Cover image for Hell bent for leather : confessions of a heavy metal addict
Hell bent for leather : confessions of a heavy metal addict
Hunter, Seb, 1971-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Fourth Estate, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 312 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.0 15.0 86818.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3534 .H837 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Seb Hunter was a heavy metal fan and he's not proud. In fact, he was more than a fan; he was a blind devotee who threw away his education and future prospects to become a rock star. Hell Bent for Leather is his toe-curlingly funny confession of fifteen years spent trying to hit the big time -- taking readers on a (very loud) musical journey from first guitar (his dad's) to first gig, and on through groupies, girlfriends, too many drugs, spiraling egos, musical differences, and, finally, the end of the dream and a much needed haircut.

Along the way, Seb offers a crash course in the way of heavy metal, with choice illustrations. You will learn to spot a Fender Telecaster from a Gibson Flying V, Thrash Metal from Glam Metal, and "the Priest" from "the Gunners." Hell Bent for Leather, with a wink and a nod, will also show you how to play a drum solo, wear spandex and white leather sneakers, and exactly what to do in the middle of a muddy field when you are surrounded by a mob of screaming metalheads and you desperately need to relieve yourself.

But Seb Hunter's memoir, more than anything, is a moving story of adolescence, of playing air guitar in your bedroom, of living with parental disapproval, and of struggling for acceptance among friends when you carry a shameful secret obsession. It is an affectionate and irreverent memoir told with the nostalgia inspired by a love letter to an old flame.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Another straight-from-the-gut autobiographical and music-crit package from the headbanging front lines (see also--for sure--Chuck Klosterman's Fargo Rock City, 2001), Hunter's confessions bring the milieu of Wayne's World to life. Admitting he initially embraced heavy metal to irritate his father, Hunter thereafter chronicles his pursuit of bombastic musical stardom and exhibits his knowledge of the genre in historical vignettes, such as his thumbnail sketch of the rivalry between Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Guns \lquote n Roses' Axl Rose at a critical torch-passing station on the heavy metal highway. He proves on target in discussing the relative merits of metal stalwarts Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath and in appraising at least some of the doings of guitar deity Ritchie Blackmore. That he has the range to contrast Blackmore with pop's other legendary man in black, the late Johnny Cash, is another strength. Brash, to the point, and earthy, this is an enjoyable disquisition on an adult-irritating strain of music that just won't die. With advocates and chroniclers like Hunter, why should it? --Mike Tribby Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the mold of Chuck Klosterman's cult hit Fargo Rock City, Hunter brings a British accent to this exploration of the pop cultural phenomenon of heavy metal music and culture. Mixing his memories of small-town England with an encyclopedic knowledge of heavy metal, Hunter creates a book that, thanks to its combination of poignancy and hilarity, is as infectious as a well-crafted power ballad. Hunter's earnest take on the usual who's who of the metal world (Anthrax: "They were the U2 of Metal") is dead-on, but he truly shines when he goes the extra mile to give the unwritten rules that heavy metal bands and their fans must follow (true metal bands must release a double live album; "When it comes to coats you chose between two: denim or leather"). And not only does Hunter know the rules, he follows them too as he teaches himself the guitar and grows his hair long. Despite starting metal band after metal band (from Armageddon's Ring to Cat Ballou), his ill-fated attempts to follow in his heroes' footsteps never reach the heights of his rock and roll dreams. Finally, as years of believing in the fantasy world of heavy metal collide with the responsibilities and truths of the real world, Hunter must decide if the "rock and roll all nite and party every day" lifestyle is really for him. Given his love of Kurt Cobain and inclusion of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti as a top five metal album of all time, true metalhead readers will have a great time disagreeing with some of Hunter's observations. Everyone else who reads this book will just have a great time. Photos. Agent, Neil Taylor. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Anyone who has read Chuck Klosterman's heavy-metal memoir, Fargo Rock City, will experience d?j? vu while reading Hunter's debut, set in 1980s England. Like Klosterman, Hunter mixes metal philosophy with personal memories of growing up a metalhead; both also show unflinching devotion to 1980s hair metal while praising Guns `n' Roses as heavy metal gods. The books diverge in their writing styles and tacks: Klosterman, a mere consumer of metal, relies on intellectualism and wit in an attempt to validate metal, whereas Hunter simply tries to explain his zeal, which leads him to learn guitar and gain membership in bands more worried about perfect hair than perfect sound. Meanwhile, as in any good rock story, drugs and loose women play supporting roles. Interestingly, Hunter's rise and fall as a local metal hero coincide with his beloved genre's rise and demise at the hands of grunge and Kurt Cobain. Throughout, Hunter does a worthy job of describing heavy metal fandom, but he refutes the entire book when he admits in the final chapter that he eventually gave up on metal. Nice but not overly memorable; recommended for larger music catalogs. Robert Morast, "Argus Leader," Sioux Falls, SD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Hell Bent for Leather Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict Chapter