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It is easier to figure out cold fusion than it is to discuss rock and roll journalism without mentioning Mick Wall. He is to music writing what Keith Richards is to the guitar — he didn’t invent it, but he sure as hell made it his own.

Mick Wall began his career writing for a weekly music paper in the late Seventies and a few years later he jumped into a grass roots heavy metal magazine called Kerrang!. He quickly became its most popular writer and now thirty years later, Kerrang! is the biggest music periodical in circulation in the UK, with its own television and radio stations, branded tours, and massive annual awards ceremony.

Like Kerrang!, Mick Wall has also exploded as a force in the arena of rock journalism. He has penned nearly twenty music biographies, tackling a diverse range of subjects from immortal record producer John Peel to the howling tornado that is Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Rose was so unsettled by Wall’s book that he called him out by name in the song, “Get in the Ring,” from the Use Your Illusion II album.

Thirty years into the business, Wall is still cranking it out. In 2010 he released When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin, which is painstakingly researched and teeming with scores of new revelations about “the last great band of the sixties; the first great band of the seventies.” Though not the first book about Led Zeppelin, Giants is now widely accepted as the “definitive” account of the band, with disclosures so shocking that it has cost him his longstanding friendship with Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

Mick Wall writes for numerous newspapers and magazines around the world and continues to appear in music-based television shows and rock documentaries, delivering his unrestrained insight into the ever changing landscape of rock and roll.

 

 

Joe Daly:  Thanks for your time this morning, Mick. You’ve got thirty years in the music business, so we’ve got a lot to cover. Let’s just dive right into your new book, shall we?

Mick Wall: Absolutely!

Led Zeppelin have been documented exhaustively by other authors – did you see a need for a fresh take on the band? What was your intended perspective?

There wasn’t a Zeppelin book out there that I actually wanted to read or that I felt told the story in the same way the stories have been told of Hendrix, Lennon, Dylan, Elvis… Hardcore Zep fans have a lot of fan-info and picture-type books out there, but as far as good, grown-up books about Zeppelin, the only one anyone would be caught dead reading was Hammer Of The Gods. HOTG was great for its time but that was over 20 years ago and it just doesn’t cut it today. It’s like a horror-movie version of a story, full of wonderfully thrilling but often simply not-true stories. There are a lot of “probably”s and “it is said”s in HOTG. Like the scene where “fans say” they saw smoke billowing from [Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy] Page’s house, Pope style, after [Zeppelin drummer John] Bonham’s death. It also treats Jimmy’s serious interest in the occult as witches-and-wardrobes, get-the-ouija-board-out stuff, which it really isn’t.

Anyway, the point is, HOTG was a really entertaining book for the times and it did a great deal to help put Zeppelin on the map in the 80s- a time when they could not have been less fashionable. But this was before Behind The Music, before the Internet, and before people had a more accurate idea of what the music biz was actually like in the Seventies. I wanted a book for people who regarded themselves as grown-up, intelligent and not easily shocked. My book is for people who have their own drugs and sex stories and their own insights into the fact that there is more to this world of ours than what the five senses allow.

The “Notes and Sources” section of Giants reflects an astonishing amount of research supporting this book- did your research turn up many surprises?

It was full of surprises, from start to finish. Research is the most fascinating part of doing a book like this. Example: before I sat down to actually start writing, after years of research, one way or another, I was very clear that [Zeppelin singer Robert] Plant should bury the hatchet and just do what we all want and get the band back together with Jimmy. By the end of the book, however, I was even more clear that Plant is right and hopefully will never do what Jimmy so desperately wants him to do- put the group back together, even on a part time basis. Let the legend live on, let the longing grow.

The O2 [Arena reunion show] really brought it home. Robert had everything the way he wanted it: “Stairway [to Heaven]” in the middle, buried away like a B-side, no acoustic section, and most of all absolutely no jamming, no spontaneity, and no tripping out on godhead. For me, that meant no true Zeppelin experience. Forget it, move on, Jimmy, like Robert has. Take a leaf out of Miles Davis’ and Bob Dylan’s books and make something new about what it’s like to be nearly 70, an old magus of rock, thwarted and hurt yet defiant and proud, or whatever it is he’s really feeling. Now that would be interesting…

One of the most unique aspects of Giants is the flashback device you use, writing as if you’re whispering into the ears of the band as you walk them through their lives- like a haunting, inner monologue version of “This Is Your Life.” What made you decide on this approach?

Two reasons: first, I hate “once upon a time…” beginnings, so I deliberately set the the start of the book nearer the action, dropping in just as they were forming in that dizzy summer of ’68. That meant I needed a device in order to tell the backstory some other way. And for me backstory is something that you carry with you right up to the present moment, so I wanted it to be there too even at the end of the book, not just the beginning.

Second, Zeppelin exist on a pedestal, either as heroes, or monsters, or simply as symbolic of some other-level experience. I wanted to demonstrate that while the music might lie within that realm, as people they were as ordinary, as petty, as motivated sometimes for all the wrong reasons, as we all are. That inside they were both weak and strong, sun and moon, light and dark. That they could be desperate dicks as well as musical supermen. That luck, good and bad, played its part, always. That they embodied the contradictions of humanity, same as us all. Call a cunt a cunt, that’s what I say. But also bathe in their wondrousness too. Hate it and love it and wonder why, knowing the answer, even as you fear it. Er, if you get me…

Yeah, we fans don’t always want to accept stories that knock down the rock star archetype. Which makes it even more notable that 40 years after they broke, people are still buying their albums and as Giants has shown, the demand for their story continues to run high. What’s the secret ingredient to their longevity?

First of all there’s the music. Without that there is no interest in the story. Zep’s music has stood up uncommonly well over the years. Better I would say than almost anybody else’s from the same period, with the exception of the best of the Rolling Stones, The Who and some isolated other records. I mean, even Hendrix and Cream sound dated, for example, in their productions, while the best of Zep sounds like it was done yesterday.

Then there’s what I would call the “James Dean Factor” – they died, almost, in their prime. We didn’t have to watch them get old and make worse and worse albums like with the Stones, or watch them grapple with trying to stay contemporary like U2. Zep were what they were in the same way the Romans were when they had orgies and fed Christians to the lions. The story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Their secret ingredient for me then, is that they are gone and haven’t really ever come back, nor could they. And I for one and glad of that, having seen the [Zeppelin reunion] show at the O2 Arena.

So you’re saying the Zeppelin story is over? If so, what was the end?

The end was when Robert Plant and his wife Maureen had that horrendous car crash in the summer of 1975. And when Jimmy Page got seriously hooked on smack, which had occurred a little before that. Presence, while still one of Jimmy’s favorite Zep albums, was a wash-out. There were a few good tracks as well as a few really half-assed ones. As for In Through The Out Door… terrible. Again, some highlights- “In The Evening,” “All Of My Love,” and a lot of eyewash.

Oh, it was great that [Zeppelin bass player] John Paul Jones had a lot more say [regarding the album's production] because Jimmy was too out of it to make a worthwhile contribution anymore. One thing you can be certain of- Led Zeppelin did not end when Bonzo (drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham), who overdosed, died, as they still insist. If Bonzo had died after Zeppelin II would they have split then? Of course not. They split in 1980 because the band was already dead, rotten from within, long before Bonzo died (Bonzo died of accidental asphyxiation after downing 40 shots of vodka and choking on his vomit).

In 1977, Robert Plant’s five year old son Karac died suddenly from a viral infection. In your book you present the rather shocking revelation that neither Page, nor Jones, nor (Led Zeppelin manager) Peter Grant went to the boy’s funeral. How much damage did this inflict on the future of Led Zeppelin?

Immense damage, the fall-out from which still goes on in various ways today. Until then Robert was still in thrall to Jimmy and what he had created with Zeppelin. After that incident Jimmy no longer held the same mystique for Robert. He saw Jimmy for what he was at that point- someone low and only truly concerned with his own interests, which had narrowed dramatically. Jonesy? Robert never really cared about him anyway. Grant he did, but Robert always knew that Grant was Jimmy’s biggest fan. There was no one looking out for Robert in the same way. It hadn’t mattered before but it did now. It was also the beginning of Robert having much more power over what the band did or didn’t do next. He truly no longer cared and therefore was ready to walk at any point if they didn’t fit in with him. And that’s the way it remains to this day.

