My Pop Life – Matt Everitt
By Steve O'Brien | May 4, 2023
The BBC Radio 6 Music DJ – and former Menswe@r drummer – Matt Everitt talks us through his music obsessions
What’s the first song you remember loving?
I loved The Wombling Song when I was really small. There’s the cult of Mike Batt now, isn’t there, about what a genius songwriter he was. The Jungle Book was the first record I remember playing, when I was four or five, and all the tracks from that are bangers. But it was Yesterday by The Beatles that was the first song to have a big emotional impact on me.
Did you have posters of pop stars on your wall as a kid?
The first music poster I had was Bowie, which I got from Athena, a very pastel-coloured Let’s Dance-era Bowie. I was totally entranced by him even at a young age. And Betty Boo, though I was a bit older then.
I had a Queen calendar in about ‘83 or ‘84 – I had a big Queen phase and still hold them in a lot of affection. I was fascinated by the massive crowds and stage. I think in the 80s, pop stars were writ large, it was all pomp and ceremony, like here they are playing Rio and there’s 200,000 people.
I thought that’s what pop stars did. I hadn’t really got into bands like The Cure yet and thought about how pop stars could be different, it was all about BIG – Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, all those people.
What was the first gig that you went to?
There’s a couple of nearlys – I nearly went to see Twisted Sister at the Birmingham Odeon and wanted to see Queen at Knebworth but my mum wouldn’t let me go, and I never fail to remind her of that – I could have seen one of the most historic rock gigs of all time!
But the first proper gig was U2 on the Joshua Tree Tour with my friend, John Kelly. They were so big at the time, you couldn’t really avoid them. We were 15 and went to see them at the NEC and got there about 6.30am, ’cos we thought that’s what you do.
It was so early there was no security, so we sneaked in and sat in the NEC eating our sandwiches and drinking our Um Bongo. Eventually, the band turned up to soundcheck and we watched it from the seats. I mean, you look back and think, that was a bit nuts!
What’s the very first album that you can remember devouring?
Hunky Dory is a good gateway drug to the rest of Bowie. I got obsessed with Station To Station a little bit later, I really loved that record, ’cos then you enter the whole world of the mythology. When I was really young, though… my mum was a huge Beatles fan when she was a teen so we had a copy of Rubber Soul in the house, which I think – if I was pushed – would be my desert island album.
- Read more: My Pop Life – Sanjeev Bhaskar
Are there any artists or bands that you’re a completist about?
I go through phases of wanting to get everything. I’m looking at my records now, and I’ve got all the Led Zep stuff, all The Smiths, all of Scott Walker and Blur. I’ve got all the Creedence Clearwater Revival stuff, too… I had a big Creedence phase. There’s a version they did of I Heard It Through The Grapevine which I think is better than the original, which I know is a contentious thing to say.
What about singles? Are you a big 7” collector?
I went through a bit of a 7” phase. They’ve kind of been overlooked in the vinyl revival, haven’t they? I know they don’t sound as good, but I always think there’s something really compact and brilliant about them. People don’t love them enough. I really want to get a jukebox, but they’re about £8,000. They’re not cheap.
Of all the musicians you’ve interviewed on your 6 Music show, The First Time With…, who have
you been most excited or apprehensive about?
There’s been lots. We started in 2010 and Johnny Marr was the first one that we did. And It’s always terrifying doing one of The Beatles. You don’t want to arse it up, ’cos these people have been interviewed so many times over the years that interviews don’t mean the same to them as they do to other people.
Paul Simon is someone, his work is so vast, he’s so colossally talented and revered and so many of his songs are legendary. Before we did the interview, I was saying to his team, right, this is going to be about music, we’ve got the BBC archive, we can play anything…
But they were like, “Don’t ask about Simon & Garfunkel,” and my second question to him was, “When did you first sing in public?” and he was, “It would have been at school, I think Artie was in the audience.” I was like, “He’s fucking talking about it!” Yeah, he was just brilliant.
Steve O'BrienSteve O’Brien is a writer who specialises in music, film and TV. He has written for magazines and websites such as SFX, The Guardian, Radio Times, Esquire, The New Statesman, Digital Spy, Empire, Yours Retro, The New Statesman and MusicRadar. He’s written books about Doctor Who and Buffy The Vampire Slayer and has even featured on a BBC4 documentary about Bergerac. Apart from his work on Classic Pop, he also edits CP’s sister magazine, Vintage Rock Presents.