About the book

'Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs' book cover by Andrew McMillen, UQP, 2014Talking Smack features intimate interviews with some of Australia’s best musicians, who share their thoughts on – and experiences with – illicit, prescription and legal drugs. By having conversations about a subject that’s rarely discussed in public, and much less often dealt with honestly, the book explores the truths of a contentious topic that isn’t going away. The 14 musicians interviewed include:

  • Paul Kelly
  • Tina Arena
  • Wally de Backer (Gotye)
  • Steve Kilbey (The Church)
  • Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon)
  • Holly Throsby
  • Tim Levinson (Urthboy)
  • Mick Harvey (ex Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
  • Jon Toogood (Shihad)
  • Bertie Blackman
  • Lindy Morrison (The Go-Betweens)
  • Spencer P. Jones (Beasts of Bourbon)
  • Ian Haug (Powderfinger / The Church)
  • Jake Stone (Bluejuice)

One chapter is devoted to each of the 14 interviewees in this 272-page book, which is written in a feature magazine style based on Andrew McMillen’s face-to-face meetings and lengthy interviews.

Topics covered include the individual musicians’ introduction to illicit substances as adolescents and young adults; whether these interactions helped or hindered their creativity and wider lives; what they enjoyed (and didn’t) about certain substances, and whether current Australian attitudes toward drug use demand closer scrutiny and public debate.

Talking Smack‘s book cover was designed by Josh Durham of Melbourne studio Design By Committee.

About the author

Andrew McMillen is a freelance journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. His work has been published in Rolling Stone, The Australian, The Monthly, Qweekend, BuzzFeed, TheVine.com.au and Mess+Noise. Talking Smack is his first book.

Born in Bundaberg to two primary school teachers, Andrew moved to Brisbane in 2006 to study at the University of Queensland and has lived and worked in the city since. As a freelance journalist, Andrew has written about topics as diverse as ‘smart drugs’, mental health, illegal websites, youth-led social change, videogame development, overseas romance tours, education policy, online policing, webcam hackers and influential public figures.

Andrew also hosts Penmanship, a podcast about Australian writing culture, which features in-depth interviews with Australians who earn a living from working with words.

Listed below are six examples of Andrew’s longform journalism, written for a range of publications prior to the release of Talking Smack:

Dispatches is Andrew’s weekly newsletter about his three passions: writing, music and reading. Fittingly, the newsletter is split into thirds: Words, which highlights his newly published writing, when applicable; Sounds, which is for music and podcast recommendations; and Reads, which features a selection of the best longform journalism and books that Andrew read in the past week. You can sign up to Dispatches by visiting TinyLetter.

To learn more about Andrew’s work, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.