Peter Grant has always fascinated me. I recently published a piece on Rock and Roll’s most nefarious characters, listing Peter Grant at number 5. Was Grant really that much of a thug or was there more to the man than his fearsome persona?

Yes, Grant was everything he is depicted as in the book – and more. But I hope the book also shows how he became that way and why. How the world he came from – the only son of a single Jewish mother growing up in World War II, was dog eat dog. I think it was to his immense credit that he made sure he became one of the biggest dogs with the nastiest bite. Zeppelin certainly wouldn’t have had him any other way.

The trouble came in when Grant too became a junkie. People forget now that the Seventies really was another planet. Drugs weren’t drugs in those days- they were the chic spoils of success. I worked in the biz then and the deal was: no drug is addictive, only heroin, and even that was cool as long as you watched it wasn’t every day, and even if it did get out of hand, there was always the Dr. Feelgoods in Harley Street to “cure” you so that you could then start again. It kind of goes back to a fundamental point, which is that there were no road maps for Zeppelin. They were literally the first men in space, seeking out new thrills where no man except Caesar and [English occultist Aleister] Crowley had ever been.

Is it safe to say that Zeppelin could not have hit the heights they did, at least commercially, without Peter Grant?

Absolutely. They would have been huge like Deep Purple or The Faces, but they could not have become the record-breaking act they became almost instantly, outselling the Beatles, the Stones and Dylan. Elvis never asked to meet Ozzy Osbourne, you know (Elvis famously asked to meet Led Zeppelin after one of his 1974 Los Angeles shows)? I also remind everyone how smart Grant was, how well-mannered in “real” life, and often very gently spoken, and how easily hurt he could be when people took the piss out of his size or, the worse crime of all, if anyone tried to mess with his “boys” in Zeppelin. That’s when he turned scary. Very, very scary…

I’d like to talk a bit about music journalism in general. First off, how do you choose your projects?

In terms of books, I’m looking first and foremost for a good story that I don’t feel has been told adequately before and that has a good chance of selling well. Once upon a time you could go to an editor at a publishing house with a good idea for a book. Easy. Now even the best publishers need to run it all by their sales teams first. If they say it stinks there won’t be any book. Even if you insist, they might publish it but they will pay you so little that it simply isn’t worth the time it takes to do the job properly.

In terms of magazine and newspaper articles, really it’s an even more commercially-driven proposition in that I either get asked to do something or I have an idea which I will propose to a magazine. For me, ultimately, it all comes down to the story. Is it good enough? If the music is also titanic, well that’s a plus, but a book can be great even when the band is mediocre, like [Motley Crue biography] The Dirt and similar fare. Whereas a book can be disappointing even when the artist is great – like the [Guns N' Roses guitarist] Slash book (Slash). Love Slash- boring punch-pulling book, though.

A reader quickly sees when a book is delivering an uncensored story or when they’re reading someone’s whitewash. To that point, I know you’re friends with some of rock’s largest figures. How do you handle conflicts where you’re friends with one of your subjects and they let their guard down, revealing some of their less-flattering behaviors?

I take it as a case-by-case situation. Context is everything. Example: I invited Jimmy Page to do his own book on Zep, told him we could make it like Dylan’s Chronicles, i.e. leave out anything that he didn’t want to deal with – sex, drugs, magick, and just cherry pick some revealing moments from his career which readers could still get off on because they would convey a sense of honesty.

When after a long period of “umming” and “ahhing,” it became clear he wasn’t going to go for it, I wrote to him telling him that my publishers were now considering getting someone to write a full-blooded, proper account then of Zeppelin and that I had put myself forward and would he like to be involved, perhaps? Again – silence. Anyway, long story short, by the time I came to sit down and write the book the O2 [reunion] show had happened and Jimmy had now become openly hostile towards me, admonishing Jason [Bonham, son of Bonzo and fill-in drummer for Led Zeppelin] for getting me a ticket and letting people know he didn’t approve. At which point, I felt free to write exactly the kind of book I had always wanted to do – one that was absolutely honest and true and said it exactly how I saw it.

Like the music itself, rock journalism is now open to anyone with a blog and an opinion. Is this good or bad news for rock journalism?

Probably bad, but it’s been a steady erosion for years now. The days when people like me and you would buy Rolling Stone or Creem and relish some big confrontation between Lester Bangs and Lou Reed are long gone. MTV was the beginning of the end. Once the music press lost the immense power it had to affect record sales and build reputations and careers, once a video on MTV sold more records than a cover of Rolling Stone, it was always going to have to compromise in order to survive.

The key is always access. Without it you don’t have a lot. These days that access is granted and controlled much more by the artists and gifted directly to their fans via the net and Twitter and Facebook, etc. The music press only gets a look-in as part of the schedule. I used to go on tour with Metallica for a week. Now you get a phone call. In terms of blogs, though, I think they are like guns, they are only as good or bad as the people that handle them.

Speaking of Metallica, I hear you’ve tackled their story in your next book. Care to share a bit about that?

Yes, I’ve finished a biography on Metallica called Enter Night. It should be out in the US sometime this spring.

Unlike Zeppelin, Metallica are still very much alive. With the release of Death Magnetic (2008), many among the Metallica faithful are convinced that the band still have something important to say. What made you decide to take on Metallica at this point in their career?

It’s not necessary to only write a book when the story is over. Metallica celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, which means they have been together nearly three times longer than Zeppelin were, or nearly four times longer than the Beatles. That’s plenty to be going on with.

Also, they’ve reached an interesting moment in their story, seemingly coming full-circle. Except that that’s an illusion. They are probably even further away right now from their Eighties selves, musically and personally, than they’ve ever been. They are less like a band now and more of a franchise. And that is a truly remarkable achievement for a group that set out positioned so far out on the edge. That’s certainly something none of their peers has had the brains or talent to consider, let alone come close to emulating.

Also, just like Zep, I didn’t see a good book out there on them that I would find captivating. The closest was Joel McIver’s book, which I admire, but it’s more of a fan book, packed with great info, but essentially written by a fan for other fans. I admire and respect Metallica but I was never a fan. How could I be when I’m older than them? And I don’t write fan books anymore. I write books, not for them – the band or the fans, but for us, the general reading population, dig?

I get it, although it seems that the subjects of such bios rarely do. Care to share any of the new revelations we can expect in Enter Night?

Well, it’s hard because obviously I don’t want to spoil things by giving away the good stuff. I would rather make the point that this is not a book written by a Metallica fan for other Metallica fans. This is a book written by an author who has known the band off and on, for over 25 years, who has known all the other big rock bands of the same era and before and many since, and who has also worked in the record biz as a PR, a manager and a record company exec. And who has written it for other grown-ups who have experienced life and who are big enough boys and girls to hear the truth, not the fairy tales.

So, no, they did not carry on after Cliff Burton (Metallica bassist who was killed in 1986) died because that was what Ciff would have wanted, as every other book and story you’ve ever read on the subject tells you. No, they carried on because that’s what Lars (Ulrich, Metallica drummer) and James (Hetfield, Metallica guitarist) wanted. Cliff, in fact, had been talking to James about replacing Lars just before he died.

Whoa…

Another example- yes of course they “sold out” by making the Black album with (producer) Bob Rock. That’s what makes them so great. How much duller would their story be if they had stayed like Slayer and just stayed “true to their roots?” Instead, they did an utterly fabulous thing and made an album not only better than the ones Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses had been making but that sold more. An act of courage and vision entirely lacking in most other groups.

And yes they really did want to sack Jason (Newsted, former Metallica bassist who replaced Burton) within weeks of him joining. They were talked out of it by their very shrewd manager Peter Mensch, but Jason remained the bitch of the group for the rest of his time with them. But these are just a few facets to the larger story. There really is much more in the book.

