Interview with All About The Rock creator, Craig Hogan

Interview with All About The Rock creator, Craig Hogan

25th June 2013 0 By Frank Rini
Craig Hogan - All About The Rock co-owner

Craig Hogan – All About The Rock co-owner

Several months ago a fellow friend of mine, Dave, told me he was writing for a UK online ‘zine and he figured I would enjoy doing it and I would get along with the owner, Craig Hogan.  Dave was 100% right, before long I was sending him my first reviews and started to send interviews to bands.

Craig holds metal dear to his heart and the formation of All About The Rock, is a creative outlet for him that has put him into contact with the metal community, in ways he never thought possible.  He is dedicated to what he does and cares about the site of the content as well as the quality of work from the individuals writing for the site.

Writing for the site has been a pleasure and I love interviewing bands and writing reviews and I’m just happy Craig is an easy going chap that doesn’t mind getting bombarded with the latest brutal death metal review, from yours truly, well maybe he does, he’s probably like to his wife at Sunday dinner; ‘Hey honey, got another one of those bloody interviews from that yank Rini, yammering on about how this new Finnish dm band adds something new to the scene..bloody Christ..pass the potatoes’.

Anyway writing for the ‘zine is killer and Craig has taught me a lot, when relating to copyrights etc and has offered some helpful pointers to me.  We chat several times a week and talk about my reviews/interviews, new bands, family life, home improvement etc..so if anything we have become pretty good friends, that hopefully our families will get a chance to meet one day.  Things to look forward to.

Recently the site was hampered by some major crashes that forced Craig to move the operation to a new server.  So while the site goes through a transition, Craig has maintained the site, keeping it up and running while the file transfers take place.  I figured it would be a good idea to interview him to see what it’s like to run an online ‘zine and to get to know Craig a little more.

So without further adieu, sit back, grab a pint and read this awesome interview with my friend and co-owner of All About The Rock ‘zine, Craig Hogan.

Interview with All About The Rock Online Zine creator Craig Hogan
By Frank Rini

 

1. Ok, so what got you into wanting to run and write for an online zine, do you have a background in journalism?

The online zine started as an idea between myself and Chris Key in our works canteen on 1st December 2011. The conversation was something like this:

Me: I would love to review albums and concerts for a living

Chris: Yeah, me to – that would be brilliant

Me: Well let’s do it

I don’t have a background in journalism and have never done anything like this before in my life, however, I do have the drive, desire and determination to make the site succeed.

I am also very passionate about heavy metal and spreading it to as many people as possible.

2. Tell us how difficult it is to operate the zine and manage fb and what goes into operating it, for instance, are there any costs in doing this?

The zine takes up literally all of my free time, from the minute I wake up until I get into work, then on my lunch, on my way home from work and at home, I am always doing something with the site, whether it’s responding to emails or adding reviews, news and interviews, requesting guest list access for concerts, downloading the albums that have been sent for reviewing by various Record Labels and PR Companies or just general website maintenance. The site is like a 2nd full time job for me.

As for costs, we don’t have that many really. Our outgoings are mainly just the annual web hosting costs and bi-annual domain name costs. We have purchased extra items occasionally such as flyers for concerts etc but overall, our outgoings have been minimal so far.

Time and a lot of effort are the main things that go into running the site. I literally do have 2 full time jobs. One that pays the bills and the website.

3. Do you make any sort of money by operating the zine, and if so how do you make money from it, is it from sponsors/ads?

We have Google ads on our video interviews that are on YouTube however YT won’t let us put adverts on music videos, even if we have the bands/copyright holders permission to do so, they still won’t let us put ads on.

That is the only income we have coming in at the moment. We do have plans in the pipeline for revenue generation but that is a closely guarded secret.

4. Regarding the recent server crash and now transferring files/data/pics to the new server, how much of a pain in the ass has this been?  How much time has this consumed and when do you think the site, although operational, will be back to full capacity?

This has been a major pain in the arse if I am honest with you Frank. I would be sending emails to our former web hosting company about 2 – 3 times a week saying the site is down again, please fix it. They would fix it and another day or 2 later it was down again.

