Steve Lamacq, an English disc jockey, broadcaster and writer chats with Kevin Cooper about interviewing PJ Harvey, Bruce Springsteen’s mysterious milkshakes, his fond memories of Rock City and his forthcoming tour of his book Going Deaf For A living.

Steve Lamacq, sometimes known by his nickname Lammo (given to him by John Peel), is an English disc jockey, currently working with the BBC radio station BBC Radio 6 Music.

His career in journalism began as a junior reporter at the West Essex Gazette after studying Journalism at Harlow College, Essex. In similar fashion to other music journalists who started fanzines during their teenage years, Lamacq started one called A Pack Of Lies.

It was during his time at NME that he began DJing on XFM, when it was still a pirate radio station. He formed a record label in 1992 with Alan James and Tony Smith, called Deceptive Records. The majority of the label’s releases shared a punk-pop sensibility, with Elastica being their most successful signing, before the label eventually folded in 2001.

Between 1995 and 1997, Lamacq occasionally presented Top of the Pops on BBC One with fellow Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley. He has also presented the show alone on several occasions. Lamacq is a well-known fan of Colchester United Football Club and visited their training ground for his 50th birthday where he trained as a goalkeeper. He has written an autobiography, entitled Going Deaf For A Living.

He has presented his own radio shows on Radio 1; The Evening Session with Jo Whiley which he later went on to present on his own, on BBC Radio 6 Music and on Radio 2 where he played his own choice of music and introduced his listeners to both new and emerging artists. He has also appeared as a guest on the 5Live sport punditry show, Fighting Talk hosted by Colin Murray.

Currently touring to promote his autobiography, Going Deaf For A Living, Steve Lamacq took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Steve good afternoon how are you today?

(Laughter) bloody hell Kevin you are very punctual. I have just this minute pulled out my phone thinking ‘oh yes its twelve o’clock, Kevin will be calling’ and here you are (laughter).

There are two theories as to why I am punctual, the first one is that friends think that I can keep time like a drummer and the second is that sometimes the early bird catches the worm. So I like to be on time (laughter).

I would stick with the second one as you never know with the drummers. They are, to say the least, a very rare breed (laughter).

(Laughter) I have to say that I totally agree with you on that. Taking into consideration the drummers that I have had the pleasure of interviewing, I would have to say that is very true. Anyway swiftly moving on before we get ourselves into trouble, let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Oh no, thank you for talking to me today. It’s very nice of you.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life at the moment is not too bad, thanks for asking. I am very busy at the moment. As you know I will be going out on tour very shortly and let me tell you, I love nothing more than running away on tour (laughter). I am really looking forward to it.

Running away on tour as you put it, is something that you have always done isn’t it?

(Laughter) yes it is, I love the experience of going to all different places and following bands around on tour. So having the excuse to get out there and do it myself is great really. It’s also very nice for me to get out there and actually meet some of the people who listen to the show or who have known some of my work down the years. So yes I am really looking forward to it.

I have to tell you that you have got me rather nervous today.

Have I really, why’s that?

Well I have now undertaken over three hundred interviews over the past three years and during that time only one has not gone according to plan. But I have sat here this morning thinking to myself ‘just how do you interview the master interviewer’ (laughter).

(Laughter) really, well I will be totally honest with you and tell you that I cheat slightly nowadays by only interviewing people who I really want to interview (laughter). Obviously that then makes life a little easier.

Really, well I have to say that I have in the past found it to be totally the opposite. If I am to interview someone who I have personally admired for many years then there is always that possibility that it can go belly up isn’t there?

Oh goodness me, yes. There are times when things just do not go as you had hoped and planned that they would. A perfect example of that was the second time that I interviewed PJ Harvey. We did an interview when her first single came around and to be honest for the best part of the interview she was rather elusive. I remember saying to her at the end of the interview “you do know that you are going to have to do a lot of these types of interviews because I do believe that you are going to be very popular” and she looked at me slightly crestfallen. She replied “yes I know and I am a bit worried about that” and she was. I really do think that she struggled with the concept of opening up during interviews for a very long time.

