Guest Interview: Rock Band Glossary’s Joey Knieser Gets Literary by Vicki Keire

While I often talk a lot about books, poetry, writing, and author and publishing events, I rarely talk about music here, even though it is one of my passions.  I could go on and on about the reasons I love certain bands and certain genres of music, and why I dislike other bands and other genres of music.  However, rather than listen to me ramble on about my tastes and thoughts, I thought I’d share with you an interview from Vicki Keire with Glossary‘s Joey Knieser and his thoughts on books.  (Click on the band name for a few YouTube videos of their songs)

Without further ado, please welcome Vicki and Joey.

The summer before I met Joey Knieser of the rock band Glossary, I was hundreds of miles from home writing the novel that would eventually become The Chronicles of Nowhere (volume one released today through Curiosity Quills Press.) I spent the weeks preceding our meeting wandering beaches bleached white as bone, watching as BP oil-choked kelp rolled in and strangled the shoreline.

Armed only with a battered laptop, I propped it open and listened to my modest music library while watching the waves, waiting for them to carry away the personal disaster that had driven me here. That’s when Glossary started to haunt me. One album in particular became a favorite, on almost constant repeat: their album Feral Fire, with the aptly named “Your Heart to Haunt” in heavy rotation. If the band hadn’t planned a stop in my hometown that summer, I’m not sure I would have come home. But come they did, and I had the genuine pleasure of both hosting them in my home and seeing them play one of the songs most influential to my writing. Naturally, Glossary is at the top of my list when I think about writing and music, and how, for me, the two often intersect.

I caught up with guitarist/ singer-songwriter Joey Knieser to find out if books had a reciprocal power with musicians. Joey, along with most of the band, lives in Murfreesboro, TN, just outside of Nashville. He graciously agreed to answer questions on everything from his favorites books to the impact of the digital revolution on books and music:

Q: What books are you reading now or want to read?

A: I am currently in the middle of reading Tom Franklin’s novel, Hell at the Breech. I’d like to read the rest of Tom Franklin’s stuff. There are a couple Walker Percy books that I haven’t read, and I hope that I will be able to some day.

Q: What are some of your all time favorite books?

A: My all-time favorite books are Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Just like the music I seem to go back and listen to over and over again, these classic books just seem to have in them something that appeals to me. You could pick up these two books at any time and read a couple sentences, and before you know it, you’re back into reading it for the millionth time. Being a Southerner, these books have become really important to me.

Q: Do you prefer eReaders or “regular” books, and why?

A: I prefer eReaders because I’m legally blind, and before the eReader, I was limited in what I could read. I had to read only what I could find in large print. But now, with an eReader, I can read any book by just increasing the size of the font.

Q: Do you think the digital revolution will have similar effects on the book industry as it has had on the music industry?

A: Absolutely. It will have the same effect in that content is delivered directly to the customer, which, as a result, changes the current business model that both those industries have had up to this point. In the music industry, there seems to be less and less of an importance to have major labels. In the same way, in the book publishing industry, it seems that the major publishing companies have less and less importance. The digital revolution has put the power in the hands of the artist. The way an artist can connect with an audience is simple and direct. The only problem the artist will have now is to find their audience.

Q: Your album Feral Fire got its name from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. What about the novel appealed to you?

A: The quote from the novel had little to do with the novel itself. I liked the novel, but they were two words that poked out to me. I thought the alliteration had a real sense of longing. I could never really get that title out of my head while I was writing the songs for the album. It seemed like “feral fire” had a sense of longing and desperation, and basically I felt the songs on the record reflected those emotions.

Q: Are any of your songs influenced by books, and if so, which ones?

A: There are several. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to a church and they sing a hymn that talks of heaven being, “the sweet forever.” I thought that was a great way to describe eternity. I used that phrase to actually title one of my songs in Feral Fire. I did write “Adalina” after I read The Sun Also Rises, because the song deals with a man that can’t have the woman that he wants much like the narrator in The Sun Also Rises can’t have Lady Brett. I actually used a line in “Adalina” that is straight from the book: “of all the ways to be wounded.” I just used it in the same way that Hemingway does, that there are a million ways to be wounded in this world, but that one person you love so much doesn’t love you the same way, and that’s the deepest sort of pain you’ll ever experience.

Q: What particular genres interest you?

A: Being a Southerner, I’m always drawn to Southern writers. Southern goth, too. Anything that deals with the issues of Southern culture and identity, books that deal with the Southern culture and way of life.

About the Band:

Glossary just released its seventh album, Long Live All of Us, available from This Is American Music and Last Chance Records. Glossary has been featured on NPR’s World Café, mentioned in USA Today, Paste magazine, and numerous other acclaimed music publications while being routinely featured on too many “Best of” lists to count. The band consists of bassist Bingham Barnes, singer/percussionist Kelly Knieser, pedal steel/guitarist Todd Beene, drummer Eric Giles, and frontman/ guitarist Joey Knieser.


Vicki Keire

About the Interviewer:

Vicki Keire grew up in a 19th Century haunted house in the Deep South full of books, abandoned coal chutes, and plenty of places to get into trouble with her siblings. She has taught writing and literature at a large, football-obsessed university while slipping paranormal fiction in between the pages of her textbooks. She is the author of the bestselling Angel’s Edge series, which includes Gifts of the Blood and its sequel, Darkness in the Blood. She is included in the Dark Tomorrows anthology with J.L. Bryan and Amanda Hocking and now writes full time. You can find her online.


This post is part of the Curiosity Quills Blog Tour 2012.

Curiosity Quills is a gaggle of literary marauders with a bone to grind and not enough time for revisions – a collective, creating together, supporting each other, and putting out the best darn tootin’ words this side of Google.

Curiosity Quills also runs Curiosity Quills Press, an independent publisher committed to bringing top-quality fiction to the wider world. They publish in ebook, print, as well as serialising select works of their published authors for free on the press’s website.


  1. VickiKeire says

    Serena, thanks so much for posting! Joey was fascinating to talk to- we like so many of the same books, and I never knew!

  2. I like that you’re trying something different by featuring a little bit of music today. Interesting interview!


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