We lost a lot of traffic because of it, it made us look unprofessional and a joke but we are now fully migrated onto the new server and so far everything is cool, no complaints from me.

In terms of being back up to full capacity, I do have all the files transferred over to the new server but because we have also changed the website software I now have to go through 300-400 articles and realign the images etc. That will be time consuming, possibly 4-5 months in between adding any new reviews and interviews etc.

AATR Skull Logo

5. Tell us a little bit about growing up in England and your educational background, as well as your musical tastes.  What do you do for a living, when not running AATR? What do you do for fun outside of work etc?

Growing up in England, what can I say? The weather is lousy pretty much all the time. I have said for a long time that I would love to move abroad, either to USA, Canada or Australia.

My educational background isn’t that good really, I was the typical “I know it all” teenager who went on to do shit in his exams and then didn’t learn from that mistake and failed college to.

I have worked full time since the age of 17 and have had a number of different jobs but I currently work for a bank and have done for the last 8 years, I would like to elaborate on my job but I can’t say too much on what I do because I am bound by the terms of my contract.

There isn’t much of ‘not running AATR’ really Frank, it pretty much is a 24×7 job. I am learning to back off from doing it so often as I don’t want it to affect my family life – I am happily married (10 years this July) and have 2 children.

I do like to have “treat night” as we call it, this is when me, my wife and 2 kids go to the shop for some sweets and drinks and watch a film. We used to do that once a week but its now more like once a quarter. I think I will have to get that back to being weekly because time with your kids is precious – they grow up so quickly!!

6. When I was in England 2 decades ago, I have to say you and your countrymen are about the nicest folks I have ever met.   We went on a pub crawl in St. Albans, where there is like a pub every second store.  What is important for you when doing a pub crawl and do you find yourself actually crawling back home after wards?

Wow, it’s been years since I did a pub crawl!! What is important is making sure you have been for a piss before you leave the pub because you never know where the next pub is.

Years ago me and Ric (Ashworth, one of our other writers and one of my longest and best friends) went on a pub crawl in a village called Denshaw which is just up the road from where we live.

The thing with this is there was sometimes a mile or 2 walk in between the pubs so if you had consumed a lot of beer (which we had) then you found yourself bursting for a piss just a few minutes after leaving the pub.

The other thing that’s important is eating – never go out on an empty stomach. If you do then it will be game over after just an hour or 2. I find that going out after eating and then snacking on crisps throughout the day soaks up a lot of the alcohol and enables you to drink more.

7. Also, maybe since I was visiting, went out to a pub and I have a habit of using curse words, like F bombs quite a lot, whether in personal or my professional life, just part of who I am.  I was getting asked countless times to put 5 or 10 pence in a cup at the pub, every time I swore.  I walked out of the goddamned pub broke just from talking.  Is this a common form of practice in England, or were they fuckin with me, seeing I was a Yank, as they referred to me a few times?

Ha ha!! The old swear box. No they weren’t fucking with you, places do actually have them but if I was you I would have told them to fuck off with their swear box. If they wanted your custom then they would have put up with the language, if not, as you found out, we have lots of other pubs that would have happily listened to the f-bombs for free.

8. You know I can’t let you off the hook without some question involving food, always part of my interviews.  Granted I was there many years ago, but I could not find any good cut of steaks or beef in England, what’s up with the meat situation over there and what are some good dishes you and yer wife cook?  Although cliché, I had some killer fish n chips when I first landed in England, can you make it from scratch and what is important when making/eating good fish n chips, besides having a good beer nearby?

The cuts of meat, it depends where you buy them from. Supermarket meat tends to be shittier than butchers meat because it is mass produced, however, the meat quality has been getting a lot better and there are some really good meats to choose from both in the supermarket and butchers.

Me and my wife do cook some good food, my wife especially; she is a really good cook and taught me everything I know. Some of the meals we make, we like Indian food, Mexican food, Chinese, Italian and English (I put English last because out of that list it is my least favourite. Indian is by far my favourite – really tasty and my mouth is watering just at the thought of it!).

