Which albums did you first listen to and still love?
I think the first proper album I ever bought was the first one by System of a Down. I must admit I have cooled to them a bit over the years. If I do listen to metal now it is usually the 80’s stuff because there’s something more joyous about it from back then compared to the new wave of metal that doesn’t have that. As I developed more stresses in my life I have come to appreciate the bands from those times. I know of and have been told that there’s Steel Panther. I don’t know much of their stuff but have heard good things.
When Iron Man 2 came out that was the first time I really listened to AC/DC. I went to see Iron Man 2 and before the film came on, they had the black screen and played the entire album. It is like an AC/DC best of. I realised this is really fun, there is nothing about this makes me feel anxious or annoyed. It is music I can listen to at any time in any mood. Not so much Back in Black but the others like “Shoot to Thrill”. There’s no transition between them they are just good damn fun.
I was at the gig that was here last night and I can’t remember which band it was. But what I liked is that type of music of all its pomp and image of being deathly serious. It really isn’t, it is honest and has a sense of humour. I don’t listen to metal that often but I have such a great affection for it.
As for System of Down for a couple of years I got such an enjoyment out of that album. My interest did drop off a bit. Because with bands of SOAD you rely more on having a high opinion of what they are talking about. What drew me to them was the melody they focussed on more so than what other bands had been.
Oh but… Rage Against The machine… time just doesn’t affect Rage against the Machine. They are the real stand-out of that period. Although it’s angry it’s so great listening to them.
Muse also – Origin of Symmetry. I had a lot of love for that. Black holes and revelations opening and closing tracks are some of my favourites, it’s a song that works on its own, but is part of something bigger. It’s Dark Side of the Moon level.
What do you listen to at the moment?
I don’t actually listen to many albums much anymore. My music choices recently have been more upbeat and poppy… not contemporary pop like. But Huey Lewis and the News or Randy Newman. Some of the 70s and 80s Randy Newman stuff before he did Disney soundtracks. I play piano so I look at melody, that makes me interested in music. Tom Waits as well, there’s a guy who can exist in the arena of metal exclusively and be very successful. I went to see him live in Edinburgh; the only gig in the UK he has done in something like twenty years, the only one he has ever done in Scotland. I was able to get tickets. It was one of those things I could tick off the list. The list would be See Tom Waits Live, Meeting Chris Morris….
Hold on… Chris Morris of Brass Eye? Tell me more?
I met him at the screening of his movie Four Lions. Preview screening. I got to speak to him and he was lovely. Life goal posts always move, they are always moving but there are something’s that you do that make you think, after that you can die a little bit happier and that is definitely one. Another is becoming a professional artist. I’m now doing my first Dredd story. I did my first Dredd cover recently (which is up on the wall in front of us).
How did you get into doing Dredd, so to speak?
I entered a portfolio competition at Thought Bubble. The first year they did it, I came second. The next year I entered again and first prize was to do a four page strip of the comic. I came second again. Third year I won and got a four page Terror Tale and within a month I was asked to do a series. I’ve been working on and off ever since with them.
What appealed to me about Dredd is the history of great artists that have worked in this. Brian Bolland is my biggest influence. His 80’s Dredd stuff is unsurpassed in my mind, in black and white and his Batman story. I discovered his Killing Joke and his Dredd work in my early twenties.
But Mark Bagley the Spiderman artist was the first guy who got me into this stuff. I love his work. There is quite a lot of similarity between Brian and Mark and they are my two biggest influence.
I love clean work, work that looks finished, and I didn’t develop an appreciation for the rougher and emotive work until later.
Why do you think 2000AD and rock go well together?
I think, because the both sort of came out at the same time. Both had the same influence socially. 2000AD has that punk sensibility. I think Dredd because of the biker gear and his bike is something that appeals to a metal audience. There is an emphesis on horror in 2000AD which has stronger material that you might find in another book. I think people appreciate it. It just blends well with that audience.
I think because none of it is taken too seriously. If something thinks of itself of being intellectual it’s difficult for anybody who is remotely self conscience to take it seriously. But if it doesn’t take itself too seriously then it takes the pressure off. You can enjoy it without feeling like you’re making a statement about yourself. That is where the Matrix films went wrong; they got caught up with how intellectual and philosophical they were. it was very off putting for me. It had too much to want to say. If it had that wee bit more John Carpenter awareness about it.
I love John Carpenter; I can watch one of his films any time. From that era of The Fog, The Thing and They Live. I love those films. They Live, that’s a film that has a lot to say but has that awareness to know when to stop. John Carpenter is superb at knowing what to put in the plot when to have the fight scene and all that.
What did you think of the two Dredd films that were made?
The Stallone film is erased from history by people, that in a way it has become underrated. There are things about it that are good, believe it or not. The cinematography is very good and it looks beautiful. And I know in areas it is too glossy on an interpretation of Dredd. The cinematographer of the first Dredd film is respected/established. I think he did the Godfather or a film of that magnitude; I can’t remember which off the top of my head. It does looks great, it had a big budget to go into Dredd’s world for 90 minutes and you can do worse than the Stallone Dredd. It’s not a great representation of the character or politics, but aesthetic elements such as the Angel bit are quite satisfying.
The Karl Urban’s Dredd is far superior. Dredd himself is pretty perfect in that film. The little adjustments to his costumes, the world they made was great. It did lose a little bit of the humour, but I can understand why it had to do that, so it could distinguish itself from the 90s one. It had to make a clear statement.
If Dredd was to listen to music, what would it be?
I don’t think he would allow himself of the indulgence of any artistic pursuit of enjoyment. Dredd is a very functional utilitarian. Personal pleasure wouldn’t feature for him. But if you had to speculate then what he would get the most pleasure from… maybe Wagner, if you think about the connotation of Wagner.
I said Jazz
Oh, No…That would be too much of a freedom of some sorts.
The reason for Wagner is because it’s militant and associated with war and oppression… that is very much not a positive thing at all. Dredd is slightly more sympathetic and practical that what the world would suggest. You can enjoy Wagner without the connotation and beliefs of the person who wrote it. It is good music, it’s compromising. Wagner it is difficult to enjoy without feeling guilty.
Thanks for your time!