A Taste of Her Own Medicine:
The Gail Worley Interview
by Ian Koss
To hear her tell it, Gail Worley’s serious writing career began around the time we met, November of 1995. She had an interview with Marilyn Manson, and I had the curiosity to run it. That was nearly eight years ago, and in the meantime, Gail’s writing has gone from the occasional monthly contribution to a full-on career in the business. In a time when making a go of it in the music journalism biz has become as rare a day without spam, Gail has managed to thrive, with a constant flow of top-notch subjects and well-turned pieces.
But I knew that there was more to the story than that. As Gail herself will tell you, “do your homework.” A bit of searching around on the web yielded plenty of her work, but little about the girl herself. So I turned to the best source of information on Gail Worley…
Tell me about the moment you “got into” music.
I was five years old and my 13-year-old sister was a Beatlemaniac. I remember listening to this American Beatles album — Songs, Stories and Pictures of the Fabulous Beatles — which had all of these black and white pictures of the Beatles and all of these “factoids” about each member — like they’d have in a teen magazine. I loved songs like “Please Please Me” and their cover of “A Taste of Honey.” I thought that was rad. I was in love with Paul; my “goal” was to
- Join the Beatles
- Marry Paul
I was five.
Very astute for a five-year old.
I knew what I wanted.
What instrument would you play?
I thought I would be their dancer; you know, dance and play the tambourine! My father took me and my brother (one year older than me) and my sister to see HELP! when it was in theaters. It was insane; I LOVED IT. “Let It Be” was the first album I bought with my own money, when I was ten.
The next big deal to me after that was Emerson Lake and Palmer — I had seen them on “In Concert,” which was their performance at the first California Jam, backing the 70’s. I had to have that three-disc live record they did, Welcome Back My Friends. My favorite track on that was “Jerusalem,” their version of the English Hymn. I was just insane for that. I still love that song to this day. I was a very progressive pre-teen.
Right after that, I fell in love with The Who, when Ken Russell’s movie version of Tommy came out, so I had to buy all of their albums. I think I was twelve or thirteen then. I was in LOVE with Roger Daltrey. He was my first real sexual fantasy.
Already things are getting interesting. As the planets would have it, Gail spent her teens in Orange County, CA, at the time when the area was the epicenter of California punk and hardcore. Gail was able to piece some hazy memories together.
What happened when the teens hit?
Queen was a huge, huge deal to me between ages 15 – 18. I worshipped Freddie Mercury (RIP) and I was so way beyond obsessed. Queen was my first real rock concert; I saw them on the A Night at the Opera tour. I can absolutely say I would not be the person I am today if not for the influence of that band. My parents just hated them.
In my last year of High School, I was just getting over prog rock (Queen, Yes, Genesis etc.) and getting into the punk rock. It was ground zero for OC punk rock. Locally, I was into Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Agent Orange, Adolescents, The Screamers, X, Alley Cats, The Germs and The Go Gos, who were considered to be a punk rock band back then. Of the British punk bands, I loved Generation X, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, The Damned, Undertones, Tenpole Tudor, Tubeway Army and Nick Lowe. It was REALLY fun; I had a great time back then. I saw the last ever live performance by The Germs at the Starwood club in Hollywood, it was just a couple of days before Darby Crash died.
Are you somewhere in “The Decline of Western Civilization”?
I was at some of those shows but I don’t think I am on camera. I remember being at shows at the Fleetwood in Redondo Beach when they filmed some of those scenes. I recall this one riot with people throwing bottles inside the club. Those were fun times.
After the wild abandoned partying of her high school years, it was time for Gail to do some serious studied partying. Going to college gave Gail her first chance at writing for the University’s newspaper, and exposed her to the addictive perks of college radio.
Did you have an air name in college radio?
Oh yeah, and you know it — Gail Pink.
I was also called Neo Girl and Gail Chaos at various times. Neo Girl was for new wave shows; I took the name from lyrics to a song by the English Beat, I think it was “Twist & Crawl.” Chaos was for the punk shows I did early on. Gail Pink came about because I was wearing a pink dress and the other DJ just announced me as “Coming up next, Gail Pink” and it stuck. This was at KUCI in Irvine. 88.9 on your FM radio dial.
You were there for the huge ’80s LA metal explosion, though?
Oh yeah. I went from punk to metal. I liked Billy Idol and Motley Crue. I used to totally stay home on Saturday nights to watch Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. The thing is, I really always liked all kinds of music… even what we referred to as “butt music” — like Depeche Mode and Scritti Politti, and everything like that. My taste was cumulative. Whatever I liked, I still liked when I moved onto the next phase of whatever music was happening.
Were you writing through this time?
I was working a shitty day job and writing a movie review column for some local newspaper. I was rocking all the time though.
I know you’re personal friends with a lot of those 80’s rockers these days.
I only met all those 80′s metal guys after I moved to NYC and started writing. Taime, Rikki, Fasano… I met all those guys when I interviewed them and we just became friends. 80’s rockers love Gail Pink.
So what took you to New York City? What year was that?
I came to NYC in “the summer of my 27th year” as John Denver once put it. I came here to change my life, and because I didn’t want to have to ever drive a car again. I never liked to drive. Driving sucks. “I Hate Fast Cars” — The Buzzcocks.
Unfortunately, soon after her arrival in New York City, Gail fell into a coma, the result of a rare allergic reaction to the tropical bodega situated next to her first apartment. But not even a deep state of catatonia could slow Gail down. One night in 1995, a night nurse noticed Gail’s vital signs were doing a whoopty-doo. Soon after, doctors were able to confirm that she seemed to be regaining outward motor activity, and in fact had been co-editing a Nine Inch Nails fanzine!
You called Ink 19 to offer us a Marilyn Manson interview.