When her debut album was released, the New Musical Express sent me down to Yeovil to interview her and it was certainly one of the most difficult interviews that I have ever done. I just wanted to say “your record is brilliant, can you tell me a bit more about it” but she was so guarded. She put two members of her band either side of her and each time that she didn’t like a question, without saying anything, she just looked to either her left or her right to one of the members of the band who had to answer for her (laughter). It was so bad bless her that she actually phoned her record company and said “do you want to phone Steve up and see if he needs anymore information because I don’t think that I have given him anything” (laughter). So yes, sometimes it can go alright, but other times it can go bloody wrong (laughter).

I am so pleased that you have said that because I really wanted to interview Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and I don’t know if Huey had had a bad day or not but the whole interview was appalling and after five minutes Huey called me a wanker and walked out (laughter).

(Laughter) no, really (laughter). I have to say that I think that was a bit harsh.

All that I was getting from him was ‘yes, no, yes, no’ so I said “this is going really well Huey” to which he replied “fuck off you wanker” and stormed out (laughter).

Man, we all have bad days but I agree with you, sometimes it is really hard. Having said that, I really do feel for some bands, particularly if they are on tour and the record label has organised a load of promos for them to do. It is alright if they have to do one or two days of it but I know from experience, having previously worked with Elastica when I had my own record label, Justine (Frischmann) basically did all of their promo stuff on her own so whilst the rest of the band were off having a fantastic time, she was constantly doing interviews during the day and then playing the gig in the evening. So I have to say that it probably is at times a little wearing on them.

I think that when the bands are over in America then that is when it really does take its toll. They have to be so polite to so many radio DJ’s who know absolutely nothing about the band. So I really do think that it can be quite a frustrating experience. Obviously Huey was having an off day and let me tell you I have had a couple of those so don’t take it personally (laughter). Once I was supposed to be interviewing Depeche Mode but then they pulled it at the very last moment. So I went live on air and did the interview, and asked the band, who was nowhere to be seen, the questions (laughter). It went something along the lines of ‘Depeche Mode are here and I am really looking forward to the release of their latest album as I’m sure they probably are’ (laughter).

I have never interviewed Morrissey. I was supposed to have interviewed him twice now but he actually pulled out of one of the interviews with me at a days’ notice. The second time was for 6 Music and he vanished so the radio promo guys called the hotel where he was staying the day before the interview in order to check the details for the following day and they were told that Morrissey had actually checked out. So the guys then started phoning around all of the places where they thought he might be, eventually phoning his mums house. When they asked “is Morrissey there” she replied “no, he isn’t” and the guys later told me that they could hear Morrissey in the background shouting “tell him I’m not here mum” (laughter).

One of the funniest interviews that I have ever done was when I got the chance to interview a certain Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert of Toots And The Maytals fame, prior to him playing Glastonbury. His PR gave me his number over in Jamaica and when I called I was told “him not here, him gone to his brothers” so I rang his brother’s house only to be told “him not here, him at his cousins” (laughter). I think that I called almost every house on Jamaica before I found him (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) man that’s a great story for the book; how I was given the run-around by Toots.

I have to say that he did make it up to me, we shared a bottle of Jack Daniels backstage at Rock City so all was well (laughter).

It’s an amazing place isn’t it Rock City. I have got incredibly fond memories of Rock City. I have DJ’d there quite a few times now. I actually DJ’d there on the Saturday before the charts were announced the week that Common People by Pulp was released, and we knew that Common People was selling really well and that it would probably go top five. As Jarvis Cocker later said “the lunatics had finally taken over the asylum” as Britpop had become a central thing in not only British pop music but also British culture. I remember playing Common People that night and the following day it went to number two in the charts. Whilst I was playing it I looked around at the crowd and everyone was so happy and you instantly knew this was their record; this was Pulp’s moment.

Do you have a favourite memory of Rock City?

