An interview with the author of Music Journalism 101: if you write, you need to read this


Not many people would deny that the internet in general – and the online metal press in particular – is largely a cesspool of misinformed, poorly-written and grammatically-bereft filth (present company naturally excluded). There is, however, hope: it comes to us today in the form of Music Journalism 101, a new book by amazeballs warrior of metal Leticia Supple (Biodagar).

I first came across Leticia when she poached me from FasterLouder for her then new venture, Metal As Fuck. She became somewhat of a mentor for me, not only with my writing but also by trusting my untried photography skills enough to score me my first photo pit pass. Despite living quite some distance apart, we became friends – a friendship cemented by metal, a visit to Bon Scott’s grave, and much excessive drinking over the next few years. Although Metal As Fuck has since changed hands, Tish and I still work together on various projects and earlier this year I skipped Roadburn to go to her wedding. If that’s not dedication to a friendship I don’t know what is.

This book has been a long time coming, and having read various iterations from the beginning online course materials to the final version, I can honestly say it’s an excellent resource. I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask Leticia a few questions about it.

Goatlady: Tell us a little about your background – you’re a metalhead, a writer AND you’ve got some interesting claims to fame…

Biodagar: Haha interesting claims to fame? Well, I started music industry things as a teenager, when I was a member of The Push in Victoria. The principle was that teenagers need gigs to go to, and who best to organise them than their peers? I was the President of our group, and did all sorts of fun things like organising and stage managing gigs, front-of-house work, marketing and advertising (including design, distribution, radio ads), and helping out with the annual festival PushOver in various capacities. Then at uni, I started writing for the uni paper, fell in with the music writers, wrote a local metal column there, and forged relationships with people who headhunted me later. I’ve been writing music critique ever since. By trade I’m a professional writer and editor. I’ve edited theses, articles, assignments, textbooks, fiction, memoirs, health-related non-fiction, and a whole gamut of other things. And at one stage I was a board member of the Society of Editors (SA).. I’ve also written my own works, some of which have been published in anthologies, and some which I have … uh… not deemed good enough to bring to public shame.

G: As I understand it, the book developed from an online course you created some time ago. What was the original impetus behind creating these materials? And then what prompted you to make them into a book?

B: When I was running Metal as Fuck, and mentoring writers, I struck a lot of issues that caused me angst. So, what do you do as a writer/blogger? You formulate a response, post a blog, get it done. This happened enough to make me realise that there were no formal resources to point people to (other than editing resources, which I used daily anyway). This gave me the impetus to bring structure to my writing, and posted it progressively. Throughout the years I’ve gotten amazing feedback from people, which surprised me. I had no idea anybody ever read it!

When Tom (Valcanis) and I started collaborating on a series of essays in relation to rock journalism, I realised that hey there’s a market for this stuff. The essay series – still incomplete, and yet to be formed into a complete project – reignited my passion for it, while simultaneously pointing out the gaps in the resource.

Then, many years later, after promising the world the course in book form (seriously, it feels like a hundred years), I had some time. So I revisited it, rewrote a lot of it, incorporated more from the essays, and voila!

G: The book is peppered with personal anecdotes from interviews you’ve done, reviews you’ve written, gigs you’ve been to etc. What’s the highlight of your metal journo career so far? Is there someone you’ve really love to interview or a band you would really like to see live?

B: Argh I’m so vain, I love this question. I have three major highlights. The first is the first major interview I ever did. This was with the almighty Rob Halford. During this interview, I managed to stop him in his tracks with a question to which the response was, “In all the years I’ve been doing this, nobody has ever asked me that question.” I wish I could remember what it was! The second was Rob Cavestany coming out to find me immediately after a set, because he spotted me taking notes during a show; and Joey Vera telling me that on the way to Australia with Death Angel, they talked about the quality of my interviews during the flight. Joey told me, over a beer after a show, that it’s one of the best interviews he’d ever encountered. I nearly fell over!

But it’s all the little things, really. Like Rob Halford telling you he’d love to see Santa in a thong (we were talking about Christmas in summer, for context); Blackie Lawless getting all deep and meaningful on you – and finding out that your interview was great, everyone else’s was shite, but you were also the only female on the interview circuit. Having a band member run around after a show, on a mobile phone, telling everyone, I’m talking to AUSTRALIA and being excited. Getting voicemails left by major bands who got the time wrong; publicists being extremely happy by your ability to take an interview an hour ahead of schedule because you’re prepared. They offset the crap things like Biff Byford telling you the new Saxon will sound like Saxon, and being a bit surly because he was dragged out of the studio to take a phone call.

I would love to interview Lemmy, or Bruce Dickinson. Lemmy is God, Bruce would be a good challenge.

A band I would love to see live? Wow. SO MUCH CHOICE! Australia only generally gets the usual suspects. Can I have two? Twisted Sister and Skeletonwitch.

G: Other than the obvious fame, fortune and millions of adoring groupies, what do you hope will be the outcome of publishing this book?

B: I hope that people read it, love it, find value in it. I hope they send me emails telling me how helpful it is to them. I hope I get a second edition out of it. But if all else fails, the millions of adoring groupies will do. 😛

Music Journalism 101: The definitive resource for new and established writers is available now on Amazon and if you write about music in any capacity you should get yourself a copy.

~ by goatlady on August 4, 2013.

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