The Man Who Would Not Die

30 09 2008

Last week I got an opportunity to interview one of my heroes, former Wolfsbane/Iron Maiden warbler Blaze Bayley for the Belfast Telegraph. I was really excited about it. Scratch that. I was over the fucking moon about it. Sadly my excitement didn’t last long…

I rang Blaze on Thursday as arranged. He picked up the phone, sounding confused, panicked and upset. I immediately told him i was happy to reschedule and he seemed relieved. At that stage I was well aware of his wife/manager Debbie’s coma and totally understood why he mightn’t fancy talking to some Irish super-fan on the end of the phone when his soul mate was lying in a hospital bed.

So I rang him again the following day and was gutted to hear that Debbie suffered a second stroke a handful of hours beforehand. All reports coming from the Bayley camp was that she was out of the woods and on the mend. Blaze, the utter proffessional and fucking legend that he is, insisted on still doing the interview. Debbie worked hard to put this tour together, he reasoned, and he wanted to honour that. For 40minutes we talked about everything from my days being in a band attempting to play Wolfsbane covers to the time he accidentally covered me in his own blood at a particularly raucous gig in the Rosetta in Belfast. It was obvious Blaze was worried and hurt, but he made sure to be as attentive as possible.

The next day, I read that Debbie sadly passed away. Even though I’ve only met Blaze a few times and have never had the pleasure of his other half’s company, I felt quite upset about it, if I’m honest. Even a little choked up. He had known her all of his life and eventually,after years apart, they found each other again. They married shortly after and she set to work taking care of Blaze and nurturing him after a life-time of people fucking him over.

I’ve always found Blaze a fascinating character. For whatever reason he was made the scape-goat by the mainstream music press and self-appointed internet “experts” when the world of hard rock and metal when tits up in the mid-nineties and for a long time was held accountable for events that had very little to do with him. When he was sacked from Iron Maiden, an event which truth be told I’m still not comfortable with, he remained tight-lipped about what really went on and refused to dish the dirt/stick the boot in like Bruce Dickinson, Paul Di’Anno and countless others did, preferring to support the band and remain the consumate gentleman.

This morning I finally wrote up my interview. I felt a bit odd about it. Growing up, I was never the “newshound” type. There was only ever two things I wanted to do with my life-1) Play in a band 2) Be a freelance music journalist and in many ways I approach journalism differently to my peers/colleagues. For me, it’s all about conveying the excitement that I get when I first hear an ace new record rather than being a cold, hardened “reporter.” I’m a music fan first and foremost, so I guess writing up this feature was a little too close to the knuckle for what I usually do. Still, I’m proud of how it turned out.I just wish it was under different circumstances.

At the monent I’m listening to Blaze’s latest record ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ and thinking back to my final question to the former Dark Lord of Rock.

“If you had to go back in time and give one piece of advice to the Blaze Bayley of 1984, what would it be?” I said.

“Man,that’s a good question,” he said. “That’s such an interesting idea, isn’t it? I’d love to be able to travel back and help out a younger version of myself. In many ways the one thing I’ve always been guilty of doing throughout my life was never appreciating what I had until it was gone. Whether it was personally or proffessionally, I was always focused on what I was going to do NEXT instead of what I had acheived then. I think I pushed myself too much and wish I could’ve spent more time living in the moment. Sometimes life can be too short.”


R.I.P. Debbie.

Break a leg

29 09 2008

Last night I received a phone call from a promoter letting me know that Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls was involved in a car accident and did I want to come down to interview a few people about it. Cue me running around like the proverbial blue-arse fly to make it down in time, but I’m glad I made the effort.Below is my news piece on the show for and while I’m at it, here’s a link to a similar story that I wrote for Hot Press.


No rest for the wicked…



Apes and Japes

25 09 2008

Just a quick update, folks. On the shelves as we speak is the new issue of Hot Press featuring a rather marvelous feature with the band of the year Fight Like Apes. 


it’s swell-egant, so pick it up. 

My First Gig

23 09 2008

A few months ago, I was commissioned to write a piece about my first gig for the Belfast Telegraph. “Don’t worry about being cool, just write about what actually happened” was my brief, so I did.

Below is what i came up with.

My First Gig

Iron Maiden, Maysfield Leisure Centre, Belfast, January 31, 1996.


Back in 1996 I was a 16 year old struggling musician growing up in a council estate in Newry. At that point in my life I had been an Iron Maiden fanatic for nine years and counting and yes, you can safely assume from here on in that I was one of “those” people at school. After enduring some excruciatingly endless months of saving money since they announced their first NI headline show in an age, my wait finally came to an end on a cold wintery night in January.

