Glam outback

An insider’s tour of heavy metal in the hinterlands.

How KISS' lyrics inspired him to do something questionable.

“Who the fuck are these guys? And — more importantly — Are these guys even guys?”

These thoughts raced through the mind of a young Chuck Klosterman when he laid eyes on glam-metal band Mötley Crüe for the first time, as we learn in the opening anecdote of Fargo Rock City.

Klosterman’s curiosity eventually overcame his initial perturbation; soon he was listening to every hair-metal band’s cassette tape he could get his hands on (and since he was growing up in rural North Dakota, they weren’t that easy for him to find).

Fargo essentially serves as Klosterman’s memoirs of how, during the ’80s and early ’90s, he evolved from an innocent fifth-grader into an air-guitar maestro and professional music journalist. Still a fan of hair bands to this day, yet never taking himself or the bands too seriously, Klosterman intelligently rants about how the lifestyles portrayed by glam-metal bands affected him as a small-town teenage boy. In one instance, he explains how KISS’ lyrics inspired him to do something questionable when an ATM erred, showing his account balance to be thousands of dollars more than it actually was.

Each chapter of Fargo reads like an individual, entertaining short story, with titles such as “September 10, 1990: Warrant releases Cherry Pie. In a CD review for my college newspaper, I call this record ‘stellar.’ It is three years before I am allowed to review another album.”

Klosterman takes occasional breaks from personal tales to investigate why some really untalented ’80s hair-metal bands managed to have impressive record-sales numbers. While doing so, he includes quotes from past interview subjects of his, such as the bands KISS and Korn, on the topic of image and rock music in general. Klosterman also occasionally injects Fargo with his own lists, including “Nonessential Hair Metal Records I Really, Really Like” and what types of girls certain bands seemed to go for (examples: Tesla — farm girls; Bang Tango — Faster Pussycat rejects).

With Fargo, Klosterman turns what could have been an ordinary story, about an ordinary small-town adolescent growing up, into pure comedic entertainment.

Also, don’t forget to call up Klosterman himself and tell him if anything in Fargo strikes a chord with you, good or bad. He includes his home telephone number in the book’s intro.

Nicole Jones is Metro Times' editorial assistant and resident metallurgist. E-mail her at [email protected].

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