Yes I do and funnily enough I was only thinking about this recently. The one moment that stands out in my mind about my time spent at Rock City was a Tuesday evening and it was the first night of the Blur Parklife Tour up there in Nottingham. It was such a great line-up including Sleeper, Salad and Blur that I thought ‘do you know what, I am going to pack myself off to there’ so I booked a hotel and got myself on the train up to Nottingham. So the opening night of the Parklife Tour really is something that I will never forget. Blur had been through a really wobbly period after their first chart hit and were seen at that time as underachievers, but I had been playing Girls And Boys quite a lot on the radio.

And once again, seeing this packed-out Rock City and the audience who were really into it, that was the point; that was the night that I knew that Britpop was really going to happen simply by watching the crowd’s reaction. It seemed like such a celebratory night and the new songs were really solid, even only having heard a few of them once or twice before on cassette. It was an absolute win for Blur and such a brilliant place to do it. The Nottingham crowd are really good when they get going, that main hall at Rock City really does rock once it gets going. I will never forget that night.

I suppose that we really should talk about your forthcoming tour, Going Deaf For A Living which isn’t just your story, it’s an exploration of the life of all music fans from the first record they buy to the best gig that they have ever seen. Are you looking forward to once again being out on the road?

Yes I am, really am. Even one of the guys who is promoting the tour hadn’t seen the show until I did it at The Roundhouse the other week and he came up to me afterwards and said “that’s not quite what I was expecting really”. So I asked him what he was expecting and he replied “I thought that you would be sitting down, theorising, and just delivering a speech of sorts but it is anything but that” (laughter). It is actually me trying to share a load of stories together with a load of experiences which I think that all of us as music fans have gone through. I actually subtitle the tour as ‘The Story Of A Music Fan’ because that is what I am really trying to vocalise.

I try to speak about the emotions which we go through as music fans from the moment that we fall in love with music; from the moment that we buy our first single, which is the very top of the slippery slope from then on and just how the insanity of being a pop fan overtakes us (laughter). I get the audience to fill out a short questionnaire before the show starts which asks them things like first single, first gig, together with an anecdote request section where they write down the name of a band that I might have an anecdote about, which I do in the second half of the show. I read out some of the audience’s first singles which is always very interesting.

I say that it is interesting because there is always, and I will be disappointed if this doesn’t happen in Nottingham, but there is always one person in the audience whose first single was Star Trekkin’ by The Firm which of course is absolutely fine because we have all got to start somewhere (laughter). The show includes, or at least I try to include, a list of the things that bands do to us just to irritate us. There is that first time that you realise that your favourite band has gone bad. You might not even realise that they have gone bad, but they have and that is the point at which you have to admit that they have gone bad.

That is the most terrible moment in any music fans life. I also take a look at just how the music audience has changed, and interestingly I look at how the age group of the average music audience has changed over the years. In my opinion it is far broader now than it was when I first started going to gigs. If you ever saw anyone over the age of thirty at a gig you thought that they had come in through the wrong door; ‘alright granddad what are you doing here’ (laughter). However, it is now the older generation who are just as responsible for dictating tastes as the younger generation. I personally feel that we are now finally seeing the end of the age gap when it comes to music.

If you are one of the kids of today, how on earth do you out punk rock your dad if your dad saw the Clash (laughter). So I cover that, together with the growth of the festival circuit. There are a few stories about things that I have seen behind the scenes at various festivals, together with anecdotes along the way. I have been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time on various occasions, for example I interviewed Nirvana before Sliver came out and even before they had signed to Geffen Records to make Nevermind back in 1991. I was lucky enough to interview the likes of Blur and Oasis; I was backstage at Red Rocks with Coldplay, and in fact there are some good stories to be had quite often at the bands expense. There are some anecdotes in there together with some theories and really it is just one music fan talking to a room full of music fans.

You mention the generation gap diminishing, when did that become noticeable?

