Jeb Wright is the founding writer behind the web site 'Classic Rock Revisited'. For over a decade Jeb's site has featured interviews with some of the biggest names in classic rock, and most recently Jeb has compiled some of his interviews in a book - "Stadium Rock" -- available at www.classicrockrevisited.com and reviewed in the July Reviews section of Universal Wheels. I recently interviewed Jeb about the web-site's success and his new book!
Your web site ClassicRockRevisited.com is now 10 years old and you've managed to feature loads of big name rockers. How did you manage to set up such a good list of contacts and interviews in a short time?
Thanks Kevin. Actually, ten years is a long time! Over time, I continue to promote myself and the artists who work with us. I keep in touch with artists, publicity people, management folks...you name it. I don't bother them or stalk them, I just keep my name out there, try to act professionally at all times and make friends with them. Classic Rock is a big family anymore. You deal with the same people a lot and then network out with people they know. You have to be willing to work your arse off, be on time and churn out excellent product, which I think www.classicrockrevisited.com does.
You were never a rock writer or critic before the site, were you fairly nervous about any of it in the beginning?
Oh man...My first several dozen interviews I would get nervous as hell. Going backstage I must have looked like a wide-eyed teenager. I still get nervous with a big A List name. I am a fan first and don't think I can become a jaded rock critic no matter how hard I try!
Classic Rock Revisited includes more than just your own work!? Can you tell me how many people are now involved in the site and how much time you put in to keep the interviews and news getting out there?
The main people, other than myself, are Dan Wall, who has contributed concert reviews for ten years and Ryan Sparks, who is my right hand man. We have had a few others send stuff in from time to time, but right now this is it. Dave Brasner from VH1 sends us news on a daily basis and that helps a lot too. I spend at least two hours a night on the site with news and behind the scenes stuff. Plus several more hours a week doing the business end and then at least eight hours on the weekend transcribing interviews. This does not include doing the interviews, traveling to concerts or other duties. It is a full time job. You better love writing, dealing with people and rock n' roll if you are going to do this.
Can you tell me a bit about your own musical favs growing up? Favorite bands, concerts, albums?
My grandparents, Max and Margaret Baker, grew up next door to Orville and Ida Williams, whose son is Rich Williams of the band Kansas. Naturally, Kansas is one of my favorite bands. I love hard rock guitar like AC/DC, Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden. I also dig softer stuff like Dire Straits and Gary Moore a lot. I enjoy Uli Jon Roth, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple... Just about any rock with great guitar playing. Ted Nugent one my first guitar hero. I first heard a record of his when I was eleven years old. The music blew me away and changed my life forever. My first real concert was Van Halen, back when they had long hair and rocked. It also changed my life. I got hooked and found myself in the loco indi record stores every other day checking out new bands. From Triumph to Zeppelin to Floyd to Bad Company to Fleetwood Mac, I just soaked it all in. I still have an intense love of rock music. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't listen to my iPod for several hours a day. For instance, right now, as I type I am listening to "Down Payment Blues" by AC/DC. Next up, as I hit the right arrow.... is "Baby Please Don't Go" from Nuge's live album.
Why a book of interviews and at this point?
Why not? It was fun. It has been ten years and I wanted to be able to read my interviews on the toilet. Balancing the laptop on the crapper was bitch but a nice little book is very easy.
How did you choose the interviews in Stadium Rock from all the great ones posted at the web site?
I wanted a mix of years and I wanted some cool names. I just went through the achieves and picked them out. No real reason to it. These are not my best in my opinion, although some of them are pretty close, like the Steve Miller and Boston interviews. I just wanted a cross mixture of bands that are classic rock. I wish I could say there was more reason to it but there was not.
What is your approach to interviews -- planned out or pretty casual? You seem to have a good repore and get a lot out of guys like Nugent, Tom Scholz, Paul Rodgers, etc...
Thanks man. You mention Rodgers and Nuge and I have to be honest, I have gotten to know them a bit. Paul and his wife are classy people and they have been very good to the site, promoting it and giving us interviews. Right now, I am even giving away a copy of Paul Rodgers Live in Glascow with a purchase of my book, while supplies last. I don't know Nugent as well but he remembers me when I see him and talk. We have done so many interviews that I think we get comfortable talking with each other.
