It’s the first of its kind: a jamband autobiography, written by Blues Traveler frontman John Popper with Relix co-editor in chief Dean Budnick.
“The exercise proved very fun for me and also the introspection proved valuable at this wonderful crossroads of my life,” Popper tells Billboard about Suck and Blow: And Other Stories I’m Not Supposed to Tell, available March 29 from Da Capo Press. “And besides they paid me.”
Two years shy of 50, Popper reflects on his years growing up in New Jersey, where he met the musicians who would ultimately comprise Blues Traveler, a ’90s jamband that had Top 10 success with their album Four and the single “Run-Around” in 1994 and 1995.
“As I creep ever more treacherously close to the half century mark, while at the same time beginning a new life with a young wife and new baby, I figured this would be the perfect time to look back at the life I’ve lived up until now as now my perspective of such younger adventures and an almost three-decade career with such an unlikely and legendary band may change,” Popper further explains. “I wanted to write as much of the experience down now before the memories begin to fade irreparably.”
Besides band exploits, Popper discusses the H.O.R.D.E. tour, which he created, his relationship with Bill Graham (Blues Traveler was the last band he managed), and his brushes with the law, gun collection and battle with being overweight.
“From the very first time I saw John perform back at Wetlands in 1989, I appreciated what a singular character he is as embodied in his music, his bearing and his worldview,” Budnick says about his co-author. “The tone of the book is self-critical, honest and laugh out loud funny.”
Zeroing in on the band that helped start the whole jamband movement in Manhattan in the early ’90s, Budnick says Popper focuses on how “Blues Traveler rebounded from the death of bassist Bobby Sheehan and how the group has continued to endure.”
Sheehan died of a drug overdose in 1999. Earlier this year, Traveler released their 12th studio album, Blow Up the Moon. In 1994, the band’s album four peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200.