I have been writing interviews and music criticism for a long time. It all started many years ago when I was just an undergrad at UniSA. Back then (prior to 2004), the student paper, Entropy, was a thriving beast. Underpinned by a strong student association (long before Voluntary Student Unionism, an event that killed off so many good things about Aussie universities), the paper won awards for its design and for the quality of its journalism: a rare thing these days.
Back in the day, when I started writing for the mag, the music editor was Rod Magazinovic – top bloke – who is now the South Australia state ed for FasterLouder. Rod’s also a fantastic photographer, and has taken pix at huge music festivals worldwide.
As a student writer, I wrote the metal column for Entropy. It had the usual stuff: news from bands and labels worldwide, as well as key local metal news that was only ever occasionally covered by James Brazel at DB. I also did release reviews of metal and hard rock for Rod, and the occasional interview.
When Rod got the post at FL, I got an email from him out of the blue that said:
“Hey mate, you wanna write for me?”
Sure did! That was in 2006. I started writing gig reviews for FasterLouder of the metal scene here in Adelaide, and did the occasional release review that I gained through the regular channels. In the early days, I met Justine De Jonge, who was the state ed for FL in Victoria – also a metalhead. She threw me some releases to review as well, and was great for keeping up the spirit of metal at FL.
Gradually I found out that the key source of metal for FL was Riot!Entertainment, and I eventually met (via email, of course!) Chris Maric, national publicity and promotions manager at Riot. He sent shitloads of releases to FL each year, for a return of a measely few reviews, if he was lucky. We worked it out with Cec Busby, the immediate past head Ed at FL, for him to send me releases direct. Through Chris I met Kelli Wright (they work together, though Kel also has her own business) – and I started getting releases from her as well. That was in 2007.
Of course, as things go, I ended up getting more and more metal to review. I also started to score some awesome interview opportunities. The first ones I did, in late ’07, were with Vortex (Dimmu Borgir), JR Hayes (Pig Destroyer), and the Metal God himself Rob Halford. Each interview was preceded by trembling knees, and accompanied by an inability to eat, sweaty palms, cottonmouth, a terrible interview style, and equally abysmal questions. Though, I must say, it was one of the greatest days of my life to ask Halford a question (remembering he’s been interviewed bazillions of times since the ’70s), and to get the following response:
“That’s a good question! Nobody’s ever asked me that before.”
He didn’t know that I’d stewed over the questions for a week and a half before deciding what to ask him!
The interviews usually took place at my then place of work, where I had the luxury of a hands-free phone, and a recording device. Nowadays, working for myself, I do them on my own hands-free phone, but I type the responses. Thank fuck I have an enormously fast typing speed: approx 120 words/minute! I can get exact quotes quite easily this way – and I don’t have to create typescripts of the recordings either, which means the job is also done very quickly.
These days it’s easy to take it for granted the work I’ve done, and continue to do – but I always try not to. I realise how lucky I’ve been, and how easy it is to become passionate about the job (which, by the way, is all done gratis. It’s a lot of work: about 90 releases have come my way this year, and counting).
So far this year I’ve completed about 28 interviews [last edit: 31 now actually!] (with a few pending as I write). These have been with: Bullet for my Valentine, Children of Bodom, Death Angel, Deicide, Drowning Pool, Dyscord, Frankenbok, Hackneyed, Hammerfall, Helloween, Immortal, Kataklysm, Lapdancer, Limb from Limb, Meshuggah, Misery, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Pig Destroyer, Saxon, Scar Symmetry, Soilwork, Sonic Syndicate, Testament, The Dead, Trivium, and W.A.S.P.
What a list! The list from last year was just as impressive, including bands like Amon Amarth, Iced Earth, Mortal Sin, Cephalic Carnage, Marduk, and more.
Since I started writing metal content for FL, the editorial team seems to have had a change in policy. Nowadays metal does not get the place it once did – so we have been relegated to putting metal content in the forum of the metal group (of which I am the owner/moderator). While it’s not ideal, at least the content is getting to the people who most want it: metalheads of all kinds, right around the country.
A result of this shafting of the genre has been my drive to publish a dedicated metal mag of the highest order. So, this year I am in the process of publishing – with Kelli Wright as editor – Metal As Fuck. My aim is to produce a magazine like FasterLouder (in terms of size and functionality) that is exclusively for metal. It won’t be just Aussie – it’ll be global. And it will be the best, and most metal, and most thorough, online magazine in the world. It will also be the most unique – but I can’t say why until later in the piece.