Neil Daniels talks about his work and sheds light on what it took to produce All Pens Blazing: A Rock and Heavy Metal Writers Handbook, Volumes 1 & 2.
Note: If you look closely at the list of authors in Volume 1, you might see one you recognize!
CurledUp.com's Steven Rosen: What interested you in interviewing rock journalists?
Neil Daniels: I started a little project on my site
www.neildaniels.com called "Interviews with Writers." It wasn’t concentrated specifically on rock scribes, but writers of fiction too like Kim Newman. I had been emailing with Martin Popoff and asked him if he thought it was a good idea for me to compile the rock writers interviews into a self-published book. He said it was a great idea and to my knowledge there isn’t a book like it. I like the
Paris Review series and wanted something similar with rock and metal writers. I looked into self-publishing and thought it was too expensive so I went down the print-on-demand route as it is cheaper, and there are literally hundreds of POD companies online. In the States, most music writers seem to use lulu.com, but I wanted a UK company
(because I live in England) so I went for AuthorsOnline. I included some interviews that had been published on my site but a majority of the 65 interviews in
Volume 1 are exclusive to the book. Volume 1 was well-received so I decided to have a go at a second volume which is out in a few weeks from now. Volume 2 has 69 interviews. Both are them are meaty books; the first one has a foreword from Martin Popoff and the second one includes a foreword from Mick Wall. I’m sure I’ll work on
Volume 3 at some point next year. I’d a personal library of books similar to Popoff’s ‘Ye Olde Metal’ series. It’s pretty cool, I think.
Did you read stories by the journalists you interviewed? Did you know their work?
I knew most of their work yes, some writers are Internet-based writers rather than professional paid journalists. On
Volume 1 I was mostly interested in former
Kerrang! and Metal Hammer writers like Derek Oliver, Paul Suter, Howard Johnson and current
Classic Rock scribes like Geoff Barton, Dave Ling and Jerry Ewing; and I am very familiar with a lot of their work. I knew there’d be a few rock fans out there interested in reading about their careers’ too. I mean, a lot of the writers have far more interesting stories than the artists. Volume 2 includes more internet based writers and writers from other countries. Both volumes cover a broad spectrum of rock journalism.
What are some of the more interesting things you found out?
Just how much rivalry there is between writers working on the same magazines and on different magazines. If you read the interviews with
Kerrang! writers of the Eighties, you can see there was a lot of ego and territorial disputes. I also learned just how little money there is in paid magazine work so if you’re thinking of making a living from it, think again. There isn’t any money. Magazines tend to be very ‘cliquey’ as well, rarely letting in new writers.
Were some journalists harder to interview than others?
No, because it was all done by email. I felt it would give the writers time to answer their questions properly and to think about things from their past so I gave them a fair bit of time. It worked out well, I think. Some interviews were too short which is very annoying; and writers should know better than to answer questions via email with one or two lines but a majority of them are several thousand words per interview.
Can you talk a little bit about the first volume of All Pens Blazing?
It includes interviews with 65 writers and a foreword by Martin Popoff:
Jeff Apter, Gavin Baddeley, Bailey Brothers, Geoff Barton, Carl Begai, Mark Blake, Jerry Bloom, Dante Bonutto, Paul Brannigan, Louise Brown, Garry Bushell, Brett Callwood, Steffan Chirazi, Ian Christe, Carol Clerk, Dave Dickson, Malcolm Dome, John Doran, Paul Elliott, Jerry Ewing, Mike Exley, Dave Ferris, Lonn Friend, Joe Geesin, Ian Gittins, Ian Glasper, Tim Henderson, Mark Hoaksey, Seb Hunter, Neil Jeffries, Howard Johnson, Tim Jones, Dom Lawson, Dave Lewis, Dave Ling, Peter Makowski, Matthias Madder, Joe Matera, Joel McIver, Bruce Mee, Mick Mercer, Alexander Milas, Ben Myers, Derek Oliver, Daniela Pilic, Martin Popoff, Greg Prato, Dave Reynolds, Steven Rosen, Xavier Russell, Jonathan Selzer, Joe Shooman, Brian Slagel, Joseph Stannard, Paul Suter, Adem Tepedelen, Everett True, John Tucker, Tommy Udo, Henry Yates, Clinton Walker, Chris Welch, Stirling Whitaker, Rich Wilson and Jeb Wright.
Volume 2 has a foreword by Mick Wall and includes 69 interviews: Phil Alexander, Ken Anthony, Phil Ashcroft, Scott Alisoglu, Steve Beebee, Keith Bergman, Nathan T. Birk, Shari Black Velvet, Chad Bowar, Jake Brown, Alan Burridge, Dave Cockett, Jeff Collins, Jon Collins, Mark Day, Rich Deakin, Bernard Doe, Harry Doherty, Robyn Doreian, Arnaud Durieux, Mark Eglinton, Rob Evans, Hugh Gilmour, Rob Godwin, Steve Hammonds, Kelv Hellrazer, Nickie Hobbs, Jon Hotten, Martin Hudson, Chris Ingham, Billy James, Stephen “Krusher” Joule, Alison Joy, David Konow, Mitch Lafon, Chris Lambert, Pippa Lang, William Luff, Malc Macmillan, Brian Manly, Gerri Miller, Michael Moynihan, Dean Pedley, David Perri, Neil Perry, Paul Rees, Bryan Reesman, Jason Ritchie, Chris Rogers,
Scott Rowley, Darren Sadler, Amy Sciarretto, Dave Shack, Harry Shapiro, Dale Sherman, Aaron Small, Sid Smith, Ryan Sparks, Janne Stark, Kevin Stewart-Panko, Phil Sutcliffe, Dave Thompson, Paul Travers, Jaan Uhelszki, Ray Van Horn, Jr., Doug Van Pelt, Mick Wall, Ian Winwood and Joshua Wood.
What would you like readers to understand after reading All Pens Blazing?
Basically, I’d like both books to give readers advice on how to break into rock journalism or into the writing rock books. Both volumes also tell the history of rock journalism albeit in a disjointed way through a simple Q&A-style technique. I’ve had a lot of good feedback. You can email me through my site
Neil Daniels is a freelance writer based in the northwest of England.
Contributor Steven Rosen interviewed author Neil Daniels, author of All Pens Blazing: A Rock and Heavy Metal Writers Handbook, Volumes 1 & 2 (see accompanying review), about
his books for curledup.com. Steven Rosen/2010.