I have to ask this, and it’s somewhat loaded — Lars Ulrich often comes across as opinionated, somewhat arrogant, and he seems to revel in his accomplishments. Is this a fair assessment? What’s it like to interview him?

Lars is all those things and a hell of a lot more. I spoke to him again two weeks ago actually. He told me he’d bought the book and apologized for turning down the opportunity to be more directly involved in it. He wanted to be sure I knew it wasn’t a personal reflection on me. I had made them aware I was doing the book early on and made the same offer I had to Jimmy Page, about wanting to be as involved or not as they felt comfortable with. They passed, saying they felt the time wasn’t right for them to get all their skeletons out of the closet just yet, which I respected. Lars said that “We knew that if anyone would write a great Metallica book it would be you.” Class, see. And shrewd. I admire that very, very much.

Unlike most of the rock stars I’ve worked with over the past 35 years, he really does have a big brain. In terms of what it’s like to interview him, it’s easy because he loves to talk. It’s hard to get the right questions answered sometimes because he’s slick and he’s not going to blow his future plans, but he will make sure you go away with plenty of stuff to write about. And he’s funny and good company.


As author of the authoritative biography of Axl Rose, and given your historic entanglement with him, a Guns N’ Roses question is sort of mandatory. In a recent issue of Metal Hammer, you considered the question of whether Guns N’ Roses should hang it up or keep on going by providing a brief essay for each side of the argument. Assuming you personally favor one side to the other, which more accurately reflects your view?

Either they should all get back together — Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy and Adler, not (Matt) Sorum, great drummer but not an original member, or Axl should quit it and just present himself as the solo act he has really been for over 15 years now. Chinese Democracy was a great album, just not a GN’R album.

But it’s too late really for it to happen. Everyone has been trying to make it happen for most of those 15 years. But the money may yet bring Axl to the table because the others are all ready for it. It would be like when the Sex Pistols got back together in the mid-Nineties- nothing like the original, just a nostalgia-fest, sort of like when the Stones tour, only probably not as good.

Every other day there’s some graph or blog lamenting the imminent demise of the music industry. How accurate is this concern? In this brave new world of digital music, how does a vital new band get known?

Essentially, I see it as much the same as it ever was. Cream will rise to the top, whatever platform it’s delivered on. What’s changed is that you don’t send some record company big-wig a cassette and hope the dick will maybe play three seconds of it before tossing it in a box with all the others. You put up a website or place the track on iTunes, or YouTube. And you play live, the one real growth area of the business which you cannot duplicate digitally or on the net.

The secret ingredient though – and this is where most young musicians wince and immediately flop down on the couch with their eyes closed and a joint in their mouths, already giving up, is hard work. I have known people that were infinitely more talented, and I mean by a very long way more than most of the bands I know that did make it. But they just didn’t want it bad enough. They didn’t suffer and sacrifice themselves and others enough. They didn’t want to miss the game on TV, their girlfriend gave them a hard time, they waited for somebody else to come along and kiss it all better. And they’re still waiting.

Lars Ulrich was never going to be the best drummer around and James Hetfield was so screwed-up with self-doubt that he was still hoping the band would get a “real” singer when they were working on their second album. But fucking hell, did they both work their assess off to make Metallica one of the best bands in the world. Doesn’t mean they weren’t dicks or soul-suckers some of the time. Who isn’t sometimes? But they slept on floors, they fired people, they took chances, faced ridicule, failure and fought on. The Black Album was selling out? Well, you try it, suckers, see how far you get.

In your book Appetite for Destruction, you tell the story of going to interview Poison with [iconic rock photographer] Ross Halfin in a New York stadium show, only to be locked in a storage room by Poison’s staff. Did they ever apologize?

Yes, they did, actually. But not before I tortured them good in print and on TV and anywhere else I could stick my snout at the time. We had been buddies before, see, and we became buddies again afterward.  Well, me and Bret anyway. I mean, I liked Poison. They were fun, like Sweet or KISS or the Ronettes, dig?

I’m sure there are stories… OK, Finally, I’d like to end with a few either/or questions. Please pick one or the other, whichever comes to mind. Ready?

Highway to Hell or Back in Black?

Highway every time. I’m totally old school.

NWOBHM or Thrash?

Oooh, tricky… can I phone a friend (named Lars)?

Hah! Yes, but that’s your only lifeline.

OK. I’ll get back to you on that.

Little Richard or Richard Cole?

Little Richard. Lemmy told me the first time he met Little Richard he simply went up to him and said, “Because of you – me!” Richard had no idea who he was but he got the message. I also interviewed Little Richard once for TV and he was fantastic. A proper legend.

Grunge or glam?

Glam, because of Bowie and Roxy Music, total originals each. Grunge was great too but so gloomy and so end-of-the-world. What they both had in common though was how much they affected all other artists too. With glam, suddenly The Band’s beardy look was over and everyone from Zep to the Stones and Elton John were wearing glittery threads and platform shoes. With grunge suddenly the short hair and goatee and plaid shirt became the must-have-a-version-of-look. Grunge never inspired any silly pop groups either, like Sweet, Mud, Gary Glitter, Suzy Quatro…

Sharon Osbourne or Peter Grant?

Oh my god… are you sure I can’t ask the audience to vote on this one? Sharon was always so shrewd, as was Grant in his era, and both were supremely vengeful over perceived wrongs, and good at making and keeping threats. They were both funny as hell too. If I have to plump for one it will be Sharon. She has made so much more out of so much less, whereas with Jimmy and Zep Grant hit the jackpot.

Mick, you are a headbanger and a gentleman. Thanks for your time. I look forward to the new Metallica book this spring.

It has been a pleasure Joe.  In the words of the great Savoy Brown (and many others too of course), take it easy, baby…

 

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Joe Daly JOE DALY writes for a number of publications, including the UK's Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazines, Outburn, Bass Guitar Magazine and several other print and online outlets. He is the music and cultural observer for Chuck Palahniuk's LitReactor site and his works have been published in several languages. When he is not drafting wild-eyed manifestos, Joe enjoys life in San Diego's groovy North County, teaching music journalism, doing yoga, running, playing guitar and spending tireless hours in deep and meaningful conversations with his beloved dogs, Cabo and Lola. You can check out his rants at http://joedaly.net and follow him on Twitter: @JoeD_SanDiego

89 Responses to “A Voice in the Rock and Roll Wilderness: An Interview With Rock Journalist Mick Wall”

  1. Zoe Brock says:

    LOVED THIS!!! He’s so right about the James Dean factor. It’s rough to watch bands like The Stones and U2 get old and sound dated. I hope GnR never reunite, it’d be a trainwreck and I’d rather revel in memories of those glory days.

    Call a cunt a cunt, that’s what I say. :)

    Happy headbanging.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Zoe- this was a blast to do. I couldn’t agree more about the Aging Rocker Syndrome. Have you seen the latest pictures of Axl? He has seen better days…

      http://img.perezhilton.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/axl-rose-suin-guitar-hero-makers__oPt.jpg

      Amazing to think that’s the guy behind Appetite for Destruction.

      Thanks for the read, and rock on with your bad self!

      • Ben Loory says:

        one of the guys, joe daly! ONE of the guys!!! there’s not a song on that album axl wrote by himself. and izzy co-wrote all the best ones! CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE!!!!!! (and mr. brownstone: just slash and izzy. just sayin.)

        great interview, by the way. i will have to pick up the book. hammer of the gods just don’t cut it when you’re not twelve years old anymore. :)

        • Joe Daly says:

          You are so effing right. As soon as I hit the “Add comment” button, I grimaced.

          Yeah, Axl was the voice and the headline (most of the time), but without Izzy & Slash, he would never have come close to Appetite. Mea culpa! :)

          You’ll dig the book- interesting style plus a fresh take on HOTG. I read HOTG in the span of three days lying by a pool in Mexico and all I could think after reading it was, “Why doesn’t he like Led Zeppelin?”

  2. Art Edwards says:

    Okay. There goes my writing afternoon.

