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Interview with Martin Popoff
(Bravewords & Bloody Knuckles)


Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: March 2007

Brian Rademacher: Hello Martin and welcome to Rockeyez.com! Letís go back to your youth. Do you remember the first time you started writing story about music?

Martin: Oh, god I wasnít that young, I would guess I was in my late twenties because the first thing I actually started writing was that very first reviews book. I put in hundreds and hundreds of reviews I self published. I had seventeen books now and the first one I self published because I was a print broker at the time. I was just a crazy music fans for like twenty years before I wrote anything.

Brian Rademacher: What were some of the bands you were listening to back then?

Martin: The first stuff wasnít even metal. It was CCR, THREE DOG NIGHT, and STEPPENWOLF. I donít know why that crossed my path, but right after that it went into NAZARETH, LOUD N PROUD, and KISS, I got ďDressed to KillĒ when it was released, and ďSABBATH Vol.4Ē. It was 1973/74 I was about ten or eleven at the time.

Brian Rademacher: The very first concert you attended what kind of impact did it have on you?

Martin: Huge, I lived in Trail B.C in the interior of British Columbia ten thousand people. At the local hockey rink I saw a band there called the KARROLL BROTHERS who were amazing and were a power trio that whipped there guitars. I saw APRIL WINE as well but the very first big concert was in Spokane Washington and there I saw Ted Nugent backed up by Rex and BE BOP DELUXE. I am trying to track down Rex for an interview but it seems, heís nowhere to be found. That red Rex album was a super heavy album for the time.

Brian Rademacher: Do you remember the first music star you met and what kind of reaction did it have on you?

Martin: First I met was Kim Mitchell which the lead of MAX WEBSTER then a solo artist. He is a big DJ now here in Toronto. That guy is still one of my top three guitarists of all time along with Billy Gibbons and Brian May. Heís a local Toronto guy that really never it famous but is incredible. The first interview I ever did was pretty big with Trent Reznor of NIN when they were huge, that was pretty nerve racking. That was a phone interview. Its cool meeting these guys and itís really the high point of the whole career.

Brian Rademacher: Tell me in your writings do you ever sit face to face with the artist that you are writing about or is it by phone?

Martin: Many times! Hundreds and hundred. My favorite is talking with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. BLACK SABBATH I met a couple times. That might have been my favorite time is when Tim Henderson and myself of Bloody Knuckles went down and interviewed all of BLACK SABBATH for their reunion tour.

Brian Rademacher: I hope we get that kind of status; the biggest thing so far is that we got invited to the Hustlers party in New York this year. (...Both laughing...) Are there a lot of stipulations when writing a book?

Martin: No not really. I wrote about six biographies on bands and only the authorized RUSH book the band knew about, because they were going to sell it on tour. I think a book does nothing but help the band. I noticed from other writers, bands get really scary about a book. You almost donít want to do an authorized book, and you want to do it on the sly. My whole idea to write a book is only if I talked with the band twenty or thirty times. Thatís really it, the only stipulation is to basically do it without their blessing. Itís kinda weird and you feel bad about, but like I said a book can only help the band and I am a fan and I love these bands.

Brian Rademacher: Letís say the book you wrote on DIO. How much research do you do? You mention you talked to many members of DIO but did you talk with the man himself?

Martin: Many times, in fact him the most. A lot of that book was a lot of interviews with Ronnie and the rest of the members. I try to get some other information but I donít like to use to much outside press and I try not to use anything has been on the internet, because everyone read that stuff already. You want it to be fresh as possible.

Brian Rademacher: Does the artist get a rough draft of the book before it goes to print?

Martin: No, never! You never want to do that. They can sit on it, they can tell you things need to be changed; they can delete things they donít want fans to know. They can tell you they donít want it to come out at all. We did the Derek Riggs book and he was involved with that book and so was Rod Smallwood was involved and he cut out some things. It can slow down the process and sanitize it too much. Having said that, Rod was actually really good about it and worked pretty fast. I censor myself because I donít want to write something to hurt people. You write a book on SABBATH and you donít want to write something to hurt there families - I love those guys.

Brian Rademacher: Your latest book is on Derek Riggs and the artwork he does with IRON MAIDEN. Was it more difficult doing a book on an artist more then it is on a band?

Martin: It is because, that one is full color a big coffee table type book. Itís all about his art work so thereís not as much writing to do. I basically sat down with him and had some phone conversations and had him talk about some of the pictures and some in-jokes and things. The process is basically the same and put down the story and hope itís interesting. But with a band thereís more to dig into. I worked through various publisher, they have to go and make sure the photographers are happy with credit or paid something or free copies.

