Denver-based Music Journalist Christopher Callaway recently published a collection of his interviews called Reel to Real by Reel (available at Tattered Cover bookstores, Boulder Bookstore and online at Amazon.com). Here he talks about his 16-year career and some of his favorite interviews.
Yellow Scene: Which interview were you most star struck to do and why?
Chris Callaway: Alex Lifeson. I had always admired Rush for their musical excellence. It was a dream come through, when the interview came through in the eleventh hour. And Alex was so incredibly nice. He actually apologized for calling late.
YS: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting out?
CC: Don’t limit yourself to writing only for local publications. Local publications are great but it’s important to branch out. There are ways to get into big-time publications. Network and network some more. People do make a living by freelancing but it takes more work than what input into it.
YS: Who were your top three interviews and why?
CC: Alex Lifeson (Rush), Ray Davies (the Kinks), Mike Peters (the Alarm). Alex was funny, honest, and personable. I never thought in a million years that I would get the opportunity to interview a band that I esteemed that highly and had been massively successful. Ray Davies is, simply put, a songwriting genius. The Kinks were one of the revolutionary British Invasion bands and influenced countless folks. His satirical wit, work ethic, and overall talent are legendary. Few are as prolific in the musical world. And (he) couldn’t have been nicer or more down to earth. He spoke to me more like an acquaintance than an interviewer. And he didn’t even get pissed off when I asked about the possibility of a Kinks reunion. I discovered Mike Peters as a kid while growing up outside Boston… I soon picked up the Alarm’s 1987 album, Eye of the Hurricane, and was mesmerized. The music was similar to U2 but I wound up liking it even more.
The Alarm broke up before I started writing as a “genuine” music journalist, but I continued following Mike Peters’ career. I finally had a chance to interview him in late 1999 as he was part of an acoustic tour and had a stop at the old Soiled Dove in downtown Denver. Mike is a truly remarkable human being. He’s been battling cancer on and off for years but manages to be a kind, friendly soul who gives of himself. Truly one of the friendliest people I’ve interviewed.