A boy’s coming of age story can be as awkward as clapping on the 1 and the 3, to a drummer’s ear, or for anyone with a sense of musical timing. For every cringing step our young hero Billy Stamp takes, we hope he finds his happy ending as a successful enough drummer abroad. Finding his rhythm and purpose is the crux of Noisemaker.
In his impetuous youth, Billy ditches Halifax in the late 70s for the ground zero of punk rock, London, England. Inspired by the Sex Pistols, the Stranglers, and a plethora of “if you know, you know” bands, barely an adult Billy sets his sights on becoming a hard hitting punk rock drummer for any punk band that’ll hire him. The problem is that he hasn’t read beyond his bedroom and picked up on the decline of punk. British new wave is on the verge of a rapid ascent, and the passing hey day of punk has no time to entertain his fantasies. Keeping him tethered to the driving beat are frequent hallucinations of a legendary deceased drummer. You’ll just have to read the book to find out who that is.
Upon Billy’s quest, he discovers the importance of band chemistry and loyalty, and the hard truth that his drumming sucks. Practicing paradiddle rudiments is one thing, but he must humble himself from the notoriety of “second fastest drummer” in a small town neighbourhood to re-learning the foundations of rock beats as an up and coming student of a an infamous blind, jazz drummer.
And what’s a coming of age story without some infatuation and a portrait of a testicle as a young artist? Andy Tolson has created a welcoming cast of offbeat east-end characters to briefly usher an awkward Canadian boy into the unseemly world of music business and just as quickly punt him to the curb with lessons to be learned. The dialogue seems genuinely cockney clipped for the east end dialect and very polite Canadian where it needs to be. Interspersed chapters feature brief bios of once were punk bands, documented with only the passion that a torch bearer would carry between rough laments of an all too short era. Tolson tells a tale of mostly drama with a bit of comedy, delivered with a driving bass heartbeat, and loud cymbal crashes of tension.
“I loved following another kid from Atlantic Canada chase his fantasy…as he bobs and weaves his way through the London punk scene. This book is great when he dodges a few smacks, and even greater when he doesn’t.”Alan Doyle, musician, actor, author
Andy Tolson spent much of the 1980s as a drummer in London, England, playing both pubs and concert halls, though mostly pubs. He has been a boy magician, prop-maker, and writer. At the National Post and Maclean’s magazine, Tolson was a photojournalist and editor. He now lives in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.
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