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Interview: Gerry Kelly


Dante Bonutto is a legend in rock magazine circles having started out at Record Mirror, then at Kerrang!, RAW & he now has a monthly column in Classic Rock magazine and works for Universal Music.

How did you become involved in the music buisness?

"I started working on Record Mirror magazine during my holidays whilst I was at Polytechnic taking a Media Studies degree, and things just grew from there..."

What was your first magazine and your first review/feature?

"I interviewed Q. Tips (featuring Paul Young) for Record Mirror, and made the mistake of bringing along paper + pen rather than tape recor- der - there was about nine of them, and they all spoke at once! I never made that error again..."

Any reviews/interviews that you enjoyed more than others? Who was a nightmare to interview and/or review?

"I generally found all of the artists to be helpful & friendly; I especially enjoyed talking to Kiss, because I was such a big fan, and I still draw pleasure from the fact that I got to see them play in make-up in the US.

However, the interviews that stick in my mind the most are, 1) Ozzy Osbourne in Hawaii, because Kerrang!'s publisher at the time felt the piece too outrageous to print and insisted that I water it down, and 2) Venom in Newcastle, because the Geordie trio were wait-ing to meet me in a completely trashed room where bassist/vocalist Cronos was wielding an enormous knife! Oh, and my Aerosmith interview in Portland was kinda unusual, because Steven Tyler fell asleep whilst I was talking to him, having tumbled from the stage earlier in the evening...

"There have been no real nightmares, although Michael Schenker could/ can be a bit hard to fathom..."

Why did Raw! fold in the end? Would you ever consider being involved in producing a magazine ever again?

"RAW folded, in my opinion (although I'd left before this happened), because it lost faith in the rock'n'roll dream and got caught up in the anchor in a tea-cup that was Brit Pop.

"Yes, I'd love to get involved in another magazine, but it would have to write about Ted Nugent, Danzig, Thin Lizzy, Angel, early Steely Dan, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Mr. Big, Rush, Pat Travers, Rory Gallagher, Turbo-negro, Rammstein, etc, etc. Oh, and Diamanda Galas. Definitely. And Johnny Cash. And Nick Cave."

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

"Ironically, Geoff Barton, who I read all the time when he wrote for Sounds, and then I ended up sitting across the desk from him and the atmosphere wasn't pretty. Sometimes you shouldn't meet your heroes."

What state do you think the UK rock scene is in at the moment? Is it all nu-metal or are classic rock/prog metal etc growing on the back of the nu-metal genre?

"The UK rock scene is the best it's been since the NWOBHM in the early '80s - the difference is that the scene is now almost exclusively driven by independent labels, which may be no bad thing. As for the direction that it's all taking, I would say that it's incredibly varied, going from the classic rock of The Darkness at one end of the scale through to experimental, cutting-edge stuff like Miocene & SikTh at the other..."

How easy/hard is it to get exposure for new bands in the UK & Europe?

"Easy in the sense that there are loads of magazines, fanzines, radio stations, TV outlets & websites at the moment, but still hard to get corporate cash invested into this particular area, which makes more mainstream exposure quite difficult."

Advice for a band/artist trying to get signed to a label?

"Do it yourself to start with and let them come to you. Simple as that. And play loud."

Any bands/artsits that you would like to sign up for Universal?

"Would love to sign The Darkness, Turbonegro & Celtic Frost and put them out on the road together as the 'Dark Turbo Frost' tour..."

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

"I like to think that the best is yet to come, and yes there's loads more I want to achieve, including writing a sit com for the BBC plus a soap opera called 'Terminal', which is set in an airport."

Any rock'n'roll tales to tell?

"Yes, plenty, but I'll keep those for the sit com & the soap!"

What plans does Universal have for 2003? Any personal highlights eg albums/tours you are looking forward to?

"My guess would be that Universal will focus on serious artist devel- opment in 2003, and the highlight for me will doubtless be the new Rammstein album - although I suspect that might not be coming until 2004..."

Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie

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