    What a cool interview, J. I somehow trust that Wall really does tell it like it is. That Zeppelin book sounds wonderful.

    I can’t stand–can not stand–rock books by the figures themselves, or where that figure is too involved or complicit. I haven’t read Chronicles or Get in the Van for this reason, and I probably won’t. ( I will, however, be ignoring my rule for See a Little Light, which comes out on June 15th.) Wall is exactly what rock writing needs, someone who’s going to tell the real story come hell or high water, because the truth is just too compelling to tell it any other way.

    In short, any rock bio that doesn’t piss off the head figure of the band isn’t telling the truth. I really believe that.

    Sign of the goat,

    Art

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Art- sorry about your writing afternoon! I figure an old school rocker like you will allow himself an occasional study break though on the weekends. :)

      Couldn’t agree with you more about the true autobiographies- they’re immediately suspect, although I think a couple have broken the mold and been worth the effort. I’m thinking of Anthony Kiedis’ bio, Scar Tissue. Have you read that?

      Another aspect of certain rock bios that really fries my tubes are the “unauthorized” ones that offer no credible sources, instead just filling the pages with innuendo and rehashed versions of magazine articles and other books. The AC/DC bio, Maximum Rock and Roll, weighing in at almost 500 pages, was just such a book. Complete waste of time and trees.

      Didn’t know about SALL coming out in June. I’ll be just getting back from Europe, so that will be a nice way to ease back into the real world. Thanks for the tip!

      • Gloria says:

        Scar Tissue is top notch mostly because Anthony Kiedis is not afraid to implicate himself. It’s raw and messy and absolutely compelling.

        I liked Get in the Van – as a nostalgia piece more than anything.

        • Art Edwards says:

          If you guys say the Kiedis bio is good, I believe it, but I have to be honest: I’ve never been real impressed with Kiedis. I wouldn’t expect much insight from him. Can I ask what makes his bio so good?

          I’m kind of a bitch about the rock autobio thing, but as Mould’s is coming out this summer, I’m going to have to violate my principles and (God willing) finally get the full Du story. If he doesn’t look long and hard at himself, I will feel cheated. I expect him not to waste my time, for some reason. I’m probably setting myself up.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Art-

          I approached Scar Tissue with a fair bit of skepticism myself. Kiedis has always struck me as the kid who’s always trying to be the center of attention by showing just how little he cares about people noticing him. But the book has more honesty than bravado and more humility than swagger. He communicates a deep sense of self-awareness, particularly with his own character defects and his drug use. Where some rock auto-bios have the author bragging about how much they drank/snorted/fucked, Kiedis focuses just as much on the consequences of those decisions, which often paint him as selfish and immature.

          I’m so stoked you mentioned Mould’s bio. What a treat that’s going to be. So it’s an auto-bio? We should know pretty early into the book whether we’re getting the straight Du scoop. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts- we’re going to have to revisit your comment here after you read it.

    • Gloria says:

      Art, what I liked about Scar Tissue was that Kiedis not only gives you the dirty details of the genesis of his life and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he does it with aplomb, like a child who is all id and can’t wait to tell on himself. He discusses the drug use, excess, philandering, recklessness, music – all of it – in a totally confessional way and a breakneck speed, but he has this way of slowing down and honing in on certain key moments and women. He discusses his drug recovery/recoveries in a way that might be inspiring, I think, for other addicts without once sounding pedantic or schmaltzy. Also, there’s an air of integrity to the way he tells his story because, for the most part, he doesn’t implicate anyone but himself in the shenanigans he describes. He never throws his bandmates under the tour bus. Literarily, the book is messy, but not unreadable in anyway. It can even be a bit poetic in parts. It’s a book that seems huge when you start, but you’re startled to find you’ve whipped through it so quickly.

      Cheers,
      Gloria

      • Joe Daly says:

        It can even be a bit poetic in parts.

        So true- the way the book ends is actually pretty touching in a feel-good kind of way.

        You bring up another great point about how he communicates is own accountability without trying to throw other people under the bus. He could drop names, but he really doesn’t.

        Good insight into the early days of the RHCP, about whom I’m fairly ambivalent. I love the part about Chad Smith being a big haired rock guy. He certainly fits in well with their sound tho.

  3. Simon Smithson says:

    Just when I think your pimping has reached super-saturation levels, broseph, it turns out it’s only the opening of a new door.

    I loved this; fascinating to read about Mick Wall’s behind-the-scenes kind of journey and what he has to say about some of the biggest rock acts the world has ever scene – and also, that, in himself, he’s a cool guy.

    Rock on.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Brother, I’m stoked you enjoyed the read. I enjoy his insight into the Plant/Page dynamic, and of course, I was looking forward to his take on Peter Grant.

      Mick could not have been more of a gentleman- just as down-to-earth as they get. Really enjoyable interview.

      Many thanks, my South Hemispherean Pimptastic Soul Brother. And thanks for that Muse link, too!

  4. Wow. Kickass interview. Total pro job. Could have gone on another 5k. At least. The dude knows all the stories, and, even better, knows just how to dangle them. Hang the carrot over the book, get the rabbit shuffling. And your knowledge of the subject at hand is so obvious. Didn’t feel like “research” at all. It’s a tough gig to pull off, that deft interplay, way harder than it reads. Which is the marker of success.

    Man, you’re embedded like a deer tick. Klosterman’s gonna have his back cut soon, he doesn’t keep an eye out.

    Now I’m going to go back and click some links.

    My only beef is that you didn’t mention Charles Mingus.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks a bunch, man. It was a huge challenge to maintain some focus, just because there was so much ground to cover, and Mick can speak so extensively on the subjects we discussed. Of course, that also made it fun.

      And you’re right about hanging the carrot. Of course, I had to fish to see what kind of advance info I could get with Metallica and I laughed when he demurred. But I hadn’t heard that Cliff Burton was getting ready to run Lars out of the band, so that was enormously interesting to me. I also liked his take on Lars being a guy who’s just as arrogant as he seems, yet someone you have to respect for going after what he wants. Even Dave Mustaine gives him props for his savvy and dedication to becoming huge.

      Hope you enjoy the U2 link. I couldn’t resist.

      Charles Mingus? Ok, in the next 12 months, I will publish a piece on Charles Mingus, but only if you agree to publish one on Lemmy. Deal?

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Please cut Klosterman’s back? Pretty please?

        I never paid much attention to Zeppelin, so it’s hilarious for me to belatedly learn (almost as belatedly as it is for me to read this interview and comment on it) that Elvis once requested a meeting with Zeppelin. Also, it is shocking to read that Page, et al, didn’t attend the funeral of Plant’s son, though, unfortunately, that kind of thing is par for the course for rockers. If I were to die tomorrow, I seriously doubt that many of the musicians I know would show for the burial, though a few might make it to the wake.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Duke-

          The Elvis meeting was pretty funny. Apparently he heard they were in the audience and during the show, joked to his band that they better be tight because the boys from Led Zeppelin were in the audience. Then he summoned them backstage, where it was apparently really uncomfortable, as Elvis was pretty cold at first. Then Elvis finally asked them if the stories he was hearing about them on the road were true, and Plant joked that they weren’t, and then did his best Elvis impersonation. Elvis gave him the eye at first, and then bust out laughing, and they hung for a couple hours. Elvis then asked them for autographs for 6 year old Lisa Marie. Funny story.

          I wonder about my wake as well. I still feel like I should leave behind some instructions as to what people should do. Still controlling from beyond the grave…

  5. Gloria says:

    Zeppelin exist on a pedestal, either as heroes, or monsters, or simply as symbolic of some other-level experience. That’s dead-on right.

    Man, everything Wall says is insightful and had me nodding the whole time. I really want to buy this book – and the mere thought makes me sob just thinking about all the books I have left to read.

    I’m so sad to learn that Plant’s bandmates didn’t go to his son’s funeral. Boo. That is bad taste. Boo, boooo!

    Who’s that in the picture next to Wall’s answer about how he picks stories? Is that YOU, Joe Daly?

