10 (ish) Questions we ask every band...or in this case, Author!
Neil Daniels, author of books such as 'The Untold Story of Journey' and 'The Story of Judas Priest, Defenders of the Faith', recently got in touch with us here at Loud-Stuff so we jumped at the chance to have a word with him. Read on to find out about some of the books he's written, what's coming up and why you need to spend more time reading!
1. Hi Neil, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, why don’t you start us off by telling everyone a little bit about who you are and what it is you do?
Well, for those who are interested, I write books on rock and metal from my house in the North West of England. I’ve also done some freelance writing work in the past for magazines and websites but these days I’m mostly confined to the books which I like a lot. I do a fair bit of writing for the melodic rock magazine, Fireworks too.
2. What books have you written so far and where can people get hold of them?
I’ve written 12 books now – three books on Judas Priest, four collections of interviews with rock writers and musicians; and books on Robert Plant, Linkin Park, Journey, Bon Jovi and recently Metallica. I’ve got one out on Iron Maiden next month too; a nice big coffee table book. I’m also working on five books at the minute: a fictional rock novel, a book on Bon Jovi’s best album Slippery When Wet and some books I can’t yet mention. Another early years book, a punk bio and a metal bio. You can read a bit more about my forthcoming ventures at neildanielsbooks.wordpress.com. I’ve also had about 8 foreign translations published.
3.What made you get into the world of journalism and writing, particularly about the metal and rock side of music?
Simply because after Uni where I did a film studies degree I needed to take a break from film. Uni can really drain you of your passion whether it be film, literature, art or whatever. I just wanted to view films for fun and so I started to writer about music. It was at Uni that I got into bands like Sabbath and Priest et al. Before that I was (still am) a fan of more mainstream rock artists like Queen and Meat Loaf. Plus, the Internet makes it possible for ANYBODY to write about their interests. There’s a lot of good stuff on the Net but an awful lot of crap too. I started writing for websites and fanzines and then I pitched a proposal for my first book – a bio of Judas Priest when they reunited – an d the books have thankfully rolled on since then although it’s not easy getting a book deal.
4. You’re currently working on a history of Iron Maiden, how did that come about?
I loved Phil Sutcliffe’s books on AC/DC and Queen and have always wanted to write a lavish coffee table book so I pitched the Maiden idea to Voyageur Press in the States. They liked it and that’s pretty much it. It took time as contracts always do but they were very keen. Maiden are huge now so the timing is great.
5.What can people expect from it?
I haven’t seen a finished copy yet although I have had some emails from folks who have and feedback is awesome to say the least. It’s a potted history of the band but detailed where it needs to be as well as detailed reviews of every album from fellow metalheads like Martin Popoff and Ian Christe. There are tour dates, setlists and all sorts of bits and bobs. The graphics are stunning.
6.Given the long history of Iron Maiden there must have been a heck of a lot of research to do before writing something like this, did you manage to get any help from the band themselves or were you reliant on those around them?
The band released their own book Flight 666 last year and both books are full coffee table tomes. They would never have cooperated and I didn’t approach them. My book can be viewed simply on its own merits. Maiden fans are sticklers for detail so I hope they like it. The cover is designed exclusively by known other than the great Derek Briggs.
7. Another recent release of yours has been focused on the early years of Metallica, is it safe to say you’re a fan of their earlier stuff rather than their later, more commercial offerings?
I’ve actually wanted to do this for a while but it was only recently that I found an interested publisher: Martin Roach at Independent Music Press. I worked with Martin before when he hired me to write a bio of Robert Plant back in 2007. He was really keen on the idea of a book on Metallica. Given that the band’s best work is undoubtedly their first four albums – possibly the fifth in some fans eyes – and that they’ve recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary it seemed like a no brainer. When metal fans talk about Metallica’s best albums they usually mention Kill Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and Justice.
9. The write up for the Metallica books says ‘but out of that unholy collective, Metallica were kings’ , why do you think that out of the ‘Big 4’, Metallica were the ones who really stood (and still do) out?
In the beginning they were the kings of the underground metal scene and Ulrich was a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic metal fan. Hell, he even travelled to England to see Diamond Head without even preparing the trip so Brian Tatler kindly let him kip at his house. Brian has written a foreword to my book. Metallica also toured a hellva of a lot and had Cliff Burton too. As always it was also combination of timing, luck, the right songs, the right label and a massive amount of touring. Metallica took it to a new level when they signed with Q Prime.
10. I notice that the foreword for the book is written by Brian Tatler, how did that come about?
Brian has been a friend of mine for a few years and he’s contribute to past books of mine so it was a no brainer really given his importance in Metallica’s history.
13. Given that you have clearly researched the Bay Thrash Scene and focused on bands who really came to the forefront of the scene through the 80’s, how do you think the metal and rock scene now compares to the scene back then?
It doesn’t compare to be honest. PR and management people have more control, there’s too much money involved and the record industry is dying. But rock and metal still thrives and there are still loads of great bands out there. You’ve just gotta look a little harder and deeper to find them.
14. If anyone is reading this and thinking to themselves that they might like to begin writing about bands and getting into the journalism side of things, what advice would you offer them?
Build up a portfolio of writings, set up a website, making contacts, be polite to everyone although that can be hard at times because not everyone is polite to you, read as much about the scene as possible and solider on.
15. And finally, in the tradition of interviews on Loud-Stuff, say something profound which is going to get everyone thinking.
I try to live by two maxims in life: don’t take yourself too seriously and being an adult is overrated.
Check out neildaniels.com and neildanielsbooks.wordpress.com