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Mick Wall - Interview

  by Mark Rowland

published: 30 / 9 / 2006

Mick Wall - Interview


Music journalist Mick Wall talks to Mark Rowland about his new book 'Star Trippin', which collects together several of the best pieces he wrote for 'Keerang' magazine between 1985 and 1991, and includes interviews with the likes of 'Guns 'n' Roses, Metallica, Poison and Ozzy Osbourne

"I published 'Star Trippin', the collection of my old 'Kerrang' articles, myself. My brother and I have formed a publishing company. We want to do a series of books which most large mainstream publishers either wouldn’t be interested in doing or which would offer me such meagre advances that it wouldn’t interest me to work with them. I did a book a few years ago called 'Paranoid' which I want to do a follow up to, I’ve got a book of short stories called 'Bad Dreams' which I’m going do, and there’s also a novel called 'Devil Music'. Because I’m not an established author in that field, they will attract very modest advances which once upon at time I would’ve been delighted with, but at this stage in the game it just doesn’t excite me the way it used to. I don’t need the money as badly as that, so I’d rather put the books out myself. That way I can ensure that they really are what I want them to be. So for a kick off for the company, to see if we were kidding ourselves or if there was anybody out there interested in this sort of thing. I thought well it’s Kerrang’s 25th anniversary. These stories already exist, so I don’t have to sit down and write a whole book, which could not only not make me any money, but lose me a lot of money because I’m doing it myself, and there’s always been a lot of interest in that era. When I was editor of 'Classic Rock', for years I got e-mails and letters, probably every week, from people saying ‘Are you the Mick Wall, the one that used to do 'Kerrang ?'' I really remember that Guns ‘n’ Roses article or I really remember that Poison article.' Or whatever it might be and over a period of years there were literally hundreds of e-mails like that, so it became clear that it was viewed by a certain rock fan of a certain age as a sort of golden period, both for that sort of music, and I think sort of in 'Kerrang' magazine’s history as well. It was more or less a glorified fanzine when I started writing for it, and by the time I left it was probably the biggest selling music weekly in the country. It certainly is now. So it seemed like that was a good idea to get the publishing company up and running without having to spend months and months trying to come up with a book which no-one was paying me to do. I felt that we needed to do something now, and off the back of that there’s the website as well as the publishing company. I’ve done a lot of books since my time at 'Kerrang', and it’s amazing how many people from those days have come out of the woodwork in response to a book, people I haven’t spoken to in all that time- other journalists, TV people, radio people, rock musicians, mates I knew back then. When you produce a book like this, you don’t really know if people are gonna go ‘What’s all this!?’ or go ‘Hooray! This is great!’ and so far it’s been more like ‘Hooray!’ So I’ve been really taken aback to be honest with the response to this book. Whether people like the stories or not it seems to have stirred up a lot of memories. In the 80's they used to do something called the 'Kerrang' binder. I’ve no idea if they still do them. It was very old fashioned, very low-tech - you buy this big binder and it was just to keep all your old back issues of 'Kerrang', and because they were lying around the office I would just grab them. My girlfriend at the time was the kind of person who enjoyed alphabetising the record collection and keeping magazines. I’m crap at that sort of stuff. She basically kept from the very first issue I had something in to the very last. She collected them all in binders chronologically. It turned out there were about thirteen of them by the time I’d left. So I just literally pulled out the first binder and went flick, flick, flick, through every single issue, to see what I might have had in there, if it was any good and if anyone would still be interested in them. Some of the very first pieces aren’t in the book, because I didn’t think they were that good, not compared to the ones that did make it in there. Some of the best pieces I did though – as time wore on they got better – some of the pieces I did were on groups that people don’t care about as much these days. There was a piece I did on the Dogs D’Amour in about 1990, which for me is one of the best things I ever did, but I thought, does anyone really give a shit about Dogs D’Amour anymore? Thunder – I did a great piece on them, and again I thought, well, there are probably are people who care about Thunder, but not as many who care about Metallica or Led Zeppelin. In the end I decided I’d go for the real heavy hitters, the ones that everybody’s heard of, but because I did so many stories on them – everybody in that book, with the exception of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, were