This was one of the first interviews I did working for Time Out. Jeremy Lawrence, the editor of Time Out Dubai at the time, popped his head up over the computer screen and asked nonchalantly if I fancied interviewing Bob Geldof in, oooh, an hour? Cue 50 minutes of frenzied research on African policy, all of which led to nothing at all when it turned out he just fancied talking about his time as a music journalist.
I remember him being a bit curmudgeonly, but generally fairly gentle with me, perhaps sensing how green I was. I also recall that he left the conversation mid-sentence, pretty much hanging up the phone without even rounding off what he was saying. He was talking about Bono’s music taste at the time, though, so I didn’t feel I missed out on much.
Your gig at the Irish Village has become a bit of a tradition, hasn’t it?
It has, yeah. You can’t do Paddy’s Day without Geldof showing up! And it’s a fun place, period, you know? I mean I don’t just come out for this gig. I’m out during the year for different things.
When you spoke to us last year, you called Dubai ‘a massive experiment, extremely courageous’. Do you still feel the same?
Yeah. It is a big experiment, and it has been whacked by the global situation. But, you know, there’s no reason why Dubai shouldn’t be able to withstand the credit crunch. I understand about the construction and the buildings, but nonetheless, it’s a very vital part of the world, you know, just as a trading centre. It’s ideally located, it’s already got the hotels, the beaches, the weather, and why wouldn’t you go back there when this all eases? Particularly for Dubai, I think it’ll be affected in the near term, but in the medium term, perhaps not quite so.
You started out as a music writer, didn’t you?
Not really started out. It was just one of the many jobs I had during a very brief period.
Did you interview any of the big stars of the day?
Yep. Elton, George Harrison, Lou Reed, Bryan Adams when he was 16 and he was just a local kid in Vancouver, where I was living for a moment.
“Crosby, Stills and Nash remembered me because I really dissed their gig”
Who else? Eric Clapton? Did they remember you when you made it as a musician yourself?
Yeah, they did. Especially Crosby, Stills and Nash, because I really dissed their gig – mainly because I was nearly beaten up by their security. I called them a bunch of old hippies! I just couldn’t wait for the punk thing to happen; I just didn’t know it was the punk thing. But Graham Nash – I was on his TV show and he said, ‘You said this?’ And I said ‘yeah’. And he goes, ‘why?’ And I said, ‘come on! It was a shit gig! What do you want? Besides, you nearly beat me up!’ And he said, ‘OK. That would explain it.’ Obviously I got to know these people later in my life, lucky me. George came to a couple of the Rats’ gigs in Oxford, and then I got to play with him one day around at a friend’s house. Amazing, you know? Yeah. I’m very lucky.
Do you ever think about clearing the decks and stripping your career right back to the music?
That’s a very good question. I’ve thought about it, you know, but for like two seconds. I get bored too quickly. The truth is, one feeds into the other. Would I have enough purchase on the African issue if I wasn’t a musician and could use that world to talk about this? No. If I only did the African stuff, would I be bored rigid if I didn’t have the escape and catharsis of music? Yes. I’ll explain exactly how it works. I do business for my stomach, I do politics for my brain, I do music for my soul and I do my family for my heart. There you go!
Originally published in Time Out Dubai