torsdag 10 oktober 2013

Q&A med författaren Neil Daniels.

Neil spottar ur sig böcker i en hejdundrande takt och är just nu aktuell med sin bok om Pantera. Men det är inte allt. Han har även skrivit en fiktiv historia om bandet The Druids och har nya böcker på gång om bl a UFO och ZZ Top.
Jag tyckte att några frågor var på sin plats. Neil svarade i stil med en mindre uppsats bara några timmar efter att frågorna damp ner i hans inbox.

So, what´s going on in the world of Neil Daniels? 

At the minute I’m working on the final stages of a biography of UFO with the editor/publisher of Soundcheck Books. We’ve selected the photos and proof read the book and it’s almost ready for the printers before its Nov publication. I’m also doing press for my Pantera book in time for its UK publishing date at the end of October. It’s been out in the States for a month and has had some excellent reviews, which I’m very pleased with.

Tell us a bit about your Pantera book! 

There’s a bunch of metal bands that have been and continue to be hugely successful yet we’ve not seen a major biography of them. Pantera are one of those bands. I love them. In terms of making the book it took a year – about 6 months of research and interviews and then 6 months to get the book into shape. First I started with a chorology of the band’s history and then I build the research into it and the word count subsequently grows to the 80,000 that it was contracted for. It then took several months in post production with edits, proofs etc. Thankfully a majority of people are on Facebook so when it came to tracking folks down for interviews it wasn’t too band. That’s the modern world, I guess. Some friends from childhood didn’t reply to my messages but many did. I also got in touch with some producers and record label people; some refused my requests for interviews, others didn’t. That happens especially with a band whose history is as

complicated as Pantera’s. Some interviews were done by email; many were done on the phone.
Stuart Taylor, Dime’s best buddy, was a massive help. I also spoke with ex singers Terry Glaze, Donny Hart and Dave Peacock and they were great. If you look at the band from Cowboys from Hell onwards you see a short body of work that is vital to the progression and growth of modern American metal. They made a huge splash on the scene and throughout the 1990´s with Slayer. They were the two bands that kept the flag flying for metal. Dime was also an incredibly gifted guitarist and obviously became one of the greatest in metal. Before Cowboys they made fun party pop metal. Don’t forget they were just kids self releasing their own music. Their live shows went down a storm and they were hugely popular on the Texas club scene. Dime – then known as Diamond Darrell – proved his worth very early on. Anselmo is certainly a complex man with a difficult past. I’m looking forward to reading his book. He’s a fascinating individual. I didn’t speak to any members of the band but rather ex members, producers, roadies, friends. I think it gives the book an objective slant. As for the split, it takes two to tango. I think everyone had their own part to play but of course everyone has their own side of the story. The second Down album killed it for the band – Rex and Anselmo were concentrating on Down and Pantera was coming to an end. It was a nasty break up but most band break ups usually are. But I don’t think one individual can be blamed.

You recently released a novel, "It´s my life". What´s the story behind that one? 

I wrote it a while back for a bit of fun and when I started to work on Createspace books I saw the perfect opportunity to release it. It looks pretty cool. Here’s the premise:
This fictional rock memoir tells the story of Johnny Cannon, an Alice Cooper tribute singer who was once in a band called The Druids, one of the most exciting and distinctive bands of the hair metal era. They released two albums (The Flight Of The Druids and Kingdome Come) and toured the UK, Europe, America and Japan. Vividly recalled and explicitly written, this “mock rock memoir” is filled with hilarious anecdotes, candid diary entries and is also a handy historical document of a bygone era. Hair metal was big business in the eighties until grunge exploded and consequently it became universally derided and a “thing of the past.” Many bands lost their record deals, folded or suffered constant line-up changes and were reduced to playing in tiny clubs. Johnny Cannon was there and he can tell you everything. Johnny Cannon tells the history of The Druids and the hair metal genre from the early eighties to 1991 when everything changed. "It’s My Life (Stories Of Excess By A Former 80´s Rock Star Turned Tribute Singer)" is Britain’s answer to Motley Crue’s hugely successful autobiography "The Dirt".

How did you get into writing books in the first place? 

In terms of the books, well, I had an idea (Judas Priest biography) that was commercial and pitched it to a few publishers. Omnibus Press were keen and a few months later the contracts were signed. It’s progressed from there really. After I finished the Judas Priest book (but before it was published) I got in touch with Martin Roach at Independent Music Press about something else. He said he had an idea that might interest me. After he looked at what I had written he decided that I would be good for the project in question. When he told me his idea was for a book on Robert Plant, I knew it was a strong commercial idea that would require a lot of work but at the same time it was something that had never been done before so it wouldn’t be a case of re-hashing previous Led Zeppelin books. Plus, Judas Priest and Plant both come from the West Midlands so their history is connected. It was also a chance to work with IMP, a much respected music publishers. Since then I’ve done books on Journey, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Iron Maiden, You Me At Six, Linkin Park and two further books on Judas Priest as well as a stack of print on demand anthologies.

What was it like having your first book published? 

