Monthly Archives: November 2015

Mick Wall – UNCENSORED (Part 2)

Apart from being a bona fide rock star, being a rock journalist is possibly one of the coolest jobs imaginable. Mick Wall, ex-Kerrang! writer and founding editor of Classic Rock, is one of the best in the business. And his stories never disappoint.

Part 2:

The biggest rock magazine in the world, dropping bollocks, Axl Rose and and THAT Guns n’ Roses track…

PARENTAL ADVISORY: CONTROVERSIAL VIEWS AND NAUGHTY WORDS THROUGHOUT.

How did Kerrang! come about?

“When I was writing at Sounds it covered the whole spectrum of music. Pop, rock, punk. We did a pullout once and called it Kerrang! Just for a laugh. Little did we know that a few years later it would become a magazine in it’s own right. Whenever anyone rang the office you might go through to any of the Sounds team. We all had our little genres. If the call was for our part of the office guys – me, Geoff Barton and Pete Makowski, when we answered the phone we would go ‘Kerrang!’”

What made it such a huge success?

“It was the eighties, and record companies had never been richer. But in the UK, nothing was more unfashionable than rock and metal. It wasn’t on telly, or the radio, except in special slots. The record companies had these massive budgets and no one to spend it on except us. If, for example, Aerosmith or Van Halen were doing a UK tour, a few weeks before they’d be in New York or LA and we’d get flown out to review the show to drum up some publicity for the UK leg. We’d go off on the road with bands for weeks on end. When they finally came to the UK there would be a guest list, and then a Kerrang! guest list. We’d take the whole office. We’d have special parties and dinners, for a brief period it became this outrageous little club. The publishers had no aspirations for the magazine. They still saw the money going through Sounds, Record Mirror and Music week.”

Were you under any pressure from the publishers to deliver?

“Not at all. We were basically left to our own devices. When you work on a launch you have lots of meetings about content and covers. We didn’t have any of that, because nobody really cared that much! We’d stick the Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the cover. It just got bigger and bigger and bigger. We were speeding some of the time, drunk a lot of the time, and stoned all the time. We’d do coke whenever any passing rock band stopped by and dumped a load of the stuff on the table.”

What has been your biggest faux pas?

“There’s been a few! I interviewed Phil Lynott just a few weeks before he died. I don’t know what the fuck possessed me but I asked him if he regretted not making it in America. He looked at me as if I was the biggest twat in the world and said, ‘Oh yea. But then I always regretted that I never fucked Kate Bush as well, so there ya go!’”

Why do you think tour revenues are now outstripping album sales?

“The business has evolved so much now. We can all get on our smartphones and YouTube whoever you want playing live anywhere. You can get it in a second. But what you can’t get is that authentic, once-in-a-lifetime moment that live gigs often provide. If you can have a ‘I was there!” moment that you can’t experience via the Internet, It’s something that you will take away and keep forever.”

What’s Axl Rose’s problem?

“So many things people accuse him of being – controlling, alienating, they are all symptoms. That man needs help, and I mean it in the most heartfelt way. I chatted to him a lot when I was writing books about him and he talks about being bi-polar and suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autistic spectrum. One of the characteristics is you don’t understand social interaction and you get a lot of anxiety. To a normal person, if someone tells you you are due of stage at nine and it’s already ten o’clock, they would think, “Fuck, that’s bad, I’d better get a move on.” But an autistic person might just shout, ‘fuck off and leave me alone!’”

Why did he call you out in the song Get in the Ring?

“I knew Axl for a long time, before he was famous, and during. We were close. I still have gold discs that he gave me, and his brother Stuart used to sleep on my couch. The whole thing stemmed from a fight Vince Neil and Izzy Stradlin had over a woman. I interviewed him, at his request, and he was in a rage about that incident. I transcribed the interview for Kerrang! I rang him up and ran it past him because it looked very heavy on the page, he agreed to it, and the story ended up on the cover. The next thing I know I got a call from his publicist saying he didn’t believe he said those things and that he wanted my tapes. I was a bit of an arsehole by that time, too. I was 31 and my head was buried up my own arse from years of globe hopping with magazines and at the time I was truly fucking offended. What the fuck? There were stories I could have written about Guns n’ Roses but never did because they were so heinous.”

Did you have any prior warning?

Yes, before the Use Your Illusion albums came out a mutual friend tipped me off. I already knew the track well. It was a Duff McKagan song called, ‘Why Do You Look At Me When You Hate Me.’ Axl hijacked it.”

What did you think when you first heard it?

“By the time the song came out I’d left Kerrang! and moved into management. I had found what I truly believed to be the next Def Leppard called Cat People. We were talking to EMI and Capitol in America about a major deal. Then Nevermind came out and suddenly being the manager of the new Def Leppard was the worst fucking thing I could be in the world. Talk about backing the wrong horse! So when Use Your Illusion came out and somebody played me the track I just pissed myself laughing. It was brilliant. But then it escalated and haunted me for a long time. People still ask me about it to this day. Lawyers were coming up to me and asking me to sue. I was like, ‘No, fuck it. Life’s too short.’”

How do you feel about the episode now?

“I’m over it. So he did the song, so what? He wasn’t the first artist to do that, that dubious honour went to Gary Numan. I’d given his first big album an almighty hiding in Sounds so in the title track of his next album, Replicas, there’s the scathing line, ‘So I turned to the crowd and I said, ‘do you know Mister Wall?’ and the crowd all turned away.’

