Noise Damage: My Life as a Rock Roll Underdog by James Kennedy / #Interview @JamesKennedyUK

The tale that follows is not another clichéd collection of rock’n’roll debaucheries (sorry) nor is it another tired fable of triumph over adversity (you’re welcome).

It’s the story of a half-deaf kid from a tiny, remote village in South Wales who was hailed as a genius by the UK’s biggest radio station and headhunted by major record labels, only for the music industry to collapse. It crashed hard, taking with it an entire generation of talented artists who would never now get their shot. CNN called it ‘music’s lost decade’.

Along the way, there are goodies, baddies, gun-toting label execs, life-saving surgeons, therapy, true love, loyalty, hope, breakdowns, suicidal managers, betrayal, drummers and way too many hangovers. James Kennedy shows that the best lessons are to be learned from good losers. It really is all about the journey.

Part memoir, part exposé of the music world’s murky underbelly, Noise Damage is emotional, painfully honest, funny, informative and ridiculous. It’s also a celebration of the life-changing magic of music




When and where do you prefer to write?

I prefer to write on the computer in my office (with a big screen) and I take a very utilitarian approach to writing – i.e. I get up early and I sit there hammering it out intensely until evening, almost like a job. However, this always follows a lengthy period of several months where the work gently gestates in the back of my mind until it’s ready to come out. Once I feel ready, I work quite intensely & methodically for a short period of time (Noise Damage was written in 2 months) to capture the natural essence of the idea before I start to over think it or it goes off course. I make my albums the same way and it seems to work for me. I also like to keep lots of holes in the idea so that there’s room for it to evolve as it comes together – but the main skeleton of the thing tends to be fairly complete in my mind by the time I sit down and start writing.

Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?

Definitely! In order to express the idea with true authenticity, I need to hold the blueprint for the whole thing in my mind whilst I’m intensely hammering the keyboard. Anything that distracts me during that time is not met with a welcome!

If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?

Slavoj Zizeck. So that I could 1) have the chance to properly establish what the hell he’s actually going on about and 2) use my more…shall we say ‘approachable’ writing style, to relay that info to the rest of the world in a manner that is actually decipherable by mere humans. Unless of course, it’s all just gibberish – which is a possibility.

Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the good one or the bad one?

Always the bad one ha ha

Who would you like/have liked to interview?

Anthony Bourdain

Where can I find you when you are reading?

Literally anywhere! I am a word fiend. In bed, on the sofa, on the bus, plane, toilet, at traffic lights and even whilst walking through town – and on my last tour in Europe with Kyshera, whilst everyone else was off being very rock’n’roll, I was sat upon a flight case backstage reading a book about politics and wishing everyone would quieten down ha ha.

Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?

3 places. Either in my studio / office, in my living room chilling or visiting my parents. That’s pretty much my life. Oh and jogging.

What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?

I’m incredibly beige about things like that ha ha! I’m almost ashamed to say it but when a copy of ‘Noise Damage’ arrived for the first time, I didn’t even open the box for several days as I was busy with other things. It was only after much nagging from my partner that I eventually opened the box and took a look. Once something is ‘done’ for me, I immediately move on – it’s almost like it’s ‘out there’ now and it’s not mine anymore.

How do you come up with a title for your book?

I always struggle with titles! It’s the same with songs! I struggle so much that I often just opt for something obscure that has no real connection to the work itself! ‘Noise Damage’ was originally called ‘Keeping On’, which is a terrible title but I just couldn’t think of anything else – until about a month before printing when the publisher said ‘the title sucks big time, we need a new one quick’ ha ha. After doing what I always do (i.e. scribbling pages of random ideas that no one liked, ‘Noise Damage’ just came out of the ether. I emailed it across straight away, the response was good – and that was it. Decision made.

How do you pick a cover for your book?

A very talented artist by the name of Nell Wood created the cover for Noise Damage. There were 3 different covers sent over and all of us (the publisher, myself and everyone I showed it to) all agreed unanimously on the cover you see today. I did propose an idea of my own initially but I’m soooooo glad they didn’t run with it ha ha!

Thank you, James Kennedy


About the author

James Kennedy is a singer-songwriter, owner of Konic Records & former frontman of the band ‘Kyshera’. From South Wales, James has released 7 albums (with both band and solo releases), toured internationally and written music for other artists. He has also been a long time writer of articles on a range of subjects and his first book, ‘Noise Damage : My Life as a Rock’n’Roll Underdog’ – a music memoir about life as a struggling artist – was published in October 2020. His latest album, ‘Make Anger Great Again’ was released in September 2020


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