Music & Memoirs - Chats with Rob Rufus, Author of Die Young with Me

Early this fall, we had the chance to fangirl over Die Young with Me, Rob Rufus' teenage memoir that's full of heart and music references that will make any punk's heart sing. We checked in with him, now that's he's officially a published author!

First off, we have to tell you how much we LOVED Die Young with Me. YA nonfiction is so hard to come by and you captured your teen experience so beautifully. Thank you for sharing.

I'm a diehard Warped Tour attendee; I still go every year! What is your most memorable Warped experience? 

I’d have to say meeting Joan Jett, and sort of keeping my shit together and playing it cool. Although once I left I called about 100 of my friends to brag.

Talk about the experience in writing your memoir. What was your research process like? Did you have to go through old boxes at your parent's house to trigger certain memories?

I did. Honestly, when I started I had a pretty tough time – I’d blocked a lot of those experiences out of my mind for years and years. So I went through all the old stuff from when I was sick, photos and keepsakes and the whole deal. Then, I just sort of started – as I began the story it was as if it sort of unfolded, you know? The experience of writing the book was almost as linear as the book itself.

What's one piece of advice you'd give teens today?

Break the camera on your cell phone until you’re a grown up.

Tell us your top 10 favorite songs or albums and why you chose them. 

Oh God, I don’t think I can! These questions stress me out so bad, haha. I end up going through my entire record collection, making lists. Let me think on it, and I’ll get back to you in about 8 months or so.

What's next for you? More touring? Writing?

Both! My punk band, Blacklist Royals, heads down south in a few days to play some festivals, which I’m excited about. Then, at the end of the week my new retro band, The Bad Signs, is playing a Halloween festival here in Nashville.

I’m in the middle of my second book right now. I just finished my first screenplay, and have been writing articles and op-ads. So yes, more of both! I am trying to churn out as much art as I can before my well of creativity dries up.

Rob Rufus is a musician and writer living in Nashville. His band, Blacklist Royals, has released two full-length albums and played in sixteen countries over the past five years. Rob has written articles for Modern Drummer, Amp Magazine, Digital Tour Bus, and many music sites. Rob also works closely with the cancer community, including the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Stupid Cancer Podcast (the largest advocacy/support organization worldwide for teens with cancer), and Make-A-Wish Foundation. You can find him online at, on Twitter @rob_rufus, and Instagram @dieyoungwithme_official.

by Rob Rufus
Published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Touchstone
Source: Publisher
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Add on Goodreads

In the tradition of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes the incredibly moving true story of a teenager diagnosed with cancer and how music was the one thing that helped him get through his darkest days.

Punk’s not dead in rural West Virginia. In fact, it blares constantly from the basement of Rob and Nat Rufus—identical twin brothers with spiked hair, black leather jackets, and the most kick-ass record collection in Appalachia. To them, school (and pretty much everything else) sucks. But what can you expect when you’re the only punks in town?

When the brothers start their own band, their lives begin to change: they meet friends, they attract girls, and they finally get invited to join a national tour and get out of their rat box little town.

But their plans are cut short when Rob is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has already progressed to Stage Four. Not only are his dreams of punk rock stardom completely shredded, there is a very real threat that this is one battle that can’t be won.

While Rob suffers through nightmarish treatments and debilitating surgery, Nat continues on their band’s road to success alone. But as Rob’s life diverges from his brother’s, he learns to find strength within himself and through his music.Die Young With Me is a raw, honest account of a brave teen’s fight with cancer and the many ways music helped him cope through his recovery.


  1. "Break the camera on your cell phone until you’re a grown up." I'm dying here! LOL. I really needed that laugh, especially today.

    1. It's sound (but likely unattainable) advice. I can't imagine being a kid today with the pressure to be constantly ON!


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