“That fucking showed me.”

Read Mick Wall: UNCENSORED (Part 1)

Mick Wall’s latest book, Foo Fighters: Learning to Fly, is out now on Orion.

Visit his website

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Paranormal TV Shows – Hits & Misses

Paranormal TV shows, eh? There are loads of them. Some good, some bad, some average. Come duck behind the sofa with me as I peruse what the genre has to offer.

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The daddy of paranormal TV has been running since 2004. To date there have been ten seasons, not including spin-off’s and specials. It started small, with ghost busting plumbers Jason and Grant of the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) careering around America in a van seeking out and investigating supposedly haunted locations. They emphasise the scientific approach, using various pieces of equipment to either gather or debunk evidence. The early seasons were more ‘docu-soap,’ and featured more material from the investigator’s private lives. This was soon phased out. Thankfully.

Ghost Hunters International

As above, only in more exotic locales. Like Australia, Germany and, er, Wales. Premiered in 2008 and ran for three seasons before being canned, presumably because of the expense incurred in sending a bunch of people all over the world looking for ghosts. Plus, there was a really annoying Irish bloke in it called Barry “Can you give me a sign?” Fitzgerald. Was the show being canned enough of a sign for you, Barry?

He is second only to the even more despicable Andy Andrews, who struts around like a smug, know-it-all little prick the whole time. If I was ever in a dark, confined space with him, I’d punch him in the face repeatedly.

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This is one of my favourites, and one of the longest running. Season 11 started in August. Zac Bagans is one of the most confrontational dudes ever. He has the physique of an NFL player and charges around deserted mental hospitals and jails at night with a couple of mates frightening the shit out of the poor resident spooks. Then, if anything remotely paranormal happens, the bunch of them usually run screaming out of the place. They also pick on the chubby shaven-haired dude with a goatee who gets all the worst assignments. “Aaron! Go lie in that festering haunted crypt and don’t come out until we tell you!”

Most Haunted

The British answer to Ghost Hunters. Never been a fan. It all seems a bit contrived and over-dramatic to me. Yvette Fielding is decent, I used to have a crush on her when she was in Blue Peter. But the resident psychics spoil it all, especially Derek Acorah when he was exposed as being a massive fraud shortly before being booted off the show in 2005. To date MH has run for no fewer than 17 seasons and amassed almost 200 episodes, which makes you wonder how many supposedly haunted locations there can be.

Fact or Faked

I dislike this show immensely. What a pointless exercise. A bunch of patronising bellends who choose something like, say, the Loch Ness Monster, then spend the entire show trying to make something that looks like the Loch Ness Monster but isn’t. I could make something that looks like melted chocolate ice cream, that doesn’t mean it is melted chocolate ice cream. It proves nothing.

A Haunting

This features dramatic re-enactments of hauntings, demonic possession, time slips, and all kinds of other weird shit. It ran for four seasons on Discovery Channel, and then took a five-year hiatus before being revitalized on Destination America in 2012. Most episodes follow the same format so it can get a bit repetitive after a while, but it is exceptionally well-made. For the most part, it has also managed to escape controversy and accusations of over-dramatization which gives it an air of credibility sadly lacking in most of its contemporaries. Season eight premiered on Halloween.

Ghost Stalkers

This show, featuring two blokes who both claim to have had near-death experience driving around looking for ‘portals,’ is so over the top and unashamedly dramatic, often it’s LOL time. Produced by Nick Groff of the Ghost Adventures team, who really should know better, it was a dismal failure and I’d be surprised if it is ever renewed for a second season. Instead of stalking ghosts, the two protagonists spend all their time huddled in dark corners talking about their feelings. My favourite line of the entire show was when Chad the wimpy wannabe-surfer dude suddenly started openly grieving for his dead pooch and dropped the immortal line, “It’s weird being human.”

Bahahahahahahaha!

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My Haunted House

Rather than using the investigation format, this show used a mixture of interviews and dramatic re-enactments. It’s basically common knowledge that it’s all made up. Even the interviewees are actors, and they are reading scripts. You know what, though? Once you acknowledge that, and accept that My Haunted House is basically a collection of some excellent horror stories, the show gets a whole lot better. If you are looking for serious investigations into the paranormal, best look elsewhere, but this isn’t such a bad way to while away a few hours.

My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera

Another show mixing ‘eyewitness’ testimony in the shape of interviews interspersed with dramatic re-enactments and video footage this one syndicated through the Biography channel, which at least offered a veneer of legitimacy. Six seasons and 75 episodes after it premiered in 2010 it was shelved. A sad loss.

The Haunting of…

A famous person. Any famous person. I love American TV. Whatever they do, they do it well. Sporting events, chat shows, drama. How can you not appreciate Breaking Bad? I remember when I was a kid watching Miami Vice, then coming back down to earth with a bump with The Bill. The trouble is, after a while most American shows revert to a tried-and-tested formula. It’s fine at first, but then it gets predictable. In this case, a celebrity who claims to have had a paranormal experience revisits the scene of the occurrence with a psychic in tow. There is usually some personal trauma they have to confront and conquer along the way, they invariably cry about it, then everyone goes home better people. Boring.

Haunted Highway

Featuring Jack Osbourne in his goth phase as a spoiled rich kid who goes out looking for thrills with his friends. Give credit where it’s due, Jack always seemed to be able to manufacture a situation where he would be left alone somewhere dark and scary with a hot chick. Not even that could disguise the fact that this show was shit.

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