I remember growing up watching Top Of The Pops during the Glam Rock of the 70s with my mum and dad sitting behind me on the settee hearing the classic line that your dad always said “is that a boy or a girl” whilst I was watching The Sweet (laughter). There was a generation gap which was quite good I think and was there for all to see. However, when it comes to the era of Britpop, if your mum sat on the settee humming along to Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis, then at that point the generation gap had gone. Having said all of that, I still haven’t worked out whether or not that is a good thing or a bad thing. It does certainly mean that when you go to gigs now, there is something quite comforting about seeing someone who is fifteen at a gig with their dad.

I sometimes wonder who has bought who (laughter). Is it the dad who has bought the son or has the son dragged the dad along (laughter). It’s interesting and to be honest I don’t think that it is a bad thing.

Do you think that the music industry is in a good place at this moment in time?

What I will say is that there are some good things and some bad things as there always are. I worry sometimes that the major labels at the top of the pile who have got the bigger budgets have almost once again taken control of things by having access to more important platforms such as the streaming platforms together with having much more to spend. So I think that the gap is once again starting to widen between the major labels and the Independent labels. Having said that, you still have things like Grime coming through where people are just doing it themselves. The majors simply can’t get to grips with how the Indies have managed to do it.

It is good that there is still a generation of DIY music entrepreneurs who can still sell the music industry a dummy. They can still put the ball through the major’s legs so to speak. That to me is interesting but it is still quite hard. It is harder now I think for British bands when in the old days they were simply in competition with other British bands. However, these days there is a whole world of bands that are your competition. So that makes things occasionally more difficult. I personally think that we could do with seeing more alternative music on the telly. It’s not a big ratings winner but it would certainly help to get the message out that we do make some bloody good music here in the UK. Whether it is good or bad I can’t really tell because I honestly feel that there are both good and bad bits but what I can say with a certain amount of certainty is that it is confusing (laughter).

Do you believe that there is a north-south divide when it comes to music?

It’s funny you asking me that because if I worry about something it is that London is becoming disconnected from certain parts of the rest of the country simply because it thinks that it knows best once again, which is a little worrying to say the least. There are some brilliant things happening north of Watford, certainly around Yorkshire and most definitely around Glasgow. They are simply getting on with things and doing it for themselves. Last year I went up to Hull and they have an unsigned festival which pulls in thirty thousand people which is completely all about the local community. I was speaking to some of the people up there who basically said “we don’t bother with London anymore, why would you” (laughter).

It’s hard finding where the middle actually is especially now that all of the music papers have disappeared. There used to be a route to where you wanted to get to but now that the British music press has been obliterated you have a load of different blogs but no central consensus of what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, the information is out there but it just means people have got to go out and find it.

Now I am going to turn things are their head and ask you what was the first record that you bought?

(Laughter) now this might give the game away because it is in the show. What I will tell you is that it was at the start of 1974, it was a number one single sung by a Glam Rock band but not the most fashionable of the Glam Rock bands.

This may also be in the show but I have to ask you, who did you first see performing live in concert?

That’s right, it is in the show but I will tell you this. It was a band called The Lurkers who were a west London punk band in the style of a British Ramones and I was thirteen at the time. Back then I used to think that gigs were like football matches, and the time on the ticket was when it kicked off (laughter). So as you can imagine I was there very early and it was very loud. My ears rang for three days afterwards but obviously I couldn’t tell my parents because they would have never let me go to a gig again. You have to remember that I grew up in a tiny little village in Essex where there was the proverbial duck pond, a village green, one shop, a church and the village pub.

That was it, one bus in and one bus out per week (laughter). So there was really very little in terms of excitement coming my way so I think that it was that night when my strange love and addiction for live music was well and truly born.

Putting you on the spot, what is the best gig that you have been to so far?