    The Metallica stuff is gripping. I’m an old-school Metallica fan. Love “Black” but stopped listening after that. Your question about Ulrich is the exact one I would’ve asked – and I loved Wall’s answer. I have to say, though – after seeing Ulrich in Get Him to the Greek, I gained a little respect for him. Anyone who can make fun of himself isn’t too bad.

    God, Joe. I’m pretty sure this was THEBESTINTERVIEWEVER! Squeeeeeeee!! I know, we’re all so friendly to each other on TNB, blah blah. Look – you asked fabulous questions and you got amazing, captivating answers from someone that I would give buckets of money to sit and just shoot the shit with for an entire day.

    Rock on, Joe Daly. And thanks.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Gloria-

      We are so friendly on here, aren’t we? Of course that means that the site is completely illegitimate and nobody on here is sincere. Oh well.

      Thanks for your comments- great to hear you enjoyed the interview. Of course, I lucked out with a great subject. I’m with you- chilling with Mick for a day and talking about music would be like a Showcase Showdown for music fans like us. One of the things that has always drawn me to Mick’s writing is his focus on classic rock and heavy metal. Sure, there are a good number of people who have written about classic rock bands, but I haven’t read many authors who can take on heavy metal in such an adult, literary fashion. Sure he’s got opinions and he’s not afraid to throw them into the fire, but that’s what we do as music lovers.

      Glad the Lars question came out OK. I was a bit hesitant because after the Napster affair, I found myself pretty disgusted with him. There’s a scene in Some Kind of Monster (not sure if you’ve seen it) where he’s auctioning off pieces of his art collection, sitting in a hidden room getting ditsy on bubbly while watching the bidding and giggling as the millions come his way.

      That all being said, I actually think that beyond what I perceive to be his personality (which I acknowledge is nothing more than a limited perception), he’s a good musician. People often slam his drumming, but I think it’s creative, tight, and it’s just as important as Hetfield’s killer riffs. So yeah, I guess I was secretly hoping that Mick would disabuse me of my notion that Lars is an insufferable boor. And he sort of did.

      And I totally agree with him appearing in Get Him to the Greek. The way he seemed to have fun with it all changed the way I see him quite a bit. Good to know he’s not all aggro and boasting.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Who’s that in the picture next to Wall’s answer about how he picks stories? Is that YOU, Joe Daly?

      Gloria- totally forgot to answer this. That’s Mick Wall back in 1990, standing on the balcony of the Riot House on Sunset Strip. He’s a long way from London…

  6. Erika Rae says:

    Wow – fantastic interview. Sending lots of linear rock love your way.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Erika! I’ll take all the linear rock love you can send.

      Now that this piece is up and running, I’m spending the day finishing up my other project. :) Excited to see how it comes out!

  7. Irene Zion says:

    Hi Joe!
    I’m really sorry that I know nothing about music, politics or sports.
    I’ll bet this is a really great interview.
    Really great.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Irene, as always, thanks for your comment. I promise I won’t write any columns about politics, and I’ll keep my sporting pieces to a dull minimum. But music is what gets my bony fingers typing.

      That all being said, if we ever go out to lunch, I will avoid all discussions of music. I have a feeling we wouldn’t have any shortage of things to chat about. I’m buying. I insist.

      • Gloria says:

        However, if you and I ever have lunch, you promise that you absolutely will discuss music ad nauseum, right Joe Daly?

        • Joe Daly says:

          Gloria, if/when you and I have lunch, we will talk about music until the check arrives, then we’ll go somewhere else and resume our discussion of music. I love your take on rock and am zazzed (but not surprised) to hear that you’re an old school Metallica fan.

          I sort of gave up after the Black album, but I have to say, I think Death Magnetic is killer. Super tight grooves, nice long jams, and I don’t think Hetfield’s voice has ever sounded so good. He’s come a long way since Kill ‘Em All. Got a fave Metallica album?

        • Gloria says:

          It’s really a toss up between …And Justice for All and Ride the Lightning. My mom introduced me to Metallica. I was way in it for a while, but, like punk, found myself frightened and put off by the people who also loved it. Still, there are some great songs on those albums.

          I was just at a rummage sale with a friend yesterday – a dear friend, a liberal drama instructor who drives a biofueled VW Jetta and who introduced me to Dar Williams and to whom I’ve introduced The Shins, Beth Orton, and Death Cab For Cutie. While at the sale, I found a Best of Black Sabbath CD and he was startled at my delight. I told him, simply, “they’re underrated for their musicianship and their lyrics.”

          My tastes are far and wide and largely unpredictable.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Nice! I’d go with Ride the Lightning, myself, so it’s good to hear I’m not alone in that. It seems like most people go with …And Justice for All. At least more than others.

          Interesting comment about Sabbath. I never thought they were underrated for their lyrics, but now you’ve got me thinking. As far as their musicianship goes, I think they’ve received an overwhelming, possibly unfair, amount of credit for launching metal (we all know Blue Cheer beat them to it). Musically the credit they receive seems to be that they were innovative in their sound, but not necessarily accomplished musicians. Iommi has the half finger, which contributed to their overall sound more than most people would realize, I think. But now I’m going to have to go back through old Sabbath with a fresh pair of ears.

          Thank you for choosing today’s writing music for me!

        • Gloria says:

          Well, what I meant by my comment to my friend is that Black Sabbath are underrated by people like him and that he should give them a listen based on their musicianship and lyrics. But I was trying to be tactful.

      • Irene Zion says:

        @Joe,

        Yeah, don’t write about politics. Go see what they did to poor Henning! Politics makes commenters turn from Dr. Jeckell to Mr. Hyde. Completely removes any filter to their thoughts.

        I don’t not like music; it’s just that I really, really like silence. Or thunderstorms.
        Maybe it’s because I had five kids and it was always so noisy.

        If we ever went out to lunch, we would have plenty to talk about.
        Plenty.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Irene-

          I agree to leave politics to the better-informed, more enthusiastic contingent of TNB. Reading Henning’s piece bordered on embarrassing for me, as I realized that I was completely uninformed with respect to so much of their ongoing dialogue.

          Thunderstorms are good, too. We don’t get many of them here in California, so when we do, I try to stop and enjoy them. Even my dogs don’t seem to mind.

          We’ll have lunch sometime. Whenever TNB throws its first big worldwide party, you and I will meet in the hotel lobby and go get lunch. Then maybe we can crank call Lenore from the diner or something. I’m already looking forward to it.

  8. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    This is awesome! Good job Joe Daly. I could use a good grown up book about Zeppelin. Really, really looking forward to that Metallica bio as well. Bob Rock might have made great business sense, but they lost me at that point. I think they’d achieved something really melodic and resonant in the Cliff years that they seemed to lose with him.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, CH! The Zep story is fantastic all by itself, so when it’s in the hands of the right storyteller, it can really smoke. Like Ben said above, Hammer of the Gods was great for a breezy stroll through all the decadence, but you don’t get as much of a sense of the personalities in that book- especially Plant. Giants does a nice job of getting into the personalities and attitudes that informed the music.

      It’s funny how Bob Rock was the “fifth member of Metallica” for so long, yet so many people view him as really tainting the music. I haven’t read the book yet, but my take has always been that he came in to do what the record label wanted- record a polished album with lots of hooks that can sell millions of copies. Which of course, he did, finally getting them the airplay that they never really had. But to your point, the price was heavier than the band realized at the time, I think.

      I never thought Jason Newsted was awful, but with Cliff and Bobby as bookends, he does seem to be the lesser of the three. Cliff was such a huge Bach fan, which you can hear in his style and solos.

      So you like action movies and Metallica. You rawk. Hard.

  9. Awesome interview, Joe!

    Way to cover a lot of fascinating ground. I really like the insights into the role of journalism then and now, and it’s nice to have some thoughts on the digital revolution that aren’t all doom and gloom…

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Tyler! Unfortunately I didn’t get to cover as much ground as I had hoped- I ended up hitting about half of my questions. But of course, the bright side was that the answers he gave were far more illuminating than any questions I could have come up with.

