Interview By Matthew Hutchison
Here’s some truth for you: Reality and firsthand experience trump any anxiety-ridden Instagram story.
Just ask New Yorker Mike Edison about his life and his path into the literary and music worlds—there’s no filter on that.
His beginnings involved grinding out a multitude of porn novels, more than he cares to mention, which presented him with opportunities to scribe his perversions for Penthouse Letters; lead the editorial team for High Times Magazine; and land deals to author books, including a living memoir, the legacies of print smut kingpins, and a recap of living with an emotionally abusive father. His will to survive in this cutthroat industry and his balancing of high- and low-brow literature have led Edison to an illustrious editorial career, covering not just pornography and counterculture but also music, wine, culinary arts, political satire, and professional wrestling.
How has he managed all these years?
“Dude, if it were easy being me, everyone would do it,” Edison quips.
The fact is, Edison lives an interesting and fulfilling life. His work in cultural journalism intersects with music quite often, including being a propaganda man for Jon Spencer and his many assorted projects. Destiny it may have been, considering he’s also a musician himself.
Edison leads his own garage rock ’n’ voodoo gospel group called The Edison Rocket Train. After a 14-year recording hiatus, the engines of The Train will fire up again with a new EP for Everlasting Records, Mary Don’t You Weep, followed by a full-length to round it out before the year’s end.
The Edison Rocket Train first took off in 2000 and has been an off-and-on project for Edison and the other folks involved ever since. Raising Cain from Brooklyn to Bayonne—we’re talkin’ France here, not New Jersey—they’re a group who don’t get as much publicity as some of the bands they’ve been billed with. Nonetheless, one can’t discount their ability to fill rooms and incite rounds of table-dancing with their jungle-beat laced with groove, fuzz, and offbeat wit. Only those who’ve seen them will understand. For those who haven’t, your time will come.
In 2008, with life circumstances precipitating the band’s hiatus, Edison published his debut book, “I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World.” The memoir brought him further recognition in the literary world, but his unshakable itch to “save souls” with his music remained. With his cohort Mickey Finn at the B3 helm, ready to drive the redefined Rocket Train toward the gospel sound, Edison’s enthusiasm for his vision is made clear.
“We finally got it together to record a bunch of songs that are all reimagined American roots music with a hard garage sound. Gospel from the garage!” he exclaims. “New protest music; the times need it! I’m expecting this to redefine the genre. It’s gonna be fucking huge! The New Delta Science Sound of The Edison Rocket Train!”
Weird times call for eccentricity, and The Edison Rocket Train are as eccentric as ever as they steam forward again.
Photo by Melissa Kinsky