We cook a lot of meals but I will tell you about one in particular that’s really cheap and really easy to make, it is really tasty and most people won’t have had it…….Corned Beef Bolognese. All About The Rock Flying Skull

All you do is get a tin of corned beef and cut the corned beef into cubes, get a jar of Bolognese sauce (we use the one with chopped mushrooms in) and empty it in a pan. Then put in the corned beef and put it on your hob. Keep stirring until the corned beef breaks down into a mushy paste. At that point turn the heat right down and keep it simmering while you cook your spaghetti/pasta.

Once your spaghetti/pasta is done you can serve up. We finish it off with some grated cheese on top. Delicious!

I could probably make Fish and Chips from scratch although I have never actually done it – it’s cheaper and easier to buy frozen fish and a bag of frozen chips from the supermarket.

Of course a good beer is important with Fish and Chips but the other important thing to remember is to put vinegar on your fish when it is cooked – that really makes the fish taste even better!

9. Seeing how the whole Princess Diana fiasco regarding her death was handled many years ago by journalists, if you were a journalist during that time how would you have handled the situation?  Are you a believer in conspiracy theories regarding that her death was planned by your government?

That is a real tricky one to answer in terms of how I would have handled it. I would like to think that I would have been open minded about it. It was and still is a tragic shame, I am not a loyal Royalist by any means but what Princess Diana did for charities was really good. She is an inspiration to a lot of people, even to this day.

Am I a believer in conspiracy theories surrounding her death? I believe that the government and Royal Family could have been involved. The conspiracy theories are very believable. If there was evidence that they were involved then the shit will hit the fan in a BIG way.

10. How supportive of what you do, regarding the zine, is your wife and family? Is your wife into metal and tell us why on earth your daughter no longer listens to metal and is there a possibility you can download some quick death/thrash metal classics into her ipod, when she’s not around, in hopes she will return to the metal world?

My wife and family are really supportive of the website, after all, as I mentioned earlier, I have dedicated a huge slice of my time into getting the site off the ground and running & maintaining it on a daily basis.

Why my daughter no longer listens to metal? It may be down to her friends liking pop music – or as I like to call it ‘sheep’ music. I call it sheep music because the majority of the people that like it are like sheep, just like fashion victims, they are sheep also – can’t think for themselves so have to follow something or someone.

It may also be because she doesn’t genuinely like metal. Either way, I love her for who she is, if she wants to listen to shite then all I can do is hope she sees the light one day and returns to the world of metal ;-).

The first song I remember her singing was when she was about 8 months old and we had Cradle of Filths ‘Midian’ album and she starting copying the sound of the harmonics in one of the songs – it may have been ‘Her ghost in the fog’.

The next song I remember her singing was Iron Maidens ‘Bring your daughter to the slaughter’ – she was about 2 years old and obviously had no idea what the words meant but she loved the catchiness of the song.

When she started school, she quickly realized that none of her mates had heard of the songs she was singing so that could have played a part in her resenting metal and liking sheep music.

If I sneakily put some metal onto her iPod she would go apeshit! I mean we are talking all out kicking my arse down the street; I have caught her tapping her foot to some metal songs though so I think she may be a closet metaller.

Backstage at the Evile, Cerebral Bore and Savage Messiah gig

Backstage at the Evile, Cerebral Bore and Savage Messiah gig

11. Where do you want to take the zine and what about expansion-is it possible?  What does the future hold? What do you like best/least about running it?

I would love to make the site as big as possible. I eventually would love for it to become a magazine like Metal Hammer, Kerrang and Terrorizer but better.

I am always looking at expanding; we have people approach us on a weekly basis looking to be part of the team. We have gone from 2 of us in the beginning to 16 from all over the world in less than 2 years – that to me is a big achievement.

The thing I love most about running it is discovering new music and bands that I would not normally have listened to.

I also enjoy meeting new people and forming new (hopefully long lasting) friendships with people I would normally have never met.

I finally love spreading the word of metal to as many people as I can.