Attending the amount of gigs that you do you must also know this by now that your best gig ever changes all the time. Having said that my favourite gig at the moment has to be Billy Bragg’s gig at the Dublin Castle, which sounds posh but it is just a pub over in Camden as part of the Camden Crawl. That was a terrific night because Billy hadn’t played in small venues such as that for quite a while and it was clear to see that he was genuinely pleased to be back where he had been back in the early 80s when he was first starting out.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

The one song which I keep going back to which is guaranteed to make me weep uncontrollably is Valentine by Richard Hawley. That song came on the other day in the pub that I was in and it was a case of ‘I won’t be long, I’m just going to the toilet’ (laughter). I saw Richard Hawley doing a warm up gig for that album and I had played the track on air and openly admitted that I had moist eyes even before he had started to sing the bloody song. Standing immediately behind me at the gig was someone who had obviously been listening to the show who tapped me on the shoulder so I turned around with a small tear slowly running down my face and he was laughing at me and said “you weren’t lying then” (laughter).

You have mentioned festivals; Harvey Goldsmith was recently quoted as saying that ‘there are far too many festivals held here in the UK’. Would you agree with that?

This is a really hard question to answer isn’t it simply because I don’t know what he is basing it on? If he is saying that if you attend five festivals then you will see almost the same line-up at four of them, then yes he is correct but then again, you don’t have to go to that many festivals. The festivals that will still be around next year are all of the festivals that have found their own distinctive audiences I think. That is where the clever promoters manage to succeed by working out an audience for their specific festivals and I think that the Green Man and End Of The Road Festivals are both good examples of smaller festivals.

They have a sort of ethos which people like and who will go to almost regardless of who is on the bill really. I know a lot of people who swear by the End Of The Road Festival and who go every year not caring who is on. They go because they like the atmosphere of the festival.

There are still a lot of people out there who honestly believe that running a festival will make them millionaires overnight. That simply is not the case.

Yes that’s right, there are a lot of purely commercial festivals popping up simply because the organisers want to make a fast buck then I would totally agree that there are possibly too many of those. You get the feeling that it is just a business. If you go back to the spirit of festivals it was just a lot of people getting together to enjoy some good live music. I try to make that point in the show that if a festival is good then it is the biggest example of actually what most of us want out of pop music, which is that moment of escape. Whenever we listen to a particular record we are trying to get away from something or we want to be in a moment with that particular record at that moment in time.

It is that certain type of escapism when you want to leave behind your job and your worries for a couple of days; it is a form of escapism. Take Glastonbury for example, it is fantasy land for so many people and that is why people turn up the moment that the gates are opened. They want five days of a different idyllic lifestyle away from everything else. So that is all based around the spirit of the festival rather than someone just finding a field, renting it out and then booking two or three bands that they hope people will pay fifty quid upwards to see.

Why do you think that we collect vinyl?

(Laughter) yes there is a bit in the show about that, but I think that the reason why we collect vinyl is simply because there is something primal within us that thinks that the actual vinyl itself is such a beautiful thing. There is something about a vinyl record that is infinitely sexier than any other format that we are being sold by the music industry. That’s the thing. There has to be something which makes the heart rule the head or the head sets off some chemicals in us that says “yes, I must have that” (laughter). Otherwise it simply makes no sense at all. They are harder to use, they take up far more space, so there has to be another reason and I personally think that it is something deep within the human gene which explains why.

Just how did you come to sign Elastica who were, at that time the hottest band in the UK from under the noses of some of the biggest labels around?

(Laughter) well at that time me and a couple of mates had started up our very own record label. We had three grand and we were based in a room above a second-hand furniture shop in the Elephant and Castle. We put out a couple of records by a band called Collapsed Lung and then I came across a demo by Elastica. Damon (Albarn) from Blur told Justine (Frischmann) that she should come and have a chat with me simply because at that point I had written about Blur well over a hundred times. At this point Elastic had only played around three gigs but both MCA and EMI had both put bids in for them, and then there was us already two grand lighter (laughter).

