Publisher: Eye Books (October 2020)

ISBN: 9781785632143

Noise Damage

James Kennedy


My Life as a Rock’n’Roll Underdog

‘Harrowing, funny and 100% true’

Ginger Wildheart

The tale that follows is not another clichéd collection of rock’n’roll  debaucheries (sorry) nor is it another tired fable of triumph over adversity (you’re welcome).

It’s the story of a half-deaf kid from a tiny, remote village in South Wales who was hailed as a genius by the UK’s biggest radio station and headhunted by major record labels, only for the music industry to collapse. It crashed hard, taking with it an entire generation of talented artists who would never now get their shot. CNN called it ‘music’s lost decade’.

Along the way, there are goodies, baddies, gun-toting label execs, life-saving surgeons, therapy, true love, loyalty, hope, breakdowns, suicidal managers, betrayal, drummers and way too many hangovers. James Kennedy shows that the best lessons are to be learned from good losers. It really is all about the journey.

Part memoir, part exposé of the music world’s murky underbelly, Noise Damage is emotional, painfully honest, funny, informative and ridiculous. It’s also a celebration of the life-changing magic of music.



I know what you’re thinking. ‘Wow, another music book that opens with a hangover scene. Yawn.’ But hear me out, this is not that story. And as far as hangovers go, it was a good one...



I know what you’re thinking. ‘Wow, another music book that opens with a hangover scene. Yawn.’ But hear me out, this is not that story. And as far as hangovers go, it was a good one...

With my brain begrudgingly getting its shit together, my first visual clue was the ceiling - just two feet above me and smeared in red clay and boot prints. To my immediate left, the dashboard of our poor, rented transit van was also entirely smothered in clay, as if it had been appropriated by a tribe of hairy, grunting Neanderthals – which it had. My last memory was of us innocently having ‘a few quiet ones’.

Full terrain scan. OK, so I slept in the front again. Gear stick in my back, I’m fully clothed (sunglasses and boots still on) and the entire cabin, it seems, is daubed in sticky, wet clay. Still, my cramped boudoir of despair and I have survived each other for another night. There’s no sign of movement from the back – the other beasts have yet to rise – so it’s time to figure out what the actual fuck is going on and where the actual fuck I am. I’ve taken to gaffa-taping used towels and dirty t-shirts over the windows as curtains, and now it’s time to peel them back and face the fear. Today is going to hurt.

I emerge from my mobile cave, recoiling from the morning sunlight like a wilting vampire, to see the entire contents of the van’s cabin strewn all over the road. CDs, clothes, empty beer cans, maps… ah, now I remember - France! We’re in France! But the problem with living out of a van is that you have to do everything together. I can’t explore the town and leave the other guys without a key, nor can I lock them in. And under no circumstances can I wake them up. So, I wait.

It looks nice here! The sun is shining. It’s green and idyllic. And there’s the boat we’re playing on tonight! As to what happened last night, I’m still drawing a blank. Another one of my increasingly standard blackouts, although I have that familiar and uncomfortable feeling that it probably included making a complete wanker of myself and offending half of Lille. Nice people walking their dogs are now crossing the road to avoid the clay-covered madman in his rubbish tip playground, but I’m past caring. To say this tour had been a tough one would be the piss-take of the century. It’s been beyond slapstick in its scale of unrelenting, soul-shaking injustice. And that manager of ours? I’m going to fucking kill him when I get back. Oh no, that’s right; he was going to kill himself...


‘An accurate depiction of life as a musician, both on the road and within the industry. Harrowing, funny and 100% true’

Ginger Wildheart


‘Both Adrian Smith’s autobiography and Rob Halford’s tome are good, but neither match the raw passion of Noise Damage. A splendid read about the trials and tribulations of trying to break into the music stratosphere, it’s a book that every aspiring musician or band leader should own’

Metal Talk

‘A refreshingly different addition to the crowded shelves of rock autobiographies. This is partly because James tells the familiar booze-fuelled-tour-antics story from a different perspective; he tells the story of the ninety-nine percent of bands that don’t make it. But Noise Damage also stands out because it is remarkably well-written, with humour, humility and insight’

Catherine Fearns, V13


‘Everyone’s read the cliché rock’n’roll memoirs from the megastar bands but no one has told the story of all the ‘other’ bands – the guys who didn’t make it and what became of them (which is MOST bands!)’ James talks to Made in Shoreditch magazine.

‘I’ve made pretty much all the mistakes you can make. The biggest one was where I started doubting myself and listening to others. Trust yourself, make the best decision you can, roll with it and hope you get lucky. But you may not…’ James talks to FaceCulture about his book and his albums.

'I know what you're thinking. "Wow. another music book that opens with a hangover scene. Yawn." But hear me out. This is not that story...’ James reads the opening chapter of Noise Damage.

Check out James Kennedy’s official website at You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


James Kennedy

From South Wales, James Kennedy is a professional musician with a Top 50 best-selling album, more than four million song streams and over half a million online followers/nutters, who call themselves ‘Misfits’.

Hearing impaired due to childhood surgery, James has become an ambassador for several hearing charities, as well as speaking on panels and writing articles on a wide range of issues including mental health, the music industry and politics.

He has toured much of the world, featured in many mainstream music publications and owns the music company Konic Records.

Noise Damage is his first book.

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