Interview: Mike Weatherley MP

Mike Weatheley MPWe recently caught up with Mike Weatherley MP to hear him spill the beans on his metal obsession and explain why he’s started managing heavy rock band Collibus.

We’d originally gone down to Westminster to find out more about his new role as David Cameron’s intellectual property adviser for an editorial in the next issue of M magazine. But while we were there we couldn’t resist probing him about his eccentric musical tastes…

M: What’s the first music you heard that really made its mark on you?

Mike: Well, the first albums I bought were Rory Gallagher’s debut album and Savoy Brown’s Street Corner Talking – both are bluesy. But it was the third album I bought that had the biggest influence on my life. It was Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. I like that heavy sound and that’s what I got involved in.

M: Did you grow up in a musical household?

Mike: No. My father likes classical music and my mother wasn’t really into music at all.

M: So what did they think about your taste for Black Sabbath?

Mike: They thought it was pretty weird, like most of the population did!

M: Have you ever played an instrument?

Mike: No, I’m not musical, which is probably why I like heavy metal! I’m a fan. I’ve managed bands and I’ve always been a huge supporter of music. For some people it becomes a passion and a way of life. Some people like golf and I happen to like music.

Mike Weatherley MP and Alice Cooper

L-R: Mike, Alice Cooper, John Bercow

M: Do you still go to festivals? If so, which ones did you attend this year?

Mike: I tend to go to Download and two weeks after there’s one called Graspop in Belgium. I go to both every year with my kids and we all camp out.

M: Are there any new British bands that have caught your attention this year?

Mike: Well I can’t let an interview like this go without mentioning Collibus. In last year’s Rock the House competition there weren’t enough heavy metal acts being put through by MPs – it was all folk and indie. So I created a special award called the Mike Weatherley Heavy Metal Discretionary Award. I listened to all the heavy metal entries we had and I selected Collibus as the winners. They were so good I went up to Rochdale to see them. I’ve offered to manage them – not to do the day-to-day management but to get involved with them.

M: What is it about their sound that got you hooked?

Mike: Their music is so addictive I can’t stop playing it. Brian May was one of our patrons for Rock The House and after he saw them he went away and blogged about them. He wants to help them too. They’re on the Download Festival line-up next year so they’re definitely ones to watch in 2014.

M: Why did you decide to get involved in their career?

Mike: I wanted to find out how difficult it is these days for young bands to get into the industry. What better way than to be one of the people who’s trying to push this band forward? I’m getting a lot of insight from the inside now.

M: What, for you, makes a really good metal band then?

Mike: Screaming guitars always help. But if anyone knew what the exact secret ingredients were they’d be millionaires. It’s just what gets your passion at the time. What’s your musical taste?

M: Not normally metal. Usually miserable, wintery stuff.

Mike: Not David Guetta then? Is he too happy for you?

M: Definitely.

Collibus and Brian May

Collibus and Brian May

Mike: I think there are some bands that have stardust sprinkled on them and you just think, ‘Yes, they’ve got it.’ And you hang on for their next album. Rush were one of those bands for me, although they went through a bit of a lean patch. Their new album, Clockwork Angels, was excellent and they were one of the standout gigs of the year for me.

M: Do you own the Adele album?

Mike: I don’t.

M: You must be one of the only over-40s in Britain who doesn’t…

Mike: I’m a heavy metal fan, I don’t listen to anything that’s not metal or blues. It’s not to say I don’t appreciate it. I went to the BRITs and saw Adele there. I will quite happily listen to it if it was playing but I’m not hanging on for the next album.

M: What about the Nordic metal scene? Is it too extreme for you?

Mike: The Scandi stuff is definitely on the extreme side of things and of course Norway has a great reputation for black metal. There are absolutely loads of bands I like in that vein. Other bands I’ve liked this year are Stone Sour – it’s the side project from the Slipknot frontman – and Shinedown, a Christian rock band.

M: So how do you hear about new music?

Mike: Well I’m a fan so I buy all the magazines like Metal Hammer. Two of my three kids are into metal so they push new things my way. And I know all the people at the metal record companies so they send me emails sometimes. A lot of bands put a sample of their music up online and it’s very easy to find out through the forums who you should be listening to. Going to festivals is another good way to keep up.

Mike’s editorial for the next issue of M magazine will be available in print and through Issuu very soon.

Mike Weatherley has been Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade since 2010. He is an active member of the All-Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group and within the first year of holding his seat he launched the national parliament-linked music competition, Rock the House.

The annual contest sees MPs nominate the best live musicians and music venues from their constituencies. Any songwriter or composer member who is currently unsigned and interested in taking part should email their local MPs to enter. More information can be found at www.rockthehousehoc.com