Neil McCormick: Jet Lag, Knickers and Missing Fingers
Written by: Violet Myers
He’s interviewed some of the biggest names in rock music, had a hit film adapted from his memoirs and even wrestled Sinead O’Connor to the floor in the name of journalism (we may have let our imaginations run away with us, but we see it a bit like that scene from the The Revenant – Sinead being the bear). Now Neil McCormick is using his interviewing powers for good and will be getting Up Close and Personal with 80’s heartthrob, silver foxed, shouldn’t-but-still-would Gary Kemp to raise money for the Arts and Media School Islington.
We interviewed the famous interviewer (creating a strange interview inception) to talk guilty pleasures, knicker throwing antics and that infamous Irish wrestling match.
Hey Neil, how are you doing?
“I’m fine, I’ve got a few deadlines coming up. I’m interviewing Tony Young and Paul Banks later today so I’m a bit stressed.”
“…And tomorrow I’m on an early morning flight to Miami to interview The Monkees.”
Amazing, life of a rock journalist sounds fun.
“Yeah, I’ll let you know on Monday morning when I’m jet lagged and bedraggled.”
Are you excited about your interview with Gary Kemp?
“I like Gary a lot, and he was the first person I thought of asking when I put this idea together to make some money for the school, which has struggled to raise money in the past.”
Why did you think of Gary, were you a big Spandau Ballet fan?
“I read his autobiography and of all the musical autobiographies I’ve read, for some reason it really hit me, it’s incredibly moving. In fact, I’m not even the biggest fan in the world of Spandau Ballet, New Romance wasn’t really my thing in the 80s, but the Gary that I met through that book really moved me. He grew up in Islington on Essex Road, so the working class struggles are something he understands deeply. He gets the role of a good school, good education and what culture, arts and media can play in shaping a young person and lifting them out of what’s expected of them.”
We see you met up with Sinead O’Connor again in the last few years, how was that? (Neil famously had a disastrous meeting with Sinead during the 80’s, so bad, in fact, that the two engaged in a tussle over the tape recorder.)
“I always used to say she was the worst interview, but you know it was interesting. I went in to see her and she was so obnoxious, it was quite phenomenal, she kept yelling “you’re going to make a fool out of me!” and I’m like, “I think you’ve done that job yourself.” But it was strange to come back and meet her in later life and realise that she was a lovely, vulnerable, insecure person and at that time I was the arrogant male in the room.”
Who has been the worst, did anyone ever top Sinead?
“Sinead was the most difficult person I’ve ever encountered! I’ve had some bad interviews, but now I look back and realise it was more me than them, I don’t have bad interviews anymore. There’s a couple of people who I met that I found boring, but that’s very rare. The worst kind of interview for me are the over-rehearsed ones, or even sadder when you realise they don’t really care anymore and they’re just promoting themselves, but that’s very rare.”
We’re personally planning to throw our knickers (and any other delicates we have lying around) at Mr Gary Kemp, but which musician would be on the receiving end of your knicker throwing line?
“Well, it would be quite difficult! I’d have to take my trousers off first, maybe if I’d have gone in a kilt it would easier! So I think my knickers would stay on, but there are musicians who make me weak at the knees… what would I give to interview Bob Dylan? Perhaps one of my fingers! Leonard Cohen was one of the most fantastic people I’ve ever interviewed. But you’re always thrilled to meet the people who really penetrated your psyche at a particular time in your life.”
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
“Oh god yes! But they’re not guilty anymore, I’ve gotten over that. When I was young you couldn’t like this or that, I was a punk so we hated disco, but now Saturday Night Fever will get me boogieing around the kitchen. All 70’s funk now gets me twitching, where I would have been burning crosses in my madder days. I used to hate ABBA, but now when it comes on you just can’t help yourself, you’re in there like a dancing queen!”
Don’t miss Neil’s interview with the one and only Gary Kemp live this Thursday 26th of May at the Barton Theatre.
Up Close And Personal With Gary Kemp
Thursday May 26th, 7.30pm
Taking place in the intimate Barton Theatre
(Arts & Media School Islington, Turle Road, Finsbury Park, London)
Tickets available here
North Four are chuffed to be the media partners of Up Close and Personal and are proud supporters of the Arts and Media School Islington. Now go buy some tickets!
Hivemind are coming to the Hen and Chickens Theatre this Summer with a cracker of an innovative show. Three directors try to win over the audience with improvised stories acted out by the rest of the Hivemind cast on the spur of the moment. As each scene ends you decide whether to “stick” and see where the story goes or “twist” and let the next director take over. The director who ends up with the least scenes acted out has to pay a ‘terrible forfeit’. Told you it was harsh.
