Steffan Chirazi speaking to Harvester of Sofia: For the last 15 years no other band in the world could be the Grateful Dead other than Metallica


Jason was fantastic, but Rob ‘flows’ more, he is the conduit-river both as a person and stylistically that this band really needs in order to function, says the So What magazine editor

Harvester of Sofia returns with another interesting interview. This time we talked to So What editor Steffan Chirazi who was very kind to answers our questions. We got this interview some months ago and we are sorry to publish it so late.

Do you remember your first Metallica concert, when was it and what did you think about the band?
It was in Paris, 1984…I’d tape-traded for the demo in ’82, got ‘Kill ‘Em All’ when it came out, worked my way into a job as SOUNDS music critic when I was 17, and reviewed ‘RTL’ for SOUNDS. This was my first assignment. I’d waited a long time to see them. I’d missed the Marquee show in London due to school/studies stuff, so this was a treat. What did I think about them? LOL, as raw and energetic as I’d hoped and more besides…

Is it hard to work with an American band while you live in Europe?
Well I’ve lived in the Bay Area, around the corner from them, since 1986, so it’s been very very easy!!!!

Tell us something about your family and your interests beside music?
Two kids, one in college and rumbling along, one who’s nearly 6 and a firecracker…the mighty Bubbles, my hairy 4-legged feline therapist (half Maine Coon so wonderfully large!)…obviously the Missus…and I love soccer/Tottenham Hotspur. It’s a religion to me. I still get back to the UK a few times a year and always catch games. I still manage to play twice a week, though it is getting tougher LOL…I still love to dream that I am playing for Spurs in the Champions League Final whenever I play…

Is there something you wanted to write about Metallica but the band told you not to do it? Do they know in advance what are your plans for each volume of the magazine?
No. They are very very liberal and open, very trusting. They interact when I ask…Lars and I discuss things a fair amount, and when he does make en editorial suggestion, it is rare and on the money. James is great for creatives too, again he doesn’t stick his nose in but when asked, he has great opinions and vision.

 Have Metallica ever planned to publish an official autobiography of the band – maybe they’ll make some kind of special edition for the club – limited full of goodies like CDs, DVDs, book and an album with pictures?
Not yet. No.

You have been to lots of Metallica shows. Where are the craziest fans?
Tough one…all crowds have great great reactions and resonance, but I have to say that south of the border, Mexico City, those fans are insane, just insane!!! And then into South America I’d say the same, Argentina, Brasil…but again, it’s a loaded question because great crowds are everywhere. I mean, take the rain-sodden lunatics of Sofia as an example for The Big 4…insane! Madness! Very cool!

What type of fans does the band prefer most – those on festivals, those in halls or those on big stadiums only for Metallica gigs.
Again I don’t think it’s ‘either-or’, I think there’s great appreciation for the intimacy of small venues, the control afforded by arenas in terms of technical specs, and the vast sea of bobbing humanity at festivals. That’s what helps make them so special, they don’t have specific preferences, they enjoy it all.

Did the meet and greet sessions before each show change the band? They seem to enjoy the fans very much.
I think there is a wonderfully deep respect for the fans. There always has been. It’s why the meet and greet sessions are limited in numbers, so as they CAN spend a few quality minutes with everyone as opposed to a quick handshake with many. The fan club, for me, shows how much they appreciate the fans too, it’s a quality package not just a newsletter and a badge! And I think that yes, they do get a buzz from the meet and greets.

Which are the songs that you think Metallica should play on stage more often? What is your dream setlist?
Ha ha, I’m not going to give you my dream set-list, sorry, would take too long to sequence right now…I will say my day is always buzzed when I get a bit of ‘Metal Militia’ or ‘The Four Horsemen’ but of the stuff we don’t hear too much, I wish they’d dust off ‘Bleeding Me’ and air it more often as it is a diamond-plated epic song.