Here I was trying to persuade the hottest band in the country to come and sign with us. I went along to the meeting with Justine and said to her “this is what I want to do; I want to put your record out on seven inch only, I want it to sound like Teenage Kicks but look like White Man In Hammersmith Palais by The Clash. It will come in a plain bag but with a picture label and we will limit it to a thousand copies” (laughter). I could see that there was something within Justine that thought ‘that’s not a bad idea but it still sounds like they are cowboys’ so I told her the monkey story (laughter). Fred and Judy Vermorel who was around during the punk era and who wrote one of the very early books about The Sex Pistols later set themselves up as social scientists.

They did an experiment where they hired a monkey for the day; they put the monkey on a stool and gave the monkey various household consumer items, the theory being that the monkey would react in a primal instinctive way towards these items. They were trying to see if there was something in the way in which we were sold stuff and marketed stuff which triggered something within ourselves. So they gave the monkey various things, a poster, pots and pans and other such household goods. Then they gave the monkey a CD. The monkey took the CD, looked at itself in the CD, and threw the CD away. They then gave the monkey a twelve inch piece of vinyl. The monkey got a hard on and that is why vinyl will never die (laughter). And that is how I signed Elastica.

What do you think to the sudden demand once again for cassette tapes? I didn’t think that anyone still had anything to play them on (laughter).

I know what you mean; I thought that I was the only man in Britain who still had a cassette player (laughter). But no, apparently not. I think that it is partly because it is the exact replication why cassettes came around in the first place. People would love to put out seven inch singles but they are really expensive to make plus they are still quite expensive to buy. I see them down at Rough Trade at six and seven quid upwards. So the cassette is a very easy way of just getting music out there. I suppose that nowadays there is also the novelty of cassettes. I recently went along to Amplify, the big BBC Introducing event and was given three cassettes whilst I was there. I thought ‘what the hell do I want with cassettes’. Little did I know (laughter).

For me, being of a certain age, cassettes were all about making mix tapes for your friends and sharing your music.

Yes it was and to be fair the grounding in making mix tapes is one of the things that I am essentially replicating whenever I go on air each day, trying to get records played in the right order. It’s the same thing really.

What would you say is your music prized possession?

I do have a few various things but they are not the sort of things that people will think ‘wow he’s got a copy of that’. Within the room in the house which I have now taken over as my office, there is a section of shelving upon which are all of the records that are irreplaceable. There are things such as the first edition of The Lurkers album together with Out Of The Blue by ELO on blue vinyl. There is a band called The Mice which were a prototype Green Day and you simply cannot get hold of a copy of that album anywhere or at least you couldn’t the last time that I looked. There is also a brilliant album called Don’t Let The Hope Close Down which is a compilation of bands who played at The Hope and Anchor pub in London.

That album has got a lot of unreleased stuff on there that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s things like that I suppose really. I have got a copy of the very first Manic Street Preachers single Suicide Alley which I imagine is quite rare together with the white label promo of Creep by Radiohead. So things like that I guess, but I don’t think that there is one thing that I would hold up and say “look at this”.

Is there anyone who you would really like to interview but you have never managed it yet?

No, I have pretty much done everyone that I have wanted to do. Weirdly there are certain people who I have never wanted to interview despite being asked to interview them, but in all honesty I have never wanted to interview them. For example, I have never fancied interviewing John Lydon. It is one of those cases where I would rather just have in my head just what I think of Lydon rather than have it all broken down, demolished by one bad interview. Other than that I have pretty much done everyone else I think who I wanted to do, simply because I was lucky enough to interview a hell of a lot of people who were on their way up.

I honestly don’t think that there is anyone who I have missed who I would particularly like to do. I once interviewed Pete Townshend who I never thought that I wanted to interview until I was told “he’s free do you want to do it” (laughter). So I thought that I would take a punt on it and that turned out okay.

Tell me about your brush with a certain Bruce Springsteen?

