Well … What. A. Year. I think I can safely say that 2014 has, without a doubt, been both the best and the worst year of my life. I have been to some amazing venues this year, seen some truly awesome bands and some not-so-good ones, too. I got to interview some idols, made some new friends and contacts, but I also lost my very dear and treasured Dad, whom I miss dreadfully. As I write this, am looking at a very uncertain, scary but exciting future, due to the decision to uproot my life and move on. I guess, as my God-mother recently told me, I’m not one to do things by halves …
With Rival Sons at a record signing session, Pie and Vinyl, Portsmouth, 08.12.14
Overall this year, so far I have had 75 pieces of writing published via Rock Regeneration, Do More Magazine, Get Your Rock Out, Bournemouth Echo, CultNoise Magazine, Red Dragon Records and my blog. I have seen 138 bands – of those, 114 of them I hadn’t seen before, and I have also managed to cross 17 bands off of my ‘essential must-see’ list. I went to 7 festivals, most of which were one day affairs. I also hit 2,000 views on my blog which I’m chuffed with.
There were several contenders for overall gig of the year, but there is no outright winner; I would have to say the Heaven’s Basement gig at the Electric Ballroom in March was epic, Download Festival was completely awesome (and I’m chuffed I saw so many bands to review) and the Winter Rocks Festival last week will go down as a highlight, purely because I got to meet some of my online friends who are also part of the Heaven’s Basement unofficial ‘family’ and of course, I got to see the band themselves play probably one of the sweatiest gigs ever (which was my 13th HB show, and hopefully not the last). There was also the small matter of finally being able to interview my favourite guitarist …
With Sid Glover, post-Winter Rocks Festival
Speaking of interviews, I conducted 32 of them, some by email, most face to face. I discovered so many fantastic bands this year that I had not seen or heard of previously, including Royal Blood, Butcher Babies, Anti-Mortem, Liberty Lies, Killer Be Killed, Feral Sun, The Killing Lights, The Answer, The Treatment, Dendera, Blackwolf, Blues Pills, California Breed, Dirty Thrills, Diamond Days, I Divide, Massive, Nothing More, Skillet, Theory Of A Deadman, The Vintage Caravan, Regulus, Glamour Of The Kill, Die So Fluid, Bad Touch, Brother and Bones, Reignwolf, The Family Ruin, Twenty Two Hundred and Wovenwar, just to name the ones that immediately spring to mind.
With Scott Sharp of Blackwolf
I made my radio presenting debut on Hope FM (which was sadly not repeated!), I had my first press wristband with Takedown Festival and my first AAA pass as Press Area Manager at ButserFest. I also got to interview Shappi Khorsandi and review her live show, which was fantastic, as I’m a big fan! I’ve applied to 5 magazines, two record companies and one PR company for work experience, all of whom I never heard back from, but I’ll keep trying.
There are people I know who have done phenomenally better than me this year, but I’m extremely proud of what I have achieved – mainly because most of what I have written has come out of me being cheeky, asking for review passes, badgering bands for interviews and basically making a nuisance of myself with PR companies. Although I have done nowhere near as much studying as I would have liked, I am still enrolled and it is my plan to press ahead with that in the new year, therefore I intend to cut right back on the reviewing (and yes, I mean it this time!). I hope to have the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism by the end of 2015.
I already have tickets for next year to see Glamour Of The Kill, Slipknot, Queen and Adam Lambert and for Download Festival, so 2015 is shaping up to rock even harder than this year. I have also had confirmation that I’m part of the official Takedown Festival Media Team, which has made my Christmas.
To those who thought I was doing this as a ‘hobby’ and that I would ‘get it out of my system’, I would like to say that I’ve had the best year, music-wise and I have no intention whatsoever of sitting back and using 2014 as a bunch of nice memories and nothing else. I passed that fork in the road and made my decision and now, I have every intention of heading in the right direction. I can’t wait for the next twelve months and I hope you’ll continue to share the journey with me! Bring. It. On.