My approach will vary. If I know the subject matter like the back of my hand then it is casual and I don't really prepare. I might jot down a few ideas or things I want to remember to ask but it is mostly just a conversation. If I don't know the subject as well then I research but not to the point the spontaneity is taken away from the interview. I prefer to be knowledgably but not too prepared. Plus, I listen carefully and change directions on a dime during that chat if something comes up. If in person, I look em in the eye the whole time and I go with what ever direction they want to go. On the phone, I may be eating a Twinkie and in my boxer shorts... just kicking back. But just because I am casual does not mean that I won't ask a tough question or bring up something that I may not agree with them about. I try to just treat them like human beings. Most of the time I admire them but I remember they are still just people. The only one who is not is Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. He is a god among men. I feel like I should be saluting him when I interview him. Others, like Uriah Heep's Mick Box, are just sweet people who seem to enjoy talking to me as much as I enjoy talking to them.
Over the years can you give me perhaps an interview that went far better than you had hoped and one that did not work out? [Any interesting stories?]
Oh... there are so many. Most of them went really good. One that was far more interesting than I thought it would be was Michael Sweet of Stryper and now with Boston too. He is a cool ass dude. The interview with Phil Ehart of Kansas is a favorite of mine. I ended up becoming friends with Kevin Dubrow and would even go out to eat with him when I was in Vegas. But our first interview sucked. He was not into it and was going through the motions. I was not happy so I told him this interview was terrible. He apologized and told me he was bored and had several interviews and just wanted to jam on some Blodwyn Pig. I told him I loved Mick Abrahams and Blodwyn Pig and we spent the next hour and a half talking about obscure rock bands we both loved. Another time, Don Dokken was asleep, drunk, hungover or stoned. It sucked so bad I stopped the interview and went on with my day. I was not really mad at him but I thought it was a waste of time. Two guys that can keep you glued to their voice are Mick Box and Ken Hensley from Uriah Heep. They both are amazing to talk to and have such amazing stories. I love talking to them. Same with Ian Gillan. He was fucking naked the last time I talked to him on a phone interview. I was like, "Why are you telling me this?" Another time, Uncle Ted Nugent told me he was sitting around in his underwear watching deer outside of his window. I was like, "Ted, put some pants on, man." Rich Williams from Kansas is a great storyteller as well.
Who has [have] been the nicest rock stars you've met? [For me - I find a few [like Stuart Smith] always make a point of keeping me posted on new things and making sure I get a new release right away]
Stuart the biggest asshole I have ever met. JUST KIDDING. Stuart is a fine guitar player and a great guy. I love talking with him. Sweet really rocks with him on guitar but I miss his Heaven and Hell band as they kicked butt. You nailed it with Ted Nugent and Paul Rodgers. Ted is radical but he is genuine. I get along great with Dennis Dunaway, Phil Collen of Def Leppard and Joe Bouchard, who used to be in Blue Oyster Cult. Howard Leese is another one I call a friend.. Roger Earl of Foghat is an amazing person. He cooked me dinner in his houseboat one night in Long Island. I like Rich and Phil a lot from Kansas and Van McClain of Shooting Star too. There are so many that I now call friends. Doug Aldridge of Whitesnake is one of the nicest guys you can ever meet and Herman Rarebell, who was the Scorpions drummer back in the day, is a hoot. There are not many that I have met and got to know that I don't like. You don't want to be a fan boy, though. Remember when I said treat them like people? That is the trick. Some people you get along with better than others in life. Interviewing and getting to know rock stars is no different.
I presume there is plans for a 2nd volume? Or any kind of rock book?
I want to put out a metal book. I have broke even on the first one so I will likely reinvest in a metal book of interviews. There is rock n' roll road trip book I am working on as well. That one will come out someday and it is pretty fun to write. I get to celebrate music, tell stories, bitch about the current state of music and the world...I think that one could be a good one.
Do you read a lot of Rock books? Any favorite rock books?
my fair share. I love my buddy Martin Popoff's books. I have read almost
everything he has done. His books on Rush and Sabbath are spellbinding.
Oddly enough, I don't really read books all that much. I like to write more
than read. I LOVE Classic Rock Magazine and I love to read my interviews
when they are in Goldmine magazine. Still, reading is not near as much fun
as writing. I look at it like watching porn and having sex. Watching porn
is fun and a great way to kill time. Doing it, however, kicks porns ass.
Still, if you watch porn then you might learn something that will help you
while you are doing it. But if you watch too much porn then you will lose
your originality and just do it like everyone else. So, I like to read but
not too much. I want to remain my own person with my own voice. I would
rather do it than read about it -- or watch it.
Interview: © Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels, July 2009