onsdag 8 juni 2011

Q&A med författaren Neil Daniels!

Neil Daniels har tidigare skrivit böcker om bl a Judas Priest och Al Atkins, bandets förste sångare. Nu är han aktuell med en ny bok om Journey och då tänkte jag att det kunde vara läge att skicka över lite frågor till England angående boken och hans framtida bokplaner.

Why a book about Journey and when did you start working on it?

Neil: I pitched the idea a few years back and had no takers but then Glee happened and all of a sudden Journey seemed to be popular again; if it wasn’t for Glee and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ even with Arnel Pineda I doubt they would have had such a resurgence of interest. Omnibus Press saw the potential in such a book and commissioned it. It was perfect timing that the book was released in May 2011 to coincide with the excellent new album ‘Eclipse’ and the world tour. I think it was a major coup to get a book published on a band like Journey anyway; though AOR is popular again it is still not all that fashionable and most publishing houses independent or otherwise know very little – if anything – about AOR. I doubt we’ll see a biography like this published by a big publisher for some time, if at all. But you never know. I’d love to write another bio of an AOR band but Journey are just about the biggest so I doubt another one would get commissioned. It’s all about marketing potential.

Did you have to cut out a lot of stuff?

Neil: Unfortunately, yes. I had a chapter planned on Neal Schon’s solo career and it was pretty big, but too big so it had to go. I also had a huge timeline and other bits of reference material for the appendices but with a strict word count that was in the contract I had say goodbye to those bits too. Still, aside from the main text there is a bonus chapter on Steve Perry’s solo work, an extensive discography and a Where Are They Now? bit which details former members’ careers’ post Journey.

Did you try to contact Perry, Schon, Cain, Valory for the book?

Neil: Yes, but I didn’t get a reply. It is not uncommon for artists’ of any calibre to avoid collaborating with writers on biographies such as this. If most bands were willing to come forward they could have a book similar to The Dirt on their hands but lots of artists’ are not quite so forthcoming. Unauthorised ones tend to be less sanitised anyway.

What about these contracts of "silence" they´ve all signed? What´s the story there?

Neil: It is quite common knowledge amongst Journey fans that Journey members past and present have signed confidentiality agreements which prohibit them from talking about the band and their role within Journey without Journey’s authorisation. Herbie Herbert has spoken about this in the past. I guess it’s kind of like a gagging order of sorts.

Herbie Herbert really doesn´t care that much for Perry and some of the others. What´s your thoughts about that?

Neil: Well, I guess he is entitled to his own opinion. Having created the band and managed them for so long he knows them better than anyone else. I think he has the upmost respect for Perry as a performer but not as a person, so that is two separate things. He’s not too keen on Cain either as a person but remains very good friends with Neal Schon as they are business partners. Herbie speaks his mind and when I spoke to him he came across as very intelligent and articulate with great memory recall. There’s no bullshit with him; he says what he thinks so in that respect he’s a genuine guy. It was great interview.

Do you think Perry has "retired" mainly because of voice issues?

Neil: I think that must be part of the reason. The Journey back catalogue is very demanding and it would have had some kind of impact on his vocal chords. I think perhaps he wants fans to remember him for his glory days and if he was to carry on and struggle we’d only remember how much he struggled in the latter years. I mean, the likes of Coverdale, Halford and Meat Loaf are not the singers they used to be yet they continue to perform. Perry was/is not like that. He is recording new material though but when it sees the light of day is anyone’s guess. I doubt we’ll see him perform live again though. Plus there is a sense of mystery and aura around him these days which I think adds to his legacy.

Why are there 2 different covers for the book?

Neil: The first cover was a mock one for Amazon; it’s not uncommon for publishers to deliver mock covers and then redesign them for publication. It’s happened before and happens with many writers.

What´s your thoughts about JSS getting fired so abruptly?

Neil: I think the way he was let go was not done in the best way and it was all very clandestine. The level of secrecy surrounding Journey must equal Van Halen’s. For many Journey fans JSS wasn’t the right singer; I thought he was great when I saw him perform with Journey in Manchester. It was disappointing we didn’t get any material from them but that’s the way it works with Journey. It was JSS’ big break and I’m not sure if he’ll get one again like Journey unless Brian May and Roger Taylor give him a call... which they should do!

How did you go about picking out photos for the book?

Neil: The publishers have a budget which dictates which photos they can use from various agencies. I was given links to hundreds of photos and picked ones that I thought best represented the band throughout the years. Thankfully, most of them were authorise/agreed to by Omnibus. I think the photos sections are fantastic. It just shows how much history there is to Journey. Also, there is a photo of Augeri and JSS backstage at Firefest in England taken by Fireworks writer/photographer Sue Ashcroft.

How long have you been into Journey and what´s your favourite album?

Neil: Well, I’m young so I haven’t been a fan as long as most die-hard Journey nuts but certainly most of my adult life. My favourite Journey albums are the two obvious ones: ‘Escape’ and ‘Frontiers.’ Of the post Perry albums I have a lot of time for ‘Revelation’ and think ‘Eclipse’ is exceptional. ‘Generations’ is a good album too despite the production issues. I don’t think they have made a bad album. I guess my least fave is ‘Trial By Fire.’ That one is a bit too whimpy even for Journey.

What´s your take on today´s version of Journey?

Neil: I think it is a brilliant line-up and squashes any notion that Journey cannot survive without Perry. I don’t know how long Pineda will last though; I mean the band’s track record proves that it is a very tough job fronting the band. Still, I think they’re awesome and Pineda really shines these days as a frontman. In fact, I’m going tonight to Manchester to see them with Styx and Foreigner.

Have you had any reactions to the book from the Journey camp?

Neil: No, not yet. I’ve had three reviews published so far: Rock United, Sea Of Tranquility and Strutter’zine. They’ve been good reviews too! I know I won’t have pleased everyone and I’ve had some negative feedback but that happens with every book. The sheer amount of research that went into this book was quite overwhelming. It is a very complicated and epic story. It wasn’t easy to write.

I talked to Deen Castronovo and he´d like a copy. Would you send him one?

Neil: He should email me and I can sort him out.

What´s your next book project?

Neil: Well, I’ve just finished writing a CD sized book on Judas Priest’s ‘British Steel’ which will be out in the summer by Wymer Publishing and an illustrated coffee table book on Iron Maiden which I have written will be out next year by Voyageur publishing. I’ll probably do 2 or 3 print on demand books as well including a fictional rock memoir I wrote for fun. Check out http://www.neildaniels.com/.