Author: Matt Everitt
Publisher: Laurence King
Originally, a semi-regular documentary series on BBC Radio 6 Music, also hosted by Matt Everitt, within this new book release, Everitt interviews 40 stars about those seminal First Time moments in their lives such as their first gigs, first musical memories and the like.
Curated and interviewed by Everitt, the book is organised and laid out in a simple yet efficient fashion. Let’s take ex-Orange Juice lead singer and successful singer-songwriter, Edywn Collins as an example.
Each section begins with a specially commissioned piece of art featuring the interviewee set within a piece of colourful graphic art. After that is a brief introduction of a page or so and then there’s six or so pages of simple Q&A. Actually, there’s a bit less than that. Around half of the final page is occupied with that interviewee’s playlist, available on Spotify, of “songs that are discussed in the interviews.” Well, that’s not strictly true but it provides a flavour of the interviewee’s work and the music that person enjoys.
These lists can, in themselves, be enlightening. John Lydon’s includes tracks from Can, Miles Davis and Roxy Music but also Kenny Rogers, Hawkwind and Abba.
What is nice is the array of small vignettes that accompany each answer. So, Collins’ first remembered awareness of music was Donovan’s single Jennifer Juniper. A small picture image of the sleeve can then be seen adjacent, in the margin, adding a minor visual treat. The sleeve art is a regular visitor to each interview. Collins has 16 of them, Kelis has 13, Michael Stipe has 12 but each offers an insight into the interviewee.
But back to Collins, questions include: What was your first emotional connection in music, your first band, did you enjoy your first single success, first musical influence and the like (Answers: Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Onyx, yes and Creedence Clearwater Revival.)
So, as you can see, the questions don’t necessary fall into the practical, they plug into the emotional too and, because of that, the Matt Everitt textual style can often be a free-form and haphazard reportage.
For example Debbie Harry talked about her band’s first trip to London, “It was sort of traumatic but it was great. We were opening for Television actually and we got a great response. Television got a great response. It wasn’t like we were going out as brothers for the cause. It was a little bit too competitive. We had some really terrible reviews first off – I think after the first trip I stayed in bed for a couple of weeks with the covers over my head from some scathing review – but it turned around.”
Possibly my favourite is Ex-Specials/Fun Boy Three man, Terry Hall and his dry humour. As a child, his departing sister left him her record player and collection of David Cassidy and David Essex records, “…you can never go wrong with a David,” he said. Although Hall first immersed himself in Bowie, “…another David but different to David Cassidy. I remember reading an interview with David Cassidy in Blue Jeans or Jackie and refused to do a photo session because he had a spot. I thought that sounded a brilliant job. It’s like, ‘How do you get to do a job where you can refuse because you’ve got a spot?”
Oh, and the Matt Everitt interviews that got anyway? Nick Cave (“…looms in my nightmares”), Prince (“wouldn’t let me record our conversation.”) and Amy Winehouse (“every interview…cancelled at the last moment. Until she ran out of moments.”)
Easy to read, easy to digest, immensely entertaining, fabulous, frolicking, fan-based fun. The hardback book is out now.
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