AB: I probably should be nervous about that [laughs].
How did that project come about?
AB: I wrote an article on Courtney for the New York Times a year ago, it was in April. It feels like forever ago. We have some mutual friends, I know some people in her band and I’ve met her a bunch. While we were talking for the article she said that she wanted to do a book and we started for there. She’s been ‘I’m going to do it, I’m not going to do it, I’m going to do it’ for about a year so we had plenty more time to get to know each other [laughs]. That was really it. I put together a proposal and we sold it, now we actually have to do it—that’s that tough part! [laughs]
What are some of your favourite interviews you’ve done and people you’ve worked with?
AB: I would say for Rolling Stone, one of my earliest and something I was glad to be able to do was I got to interview Bo Diddley. I had lunch with him at a place called the 2nd Avenue Deli which is a famous Jewish deli in New York and they’re known for their pastrami. Bo ordered like tons of pastrami and they put it on table, he ate like five sandwiches while we were meeting and he talked about himself in the third person the whole time. The guy was amazing, it was incredible.
I also interviewed Ozzy Osbourne. I did the actual interview where the now famous story about him snorting ants came from. I asked Tommy Lee about it when we were working together and he said that he was trying to outgross the guys in Motley Crue. He had done so much cocaine he got down on the ground at a pool where there were all these kids around, some kid had dropped a popsicle and there was this line of ants going up to it and he snorted it all up, then he pissed in the pool. The first time that story was printed was in my column. It’s now been repeated a million times and it’s everywhere. I’m glad it was on the phone because I was literally losing it and falling out of my chair it was so insane. That interview was great because it was for the ‘Raves’ column where you’re supposed to talk about your favourite things and Ozzy was grumpy, actually I think he said he had a cold – the way he speaks it’s impossible to know what the hell is going on – and everything he was raving about would turn negative at the end so I thought it was the funniest interview ever. For example he was talking about Hawaii and how he got married on the beach in Maui and it was the most beautiful place in the world and then he said something like ‘you know what pisses me off? The fucking French letting off bombs in the water there!’ Everything would just take a dark turn. It was hilarious. That was a pretty early on one for me so it was a big deal.
All of my interviews are like children they’re all special [laughs]. In terms of the co-writes, the first one I did was with Tommy Lee. He moved me into his house for nine months. That wins! He’s one of my best friends really, we talk a bunch. I was just with him on his birthday. That’s a whole other level, that wasn’t interviewing anymore. He wanted me to live exactly how he did and still be able to do my job and write like he wanted me to write the book. That was some method writing [laughs]. I’ve never had another experience like that.
What do you think about interviews now days, the ones in Rolling Stone, Spin and places like that? Do you read them?
AB: You know I haven’t. I don’t read Rolling Stone very much because… it was already changing when I was there. In the window I was there it changed dramatically. They weren’t making money enough to print long articles or they just don’t care. I just find everything sounds exactly the same so I’m usually not that much interested. I’m much more likely to read a good interview that’s online. Playboy does amazing stuff! I just did my first story for them that came out last August it was with the comedian Reggie Watts. It was like writing for magazines when they had more money in the 90s when you could just write a really long form interview—I wrote 8,000 words.
I love the Playboy interviews too because they have that long form and that’s why I loved your Rolling Stone features too. That’s the stuff I really love, I miss that so bad! I’ve tried to pitch that kind of stuff here and editors aren’t open to it.
AB: Yeah. I enjoyed Blender when it was around. I’ve written for Q in England and Mojo. It’s really tough. I guess Vanity Fair does longer interviews but it’s more Hollywood. I’m super glad the editor of Playboy knew me and wanted me to do something. I’m going to do another interview for them, I’m going to interview Mick Fleetwood. I cannot wait for that, that’s going to be amazing! Playboy is really the only one that I know that does long form stuff. I think that’s because it’s just one piece in a big empire, they can afford to pay their writer’s to write and afford to do long pieces because that magazines sales are not the thing that’s keeping the lights on at the mansion. They can afford to put out the magazine they want.
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