Brian Rademacher: Tell me how did you write a Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal?

Martin: It was the original reviews book from Ď93 and then the whole book came out in 1997 as one all-decades book with 3700 reviews. In 2003 we put out the Collectorís Guide Vol.1: the 70ís and that had 1400 reviews and then we did Collectorís Guide Vol. 2: the 80ís which had 3,000 reviews pr something. Now the biggest thing Iím working on is the 90ís and unfortunately, each one leaves out more and more stuff. The 90ís is going to be a huge amount of work with not a lot of pay. But itís the last one and it will continue with a good writer named David Perri. Iím too old for this. The 90ís will be about 450 pages with another 3500 reviews. We might take all three and put it in a box set. Itís funny but, the publisher of these and myself Ö we figured, and quite correctly, I think, at about 7,500 reviews, Iíve written more reviews than anyone ever has. We even started the process to get a Guinness Record for that, but it was too much paperwork.

Brian Rademacher: Are you working on a new book as we speak?

Martin: What I am doing is going to self publish a series of books about old classic albums, doing an interview with the guys about it and writing a big long essay about it. I am going to do a ton of old albums and write about them and hope people will take that ride - should be very cool. What Iíve done so far is write about an old MOUNTAIN album, MONTROSE, & CAPTAIN BEYOND I am trying to track down Jerry Shirley of HUMBLE PIE and FASTWAY. I want to do three, four, five, six of these things covering different eras. Iím writing about albums from 1968 to 1974 for hours every day right now and neglecting proper money-earning things! Itís like Iím the retired gentleman rock writerÖ except Iím not retired and should try make a proper jobís amount every year.

Brian Rademacher: How did you get involved with both Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and Bravewords.com?

Martin: Bravewords.com gets a huge amount of traffic. Basically Tim Henderson runs the whole thing and the magazine, the magazine we started on my photocopier in 1994 and I have been editor-in-chief since, but Timís the boss. I write a lot of reviews and interviews. Tim is driven to have the greatest music news site ever and heís doing it. And the board is just hopping with great discussion.

Brian Rademacher: Is this a full time job for people at Bravewords?

Martin: Itís a full time job for four of us, and we have a lot of part-time people, like about a dozen.

Brian Rademacher: Do you have any favorite drawings in the Derek Riggs book?

Martin: I love the thing he did for the cover, because I got to see that painted in action. I really like stuff around the Real Dead One and the Real Live One time. Thatís pretty cool. Probably my favorite MAIDEN album is ďPiece of MindĒ followed by ďKillersĒ. I love the fact that he made this uniformed thing that turned into the greatest merchandising machine of metal of all time. Derekís a good guy and his new wife Kim is cool tooÖ thatís been the other nice part of all this, meeting them, and the publisher, John. One of the best residuals of the book too, is getting Derek back working with MAIDEN, which seems to have happened.

Brian Rademacher: Do you have any original paintings?

Martin: No but the publisher does; the really cool thing about the originals is the size of them. Like the 45ís were originally painted the size of a 45 record cover and most of the albums were done album size - he paints pretty tiny.

Brian Rademacher: Tell us a little about your art work?

Martin: Itís been about ten years now and I was always good in art in school. My goal in terms of the best job in the whole world would be to paint album covers. But really I have a style I want to stick with and who knows if thatís the style bands would want? Really, albums cover art is not really, what it use to be like. Now people just get photos and work on them in Photoshop. Thatís fine because it looks great. But more then anything I would like to be a full time painter.

Brian Rademacher: What are some of your goals for the future?

Martin: I want to get that Ye Olde Metal thing out and we are working on a book about the art of the backstage pass. Iíve got to get that 90ís book done Ė the files are due in July, and then like I say, Iím done with that project.

Brian Rademacher: Was there any band that you never saw, you would have liked to?

Martin: Many of them, but off the top would be THIN LIZZY, LED ZEPPELIN and QUEEN. I would have loved to see the GRATEFUL DEAD back in the late 70ís with Donna and Keith in the band. Saw the BRIAN MAY BAND, and THE PAGE PLANT BAND which was amazing. Everyone from every age is going to miss something.

Brian Rademacher: Are you a family man?

Martin: Yes, Iím married and have a son.

Brian Rademacher: Martin, itís been a pleasure talking with you and wish you the best. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?

Martin: Keep visiting rockeyez, check out my books at martinpopoff.com Ė Iíve got the last copies anywhere of about five of them - and for what has been called ďthe CNN of metal news,Ē keep checking out bravewords.com. And hey, Bri, thanks for having me on the site.

 

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