(Laughter) to be honest with you the whole Bruce Springsteen thing totally passed me by back in the 80s because I was at the time a Fanzine writer and then I was working at the NME which had me going to see a hell of a lot of bands in the back rooms of pubs. I was living in a totally different world to the one that people like Prince and Bruce Springsteen existed in. However, the year that Springsteen played Glastonbury, 6 Music said “Springsteen’s team have asked that you do the interview” and to this day I have never managed to work out exactly why it was that they wanted me to do the interview. I protested telling the powers that be that I knew absolutely nothing about Bruce Springsteen but his team were adamant that they wanted me to do it and that I would have to travel to Bergen in Norway to do it.

That was the only place where we could get the interview done in time before Glastonbury. So I took two days off work, and on the way home from this conversation I went into HMV on Oxford Street, bought myself a book about Bruce Springsteen, a CD of the best of Bruce Springsteen, went home and started studying all about Bruce Springsteen (laughter). And I have to be honest and say that it turned out to be a pretty good interview; he was a really interesting guy. It was great to see behind the scenes of Springsteen on tour and see that he has a milkshake delivered to him every night before he goes onstage. I asked him what was in it and he said “I don’t know what’s in it but I have got a guy who makes this for me, but I couldn’t tell you what’s in it. I just drink one every night before I go out onto the stage”. It is all about the mystery Springsteen milkshake (laughter).

The other thing was that whilst he was drinking the milkshake he was thumbing through a huge box of set lists of every gig that they had ever done. They were all filed away so when they were playing this gig in Norway, a guy walks in with a folder the size of a telephone directory, which contained all of the sets that they had ever played in Norway over the last few years. Apparently, Springsteen goes through them all so that they don’t duplicate the set list or the songs.

You have interviewed Noel (Gallagher) seventeen times now. When you get to that stage how do you keep it fresh for both of you?

(Laughter) I am actually going to be interviewing Noel again twice before Christmas; he is coming into the studio to do a session for us, playing some of the new material. Then we are going to be doing the thing that we have now done for the last three years, which is just him bringing in some of his records. That is really more about you putting yourself in Noel Gallagher’s shoes like I did last year, when I asked him “do you have a relationship with your postman” because more and more your postman will arrive with something from an online retailer and you will find your postman standing at your door.

I said “he never wants to speak to me but you are Noel Gallagher” and Noel replied “funnily enough I do, he’s a West Ham fan who thinks that they will be alright this season but he doesn’t like the new ground and all of the time I am thinking it’s a bit draughty on this doorstep. Football is on the telly so come-on just give me the bloody parcel” (laughter). So in answer to your question I find that it is just the random questions: trying to think slightly different angles about what it is like being Noel Gallagher. I will usually go back through the previous interviews to see if there is anything that he has answered then and just how it has panned out.

You trained as a journalist, so just how was it when you were first starting out?

(Laughter) blimey that seems like such a long time ago now. Yes that’s right I was trained as a journalist and so back in those early years when I was working on the West Essex Gazette I think that was the point where I first started to think ‘how can I make this more interesting for me more than anyone else’. My first feature piece was about a man who collected bus tickets and not just the tickets but he also collected the old ticket machines. He surprisingly still lived at home with his mum. So yes you are right, sometimes you think ‘where am I going with this’.

You may think that it is a mundane question but if it is something that everyone does then don’t be frightened to ask “do you have a favourite petrol station” (laughter). Whenever you are the interviewer and you suddenly hit that bulls eye where you find something that you are both interested in then I will do the victory lap there and then (laughter). I recently had Greg Wallace the television presenter known for co-presenting MasterChef on the show when we were doing a Good Day Bad ay feature. I was wondering just what I could ask him that he hadn’t been asked a million times before and I knew that he loved Mod music so I said “what is your favourite Mod record?”

To be perfectly honest with you I don’t think that anyone had asked him about his love of Mod music ever before. I found something somewhere when I was reading up on him and he was away. He came back with “oh man I just love Nine Below Zero,” and off he went (laughter). So that was like, ‘I’m just going to put the phone down now Greg and do my lap of honour’ (laughter).

I suppose that whichever way that you look at it, a good interview will always come down to the same thing, research.

