goes Nothing has a musical score along with the reading, so that was a very steep hill to climb; but being able to integrate my two artistic fields into one was an incredibly rewarding experience, despite how long it might have taken.
Why did you decide to narrate your own book?
I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it. I wrote the book with the intention of reading it aloud, and so I'm glad I was able to communicate the rhythm and dialogue in the way I'd imagined it heard and read.
Since I’m first and foremost a musician, I try to take a rhythmic approach to the books and write with a strong and distinct meter, and although I would’ve loved the idea of having someone else read Here Goes Nothing so I could hear their interpretation of the rhythm of the book, I also take a lot of comfort in knowing that I was able to accurately represent it.
What advice would you give another author who is interested in narrating their own book?
Tour, a lot. Do reading after reading after reading.
Joel Thomas Hynes gave me maybe the greatest piece of advice on performing I've ever received from another artist: “the faster you read, the slower it feels for the audience.”
Understanding the relationship between reader and listener only comes with trial and error and every single time I pick up a book and read in front of a group of people, I learn something new about how to master that craft.
My first book, Berlin-Warszawa Express, was toured worldwide for almost two years, so by the time I got in front of the microphone to record the Here Goes Nothing audiobook, I like to think I was relaxed and seasoned.
Who do you think Here Goes Nothing will appeal to?
Given that music and reading are so integrated, I like to think that Here Goes Nothing will be able to bridge a gap between fans of modern composition, spoken word records, film scores, contemporary albums, and audiobooks alike. There is a wide array of musical influence in the score to this reading, which gives the audiobook the feeling that is as much an album of songs as it is a reading of a published work.
Did you learn anything new about yourself or your characters while recording?
Although Here Goes Nothing is a work of fiction, I realized in re-reading the novel again after all this time that maybe the characters in the book have less in common than the characters I’d based them on than I once thought.