We recently caught up with Joel McIver, one of the latest additions to BIMM Birmingham’s Music Journalism faculty, for a chat about his prolific journalism career so far; including being the editor of Bass Guitar Magazine, his many brushes with fame and his upcoming teaching plans for his journalism students.
Who are you?
Joel McIver, bestselling author and journo’.
What department are you joining at BIMM?
Music Journalism at Birmingham.
Can you sum up your career highlights in the music industry up until this point?
As of mid-2018 I’ve written 30 books, with 75 more in translation, and thousands of magazine and newspaper articles, so I’ve met a lot of people, and some of these were literally life-changing for me.
I recall helping Bob Geldof write a letter to the Pope. Having a laugh with Ozzy. Talking credibility with John Lydon. Breakfast with Sting. Dave Grohl, Lars Ulrich and others doing forewords for my books.
I remember John Williams, the classical guitarist, trying to speak down to my level. Drinking with Lemmy, of course. Having a laugh with the godly Jack Bruce. Meeting Tom Jones, Mike Oldfield, Michael Nyman the composer, Clive James the thinker, John Simm the TV actor, Sir Patrick Moore the astronomer, Katie Price the ditzy model. Having a curry with Rick Wakeman.
Hundreds more musicians: Bryan Adams, Michael Hutchence, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Marr, Jon Bon Jovi, James Dean Bradfield, Ian Brown, Andrew Eldritch, James Hetfield. Film and TV people too: Adrian Edmondson, Guy Ritchie, Irvine Welsh, Steven Seagal, Harry Dean Stanton. Gene Simmons phoning me up, and my wife answering the phone and being left speechless. Going to Duran Duran bassist John Taylor’s house for a photoshoot and playing his basses. Marc Almond talking about the road accident that nearly killed him. Gary Numan talking about the plane accident that nearly killed him. Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden inviting me onto his BBC radio show and telling me “What an amazing career you’ve had”.
Alice Cooper in shock, the week of 9/11. Mike Patton and Billy Gould of Faith No More; Green Day; Peter Gabriel meeting my daughter when she was a few months old. Queens Of The Stone Age, Machine Head. Ice-T telling me about life in the army. Stewart Copeland teaching me Italian swear words. Standing on stage at Ronnie Scott’s and pretending to be Miles Davis. Asking Liam Howlett of the Prodigy about Rage Against The Machine. Exchanging fanboy tales about Randy Rhoads and Deep Purple with Tom Morello. Telling Slash I’d heard him swear on kids’ TV and him being mortified. Tom Gabriel Fischer of Celtic Frost gleefully reading me a bad review I’d written of his recent album, and me being mortified.
It goes on and on – I’ve been doing this for 21 years and have done about 1500 interviews. Most of all, the autobiographies I’ve co-written – of Glenn Hughes, David Ellefson, Woody Woodmansey and Max Cavalera. I did between 30 and 60 hours of interviews with each guy, which gives you a viewpoint into their heads that no-one else gets – not their bandmates, wives or children. It’s quite a responsibility!
What are you most excited about teaching the students?
My students will learn that it’s easier than you think to achieve your goals if you stay focused, maintain a tight schedule and don’t drink too much coffee.
Name your top 5 records of all time?
You can follow Joel online via the following social media links.
Image c/o Andy Knight.