"Because living musicians fear competition too much to share secrets of success, this manual, we're told, was transcribed during a séance where dead rock stars lectured on profound rock & roll truths. Mary Wells, spelling in spaghetti, and Buddy Holly, scrawling in salt, warned of cruel, social-engineering overlords that both control and fear rock revolutionaries. But the greatest prank the book pulls is camouflaging, beneath astrological and geopolitical inanity, the author's passionately conveyed truths about integrity, artistry, repression, perseverance and the cruelties and joys of the music industry. It seems that even when utilizing a stone-faced, pummeling, punch line–free tone, truths are still best told in jest. And it also seems rock & roll will never die, or if it does, it will still be accessible through spiritualism."
Time Out Chicago
"Obviously Svenonius's discussion of rock music is far from supernatural. If anything, it debunks the notion that musicians are untouchable, mystical beings by showing just how much planning, how much strategy goes into making a successful group. And while there is a cynicism that pervades this book, Svenonius is nevertheless coming to the topic as a rock 'n' roll fan, a practitioner, and someone who believes truly in the art form."
"The phenomenon is explained in Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group , a new book by Washington musician, author and general punk provocateur Ian Svenonius. His how-to guide for forming a band is plenty tongue-in-cheekthe advice is presented through the words of dead rock stars contacted via seancebut he hits on some significant truths."
"Ian F. Svenonius' new book, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group , is laugh-out-loud funny. Svenonius mixes the Vietnam War, Industrial Revolution and other seemingly disconnected events via fictional interviews with several (real) dead rock stars who share their thoughts on topics, such as the all-important band van, communication, the evolution from gang to group, sex, 'the narcotic effect of pop music' and discipline. Whether you intend to form a rock group, are interested in history or popular culture, or just want to read essays that are genuinely smart, this is the book."
Sacramento News & Review
"Ian's theories are hilarious, insightful, intelligent and well-written, both satisfying for rock history enthusiasts and enlightening for newbies...Showboating your reading material is unconditionally off-putting, but it's hard not to feel cool holding a book called ' Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'N' Roll Group ' sitting in a seat on the bus or an exercise bike at the gym. Its pocket size makes it ideal for reading during long rides in the tour van or sitting on a crate backstage in between loading equipment. And of course like Mao's Little Red Book , the size makes it easy to keep on hand for quotations, instruction or spiritual guidance."
"Written in a language couched in satire and anchored by years of experience, it is both a rigorous study of an elusive and enduring cultural art and a sobering critique of its many tortured machinations."
Portland Phoenix (Maine)
" Supernatural Strategies...takes a spiritual approach to guiding rock star wannabes to success. The book's imagined conversations are very funny (it's clear that Svenonius didn't actually talk with Paul McCartney and probably never sought out a medium). But beyond being humorous, Supernatural Strategies is also very informative and well researched. While Svenonius shares his endless wealth of musical knowledge, this book also serves as a critique of capitalism, consumerism and American imperialism."
"As its title indicates, prolific DC underground rocker Ian Svenonius's arch new book, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group , is 'an indispensable guide for anyone attempting to create a rock 'n' roll group.' With help from late rock gods such as Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix, who reputedly advised Svenonius from beyond the grave, Supernatural Strategies prescribes the ingredients for rock immortality, in chapters ranging from 'Group Name' to 'Van' to 'Drugs.'"
"Svenonius has been interrogating and unpacking the meaning of rock 'n' roll for as long as he's been making it."
"Throughout its 250 pages, the author demystifies the modern rock group with a mixture of veteran insight and intellectual posturing that can be both hilarious and fascinating. There are long tangents about gang culture, music and capitalism, and chapters based around séances calling on dead music stars as wide-ranging as Brian Jones, Big Mama Thornton and Mary Wells."
Style Weekly (Richmond)
"Svenonius, a member of the band Chain and the Gang, presents a comical but nonetheless serious guide to starting a rock-band with the aid of the supernatural. The pocket-sized guide reads as a systematic analysis of the choices rock-bands have made in the past, as well as a detail of the practical features of the profession itself, distilled for their insights, into success."
Book News Inc.
"According to Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group , a 250-page treatise by Ian F. Svenonius that arrived at my office the other day, the secrets to a successful rock band are buried in the dead heads of the deceased, former rock 'n' roll greats who are 'no longer contaminated by the stultifying climate of competitive capitalism,' the author writes."
"Current and former band members interested in an underground scene stalwart breaking down the inner workings of a group's success (and inevitable failure)and then taking those inner workings even further, into satirewill enjoy this book. Those who just have a thing for the political rhetoric and undeniable panache of Ian Svenoniuswell, even better."
"Enterprising young groups might do well to pay attention to Svenonius' book. Steal enough from it and you might find your group reuniting at Coachella in a decade or so."
Creative Loafing Atlanta
"Svenonius's latest screed is a 'bizarrely erudite' meditation on the hazards and resulting socioeconomic upheaval that occurs with the formation of rock groups (which are really just a natural progression from male street gangs of post-War Western society, he says.) Naturally, it's smart and meticulously crafted...Part cautionary how-to guide and part philosophical meditation on the current state of rock, Strategies exhumes rock's past to consider its present and help guide its future toward, hopefully, a more astrologically synchronous state."
"Svenonius...continues to prove himself an unconventional and important thinker when it comes to cultural studies and pop music."
Pittsburgh City Paper
" Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group is not an easy book. It's not technically difficult to readfar from it. What it does do is make you step back and think (maybe for the first time) about what rock-n-roll really is...and is not."
Chattanooga Pulse (Tennessee)
"Poseur, provocateur and pontificator, Svenonius' most recent cultural product comes in the form of a book. Both as satire and as plain truth, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group is a screamsomething that could only be produced by the punk rock aesthete who was once named Sassy magazine's 'Sassiest Boy in America.'"
Stomp & Stammer Magazine (Atlanta, GA)
"Regardless of whether you think you're in the choir he's preaching to, or if you just want some pointers on starting a band but can't be bothered to summon the spirit of Buddy Holly for religious reasons, read this guide for the perplexed and you will not be disappointed."
Fanzine (Atlanta, GA)
"What a delightfully odd little book this is. Presented as an old manual mixed with a narrator that's rather Lemony-Snicket-meets-Ted-Wilson, Supernatural Strategies For Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group manages to be just as funny as it is strange."
Glorified Love Letters