Comeback Road

Do you know who the Clutch Dogs are? What about the group Hellakill? Can you name the bassist for Riot Band? If you are able to answer any of these questions, then you must know Nolan Whyte.

As a part-time writer for the popular website, Whyte has spent the last couple of years crafting several series worth of hard rock fiction for music nerds and novice guitarists alike. Published chapter by chapter on a semi-weekly basis, each tale has largely revolved around the struggles of a different band and its members’ hopes and dreams for eventual success, or at the very least freedom from having to get a day job.

While each successive story has found a small but appreciative audience online, Whyte unexpectedly announced Tuesday that he would be ending his latest work (“Riot Band Blues”) nine chapters early and that he personally would be taking a hiatus of sorts by stepping away from writing about music for the foreseeable future.

He wrote:

“I feel it’s best at this time to bring things to a quiet close. There is always the danger of becoming complacent and trying to just ‘shift product’ for the sake of it, and I don’t want to sell the story’s very loyal fans short by presenting uninspired material.

A few months ago I said the series would end with the hundredth chapter. That would have been nice, but I don’t want to force out chapters that serve no purpose other than reaching an arbitrary number. The story can end here as well as anywhere, because it will always end in an entirely open manner…

[Also] I’ll be taking a break from Ultimate-Guitar for the time being. I have no plans for another series, but then again I had no plans for ‘Guitargasm!’ after ‘Comeback Road,’ or plans for ‘Riot Band’ after ‘Guitargasm!’ So maybe I’ll be back. It’s completely open.”

Despite such an optimistic sign-off, I for one feel more than a twinge of disappointment at the loss of what has become one my favorite Friday morning rituals. Open-ending aside, sympathizing with Whyte’s motley collection of protagonists over my daily cup of coffee was a highly rewarding experience as well as being infinitely relatable. However, as a fellow writer I can also understand his concerns about just going through the motions in order to reach some self-imposed quota.

Still, perhaps more surprising to me than Whyte’s exit has been reading his other fans’ reactions to the news. Instead of spouting out vulgar phrases and demeaning the author’s choice, which as any regular visitor to Ultimate-Guitar can tell you are almost required practices, the regulars on the site have shown almost nothing but respect and love. Inexplicably, in words typically reserved for eulogies to Dimebag Darrell or Randy Rhoads, many head-bangers have even shown actual soft sides for the work of a man who catered almost exclusively to their little community. See for yourself by following the link here.