"Defenders Of The Faith – The Story Of Judas Priest" was my first book and it’s not a bad title. I’d like to go back and beef up the latter years with more detail, though. I don’t think the early years of the band had been written about in such detail before so I’m quite pleased by that. It’s got some fantastic photos and a huge appendices of timelines, tour dates, discographies and the feedback was pretty good. I could easily criticize every one of my books. I later worked with Al Atkins on his autobiography and published a small book on British Steel. I never would have managed writing three books on the Metal Gods.

What have you learned along the way since that first book of yours came out? 

Build up contacts, stay friendly with people and keep organized. Plan ahead, meet deadlines and deliver good copy.

Which of your books are you the most proud of so far? 

I’m very pleased with my Pantera biog, even if everyone hates it (laughs.) Seriously, though, it’s my best book and the reviews so far have been very positive. I’m also very happy with my up-coming UFO biog which covers the band’s entire history. Hopefully, my books are getting better. I’m not a great writer like Mick Wall but I’ve gotten better over the years with more experience.

Of all the rockers you´ve interviewed, tell us about three really fun ones! 

Sammy Hagar was great as was the late great Ronnie James Dio (RIP). True gents! I remember I interviewed Kevin DuBrow (RIP) too and he was a lot of fun, as was Don Dokken. I’ve spoken to Biff Byford a couple of times and Doro too and they’re both great.

Which major rock star was your first interview and what do you remember about it? 

My first interview was a phoner with Glenn Tipton for around 15 minutes and he was great – very friendly and talkative. I’ve never actually had a bad interview.

You and Joel McIver seem extremely productive. How much do you generally work during a week when writing a book? Please tell us about the writing process! 

I have a day job – I work at a high school and get the 12 weeks holidays so I have a lot of free time to work on books plus I don’t really write for magazines or websites anymore and focus all my attention on books. Either I have an idea that I pitch to a publisher or they ask me. I’ve got a book out of UFO before Christmas which was the publisher’s idea. I’m really pleased with it. It covers the band’s entire history. It’s being typeset right now. I’ve also got books out on ZZ Top, Bon Jovi and an origins book on a huge British metal band due in the next sixth months as well as Createspace books that I work on in between the commercial stuff. Keeps me busy!

What book projects do you have planned? 

In terms of commercial biogs I’ve got the Pantera book out and after that my UFO bio if due in Nov and my ZZ Top book shortly before Christmas. Next year I have a book out on Bon Jovi’s "Slippery When Wet" and a book on the first four Iron Maiden albums. I’ve also got a bunch of Createspace books out – these are good quality paperbacks. My "Rock N Roll Sinners" trilogy features hundreds of interviews with rock writers from Mick Wall to Dave Ling, Dave Reynolds, Mark Day, Sylvie Simmons, Derek Oliver and Malcom Dome et al. Check out my blog for details.

What makes a good writer and a good interviewer? 

Be friendly, do your research and don’t interrupt them – allow them to talk. It should be like a good conversation. Build a rapport.

Anything else you wanna plug? Feel free! 

The music and publishing industries were too slow to react to the digital age as it’s called and now they’re fucked. That’s partly why I’ve gone down the Createspace route. It fills in the gaps between the commercial books. I’m on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Linkedin and I also have a website band a blog. It’s very time consuming but it’s good press. However, there’s only so many hours in a day. Comic book writer Warren Ellis can move between commercial comics and indie stuff as well as trying out new self-publishing ventures, and that’s kind of what I’m trying with my little rock/metal books. I’m pleased with my stack of Createspace books so far. There are definitely more to come. I’ve actually just released six books via Createspace which as many people might know is Amazon’s print on demand company. AOR Chronicles and Rock & Metal Chronicles are hefty 400+ page books featuring dozens of reviews of albums mostly released over the past decade or so during the time I’ve been a writer. Hard Rock Rebels is basically my two Rock N Roll Mercenaries books (out of print) together in one 476 page book with bonus interviews. It features dozens of interviews I’ve done with members of Maiden, Priest, Queensryche, Van Halen, and many more. AOR features the “lighter” albums I’ve reviewed over the past decade and Rock & Metal features the heavier stuff and Hard Rock Rebels is a massive 476 page book that features all the interviews I’ve done for magazines. It doesn’t include the countless more interviews I’ve done for my book work, though. Maybe I’ll put those in print some other day. I’ve wrote all the reviews and I’ve got many more to include in future books. I then published a fictional rock ’n’ roll memoir about an ‘80s hair metal band and republished my two "All Pens Blazing" titles as "Rock N Roll Sinners" Volumes I and II while the third volume features entirely new and exclusive interviews. As a trilogy, the books will feature almost 200 interviews with rock scribes. I’ve set up a page on my blog which will detail all my Createspace books. Thanks for taking time to do this interview and I hope fans like my books. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Tumblr and I also have a blog I’d love to hear from readers. So yeah, I’ve had 18 books published with titles on Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Journey and Metallica as well as AC/DC and Bon Jovi et al. I’ve got commercial biogs out this year on Pantera, UFO, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and ZZ Top with a book on the first four Iron Maiden albums out next year. It’s pretty exciting. I’m not quite as prolific as Martin Popoff or Dave Thompson but it’s not a race and I admire those guys immensely. I like to move between the self-published stuff which fills in the gaps between the commercial releases.
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