Yes it will; the most important thing is your preparation that is what it is. Out of all of the people that I have worked with the person who prepares the most is Colin Murray on Man Alive. He works so hard. When Colin used to do BBC 5 Live Sport he was asked to cover the rowing championships and I listened to a bit purely by chance because I was doing some work out in the garden, and Colin sounded like he was the font of all knowledge. I saw him a few days afterwards and he said that he had spent three days learning all about rowing. That’s how you do it; it is just graft isn’t it. If you put the work in then eventually you will get your rewards. If you don’t get the rewards then it is the interviewee’s problem, not yours.

A lot of people treat Wikipedia as being the oracle but there is so much material on there that is simply inaccurate.

I know exactly what you are saying. We are very much at the mercy of people who simply cut and paste Wikipedia pages as their research for articles. You are right; there is a lot of nonsense on there and you simply have to read around things. You must always go and check your facts because Wikipedia is not as reliable as some people seem to think that it is. That is a problem when the kids one hundred percent believe whatever they read on the internet.

One of the nicknames that you respond to is The Cat apparently due to your ability as a goalkeeper. Was there ever any possibility that you could have had a career in football or was it always going to be music for you?

(Laughter) not at all, I’m bloody hopeless at football. In all honesty I’m a good five-a-side goalkeeper hence being given the nickname The Cat. I used to play five-a-side for the old Radio 1 team and we played at the Phoenix Festival one year. We came up against a team from Loaded magazine who were desperate to win the tournament so they bought in a load of ringers, one of them being none other than Gordon Strachan (laughter). In the first half you can imagine what it was like with the guys from Radio 1; they were not the most mobile of players, I mean John Peel was just wandering up and down one side of the pitch. He was skilful on the ball but he was never going to chase it down.

We weren’t brilliant but in the first half of this game the guys from Loaded were getting more and more agitated and were having shots from all over the place one of which I managed to save with my ear. I think that we drew the game one all in the end and Gordon Strachan came up to me as we were walking off and said “you made some good saves there goalie” and I thought ‘that’s it, maybe you are right, maybe I have missed my vocation; maybe I should have been doing that all along’ (laughter). I’m far too short to be a goalkeeper and I am absolutely useless at football. I still play in the odd match here and there but I am much better watching it.

You have now spent thirty years in the music business so far, have you enjoyed it?

Yes I have and I have to say that I am very lucky to still be in it really. I have to say that 6 Music has been fantastic for me. It was great at the NME but I have to say that I walked out at the right time I think. Then it was a case of me rebuilding, moulding myself and getting into Radio 1. There have been a lot of people who have helped me along the way, for example Mathew Bannister at Radio 1 for taking a chance on me and bringing me on-board. There have been a few people who have shown a little belief in me; it is hard to thank all of these people but it seems to have been just the right thing at just the right time. So I have been very lucky. I have to say that I have worked pretty hard at it but it has been really good. I’m knackered but I have had a very good time.

Is there anyone out there who we should particularly be looking out for?

Well I have to say that I am a massive fan of Idles who are from Bristol who I have to say make a terrific racket. A melodic racket would be a good description of them. There is also a guitar band out there called Shame who come from South London who are still in their teens. They are a very eloquent, erudite band who makes a very good noise. I think that when Shame releases their debut album it will be one of the first big alternative British guitar records of the New Year. I feel that they will really do something next year.

Lastly I am going to leave myself open to be shot down in flames but going back to the question about the first record that you bought, I will take a chance on Tiger Feet by Mud which was also the UK’s best-selling single of 1974. Am I close?

What can I say except bugger (laughter). Yes you are totally correct.

On that note Steve let me thank you once again for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been fantastic. You take care and I hope to see you later.

Thanks Kevin it’s been brilliant. You have got a great book in you, and I will tell you what, when the book comes out you can come on the programme and talk about it. It’s been lovely talking to you, and I hope to see you at The Glee Club up there in Nottingham.