Known Entity – An Unauthorized History by Phil Klahn takes us on a journey that many of us experienced as teenagers; forming a rock band at High School and the dreams and pitfalls that all that entails. Known Entity was the brainchild of “rich kid” Brody and his friend Kris. Into the mix came drummer Mert, bassist and singer, Steff along with technical whizz AP. Together they formed the band Known Entity, which they all dreamed would some-day take them to the fame and fortune they were so obviously destined for. The book follows the dramas and evolution of the band, through to its inevitable break up, detailing the ego clashes, the artistic clashes and the petty jealousies along the way. Unlike some band books, Known Entity never actually became much of a Known Entity – they were one of the multitude of bands that started full of hope and promise, only to end in recrimination and despair. Told, as an interview with surviving band members, some thirty years on, the book also traces the history of the members, since their dissolution. As a bonus, the author has included, within the story, YouTube links to the songs discussed in the novel. A clever innovation, for sure.
Perhaps it was the nostalgia kick, but I found myself intimately drawn into this fascinating story of music and group dynamics. What I particularly liked about Phil Klahn’s tale, Known Entity – An Unauthorized History, was exactly the fact that we weren’t dealing with an even moderately successful band here. The band was a miserable commercial failure, yet the author still managed to convey the dreams and aspirations of these young people who like so many other musicians faced insurmountable odds in achieving even moderate success at their chosen craft. I also liked the idea of interviewing the band members 30 years on, to compare their memories of the Known Entity time and their personal takes on what exactly happened to destroy their dreams. Summarising their lives since Known Entity, was a nice touch as well. What the author succeeded at most, in my opinion, was conveying the undying passion for music, the he clearly has, through the characters in this story. Using a “non-playing member” of the band, AP, as his primary source was a stroke of genius and gave the work a much more balanced approach than perhaps would have been the case if he had focused it around the lead singer/songwriter. If you love music, or were ever part of a band, this novel will absolutely resonate with you. This was a great read and one I can definitely recommend.