Paul McComas founded Rock Against Depression in 1995, hoping “to both honor the work and legacy of Kurt Cobain and educate his young fans about how to avoid his outcome.” McComas, a writer, performance artist, and musician, and his band–which had until then specialized in punk originals and covers of old X songs–learned a bunch of Nirvana tunes, rechristened themselves “Lithium,” and booked a midwest tour of community centers and other all-ages venues at which McComas, who has himself struggled with depression, talked to the crowd about depression and suicide in between renditions of “Rape Me” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Two years later he was heading down Lake Shore Drive on the third anniversary of Cobain’s death when he came up with the idea for his new novel, Unplugged, which tells the story of Dayna Clay, a 27-year-old bisexual rock star not unlike Cobain who’s flattened by depression but, after fleeing to the Badlands of South Dakota, is given another chance at happiness. RAD fell apart in 1999, but Lithium lives on as the Dayna Clay Band, which plays songs performed by Clay in the book and appears on a CD McComas is selling separately. The band will play and McComas will read from Unplugged on Saturday, January 11, at 2 at Borders, 6000 Northwest Highway (Route 14) in Crystal Lake (815-455-0302), and Wednesday, January 15, at 7:30 at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm in Winnetka (847-446-8880).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stephen J. Serio.