Yeah, I got the Marilyn Manson interview and it just exploded from there.
What made you call Ink 19?
Some freak I met in an online chatroom who lived in Florida sent me a copy of the magazine, and I liked it a lot.
What happened after we ran that story?
I was writing for a NYC monthly called The Manhattan Mirror and Ink 19 for a while before I got any other outlets. Then I think I just started sending clips out, and I wrote a couple of reviews for SMUG and Cups, the coffee house magazine. You know how it is; better clips, better gigs.
And when did you go ‘pro’?
Last year! [laughs]
Really? I thought earlier than that.
I mean, I never just wrote exclusively. I always had a day job as an executive secretary or office manager – my office skills would knock you on your ass. I started getting paid for writing by 1997, I think. I started freelancing full time in October of 2002, after I got laid off from my last hellish job. I was like, okay, I’m over this shit. Let me just see if I can pull off this writing thing. You know, eventually it’s time to just do it.
What has been your favorite assignment or three so far?
My favorite assignment? Wow, there have been so many. I love all my work for Modern Drummer. The Sum 41 cover story for Request was my best-paying assignment ever, so that was a serious highlight. There have been so many great assignments.
You have learned a lot about drumming in the process. And I read that Sum 41 story — it sounded like a lot of fun.
Those Sum 41 guys are just crazy! It was cool to interview John Paul Jones and Ian Hunter, Alice Cooper and Duran Duran, those were all big deals to me… Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction was a great interview. The same goes for Johnny Marr, what a thrill. The Smiths were huge for me. I’ve really been blessed; I’ve done so many great interviews. Oh yeah! I almost forgot, recently I got the Nikki Sixx interview I’d been chasing for years and years. That was pretty wild. It took four days to complete the interview. Sixx was like my Great White Whale forever. Now, I’ve finally bagged him.
It’s also been great to become friends with some of the people I’ve interviewed – most of whom are drummers — like [Alice Cooper Band drummer] Neal Smith and Mike Fasano. What great guys.
Are there any Mike Fasano stories you can share?
None that aren’t too long and filthy to tell here [laughs]. The best thing about Mike is just what a good friend he has been to me, and we can talk to each other about anything. He’s really like a brother to me.
He sounds like he’s a big brother to the whole community.
Mike is the shit. There are other guys like that, too. Brian Levy from Portable is another great friend I made from doing an interview, and Keith from Buckcherry is awesome. I still talk to Keith. Ray Luzier, from the DLR band is another member of the Gail Posse.
So, who would play in Gail’s All-Stars?
I think it would have like ten drummers! [laughs]
We’d run them in five shifts of two.
HA! It would be like the Pigface of drummers!
That would be great. What, if anything, do you feel is different about interviewing drummers?
Well, drummers are always really willing and happy to talk, because they are so unaccustomed to people asking them anything. Drummers are the best: friendly, talkative, really smart – I mean, those drummers jokes are such a backlash kind of thing. I can’t even tell them anymore — and they know their shit. I’ve done maybe only two or three drummer interviews that weren’t off-the-charts excellent. Drummers rule.
What does it take to conduct a good interview?
Like the Boy Scouts say: “Always be prepared.” Do your homework better than anyone else could, and act like a human being to your interviewee, put them at ease. Talk to them rather than interrogate them. Laugh at their jokes. And always bring something for them to sign at the end of the interview!! You should see the stuff I have in my house, a really unusual collection of autographs. Slash drew me a little picture that I have in a frame on my wall! I mean, in 99% of the cases you aren’t ever going to see these people again, so why not ask for the photo or the autograph? No one has ever turned me down. Having John Paul Jones’ autograph on a vinyl copy of the first Led Zeppelin album? That’s huge to me!
Who was your funniest interview?
Andy Dick for sure – but he’s a comedian. And Paul Barker was funny the first and second time I interviewed him — Al [Jourgensen] and Paul together — that was huge. Those guys are out of their minds but so very cool. We laughed all the way through the interview. They were funny, those two guys. Billy Hopeless from the Black Halos was hilarious. I love Billy.
What is the best thing about “going pro”?
Money! Being able to pay my bills doing this is definitely nice. Better assignments. Being my own boss, so to speak. Meeting cool people.
And now you’re also working publicity projects…
Yes. I write band bios, pitch letters and press releases for a very cool publicist in Boston. It’s fun and I get to write about all different genres of music, from Christian metal to hip hop to bluegrass.
You get to meet a lot of people, too.
I do, I love to meet the peeps
Tell me about Reiki. When did you start doing that?
I started doing Reiki in 1998, and have been a Reiki Master since summer of 1999. I would like to build a larger Reiki clientele though.
What does it take to be a Master?
You have to take a three-day class to learn how to be a Master. It’s pretty easy; anyone can do it if they want. Refer to www.reiki.org for all of your FAQ’s, then come and see me [winks].
Articles by Gail Worley have appeared in the following print and web-based publications:
Allstar News, Amazon.com, Bass Player, Black & White, Bite Me!, CD Now, Chord, Classic Drummer, Cups, Discoveries, DrDrew.com, Guitar One, The Hub on AOL.com, Ink 19, KNAC, Launch, Learn 2 Drum, Manhattan Mirror, Mean Street, Metal Hammer England, Metal Edge, Metal-Sludge.com, MK Ultra/MK Magazine, Modern Drummer, Musician’s Exchange, Nashville Scene, NY Hangover, Rockpile, Pandemonium Online/Pando Mag, PopSmear, Redesign Revolution, ReQuest, The Resident (Manhattan), Rolling Stone, Smug, Sonicnet, Starlog Publications, Starpolish, Underdog, Uplister, Upstage, Women Who Rock, Yahoo Music.