We have been wondering whether or not to share this secret gem with you for a while now. Having walked past Cazenove Road on many a drunken occasion, we’d spotted The Lacy Nook A Board luring us inwards with a siren’s call of cocktails and beer garden. But unfortunately we’d get the timing all wrong and they’d rarely be open. “Closed at 4am! How ludicrous?” we’d holler, slurring and swaying up the road. Until now. Opening last year, The Lacy Nook is a collaboration between two friends who turned to Kickstarter to help them achieve this culinary dream . Think small and large plates of fusion Balkan BBQ, salads and carpaccio alongside
This year, Playing Up have commissioned a new play by Sophie Ellerby (HighTide First Commissions Writer and NYT REP Company 2013), Three, which will be staged at the Arcola Theatre from 20th to 22nd July. The urban and domestic drama, directed by NYT Associate Director Anna Niland follows three sisters who fight to keep track of reality as their world is turned upside down.
Tonight, on this dull yet sweaty Monday, what you may well need is to show your confectionary based fillings to the ceiling and let it all out with a huge bellowing guffaw about nothing in particular. Let the likes of quick witted Josie Long, surreal twosome Max and Ivan and the downright uproarious Tom Parry help you escape the chocolate lacking reality of 2017.
Registered charity, All Dogs Matter are a dog rehoming centre based in Archway. They use a mixture of foster homes and kennel spaces to house their dogs, who are each looking to be fostered or adopted. Occasionally we look through their profiles of beautiful singletons looking for love and feature one at random. We interviewed one newly single lady in particular called Lottie. A fun spirited character with smooth hair and a huge grin, Lottie was a right laugh.
Next Sunday it’s the Cally Road Jumble Trail, run by the community. Think a car boot sale but on the street with vintage clothing, accessories, toys, original creations and cakes if you’re lucky. The whole of the trail is set up online over at jumbletrail.com where visitors get a colour coded map to explore and discover all the hidden treasures on offer from your neighbourhood.
You’ve got your socks pulled up but no Cliff Richard in sight. You’re all white shorted up with nowhere to go. It’s time to find out where your white headbanded self will fit in. Here's our top four Wimbledon screening hang outs to try this Summer.
Until five minutes ago I would’ve believed Pet Nat was a holistic dog food brand / veterinary business in Wood Green. I’m half right actually*, but in the boozios world it’s a fizzy wine. Pétillant Naturel is light and fizzy, usually pretty low on the alcohol scale and rather sweet. Think the opposite of a dry red wine.
Abney Public Hall is hosting a market of world food delicacies next weekend, having gathered together the creme de la creme of planet Earth’s cuisine. Prepare for a mass fusion of cultures, great food, drink and music just off Stoke Newington Church Street.
Otherwise known as the shoredification of London, there are four stages of denial when it comes to dealing with the inevitability of gentrification. Are you a dilapidated ol’ boozer clinging on to the same threads since 1989, or more of a craft beer-swilling/moustache-bearing pop up type propping up the bar at a cookie dough cafe? Let’s find out before your bedroom’s transformed in to a pop up belfie gallery.
Poop poop! Get your driving gloves on and tweed jackets ready, for Toady has invited us down to Toad Hall for a banquet on the riverbank. Join The Literary Hour for their all new immersive supper club experience this Summer. It’s the eighth in their series of book themed events with multi-sensory five course meals featuring additional surprises… Ooh ratty!
Every last Thursday of the month a motley crew of performing acts shuffle off to the skinny little Moustache Bar on Stoke Newington Road for a night of microphone hogging. It’s Open Mic night and the stage isn’t just available to acoustic guitar yielding crooners. The floor is open for all you comedians, rappers, poets, hell even actors are welcome to come tread the boards at Moustache Bar this Thursday 27th July.
Ah Stokey. You chilled out little rebel of North London. The seemingly easy breezy, laissez-faire attitude that appears to exude from every award winning eatery and baby clothes shop of Church Street is all but an organic hessian veil over it’s anarchic and rebellious history. Nonconformists, anti fascists and dissenters built the area as we know it.
Trying our luck, we decided to ask the wonderful Raina and Saira of Joginder Supper Club to give us some unseen insight in to their centuries old Punjabi recipes. Amazingly they agreed to shed some light on one of their most tasty dishes: the Bhoolghobi Tamatar (cauliflower with tomato and potato). Over to the experts...
So this July 198 cyclists head over to Germany to start the Tour de France. If you think that is weird, wait till I tell you it started in Yorkshire a few years ago. Anyway after the three days of the Grand Depart the spectacle of the world's biggest sporting event heads back to France and the action really begins.
Did you take one look at the ticket prices for Glastonbury, vomit in your mouth and close your laptop slowly? Did you get a debilitating case of FOMO scrolling through your friends Glastonbury pics and “oops lost my phone at Radiohead” status updates? Or did you actually go to Glastonbury, witness Jon Snow drop the f bomb and now know that life will never get any better