The thing I hate least about the job is the amount of time it consumes. I do feel like I have 2 full time jobs. However, in time, I am sure this will become easier.

I have major OCD with the layout of articles etc. I am a firm believer that presentation is everything and first impressions count. There are about 3 or 4 people on the team that I know I can trust to add content to the site that is 100% perfect each time, however, I do plan on everyone self publishing in the next year or so.

I have been known in the past to revoke peoples publishing powers (even that of other owners of the site) because the article was literally thrown together without a care and looking shoddy. These articles were then made live and shared across our social media pages with the bands tagged in them! The first thing these bands and fans would have seen is a shoddy looking thrown together article, review or interview. The difficult part now is that we have moved to new software we all have to learn how to use it properly.

I know I sound like a jerk on this answer but I am that passionate about the site, the layout of our content etc and I just wanted to try and express that in my answer. I am not a dragon or anything, if anything I am quite the opposite, I am really approachable.

12. Name some bands other than like Maiden/Priest/Angel Witch/Sabbath, that you feel were/are pioneers in what they did for the British Metal scene and who are still around that you still enjoy listening to?

That’s a tough question; there are so many good British bands that have been around. One of my them would have to be Acid Reign; they showed that you can make good music while not taking yourself too seriously. I am really fortunate in that I am now friends with the singer Howard ‘H’ Smith, I built their original official website and I am currently re-building and re-designing it from the ground up so watch this space.

Howard also recently reviewed the new Megadeth album (as well as yourself Frank) for us here http://allabouttherock.co.uk/megadeth-super-collider/. He has offered to cover concerts for us which is really cool. I hope he enjoyed reviewing the Megadeth album and hope he would like to be part of the All About The Rock team too!

I still listen to Acid Reign today, especially ‘Motherly Love’ and ‘Humanoia’.

Xentrix are one of the most underrated bands to come out of the UK – their first 2 albums are timeless (Shattered Existence and For Whose Advantage). These could quite easily, with the right publicity have been one of the biggest metal bands on the planet in my opinion.

Paradise Lost – a band that helped to shape the doom/gothic side of metal. Songs like ‘As I Die’, ‘Enchantment’ etc are timeless!

Of course you can’t forget about bands like Def Leppard, Motorhead, Saxon, Venom, Onslaught ……….

 

13. How has the metal world, for you, over the years, expanded your mind and how crucial is it for bands to try and stay somewhat original, which is hard to do a lot of the time?

I think metal has really expanded my mind. It has taught me that religion is 100% pure bullshit and is only there for the sheep to have something to follow and tell them how to live their lives.

It has also taught me through the New York HardCore scene that you have to believe in yourself and fight for what is right. It also taught me that racism, sexism and fascim are all wrong, there is no place in the world that should welcome or encourage these things at the end of the day we are all human beings with different beliefs and different views on life.

If we were all the same then we would all be sheep (there’s that word again, I use the term sheep a lot and use it because they don’t seem to be able to think for themselves) and the world would be a boring place.

Just because someone doesn’t think the same as you or see the world the same as you or because their skin is a different colour or they choose to be brainwashed by a different religion that is brainwashing you – so what??? We are all humans, we are all people, we all have feelings.

I don’t see any other form of music teaching you anything like this – maybe they should, then there would be fewer narrow minded, ignorant fuckwits on the planet.

14. Rugby, Soccer or Football-do you follow sports and is Yoko Ono responsible for fuckin up The Beatles?

Ahh, errr, none. I am anti sport. Well – anti English sports as they are booooorrrrrrriiiiinnnnnng. I can tolerate and watch American sports like Basketball, Baseball, American Football (my Dad used to referee American Football over here when I was younger) and I love Wrestling although I haven’t watched it in a while. I don’t have any of the sports channels because I can’t justify paying for them when I don’t really enjoy watching sport.

As for Yoko Ono fucking up the Beatles, she may have been but I have never been a big Beatles fan. I appreciate what they did for music but I really don’t like them.

 

15. Any final thoughts/comments?

Thank you Frank for asking me if you could interview me, it has been very surreal for me being asked the questions.

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