      Totally agree that it’s refreshing to get the take that good music will still find a home. I wonder how much the digital movement has affected the touring culture for smaller bands. You used to have no other way to get your sound out than touring, selling tapes, sending demos to radio stations, etc. Now bands can do much of that with a Macbook Pro from the comfort of their kitchen. But good luck trying to translate the live vibe. Thankfully, there will always be live music (he said, praying to God that someone doesn’t use these words fifty years from now to show how backwards thinking people were in the early millennium).

  10. Joe — wow, great interview. So much of this music defines who I was as a teenager… interesting to hear his theory about the “James Dean Factor”… especially when so many of these bands have shredded their legacies in favor of the almighty dollar.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Robin- how cool is it that we got to grow up with Zeppelin? It might not be something I can fully appreciate for another twenty years, but it sounds pretty awesome right now. That all being said, I was really coming into my own as a music fan when Mick Jaggar and David Bowie were doing their “Dancing in the Streets” cover, resplendent in their Miami Vice garb. So yeah, there’s that too.

      Re: The James Dean factor: I was surprised when he talked about them dying, as I had never thought about them that way. Bonzo’s death derailed them, but they still play. Hearing his take though, I get it- who they were at their peak is long gone.

      And I totally agree that far too many bands have chosen their checking accounts over their legacies.

  11. J. Ryan Stradal says:

    Fantastic interview, Joe.

    I think I’m going to be buying some books now.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, J!

      Let me know what you think after you read them. We can get Art and Gloria and do “Rock and Roll Book Club.” Hmmm… the wheels begin to turn…

  12. Thanks for this badass interview and for introducing me to this guy. I’ve read precious little in the rock biography category, but I think I’ll help rectify that with his Giants book.

    I agree with him that “the best of Zep sounds like it was done yesterday”. I used to listen to the Bay Area’s radio station “The Bone” where they did a “Get the Led Out” hour once a week. There was nothing in the world more cathartic on an evening commute back up 101.

    And I’m glad his book, and your interview, is out there to remind people.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Glad you dug it, Nat. A good rock bio not only keeps the pages turning, but it gives you a fresh look at some cool music. I still remember listening to the whole Doors catalog one by one as I read the Morrison bio. Giants has a similar effect.

      One of the Boston stations I used to listen to had a “Get the Led Out” show too. I think it was on Fridays. There’s something enormously comforting in knowing that for 60 minutes, you can expect nothing but great classic jams.

      Rock on, mon frere…

  13. Richard Cox says:

    Classic interview by a couple of legendary rock writers. Way to go, gentlemen.

    Interesting takes on both Zeppelin and Metallica. It’s so interesting to hear stories from the inside, rather than the typical gossip that gets traded and accepted as fact.

    I took a look at Mick’s blog, and wouldn’t you know it…right below his link to this interview is a post about him transcribing his recent interview with Joe Elliott. Ha!

    Also, from a literary point of view, I love this line:

    “And for me backstory is something that you carry with you right up to the present moment, so I wanted it to be there too even at the end of the book, not just the beginning.”

    The idea of a “flashback” has always confounded me. Our minds are the sum of our entire lives up to that point. Weaving “backstory” into the main one is a technique much more like how our minds actually work. That shit is always there, even if you aren’t thinking about it on a moment-to-moment basis.

    Thanks for this, guys.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks a bunch, Rich- it’s certainly a more insightful take on the band than the usual drugs-and-groupie stuff.

      One thing I admire about his approach is that while he’s critical of some of their behaviors and choices, he still appreciates the music and the talents that went into making it. It’s not like he’s pulling a Rolling Stone and trashing them as being overrated- he clearly sees them as every bit the legends that they are, and his style allows him to convey that respect and appreciation while casting light on some skeletons that they’d probably love to keep in the closet. It’s nice to see an author embrace a band for being both brilliant and savage.

      We’ll have to keep our grapes peeled for the Joe Elliott interview. I’d be very interested in hearing what Mick’s take on him is as a front man. Clearly he’s got the attitude, and he put the work in, but you can’t have the discussion about him fronting Def Leppard without talking about Mutt Lange’s production. If Mick pops by to field some questions, maybe he’ll weigh in on that for us.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Agreed on the approach, and recognizing the music. I also like his point of view that good bands might not have great stories, and vice versa.

        Judging from his posts I think the Joe Elliott interview was for a Def Leppard feature in Classic Rock. He’s interviewed the rest of the band as well. We should definitely keep a look out for it.

        What I wouldn’t give for a feature on Mutt himself. But I’d more likely win a free trip to the Moon.

        • Gloria says:

          I highly recommend sending a request for an interview, Richard. Seriously. People win the lottery all the time, and it’s amazing what happens when you ask nicely.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Have you ever read any of his interviews? They’re brutal. And not in a cool Dethklok kind of way.

          http://www.muttlange.com/robert_john_mutt_lange_interview_exclusive_interviews/mutt_lange.html

        • Richard Cox says:

          I like how the author of that web site pretends to be an authority on all things Mutt, including his yearly income of $19 million. First of all, I’d like to see his sources, and secondly, when you factor in his stake at Zomba, Mutt must be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

          Gloria, I’m with you on the asking nicely, but this is a special case. Mutt Lange is not going to agree to a TNB interview. ;-)

        • Joe Daly says:

          No kidding. Mutt probably spends $19 million a year on software alone.

          What if you contacted Mutt for the interview and attached the picture of you, Slade, and Simon looking all bad ass and serious? That might be just the thing to sway him.

        • Gloria says:

          Richard. It sounds to me like you’ve just thrown down the gauntlet. ;)

        • dwoz says:

          Oh, god. I followed that link to that Mutt Lange “interview.” It’s no wonder he doesn’t like to do interviews, if that’s the sort of questions he’ll be asked. Ouch. I can almost hear him cringe while I read.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Joe, I’m pretty sure that photo could get us into the Blue Room at the Pentagon. One must be careful how he chooses to wield that kind of power.

      • Mick Wall says:

        Gents, thank you for your very kind comments. Just to let you know, the interview with Joe Elliot was for a Story of High N Dry feature I wrote for Classic Rock magazine. I also spoke to the two Ricks – Savage and Allen, and yes we go deep into the Mutt Lange aspect, as that was the firts time they worked with him. They totally recognize the impact Mutt had. Savage even calls those three album – Dry, Pyro and Hysteria – their best, which I would agree with too. The issue of the mag is out in May in the UK, I believe.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Thanks for the heads up! I’ll be on the lookout for the article. There’s plenty of press about the recording of Pyromania and Hysteria, but information about High N Dry is harder to find. Good stuff, man.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Can’t wait for that piece. Coxy and I just had a lengthy chat about Elliot and how lucky he has been to hitch his wagon to the Leppard train. Despite some of his unfortunate comments in the press, he’s the right man for that job. Still, my hat will always be off to Brian Johnson as a guy who really seems grateful for the lot he ended up with and who seems to know how to reflect that gratitude in his public comments. Hate that he’s a Newcastle guy though. Lord, did I lose a lot of money on them last time I was in Dublin…

  14. Dana says:

    Well done, Joe! As you know Led Zeppelin isn’t my favorite subject, but I do love some good old fashioned rock and roll shenanigans. It’s probably time for me to read a grown up biography about someone I’m NOT slightly obsessed with. I may start with the Osbournes Confidential and work my way up, cuz who doesn’t love a good Ozzy story.

    And thank you for posing the Lars question! I would have felt badly if we’d found out that he’s a wonderful person who devotes his life to charitable pursuits and saving kittens, but has been treated poorly in the press and is very misunderstood.

    I can see why Gloria thought that picture on the balcony was of you. You and Mick definitely have the same fashion sense!

    Keep on rockin! Your enthusiasm for the subject matter is catching.

    ps. The U2 link is awesome.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thank God someone picked up on the U2 link. I was quite literally giggling like a four year old when I inserted that link. I’m laughing right now as I think of his face and the absurdity of it all.