One Let's Get It Up It's 1981, a late summer evening in an underground common room at a boarding school in deepest Wiltshire. Someone is playing "Can-Can" by Bad Manners on a cheap yellow record player and we're all running around in a sweat, playing off the musical momentum, though hardly paying it much attention. And then comes my big moment, the only real eureka, blinding-light moment I've ever had. Some wise child peels off from the fray and clunks down AC/DC's "Let's Get it Up," and that's it for me. That was the light switch -- the world suddenly became three dimensional and my ears popped open. It was so raw, so suggestive, that I had no idea how to react. This was a whole new set of rules for my body; a sudden and unexpected DNA tattoo. I stood motionless on the flagstone floor, beads of sweat hanging off my fringe, waiting for this skull-splitting rheum to end so I could calm down and return to how things had been before, but I never quite managed to get there. "Hey! Hey! What was that?" I stood open-mouthed over the record player. By the end of the week, having heard "Let's Get it Up" a further sixteen times, including the B-side,"Back in Black" (live), all other thoughts in my head had evaporated. I taught myself how to do this, fast: AC/DC Back at home that Christmas I knew exactly what I wanted. For the last few years my parents had been feeding my thirsty Star Wars obsession, however this year I'd requested just one solitary item: a cassette by AC/DC. My mother asked me where she was supposed to purchase such a thing and I was forced to admit I had no idea. So I spent an anxious Christmas morning worrying that I'd be getting yet more Star Wars figures and not the one thing I craved so badly. But halfway through the communal giving I was handed a tape-shaped package. Slowly I peeled at the wrapping until I could clearly see a gold cover and a picture of a giant cannon, and on the back cover -- oh my god -- the album contained "Let's Get it Up"! I felt sick and slightly dizzy and my hands started to shake. My mother, sensing my existential distress, plucked the plastic box away. "'Let's get it up,'" I whimpered. My mother frowned. "What do you think that means?" "It means ... " I paused. "Let's all get it sort of 'up' and have fun." "Well you're wrong, it doesn't mean that at all, it means something entirely different." "Like what?" "I'm not telling you. Just be careful, that's all, don't go around saying that sort of thing in public. And 'Put the Finger on You'? What do you think that one means?" "It just means putting the finger on you. I don't know." She doesn't understand, I thought to myself. She just doesn't get it! She ran her finger through the rest of the songs, muttering under her breath, and handed it back. "'Let's Get it Up' means something rude. In fact quite a lot of these songs sound rather rude." You're mad, I thought, embarrassed for her obvious misunderstanding. As soon as the Queen's speech was over and the family had thanked each other for their biscuits and condiments, I interrupted proceedings by loudly demanding we play my new tape. "Everyone will like it!" "But Granny ... " "Granny will like it too!" My father raised an eyebrow. I had up until this moment been a thoroughly charming and dutiful child, so after a moment's consideration, the cassette player was reluctantly dragged in from the kitchen. With my back to my extended family, I slid the new cassette into the machine and covertly inched up the volume in preparation for AC/DC's grand opus For Those About to Rock ... (We Salute You) in all its corrosive pomp. As the guitars snaked out I turned, grinning and blushing heavily, and grabbed onto the aerial to steady myself. Then the bass began to throb and I noticed some awkward shuffling on the sofa. Next came the drums -- crikey they were loud! I glanced at my scary Uncle Geoff and he'd started turning purple, but still I sensed a thrill of expectancy in the room. Then came the singing -- or rather some wordless yelps like a rusty iron lung -- and with it a sharp, horrified wince from the entire family. It was slowly dawning on me that perhaps not everyone would love AC/DC quite as much as I'd hoped. Finally, just as the chorus came blazing through (For those about to rock! We salute you!) and I was at the very peak of excitement, my father shouted "Enough!" and my mother leapt at the eject button, and I was hastily sent upstairs by Granny. My mother and father married in 1968. My mother was an artist and a teacher, and my father ran his own property development businesses. Three years later I came along. And then two years after that, my sister, Melissa. For the first six years of my life we lived in an old farmhouse in the Hampshire village of Meonstoke surrounded by farms and fields, until my father grew bored with the country and discovered a gigantic run-down Victorian house in Winchester. It looked like it would need years of work but was irresistibly cheap, so he decided to buy it. We all slept on brown corduroy cushions in the drawing room for the first few months, while the electrics were recast, water was coaxed back through the miles of disused black pipes, and the child-sized gaps in the floorboards were hastily covered with lino. This was an amazing house: it had thirty rooms, a cool vaulted cellar, and a giant warren of an attic. My sister and I liked to change bedrooms whenever we felt like it because there were just so many to choose from, while my mother painted huge colorful murals on their walls for our entertainment. My father meanwhile took this sprawling house to task, attacking it with sledgehammers and drills, knocking up arches through walls in a comedy hard hat. The garden was a giant overgrown jungle in which I constructed dens out of old beehives, played laser wars with imaginary friends, smashed a football against the green garage door, and goaded our cats ... Hell Bent for Leather Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict . Copyright © by Seb Hunter. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict by Seb Hunter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.