“Relentless” is at the pace at which Steven Tobi and his band The Nearly Deads move. The band recently released a new single to coincide with Halloween, their favourite day of the year. There’s still a bit of a wait ahead, but the song is the first sampling of new music from the band’s sophomore album, We Are the Nearly Deads, which is tentatively scheduled to be out in spring 2023. There will be three other singles issued ahead of the album release, each specifically intended to shine a light on the individual instrumental skills of each quartet member. It promises to be an electrifying combination of new songs, melodic with infectious guitar riffs… rousing anthems that will have you pumping your fist in the air.
Lead guitarist Steven Tobi is responsible for most of these electrifying riffs that The Nearly Deads have been pumping out. Outside of music, Tobi keeps busy with a host of creative side projects, including composing for films like Fatherless, Virtually In Love, and Eat Your Heart Out and writing screenplays of his own, which led him into creative writing. His love of science fiction and horror inspired him to write his first novella, The Broken Man. It was released this past July, a scary tale of a man dealing with a sinister, untrustworthy, and uninvited guest.
Considering his background as a writer and an author, there was no better guest for our Fahrenheit V13 series. We recently spoke with Tobi about his reading habits, his favourite childhood book, and a little bit about the challenges of the publishing industry.
What was the most memorable book from your childhood?
Steven Tobi: “As I’m sure it was for many people my age and older, The Hobbit was probably the first book I remember reading as a child and realizing books can be fun. In school, we always had a list of required reading material, and for the most part, it was a bunch of ‘classics’ that, for me, felt like a slog. One year, The Hobbit was on the list, and once I started I couldn’t put it down. It was my introduction to fantasy as Star Wars was my introduction to sci-fi.”
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What’s your preferred genre?
“One-hundred percent fiction. As much as this big beautiful world and the people in it fascinate me, I’ve always preferred to explore other worlds and escape when reading or consuming other media. My most read genres are sci-fi/fantasy and horror.”
Who are your favourite writers?
“It’s hard to say because I really enjoy so many different books and authors. If I think of authors I’ve read several of their books (Tolkien, Palahniuk, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Andrzej Sapkowski), then maybe that defines them as my favourites.”
Which book had the best soundtrack in your mind while you were reading it? What songs or artists had the best fit?
“Definitely Ready Player One, although it doesn’t take much imagination to hear the soundtrack since Wade (Watts, the book’s protagonist) pretty much spells it out for you (laughs). I’m a very nostalgic person and his ’80s synth-pop and hair metal references are perfect.”
Which book series do you think deserves a proper screen adaptation? Who would you want to play the main characters? Which artists would do the soundtracks?
“The Metro 2033 series is a really cool post-nuclear war science fiction story with supernatural elements. I think it would make a great movie series and I think Johan Renck who directed the HBO mini-series Chernobyl should do it and just hire the whole cast and composers he used in that series.”
What book have you been meaning to read? How long have you been meaning to do that?
“Embarrassingly as a Sci-Fi fan, I’ve never read 1984, but it’s actually next on my list of books for the year.”
How often do you find or make time to read? Are you paperback, hardcover, or ebook?
“Honestly, I almost exclusively listen to audiobooks these days. It’s perfect for my commutes, driving on tour or while I’m doing work. I have mild dyslexia, which makes me a slow reader. So unless I’m somewhere like on a plane or long car ride, it’s hard for me to stay focused on what I’m reading. And more recently, I find myself writing my own books on the plane, so that leaves even less travel time for reading.”
What is the worst part of the publishing industry right now? What’s the best?
“I think it is quite similar to the music business. Technology is the blessing and curse. It’s very easy to self-publish and get your stories out to the world which is great. But because it’s easier, more people are doing it, and therefore it’s harder to get your work seen, much less read.”
Graphic novels and comics have enjoyed mainstream crossover thanks in no small part to the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC. Do you enjoy graphic novels or comics? Any particular titles that stand out as favourites?
“I purchased quite a few comics as a kid, but not to read them (laughs). I wanted to be a concept artist when I was in middle/high school, so I would buy comics and practice drawing the characters. I read through them each, but I never followed a series for the length of a story arc. Spider-Man, X-Men, and Spawn were my favourites.”
Most people seem to have a cookbook that was either passed down or gifted that has stood the test of time, and remains a fixture in their collection: do you have such a book? How did you come by it?
“I do have one. My grandmother and her sisters were all really good cooks. So a while back, my aunt decided to gather all their recipes together and turn them into a family cookbook. She printed copies for each member of the family. I still have it, but don’t often use it. Their recipes are often heavy French style dishes that I enjoy eating occasionally, but don’t particularly enjoy cooking (laughs).”
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
“It’s tough to say. I love horror, but I don’t think a book has ever scared me. Maybe it’s because I can see what’s coming? I grew up on Goosebumps which got me interested in horror, then graduated to Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Joe Hill.”
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
“I don’t think I’ve read a bad book, but some have disappointed me. Ready Player Two definitely didn’t have the magic of the first book. I got burnt out and disinterested in The Wheel of Time series. And lastly, I was disappointed in Palahniuk’s Haunted. It felt like a lot of shock value and little substance.”
What’s a book that you think everyone should be required to read from cover to cover throughout their time in school?
“Lord of the Rings, duh. It’s a perfect series and a pillar in fantasy and storytelling in general.
“Even though my book The Broken Man is psychological horror as opposed to fantasy, it was The Hobbit and LOTR that inspired me as a child to come up with my own stories. Plus, there are a lot of good lessons in those books that can apply to anyone’s life.”