Aging rock star Mike Mays once lived the life of rock royalty. His raunchy offstage antics in the ’70s and ’80s were legendary. But now faced with a trashed comeback tour, no record deal, creditors and declining health, Mays finds himself forced to call in favors from all of the rock star royalty he’s burned through out his entire career.
“Welcome to Groove House” is the debut novel by author Jill Meniketti and a contemporary story that could very easily be pulled straight from today’s hard rock headlines.
Rock is something Jill Meniketti certainly knows a thing or two about. In “real life” she belongs to an elite set of women who pull double duty as both band manager and rock star wife (Jill is married to Y&T guitarist, Dave Meniketti). Meniketti’s successful work ethic as manager is equally matched by her writing prowess in “Welcome To Groove House.” A quick read and a novel that music fans will be eager to dive into.
AXS recently spoke with Meniketti about “Welcome To Groove House”, her writing process and what it’s like managing one of rock’s most legendary bands.
AXS: Where did the idea to write a book come from?
Jill Meniketti: I originally came up with the idea back in 2003 when Y&T was on The Monsters of Rock Tour in the U.K. The '90s was kind of crap for hard rock music, as grunge kicked everything else to the side. A resurgence had just started to happen and here were these guys in Y&T making a comeback on a big stage in this huge arena. I remember looking up and seeing the guys and the idea just struck me. It was something that I needed to explore. I remember mentioning it to Dave at the end of the tour and he said, “You’ve got to write this.” That's how it all started.
AXS: What was your writing process like?
JM: I first sat down to start writing in 2004 [around the same time I started managing Y&T] and over the years carved out time to write in bits and spurts. Since managing and booking the band is more than a full time job, I had to plan to get up early and devote a few hours to writing before I headed into the office. There was also a lot of weekend work involved as well.
AXS: This may seem like a no brainer question but where did the inspiration for some of the characters come from?
JM: I’ve been in this world with Dave for so long that a lot of it can be attributed to the dialog from being around these guys on the road. Even though it’s fiction, there are certainly some true elements that have found their way into fictional characters. But there’s no one character that’s exactly someone else. It’s all from my imagination.
AXS: Did you encounter any challenges or writer’s block along the way?
JM: I never had writer’s block and I’m guessing that’s because I have such a busy schedule. I always had a limited amount of time to write but plenty of time to think. So every time I would sit down to write my brain was just overflowing with ideas. I’d jot down notes along the way but never sat down to write while I was traveling or working.
AXS: What made you decide to self-publish?
JM: I’ve always been a DIY kind of girl and actually turned down an offer from a big publisher. At one point I had three literary agents considering the manuscript but decided I could do the same thing on my own. I’m also pretty lucky because I already have a built in book tour with the band! [laughs]. My book tour will be when Y&T is on tour.
AXS: What are some of the challenges you face managing Y&T?
JM: It’s mind boggling at times and a bit of a juggling act but I have a vested interested personally because I know what the guys want. They want to play. Routing a tour can be like a jigsaw puzzle at times but the reward is that the bulk of my work is done preparing for the tour. Obviously, there are plenty of other things to do - like putting on the tour manager hat when we’re on the road and being flexible. But this is going to be one of the busiest years for the band!
AXS: What can you tell me about the Y&T documentary that was overwhelming funded via Kickstarter ?
JM: It was unbelievable that the goal had been met so quickly. As the campaign continued along, it ended up being 225 percent funded and we were just blown away. It’s all about the fans and they’re just amazing! We have a lot of really good people on the production team and can’t wait for the end result. We’ve got former band members being interviewed as well as current members. I’ve also been rounding up many people and artists from the past to talk about how much Y&T has meant to them over the years. It’s a documentary that’s 41 years in the making and an interesting story to tell.
AXS: What other projects are you currently working on?
JM: First and foremost is working for the band. That takes up most of my time. Then for whatever spare time I can carve out, I have a lot of other ideas I’m considering for the next book. The fans have loved this story and have really connected with the characters, which is awesome. I’d like to revisit these characters at some point but think I’m going to look at writing a different kind of rock and roll novel with new characters for the next one.
AXS: Out of all of your time spent with Y&T, is there one highlight that stands out to you as most memorable?
JM: I remember back in 1983 when Y&T was on tour with Ozzy. It was my first tour with the band in Europe and at the time, Dave and I weren’t even married. The band played in Paris in this huge arena and I was just blown away when they started playing the song, “Dirty Girl” because the fans actually started singing the guitar lick! I remember Dave literally dropping to his knees because he’s was so taken aback from it. To this day, there are still places around the world where they still do that - and it’s just the coolest thing ever!