            As myself and my former band-mate Joe boarded our rented mini-bus to Belfast ready for the night of our lives, we felt a little intimated by the sight of dozens of older, hairier men all glaring back at us, but our common love of the Irons bonded us together. Looking back on it now, it was probably more to do with the booze they were guzzling rather than a shared admiration for Steve Harris’ galloping bass-lines, but I digress. As we slowly trundled toward our destination I noticed that while I came armed with a lunchbox filled with two Dairylea sandwiches made earlier that day by my mum, everyone else brought beer and “funny cigarettes.” Yes dear readers, as if you couldn’t tell by now, it was obvious from the get-go that I rocked the hardest.

            By the time we reached Belfast I had started to relax a little but that was soon short lived as my calm was interrupted by the arrival of a brick through the mini-bus window. I turned around and the guy behind us was a mess. His face was a crimson mask and my newly found comrades were in an up-roar. I’ll be honest, I started to panic a little-but probably for the wrong reasons. I immediately thought to myself that I didn’t care how much blood was squirting out of his neck or how many of my bus-mates wanted to go back and kick some spide ass, I was going to see Maiden and nothing would stop me. Luckily the driver agreed and broke all speed limits to get us to Maysfield and then bring his injured passenger to the hospital. Result!

            As soon as I stepped out of the bus I was pounced on by the touts who must have smelled the fresh blood in the water. Almost instantly the fiver my dad gave me for a programme was spent on a dodgy bootleg t-shirt which I promptly put on as we ran(yes RAN) into the venue. Clearly someone upstairs was smiling on me as I spotted a place right at the very front and I made a bee-line straight for it. For the rest of the night my seven stone frame was crushed up against the barrier by a bald bloke with a beer belly that could make Johnny Vegas look svelte. For better or worse he would now be my new best friend and even though I was convinced he wanted to get to know me in a biblical manner, in many ways I was happy that he was acting as my giant fleshy cushion as the mosh pit looked fierce.

            As soon as Maiden came running onstage, the next two hours went by in a blur. I remember grabbing Janick Gers’ guitar, bassist Steve Harris grinning at me at I stood engulfed in a sea of beer guts and Maiden’s then singer Blaze Bayley singling me out and giving me a much appreciated thumbs up. Other than that it was all sounds, shouts and sweat and I loved it.

             After the gig we piled back onto the bus as the wind whistled through the giant hole in the window. I didn’t mind that it was the middle of winter and we were all freezing our nuts off, I was on a high from watching my heroes up close and personal. It didn’t matter that I would later get the worst flu of my life from the trip or that it would take a full week before I got my voice back, because I had the best night of my life. I never did get to eat those sandwiches though. Sorry mum!


Edwin McFee–back-in-the-day-13947221.html

let’s get the party started

11 09 2008

Ok, after a life-time spent mistrusting those odd little boxes that make funny noises (I hear cyber fans call them “com-put-ers”) I’ve decided to try to get to know the internet-world a little better and enter the realm of blogs. Needless to say, this won’t be an “I found a grey hair in my downstairs mix-up, oh woe is me” kinda thing. It’ll be about my adventures as a freelance music journalist and feature odd little stories about things that happen along the way, so buckle up and try not to take everything too seriously.

Just to recap, here are some of the things I’ve gotten up to recently. Over the summer I found myself at the Download Festival at Donington. While I’m by no means a metaller (though curiously these days the reflection looking back at me in the mirror would tell you otherwise) I was over there to see just two bands-KISS and Valient Thorr.Oh yeah, I was there to work too, but that’s besides the point… it was a fun weekend that saw us share a hotel with Motorhead,Ace Frehley and the aforementioned KISS and at one point I sang ‘Love Gun’ at 2am  in the corridors in the hope that Paul Stanley would pop his head out of his room and invite me in for some chat. As the Nu Hairy Cornflake that is Justin Lee Collins might say-“good times.”

After that was Morrissey and Siouxsie in Dublin then Iron Maiden at Twickenham, which was possibly the best time I’ve ever seen them. Those gigs were closely followed by Oxegen. Now Oxegen was a funny one this year. These days most internet types enjoy turning their nose up at the legion of GAA clad clans that frequent the festival, but they don’t bother me too much. I usually find a stern ‘go fuck yourself’ will ensure a safe and fun time. Most of my weekend was spent running around like a mental patient in order to write a few thousand words on-site trying to make the Hot Press deadline, but I can’t really complain.

After that it was Belsonic (while none of the line-up appealed to my tastes, it was cool to see an event like that in Belfast and for a brief moment it looked like a ‘proper’ city)then showing the NME around NI’s capital city, reviewing  Muse and Metallica in Dublin (I swear I’m not a metaller) and then I packed my bags to go off on tour with easily one of the best new bands around Fight Like Apes.I spent the weekend travelling with them as they played Reading and Leeds and enjoyed several surreal moments such as having a swordfish dinner with Brandon from the Killers and generally behaving like a degenerate in the middle of the day. I’ve lots of stories to tell about that weekend acutally, but will talk more about it later when the feature is published…

At the moment I’m getting ready to fly over to London to interview Cliff Richard (yep) then cover the Nickelback gig at the odyssey (double yep) so I will post more later.Promise.