      You will be doing yourself a favor to brush up on your Zeppelin- even if you don’t find yourself in love with their music, the story is hellaciously engaging. Plus you get some good insight into the music that turned them on, as well as the music of their contemporaries, many of whom I know you favor.

      You guys really thought that was me in the balcony photo? While Mick and I discovered not a few similarities between us, I think it would be pretty tacky to interrupt a great interview like this by putting up a picture of me. Actually, it would be sort of funny in a Ron Burgundy way…

      Thx for the read!

  15. megzeppelinn says:

    okay dude, i totally broke the vow i made to myself when i was 11 to never know any personal info about LZ *just* so i could read your article. :) it totally paid off! rad interview! i want to be mick’s assistant in life. how can that happen? i wanna read all his books now, his tone is so direct and engaging i can’t get enough. so awesome you brought all this music awesomeness out for your readers. thanks!

    i have to say i’m a little heartbroken to find out that jimmy page is kind of an a-hole. he was so cool in IT MIGHT GET LOUD, but now doesn’t seem so. huh. robert plant’s swagger in all the performances i’ve seen of him and all the vocals made me believe all these years that he’d be the kinda sorta jerk of the group. at least that negative impression was turned upside down!

    rad, rad work dude.. congrats!

    • Joe Daly says:

      Love that you broke your streak for this article! So happy it was worth it.

      Jimmy’s got legions of fans, and IMGL is a pretty cool doc, but yeah, he’s no Keith Moon when it comes to playfulness. His rep of being tight with his wallet is fairly well-worn, and his junkie days leave a few less-than-flattering tales to be told, but he’s still Jimmy Page.

      I didn’t mention this in the article, but I was once in the VIP room of a club in Chicago, sipping drinks at the best table in the lounge, when the bouncer came over and told us that he was moving us to another table. We had racked up a four figure bar tab, and one of our guys nearly got physical at the bouncer’s affront. He then leaned into the table and said, “Jimmy Page is here with his friends and we’re going to let them sit here, so move the fuck over there or get the fuck out, but there’s no way you’re keeping this table.”

      So yeah, we moved, half resenting him and half in awe. I still don’t know what to think.

      Rock on!

  16. pixy says:

    dear joe daly:

    there are a lot of comments to read through and i’m impatient. :) i would like to say the following:

    1. this mick fella sounds like someone i would love to have lunch with sometime. and then dinner. and then breakfast. he’d take my amateur ass to town! dang!
    2. i wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of new artists today who hem and haw about putting in the hard work and sacrifice that comes with being a successful artist. i know and have known several SUPREMELY talented people who were too afraid or too comfortable with their “i’ll play at a coffee shop once a week while i work at my 9-5 gig” and yet, complain about their lack of movement through the musical world, their lack of “getting known”. it makes me sad and it makes me want to shake them because, if i had even a SMIDGE of their gifts, i’d make sure i was bigger than fuckin’ gaga.
    to quoth the duke that i am now reading, “…nothing comes from comfort but the fear of losing it…”
    3. all of this was an awesomely rad read. we should have brekky sometime soon. saturday am? :)

    • Joe Daly says:

      Pixy-

      Impatience is a virtue. Always go with it.

      You and Mick would get on like a house on fire. And yeah, so dead on about the direct correlation between an artist’s success and their willingness to hustle. Even here in North County, there’s this gaggle of folkies whose entire strategy for getting big appears to be issuing Facebook invitations. No hustling downtown, no postering and no business angles. So yeah, I’d say most (but not all) of the time, you get what you put into it. Dontcha think?

      Love that Duke quote. So true. Fear comes in two flavors only: fear of losing what you have or fear of not getting what you want.

      I think I’m going to see you Saturday eve- not sure about breaky. Let’s yak later in the week. Will be rad to catch up…

      • pixy says:

        i have a whole rant about the “laid-back” attitude of musicians of late. the thought process all began when i heard this interview with adam cohen (son of leonard and i heard the interview BEFORE the “update” which seemed… forced) who essentially bitched about sxsw “not being the same” anymore… i have so much to say about that, but i don’t think this is the right forum.
        let’s just put it this way: i want to punch him in the face and shake him.

        i’d better see you on my sandy trek, i’ll be a sad babushka if i don’t. you know where to find me.

        • Joe Daly says:

          People were whining about SXSW not being “the same” ten years ago. That “complaint” is about as mature as throwing a rattle out of a stroller. My take on it is that yeah, SXSW is huge now- bigger than it was back when everyone was talking about how huge it had become. It used to be an easy way to make a name quickly and get the attention of some big players like SPIN, record labels, big management companies, etc. Now it’s just as much of a fan festival and these whiny artists don’t like the fact that there’s way more competition for these valuable contacts than there ever was.

          So yeah, it’s not the same anymore- if you want publicity, contracts, sex, or drugs, you’re actually going to have to work for it. What an injustice.

          If you punch and shake Adam Cohen, please YouTube it and post it here.

          And you’ll see me fer shure!

        • pixy says:

          this is as close as i can get to punching him. dangit!

  17. Reno Romero says:

    Joe:

    You kick metal ass. This was SUBLIME! Loved it, loved it. This was a blast to read Mr. Wall writes good stuff and I’ve read his words for years – especially in my metal years 81-89.

    Like Wall, I never was a big fan of Metallica (even though I saw them a handful of times and even worked for them). I saw some doc on them and thought that James and Lars were arrogant pricks. They tried to come off high-brow while playing bar chords and playing everything in E. Too funny. I never bought it. James is perfectly shitty vocalist. He’s not a “real” singer and was a better “singer” in the early years when he knew he couldn’t sing. Go figure.

    Zep? Prolly my fav hard rock band. I’m not one to read band bios but I think I might have to pick this one up. Wow, can’t believe you got this interview. I wanted more. You rock, Daly. I wanna be your groupie.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Reno-

      Thanks, man- 81-89 were some epic years for metal.

      What did you do for Metallica and why haven’t you written about it? Wait- have you? I need to walk through the Romero Archives after posting this…

      It’s funny how James’ playing seems to sound more complicated than it is. That being said, I have to give the guy props for knowing how to write a lick/hook. I came late to Metallica, but they’re still a semi-regular staple of my musical diet. I’ll always wonder what they might have been like if Mustaine had stuck with them for the whole ride. They’ve all matured musically, but we’ll never know.

      Yeah, the Zep bio is worth it. If you had to read one on Zep, this would be it. Skip Hammer of the Gods and go straight to this one. Good, unvarnished stuff where he’s not afraid to give his opinion, but at the same time he doesn’t try to change the story according to his take on it- loads of facts for a rocker like you to devour.

      Stay sweet, Reno. And if you haven’t written about your Metallica gig, I’ll be looking forward to that piece.

  18. Gregory Zaran says:

    Hi Joe,

    Great interview with Mick Wall.

    Being a Dad I was always shocked that Page and Jones did not make it to the funeral of Plant’s son- (supposedly John Bonham did). It would be unforgivable to me.

    Glad that you asked that question and cool to hear Mick elaborate on it a bit more than he did in the book.

    Great job. Mick must think so too- I found the link to your site on his blog.

    Thanks again.
    Greg

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, Greg- glad you enjoyed the read. As a father, I can’t imagine what that might feel like. One of those horrifying situations in life where you can reasonably expect not just your closest allies to stand by you, but where you would have strangers and acquaintances coming out of the woodwork to help. To think that three of your closes collaborators and confidants would take a pass on your little boy’s funeral is a particularly heartless betrayal.

      Like Mick says, events like that revealed things to him that he had likely seen but not noticed. The fact that he could carry on and continue to make music with them is astounding, and a tribute to Robert’s own determination I suppose.

      Thanks for the read and the comment!

  19. John Eterno says:

    Awesome!! Dude, this interview was Heroin to me. I kept wanting it to continue. I love reading and hearing about the inside story on anything and hard rock/metal stories are the best. I haven’t read the Zep book yet, but I shall. I have read some other bios but usually have a tough time getting through them because of how sensationalized they seem to be. This interview makes me want to read the Zep book and the future Metallica book.

