60 seconds with ... Paul Rees

Writer and journalist Paul Rees will be appearing at HAF 2016 to talk about racial discrimination in "the beautiful game."

What is your personal philosophy by which you live?
No regrets.

How did you break into music journalism and what advice would you give to budding music journalists wishing to enter the profession now?
I was very fortunate to have a couple of people who responded to my pestering emails and offered me freelance work straight out of college - Neil Jeffries at Kerrang! and especially Malcolm Dome at RAW. For Kerrang! in the first instance, I went out off my own back three or four nights a week and reviewed all manner of gigs in the West Midlands area. Soon after, I also started writing for a local paper, Brum Beat, which led on to me getting an office job - for the princely sum of £50 a week. The editor, Steve Morris, though was good enough to show me the ropes in all aspects of magazine production from laying out a flatplan to selling advertising. (I was marginally better at the former than the latter). The best advice I could give anyone is to be passionate, enthusiastic and prepared to do anything that will allow you to develop a by-line and experience irrespective of the financial rewards, since there won't be any.

Media isn't the easiest business to work in but you've managed to have a successful career spanning more than 20 years.  What is the secret to your success? 
A large slice of fortune is having access to more than one person who was patient enough and willing to mentor me. The fact I was passionate, enthusiastic and also I think pretty disciplined and organised. I tended to get my work done to deadline and length, which encouraged people to use me more. That, and I simply refused to go away.

Who are your top 3 favourite musicians / bands of all time and why? What do they mean to you? 
Dylan, Springsteen, the Stones... and countless others. They mean inspiration and enrichment to me. I've retained a fascination and awe for people able to create and make music.

What factors were behind your transition from magazine journalism to writing books?  Was it an easy transition or are there different skill sets required? 
I was given a very good piece of advice right off the bat when I started out on my first book, which was to imagine that each chapter was a separate magazine article. That allowed me to focus on the details without getting too overawed by the bigger picture. I think the fact of being self-disciplined was perhaps the biggest advantage I had in making the transition: you cannot not be when it comes to writing books.

Who would you still like to meet and interview but never got a chance to do so in your career to date? 
Bob Dylan, above and beyond all others.

What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
Supporting West Bromwich Albion. It has, at least, enabled me to come to terms with coping with disappointment and systematic failure.

What are your views surrounding Brexit?  Do you think the UK is in the middle of a constitutional crisis? 
I think Brexit was a sad, terrible, ill-informed decision for the country, but acknowledge the fact that millions disagree with me. I don't know about constitutional crisis, but I suspect we are in the midst of a profound identity crisis. I had hoped we were Europeans, rather than Little Englanders.

What legacy would you like to leave behind for our future generations? 
I would be so pompous as to propose leaving a legacy behind. Hopefully, there might end up being a handful of books that people would find some enjoyment and/or interest in reading.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself which people may find surprising.
 I once finished last-but-two in a 'celebrity' edition of The Weakest Link. Clearly, this was stretching the definition of 'celebrity' beyond its absolute limits and I conspired to seal my ejection by getting three music-themed questions wrong.

What's on your bucket list?
Top of it was to move to the Isle of Skye and we as a family have just done that; the rest I hope will follow on from that.

If you were to have a dinner party, which 3 people would you invite (dead or alive) and why? Also, what would you feed them? 
Sir David Attenborough, Harper Lee and Stan Laurel. Three of the people I most admire and find most fascinating and they would be getting a vegetarian curry of some description and doubtless variable quality.