Released: 2014, Handshake Inc.
In my experience when people discuss Dan Lilker they generally agree on two things. First he is a really nice guy. Secondly, he lives, and breathes Metal; more specifically extreme metal. I can attest to both having briefly met him at a Metal fest. He was performing at the Fest but instead of hanging out with the other ‘rock stars’ in the hospitality area or in a hotel room, he was in the crowd in our local crappy bar catching local bands and having a good time, just hanging chatting to people. These facts combined with his admirable career made him a perfect candidate for a biography and now it has arrived.
PERPETUAL CONVERSION is the new illustrated biography of Dan Lilker written and conceived by newcomer to metal publishing, Dave Hofer. While a person of Lilker’s stature may have warranted a big name writer like the Popoffs or McIvers of the world, it was refreshing to see a new writer and a new voice. The oversized, soft-cover, coffee-table book was done by Handshake Inc, the same people who did Jason Netherton’s EXTREMITY RETAINED. The book itself is well put together with a heavy emphasis on additional writers contributing their thoughts and comments as well as a very visual aspect with hundreds of photos. The book is not huge, running at 176 pages but it cover a lot of territory. The only thing this book was sorely in need of was a comprehensive Lilker discography. He has been involved in so many projects, it would have been nice to have it all in one place. I’m also surprised there was no guest star doing a foreword. With so many big names contributing you think one of them would have jumped at the chance to pen the foreword. The multiple contributor style gave this book a bit of an ‘oral history’ style as many people shared anecdotes. The bulk of the script was based on a series of interviews that Hofer did with Lilker just hanging out for a few weekends. Hofer has been hanging around the East Coast extreme scene for years even doing a bit of work as a roadie for Dan, so he has the credentials to tackle such a project.
They really dug deep into the archives as there are many cool, rare photos, colour and B&W of all sorts of things; flyers, laminates, polaroids, promo material, album covers and lots of casual shots of Dan hanging out in England or Japan or Chile or wherever. There is a very casual vibe that runs through the whole book. Sure there are facts and figures and trivia but it is more about the stories, the camaraderie, the smoke and the hangin’ out just listening to and making Metal for the love of it. Hofer captures that whole feel very well. The book ends rather abruptly as well and kind of leaves the reader hanging but does include one of those cool, 'Where are they now' type synopsis sections that wraps up everything.
In the past I have felt that Lilker doesn’t not get enough credit for his involvement in the evolution of extreme music, partly because of his laid-back style or partly because people focus on some of his former big name bands. PERPETUAL CONVERSION changes all that and delves into his entire long and diverse career. Any fan of extreme music would be fascinated to read PERPETUAL CONVERSION.