    You know what I would like to know. What rockers Mick really liked for their music and those that he thought were some of the coolest personaility wise.

    Always looking for the insiders take on things.

    Great read man! Rock on and keep playing metal.

    P.S. I am building another new electric guitar. I’ll post pictures this summer.

    • Joe Daly says:

      Johnny-

      Thanks, man- if you start selling your tv and neglecting your boy to keep reading this interview, I’ll send an Intervention team.

      That’s a great question for Mick- you know there are tons of guys who made fantastic music but whose personalities either sucked or they were so introverted that you never knew what they were thinking.

      My guess is that in the “cool personality” department, William Axl Bailey will not be at the top of the list.

      Looking forward to pictures of the new guitar. What kind of pickups?

      • John Eterno says:

        HaHa! No need for the intervention. They boys get plenty of my attention.

        As for pickups, they are Seymour Duncans. A “pearly gates” in the neck and a “custom custom” in the bridge. Warm but rockin! And the guitar itself is swamp ash. Figured I better get one of these before all the north american swamp ash is gone from this planet.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Can’t beat Seymour Duncans. I had an Alnico put in the bridge of my Flying V and it smokes. I’m sort of afraid to play with it because there are lots of planes and helicopters flying overhead, and I worry that the pickup could bring one of them down, yanno? Still, bringing down a military helicopter while shredding would be a pretty metal thing to do.

        • John Eterno says:

          Alnico 5′s are what is in my Les Paul, very smooth. Slash uses the “2′s”. Some of those suckers are so HOT they will melt your pick anyone standing to close to the front of your guitar. Take the chance and play. Maybe a new no-fly zone will be declared for San Diego California. I’ll keep watching the news for that.

  20. jmblaine says:

    Oh man
    if TNB was about
    38% more like this
    I would be a happy man.

    Love Mick’s stuff.
    Love it.

    Adler was a trainwreck
    & he played behind the beat
    but Adler’s sloppy jazz
    & Duff’s punk ferocity
    the tension of the drums behind the beat
    & the bass racing
    in my opinion
    is what made Appetite.

    we could discuss
    all this all day.

    Post of the Year

    • Joe Daly says:

      Thanks, man. I wish we
      had discussed more about GnR
      but I fear that’s old hat for Mick so
      I resisted the urge to focus more
      on GnR.

      I’m fascinated that he thinks Chinese
      Democracy
      is a great album, though
      not a Guns and Roses album. I thought
      it was just alright. In fact, here is my take on
      that record:

      Chinese Democracy, by Guns n Roses, should have been called The State Fair Album, by The Axl Rose project. At a State Fair, there is wide variety of food and drink to fill your belly. The food is usually dressed up sexier than it needs to be (i.e. deep fried Snickers bars), but you’re fascinated by the concept, so you dive in. At the State Fair, you end up taking in a wide sampling of foods, all of which taste OK at first, but which later turn out to be forgettable, regrettable, or downright bad for you.

      Likewise, Chinese Democracy/The State Fair Album took fifteen years to make, so it reflects the music styles, popular genres, and production technologies that emerged over the course of that time. Fifteen years is a hellaciously long time in the music industry, and so it’s no surprise that the record has no theme- it’s like a Sounds of the Decade Sampler Disc- a little rock, some industrial, a bit of flamenco, etc. It’s not bad when you first hear it. In fact, it tastes pretty good. You end up going back to a couple of the songs because they’re downright tasty.

      Then you go home and forget about the album. Later, you listen to something more real and substantial, like anything off of Appetite for Destruction and you go, “Oh yeah- that’s what it’s supposed to sound like.”

      Your comments about Adler and Duff
      stopped me in my tracks. I never thought
      of it that way, so now I need
      to put that album on and listen to
      the rhythm section. Maybe I can find a
      way to isolate the tracks.

      Thanks for the comment, JMB. Rock on.

      • My friend came over to China from Scotland a couple of weeks ago and had Chinese Democracy in his hand luggage…. It was confiscated and he was reprimanded for being an idiot. Presumably the authorities were concerned the album was subversive rather than just shit.

        • Joe Daly says:

          I’d think that if the Chinese government were shrewd enough, they might promote the hell out of it to try and convince people that it was the total embodiment of American thought and culture. That would most certainly dull anyone’s appetite for America.

        • Haha. I like the way you think. But no, they’re not that shrewd. They will continue to blanket ban everything until the holes in their blanket let through enough that the people revolt. Ah well. Let’s hope it all goes down peacefully.

        • Joe Daly says:

          >>Let’s hope it all goes down peacefully.<<

          Yep- I’ll work on that as soon as I finish hoping that my right hand turns into a vagina.

          Btw- back to Glasgow in June. Aye!

      • Mick Wall says:

        Just a quick insert to answer a couple of questions from you guys. I was lucky to interview and write about a few people who I liked as people and whose music I dug too. Ozzy Osbourne, top of the list, people-wise (music-wise, Sabbath not th solo stuff). Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy was also a major trip as I was very young when we worked together and I really did go home at night and play his records. Also Steve Harris of Iron Maiden (a really top guy). There were others too, Like Anthony Keidis and David Bowie, but tellingly I only met them a couple of times so you have to factor that in too, like I didn’t really get to know them properly. Music-wise, Jimmy Page, who I still like very much as a person actually, just wish he’d be brave enough to come out and say what it is inside, either musically or some other way. Slash, too, even though he’s a bit of a baby, hiding behind his hair. And Axl, who always made great music just has some really serious personal issues way beyond the selfish crazy rock star thing. If I could reach out to any of them it would be him. The truth is none of us are all good or all bad and nobody that ever made great music didn’t also make some far less interesting stuff too along the way. Don’t know fi that helps but it’s a try…

        • Gloria says:

          Mick, I love that you replied here. I’m really curious if you could reach out to Axl, what would you say. I understand if that’s too personal, and I apologize if it is, but I’d love to know if you’re up for saying.

          Cheers to you and this great interview,
          Gloria

        • Mick Wall says:

          I would try and tell him that it’s all right, to stop stressing, to let go. Truthfully, I have no idea how I might be able to get through, plenty of others have tried and failed. I think he just needs someone who doesn’t want to get anything out of the association. A friend. Or at least a pal who doesn’t give a shit what his name is. God, this all sounds so lame. I don’t know what I’d say. I just think someone has to reach out, hold out a hand, no strings attached, say hi. That’s all.

  21. Hank Cherry says:

    I think the Peter Grant Richard Cole story of Zeppelin might well be the best in rock. Everyone hears about how Brian Epstein made the Beatles, but was rotten with money, and then died. Andrew Loog Oldham managed the Stones in a similar fashion. The Who went through managers too. But Zep had Peter Grant, and his soldier, Richard Cole. Grant was a gangster. And that story is like a movie everytime I hear some other part of it.

    Great interview here.

    Thanks!

  22. Mick Wall says:

    One quick final word. This is the best response I’ve ever had to any interview I’ve done. The credit for that must surely go to Joe Daly for setting the whole thing up and asking the right questions. Didn’t know about this site either but do now and am definitely into it. If anybody out there ever needs anything else you can always get me at [email protected], or through Joe. Huge thanks to one and all. Mick

  23. [...] my recent interview with author Mick Wall, he discussed his upcoming Metallica biography, clarifying that his account was told from the [...]

  24. [...] my recent interview with author Mick Wall, he discussed his upcoming Metallica biography, clarifying that his account was told from the [...]

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    The Nervous Breakdown…

  26. [...] “Duff” McK­a­gan, AC/DC’s Mark Evans, Slipknot’s Corey Tay­lor and rock jour­nal­ist Mick Wall to name just a few. And if you still have any doubts about Joe Daly’s music bad-assery, just look [...]

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  28. Sean Atkinson says:

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/42640399682/?fref=ts

    The above link is my facebook group all about my friend former Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole. He of ten comes on the group and does question & answer sessions. PLease anyone seeing this feel free to join and add any NEW pictures or stories. Cheers.

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