He’s best known for being the UK’s leading bequiffed film journalist, but Mark Kermode also has a passion for music which is equal to his wealth of film knowledge. Kermode’s new memoir How Does It Feel? A Life Of Musical Misadventures looks into this relationship, offering-up an energetic and laugh-out-loud account of how he’s managed to weave his way through multiple music genres before becoming a member of skiffle group The Dodge Brothers.
Written in a conversational tone that feels like a great yarn being told across the table of a pub by your mate, Kermode charts how his love of music was kick-started in the 1970s, from watching old Elvis movies and rock drama Slade In Flame. Mere mortals might simply have picked-up a guitar and attempted to become a fully-fledged rock icon (spoiler: this doesn’t happen), but Kermode actually built his first axe, before plowing through a plethora of school bands with limited success. He’d be the first to admit that he wasn’t born with innate musical talent, but he sure as hell had perseverance.
Hitting the music scene in Manchester in the 1980s, Kermode skirted with fame and assorted misfortune as he attempted to find a voice. He even landed on the idea of musical-comedy under the pseudonym Henry One Hundred (see the book’s cover for photographic evidence). However, skiffle music was his saviour and he became a member of The Railtown Bottlers (where he learned to play double bass) before ultimately finding a stabilising musical form in the shape of The Dodge Bothers.
As the title denotes, the book includes many musical misadventures, all of which are told with self-deprecating gusto. There are many highlights scattered throughout this witty tome and they’ll have you laughing at and with Kermode in equal measure. From his cringe-inducing stories about playing solo harmonica in packed venues to a Country and Western cruise across the Mersey from hell, Kermode makes sure that each story has enough humour and heart to make them count.
Mark Kermode is more than willing to make fun of himself but How Does It Feel? has an honest core and it’s a book about music, from someone who is in love with the art form. He might play down his own talent, but could someone totally devoid of musical skills teach Timmy Mallett to be ‘utterly skiffle’ on kids’ TV or compose the swagger-inducing main theme to Danny Baker’s chat show? Read How Does It Feel? A Life Of Musical Misadventures and draw your own conclusions.