Ronald Thomas Clontle
Ronald Thomas Clontle is America's premiere rock critic. He has written about the medium for such publications as Rock Press, Tunes, Good Times and The Lawrence Press. His film reviews can be seen bi-weekly in Kansas 50 Plus. His landmark first book, Rock, Rot and Rule has just been released on CD-ROM in The Philippines. Mr. Clontle resides in Lawrence, Kansas.
The following is an interview with Mr. Clontle that appeared in the January '00 issue of DER STUNDERGRAFFE, a literary magazine published in Stuttgart, Germany. Although there was an obvious language barrier, we feel that the interview is quite insightful.
OTTO GANZA VON STRAMEN: Testing, one two. I donít think itís working.
RONALD THOMAS CLONTLE: I think it is. The wheels are turning.
OTTO: Testing...Alright. This is Otto Ganza von Stramen and I am here representing DER STUNDERGRAFFE magazine and Melveelk Radio interviewing author Ronald Thomas Clontle, who has written a book which is currently available which is called ROCK ROT AND RULE. Now for a first question, you had your book has come out and is in stores alongside many other books by other people. Now bookstores will order fifty copies of a book by...Stephen King...or a book by...Dean Koontz, then...within days the fifty copies will sell and they will order more. And your book, many bookstores have ordered one copy and they have not had to order more copies, and it has not sold. How do you feel your book will do compared in terms of how poor the sales may be compared to even poor selling books?
CLONTLE: Iím not sure where youíre getting your sales figures from. Obviously there was enough interest in the book to bring me over here to Europe. Iíve had great press days so far in Prague, where I got a great response on the book. Amsterdam was greatÖ itís hard because Penguin just isnít putting a lot of muscle into pushing the book over here, so I just think you need to re-evaluate the sales figures youíve looked at, and weíll take it from there.
OTTO: Now regarding the poor sales and the poor reviews and poor recognition of your book, do you feel that in response to such poor responses that maybe your book is poor?
CLONTLE: Poor what?
OTTO: Poorer maybe than other books that are more acclaimed and experience higher sales.
CLONTLE: Sales really donít figure into it for me. ROCK ROT AND RULE is a book that is meant to inform and educate. Obviously Iíd like to sell a lot of copies, but I donít think itís poor-selling at all, no. I think weíre doing great so far.
OTTO: Many reviews have cited the book is unrecognizable with information that is not as prevalent in other books about music or in books about other subjects, regarding that information in the book is not as clear or as thought out as in other books maybe, in terms of the content and the layout and other things in comparison to books which are acclaimed to be less successful. And does this seem to inhinge on your chances to writing a follow-up book to ROCK ROT AND RULE?
CLONTLE: No, I think there will be a second volume. I think the public will demand a second volume. I donít see how they couldnít. The first volume has caused a firestorm and I think thereís gonna be a lot of public outcry for this. No, I donít think the chances of a second book have been inhinged at all.
OTTO: Now do you feel that regarding response that people might request that you write a different styled book, considering that your attempt on this book was not realized in terms of not having been poor?
CLONTLE: You mean poor as in Iím not poor, or -?
OTTO: The response to the book have been that many have stated that the book was not researched properly and that you are unqualified for such a dramatic subject to approach such a dramatic subject in an uneducated and poor manner. Does that make you think about maybe writing a book about anything else?
CLONTLE: No, because what that comes down to in terms of criticism is that a lot of the critics who criticized my book are just jealous that they didnít think of it first. Iím the one out here getting a free trip to Europe on Penguinís dime, and Iíve written what I think is a great educational tool. Theyíre jealous and theyíll do whatever they can to keep me from succeeding, but itís not gonna happen because this book is going to be huge and already is huge.
OTTO: Would you like a Coca-Cola?
CLONTLE: No thanks.
OTTO: One moment, Iím going to get one -
(Tape clicks off)
OTTO: Many people have stated regarding the output of the book that you have basically are repeating concepts in a more poor fashion that which been done my many more authorsÖ
CLONTLE: Like what? I donít know of anyone whose done a book like this.
OTTO: Well for example there was a book that was released here that was called SELVOK.
CLONTLE: Called what?
CLONTLE: Iíve never heard of it.
OTTO: It is basically a collection of various ratings and evaluations of which bands are superior or less superior to Ė
CLONTLE: Now are you accusing me of plagiarizing this idea?
OTTO: I am not familiar with the Ė
CLONTLE: Because I can assure you that I have no knowledge of this book youíre referring to.
OTTO: Many other people who are the critics of the critics have considered your attempt at making music into categorizing the term which should be something which music is not meant, like fitting music into segments and contain Ė the word is "container"?
CLONTLE: Yes, the word is "container". Iím totally lost here, Iím not following this tangent at all.
OTTO: The container of music, fitting things into containers, which music is meant to be more open.
CLONTLE: Like I said before, this book is a tool. I donít think anyone else is doing anything like this, I donít think anyone has come close to doing as well-researched a book as ROCK ROT AND RULE, and I donít think that you know your facts, what youíre talking about.
OTTO: I have actually read the book.
CLONTLE: Which book, mine?
OTTO: The book ROCK ROT AND RULE, and I read books by rock writers Ė
CLONTLE: Like who?
OTTO: Writers like Neil Strauss, and many other Ė
CLONTLE: Neil Strauss. That doesnít ring a bell.
OTTO: Who have written the book SHAPE OF ROCK.
CLONTLE: Is he a European writer, because I donít Ė
OTTO: I believe he is American.
CLONTLE: I donít know him.
OTTO: Have you given any consideration to adapting methods of your rating to other styles of music?
CLONTLE: Actually, yeah. Iíve been speaking to Penguin for about a month now about a volume called RAP ROT AND RULE which will take into account most of the rap scene out there.
OTTO: Now with the rap, do you consider that the species of rap can be evaluated on such terms as rock, which has such a distinguished history?
CLONTLE: Well rap has a pretty decent history also. Itís made a huge cultural impact on a lot of genres of music. And so yeah, I think itís relevant. And Iíd like to also mention that weíre working on a book called JAZZ ROT AND RULE which takes into account the jazz scene out there too.
OTTO: Many other styles could be taken to be considered, such as techno Ė
CLONTLE: Could be considered what, jazz?
OTTO: Not jazz, but considered for future volumes?
CLONTLE: Like what, TECHNO ROT AND RULE, something like that?
OTTO: I assume, yes.
CLONTLE: I donít see that happening anytime soon. Like I said, thereís gonna be RAP ROT AND RULE and JAZZ ROT AND RULE.
OTTO: Now these books will also be available?
CLONTLE: Yes, available in stores.
OTTO: When do you foresee this happening?
CLONTLE: Well Iím presently researching them, so probably not until the end of 99 or the spring of 2000.
OTTO: Okay, that Ė
(tape cuts off)