subject of countless stories of mine over the years. So I tried to pick the best known groups and then of those groups try to pick the best stories. I did so many stories on Ozzy Osbourne, but I thought the story about the time when he tried to kill Sharon might be the one that people would like to read now. That was it really trying to get the groups people had heard of and still care about, and the best stories that I did on them. The story on Metallica wasn’t the best piece I ever did on Metallica, but it was when they were in the studio doing the Black Album. I figured that might be slightly more interesting than when I was in the studio with them when we were doing 'Master of Puppets'. To be honest, for me the more interesting story was 'Master of Puppets', but God, how many millions of people bought the Black Album? I also thought if the book does well, if we get to the stage when we’ve actually made money on it, which we haven’t yet, I might put together a special edition, and I’d put some of these extra pieces in. You know, have the 'Master of Puppets' story in there. The Guns ‘n’ Roses piece I put in there because it was a famous piece and Axl doesn’t really do many interviews. Probably my favourite stories on Guns ‘n’ Roses were the pieces I did with Slash, so I’d probably put some pieces with Slash in there, and maybe some reviews. Originally I was going to do all sorts of things but the fact that my brother and I published it ourselves meant we had to pay the printer and for the paper - everything to do with it we coughed up. The book is 192 pages long, and every single page has something on it. That was because the next jump up on the plate at the printers would have meant going to 210 pages or something, which would have cost us another two grand. We just couldn’t afford it, so in the end there just wasn’t room to do all these extra ideas so it was a case of sticking to the really big stories and hoping and praying that the thing does well enough that we could do another special edition. We’re nowhere near even breaking even on the book at the moment, so the chances of doing a special edition are fairly remote, but you never know. We’re coming up to Christmas and it might be one of those things that people think might be fun to give to someone, or some girl who knows her bloke used to be into that stuff back then will buy it. Who knows ? But I’m still glad we did it, even if we end up owing money, because it was a big era in my life too. When I went to 'Kerrang' I’d applied to become a mature student at London University to do an English degree. I was twenty five and had been accepted into a place at Queen Mary’s - this was the tail end of 1983. So I was starting that course in the next September. So the idea was that I would go to university, and I would kill some time by signing on and doing some writing for 'Kerrang'. By the time, in that sort of nine month period, that I had start applying for a grant and getting my stuff together to start this university course-'Kerrang' used to come out every two weeks in those days- and things had accelerated so much that I was going to America and doing quite well on the magazine and to be honest with you having the time of my life. I had just broken up with a girlfriend and so at the time I was completely footloose and fancy free, and I’d worked on magazines since the age of 19, and they’d always been quite boring, earnest, tedious experiences, but with this I used to go to bed at night laughing because it was so irreverent. It was heavy metal, and they’d never brought out a heavy metal magazine and we just didn’t give a fuck. It was such as relief not to have to be fashionable. We used to write about bands just because all the other magazines thought they were uncool. We’d put terrible bands on the cover, just because we could. We used to really rave about these awful albums, and all the time we were pissing ourselves laughing about it. Of course, when I think about it now, some people would have been reading our magazine and think we were being serious about these crap bands, then go out and buy the records, which is quite bad really. Manowar – they were hilarious, with their Tarzan costumes and stuff. Believe it or not, a few Manowar songs weren’t actually that bad, but in general they were terrible. A few years back, I met Dani Filth from Cradle of Filth, and he basically has every Manowar album – Manowar are a huge influence on Cradle of Filth, quite surprisingly." More information about Mick Wall and 'Star Trippin' can be found at www.mickwall.com. Please also check out our Mick Wall competition in our features section and have the chance to win two signed copies of 'Star Trippin'

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Mick Wall 'Star Trippin' (2006)
Mick Wall - Mick Wall 'Star Trippin'
Competition to win two signed copies of rock writer Mick Wall's new book 'Star Trippin' which compiles together several of his best articles from between 1985 and 1991, and includes interviews with Motley Crue, Def Leppard, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Gun

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