From the Archives: Martin Popoff (2000)

From July 2000, Steven Ward interviews metal/hard rock critic, and Toronto native, Martin Popoff. Some kind of prolific writer when this interview was first published, Popoff is a veritable publishing industry unto himself these days (check out his website for more current information about his many projects). Given his success as a writer and self-publisher, I trust (and hope) Martin was able to deal with the carpal tunnel syndrome that was causing him severe pain at the time of this interview.  

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Enduring the noise: Martin Popoff Pops Off on Heavy Metal, Rock Criticism, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

An E-Mail Interview by Steven Ward (July 2000)

If Chuck Eddy is heavy metal’s bastard child, Martin Popoff is its favourite son. Popoff, 37, has been writing about metal for more than a decade and listening to it for twice that long. Regardless of what other writers say about the best books on heavy metal, Popoff, a Toronto resident, wrote THE BIBLE on the genre: The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal. The book is crammed with 3,700 sharp and detailed reviews of metal albums and (almost) full discographies. It features top ten lists, lists of everything from the most overrated performers (Eric Clapton and drummer Carmine Appice) to a breakdown of the different metal genres (what is the difference between Gothic metal and Viking metal anyway?).

One of the best things about Popoff’s observations is the intelligence, honesty and straight forwardness of his reviews. You won’t find any Teena Marie reviews in Popoff’s book (sorry, Chuck Eddy. No Offence). You are likely to find details about Witchfinder General’s debut, though. In other words, Popoff is the true guru for headbangers everywhere. He’s a senior editor at Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, probably the best magazine/fanzine on metal from this side of the Atlantic; he can also be found occasionally in magazines as diverse as Guitar World and Lollipop.

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Steven:   What the hell is it that attracts you so much to heavy metal music?

Martin:  It’s the only music from my youth I’m not embarrassed about any more, except, that is, for classic rock, mainly prog. R.E.M, The Cure, even fIREHOSE, Joe Ely, Kate Bush and The Replacements, for me it’s all inextricably linked to university (you folks call it college), weepy, vulnerable, girl problem stuff. Metal just is. It rarely contains irony, and when it does, we all get it and laugh at the joke bouncing around, with, and at us. It’s never changed, or, at least the general power chord, power personality aspect of it still courses, plows, blunders, chops away. It keeps you young, it makes you get up in the morning and methodically vanquish your action points, it staves off the dozy mid-afternoon, gotta-take-a-breaks. It can occasionally brainwash you into jogging. It basically jars you out of a number of potential funks, losing situations, surrenders.

These metal makers, if they have problems, they rarely show it, and in the many cases where all they seem to do is growl about problems, by session’s close, you are quite sure said quandaries will be stomped shortly. Plus, it’s a vibrant, growing genre. Tons of new artworks every month, most of it from destitute Swedes still living with their parents. The camaraderie? Forget it. That’s for young folks, of which there are many at these sorry 150-attendance shows. Please stop trying to talk to me about the merits of various Stratovarius albums while Destruction is pasting us to the back wall and I’m busy putting a cigarette filters in my ears because I forgot my ear plugs.

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