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Ten Questions with...

STEVE MORRIS (Heartland)

TV presenter/reporter Jonathan Maitland has just had his book, 'Flop Idol' published in paperback in the UK. He is a familiar face on UK TV screens from serious reporting on 'Tonight' to exposing dodgy tradesman on 'Man In A Van'!

Thanks to Claire Lee for passing on the questions.

1. How did you become involved in the music business?

I decided to write a book about how the attempts of my wedding band `Surf `n Turf' , to get to Number One. That involved meeting a number of big cheeses in the music biz and getting turned down by them all. No problem: it gave me plenty to write about.

2. Who are your musical heroes and why?

The ones who major in tunes and guitars: Squeeze, Crowded House, Del Amitri, Sheryl Crow, that kind of thing. I like a bit of what I believe the Amercians call `'Adult Oriented Rock'', ie John Cougar, The Spin Doctors, the Black Crowes, etc.

3. What on earth possessed you to take-up the challenge of trying to get an UK number one?

I wanted to write about something that I loved, ie music. But to do one long boring essay would have been just that: long and boring. So I set myself a challenge in order to creative a nice bit of narrative thrust, missus.

4. Did your experience in the music business make you less or more determined to carry on playing music? What were the high and low points?

Nothing would ever stop me playing music - if you can call what we do at weddings, music. The high point was getting into the last 4 of the BBC's Song For Europe contest. It might not sound impressive to you but it was strangely exciting at the time. The low point was getting pulverised in the Televised TV final of said contest.

5.What will be your next project, given that your two books so far have been very successful?

Could be politics: it's well worth someone de mystifying what has become a grey, boring no go area for a lot of people.

Jonathan Maitland

Photography: BBC

6. I notice you name check ELO, Thin Lizzy & Dr Feelgood amongst many other great bands at the front of the book. Have you seen any of these bands live and who had the most influence on you? (Musically or otherwise)

I saw ELO, and have seen Wilko Johnson, the Feelgoods' guitarist, many times. I would have loved to see them when they were at their best, ie with Lee Brilleaux prowling around like a nutter and Wilko looking even more deranged. As for who had the most influence, don't take the piss, but The Hollies has a big effect on me. Catchy tunes, lovely vocals - and in the late 60s. some corking pop ballads like `'Gasoline Alley Bred'' and `'I Can't Tell The Bottom From the Top.'' (Neither of which you or your readers will have heard of, I dare say, so try and rectify that asap.)

7. Of the many people you have interviewed over the years, who have been the most fun/honour to interview? Anyone else you would still like to interview?

The most memorable - although not the greatest honour - was when I interviewed Tony Blair. I enjoyed doing Bob Geldof although that was more monologue than dialogue.

8. What has been the highlight of your career so far? Anything else you still want to achieve?

The highlight was getting into the BBC in 1985. Everything I've achieved professionally has sprung from that moment. Boring but true.

9. What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Snapping my bass guitar strap, live, on Gloria Hunniford's show on Channel 5 when we were performing our Eurovision song. The bass gradually slipped down my body until it was somewhere round my ankles. Most undignified.

10. Any good rock 'n' roll tales to tell?

I got so drunk at `'Turf Aid'', our charity gig featuring Del Amitri, that at the end of the show I walked straight out of the door leaving my equipment, jacket and everything I had arrived with, behind me. I fell into a taxi and was very ill, if you know what I mean. Bob our guitarist said it was the most "Rock `n Roll thing I've ever seen." (but then he is a mortgage broker)

11. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

My 49 year old brother, who sings in pubs and is a monumental pain in the arse. Nevertheless he was mainly responsible for my love of music. Beatles, Stones , that kind of thing.

12. Heard any good music lately?

I like Sheryl Crow's new album and Badly Drawn's Boy's music for the film `'About a Boy'' is pleasingly musical, if that doesn't sound too middle aged.

Book Review

Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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