‘You never forget your first …’
Debut is a series of short memoirs written by musicians about the making of their debut album.
If an artist’s role is to confound, excite and confuse – whether lauded, applauded or ignored – you can be sure there is an interesting story behind the creativity.
Each essay in the Debut series will look at the highs, lows and memorable moments of a debut album from the author’s unique perspective. The story behind the songs, the recording sessions, the creative challenges, pressure, producers, band mates, inspiration and more. From signing a record deal (or going it alone) to the aftermath of the album’s release. Did they achieve their goals? Would they do it differently if they had their time again?
Often the culmination of years of struggle and hard work, many artists say their debut album brought them both great joy and crushing disappointment. And not always in equal or satisfying measures.
And just occasionally a debut album transcends mere success and takes on a mythical status. It spawns a new musical movement, revolutionises music and gives rise to passionate debate. We’re talking era-defining.
But what is it that makes these albums so special? Perhaps a spontaneous alchemical blend of genius, madness, alienation, drugs, pain, rebellion or sexual frustration?
Or was it the inter-personal dynamics of the players that provided the crucial friction to make the creative sparks fly?
Some debuts point to greatness, only to fall on deaf ears. Others take years or decades before they are recognised for their brilliance. And some are the artist’s first and last – a graveyard for potential.
But almost all are life-changing one way or another for those who created them.
Debut memoirs will initially appear here on the Strata Books website. Curated collections will be published in physical and e-book formats in due course.
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What they said about their debut album…
I put everything I had into it.
It was a very extreme record.
– Polly Harvey
Our early songs came out of our real feelings of alienation, isolation and frustration.
– Joey Ramone
A lot of rock bands are too fucking wimpy to have any sentiment or any emotion. We were in pain.
– Axl Rose
I drew on a lot of heartbreak when I was writing my first album
At the time I was making the album, I was just waking up every morning, hustling, cutting school, looking out for my moms, the police, stickup kids; just risking my life every day on the street selling drugs, you know what I’m saying?
– Notorious B.I.G.
I haven’t got any illusions about anything.
Having said that, I still want to try to change things.
– Joe Strummer
My first album didn’t come out until I was 27, which in pop years is late, you know. But when it came time to arrange it I was like a kid in a toy shop. I went berserk for a time.
We were learning what got us off most
and what got people off most..
– Robert Plant
The first album, for better or worse, was done over from the ages of 17-22, with a couple of different producers. It kind of was all over the place.
– Florence Welch