MJM. Hello Mr.Joel McIver. How you doing?
JM: Fine thanks!
MJM. You have 25 books written over the years and many more in translations. How does it feel when you look back?
JM: I’m really pleased, not with the number of books that I’ve written – although that is quite startling when I really think about it – but because I’ve managed to support my family and pay my bills for many years as a writer. It doesn’t matter what your job is, if you’re self-employed and a creative, it’s difficult to run a business. So yes, I’m very happy that things seem to be working out.
MJM. What inspired you to take up writing almost two decades ago?
JM: In 1997 I’d been a teacher for a few years and was bored, so I looked around for other options, and one of the small number of things I could do was write. I’ve always been a music geek so it made sense to move in that direction. It took me until 1999 to land a job as a staffer on a rock magazine and until 2004 to score a bestseller, which allowed me to quit my job and work from home, which I still do today. Funny, it’s easy to sum all that up in a paragraph now, but it took a hell of a lot of work at the time.
MJM. You have been actively involved with the metal scene the world over. How do you see the transition over the years?
JM: The music industry is dying on its arse because of file sharing, both through legal channels and otherwise. Thanks to people stealing MP3s for the last 15 years, record companies don’t have any money for new bands, so they invest in classic acts’ catalogs, where reissues are the real money. That said, the metal scene has managed to survive intact. If anything, there are too many metal bands out there, fighting for consumers’ money. I take my hat off to them, they haven’t given up.
MJM. For the autobiographies you have written, there has been a lot of collaboration with artists whereas for many of your biographies you have written it solely. How do you see the difference in working?
JM: It takes much longer to write, or co-write, someone’s autobiography, because you need to interview them and consult with them every step of the way. It’s a deeper experience, though, because you get inside someone’s head. Fortunately, the heads of the three musicians whose autobiographies I’ve written – Glenn Hughes, David Ellefson and Max Cavalera – are entertaining places to be.
MJM. So far down the line, what books of yours do you think has had a lasting impression among the readers?
JM: Easy – my Metallica and Cliff Burton biographies. The former was the first comprehensive Metallica book to be published, although I salute KJ Doughton’s excellent Metallica Unbound, and the Cliff story just needed to be told. They both turned out well. But I’ve had positive feedback from readers and critics about every book I’ve written, fortunately.
MJM. Your 2010 list of hundred greatest metal guitarists has had mixed responses. What was running through your mind, when you got to know about the responses?
JM: It didn’t get mixed responses, unless you include people whining on internet forums. Reviewer feedback and sales figures indicate that it was pretty popular. Basically I didn’t take any opinions on that book seriously unless they came from actual guitarists who understood my criteria and could apply my reasoning in a learned way.
MJM. How do you deal with criticism?
JM: Constructive criticism from reviewers who I respect is great, even when they don’t like my stuff. I welcome it. When it comes to negative criticism from people who don’t speak with authority, I let it slide. It used to bother me back in 2000 and 2001 when I was new to this, but after so many books it rolls off. Also, I’ve had thousands of emails, tweets and Facebook messages from readers by this point, and around 95% of them are positive, which gives me a pretty solid feeling that I’m doing something right.
MJM. The autobiography of Max Cavalera is much talked about. When is it due worldwide?
JM: Late April. I can’t wait for this to come out, it’s an incredible story.
MJM. What underground bands or artists have you discovered of late which has potential of making it big in the future?
JM: None, because I don’t keep my eye on the underground. Lots of people are more qualified than me to discover new bands.
MJM. Do you have plans of making any Metal documentaries, apart from writing?
JM: I’ve participated in a lot of documentaries as a talking head, but never actually produced any. That could be a future option though.
MJM. It was a pleasure talking to you Mr.Joel. It was great to have you with us.
JM: Likewise, and good luck with your magazine.