 If Metallica decide to do a tour with one of the BIG FOUR bands, which one do you prefer to be: Anthrax, Megadeth or Slayer? And why?
Come on!!!! You cannot ask that!!!! How about one show with Slayer, one with Megadeth! I think each bring very fine qualities to the bill, so for me it’s not an ‘either or’ situation. Megadeth are almost scientific, Slayer are almost carnage incarnate…

What has changed in the band as Rob came in? Do you think the fans already prefer him to Jason?
Jason was fantastic, but Rob ‘flows’ more, he is the conduit-river both as a person and stylistically that this band really needs in order to function, err, functionally. I do think Jason was unlucky with regards to when he came into the band and the circumstances, because those shoes could never be filled, in that regard what a wonderful wonderful job he did!!! But Rob is a necessary contrast.

How do you see Metallica in the near future (10 years) – less concerts and 1-2 new albums at most or nothing will change much and the band will continue roaming the planet with lots of shows each year.
I have said for the last 15 years that no other band in the world could be the Grateful Dead other than Metallica, in terms of schedules and releases. They can do what they want. Thus I envisage more ‘seasonal’ touring, less ‘grind’ touring, more frequent tours but smaller and releases? Who knows. It’ll be interesting to see…

Which are the Metclub chapters you are familiar with? Do you get lots of e-mails from fans and what they mostly ask you?
Mostly people are extraordinarily nice! i get very very few complaints at all. I try to stay in the background as I am not important in the scheme of things around here, so I do like to chat with clubbers but am always happier talking about football, family, cats, tiger, politics, just life. We are all the same people. I get uncomfortable talking about the band and what I do with people, I should probably be a little more open in all fairness, but its just not always very comfortable. Anyone coming up to me and talking about Gareth Bale, Rafa Van Der Vaart, Spurs, will get a 30 minute verbal barrage and the happiest man alive LOL!!! By the way, can Sofia members tell me why Berba left Spurs? If he’d held his nerve and invested faith in us, right now we would win the title. Imagine, Bale, Lennon, Luka Modric, Rafa, Berba, oh my God that’d be heaven on earth. I still miss him at Spurs, what a player, what a talent…

Harvester of Sofia: Stefan, Berbatov doesn’t look at Tottenham as the way you do. He is a professional soccer player who is seeking to earn as much as money as possible and to play in a better club as possible. That’s why it was normal for him to chose Manchester United. He thinks United are far more bigger club. At “Old Trafford” he won the championship and became a top goalscorer which may be would not have happened with the Spurs. What you would love to hear is that Tottenham has lots of new fans in Bulgaria since Berba played there. Dimitar scored some spectacular goals for the Spurs (enjoy the video below)   

What do you think about Harvester of Sofia’s idea of doing some interviews with the chapterheads and some of the craziest fans in the world? Right now how do you prefer to give us this interview: as a fan or as the editor of SO WHAT?
I think the idea is great, as for the second part I really don’t know…I just answer the questions as I find them, so I suppose ‘as a normal person’ ?!!

Tell us which one are the biggest bands in the world right now for you? Not only metal, at all? And please tell us what you think about every one of them?
Biggest or favorites? I’ll say favorites…
I like a bit of Goatwhore, very very good cardio-vascular workout music a few times a week…Slayer, for obvious reasons, Underworld – the electronic band, just sublime, a wonderful immersive sound, I love drum ‘n’ bass so all sorts there, Goldie’s always good, love DJ Storm (of Kemistry – RIP- & Storm fame), Total Science, Doc Scott, a lot of the dark d’n’b…I like Deadmau5 for an escape, David Bowie remains an exceptional artist and perennial favorite, The Stranglers and The Damned (old)…Motörhead are very very special in my life, a part of it in a way I cannot explain here, needless to say Lemmy and I have known each other for 29 years…so much music and so little time. This list could go on and on and on…

Would you say something special to the members of HOS?
Bulgaria is a beautiful place, I really like the Bulgarian people (I play football locally with two Bulgarians – great blokes) and the fanaticism and passion of Bulgarians and Sofians is really really empowering. KEEP IT GOING!!!!!!!!!! AND THANK YOU!!! Oh, and convince Berba he must return to Spurs!!!!!!


Interviewed by: ASSYA MERSIMOVA


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