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Steve Lamacq
On 10 years of music and the Evening Session
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Wednesday, 4 October, 2000, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Lamacq's fan's eye view
Steve Lamacq
Steve Lamacq's show is the last bastion for guitar bands
BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq is celebrating 10 years of the Evening Session with a book chronicling his working life as a music journalist and DJ. BBC News Online's Darren Waters spoke to him.

Steve Lamacq has always been popular as a DJ because essentially he is one of us - a fan.

He's the music lover's DJ, someone who knows exactly why a good tune can stir up tangled feelings or why bands drive fans to both joy and despair.

Lamacq and Whiley team up again to celebrate the Evening Session
Lamacq and Whiley team up again to celebrate the Evening Session
Unlike some DJs, with their tabloid-friendly lifestyles or mouthy attitude, Lamacq has always put the music first.

"It's about the tunes," as he says in his book, Going Deaf for a Living.

Unsurprisingly, he has been compared with John Peel, Radio 1's longest-serving DJ.

"I wanted to put across the journey from being a pop fan looking at the music industry on the outside to being a fan looking at it from the inside," he says of the book.

"In a way, it's my defence, if anyone ever says I've sold out to the major music industry - you still retain the fan's instincts."

Guitar haven

The Evening Session is Radio 1's haven for guitar-based music - the programme breaks new music, new bands and new trends - especially when the station has become increasingly dance music-obsessed.

"It's come right round to where the Evening Session was 10 years ago - at that point a lot of leftfield guitar music did not get in the charts and wasn't played on the radio, " he says.

I get terribly scared that I'll wake up one day and I won't want to go to gigs

Steve Lamacq

Lamacq has built up a reputation for empathy with the listeners and matching their passion for music.

A former gig reviewer for NME and writer for Melody Maker, he was brought in by former Radio 1 controller Matthew Bannister, along with Jo Whiley, to take over the Evening Session.

His task was to add some much needed edge to what had become a dull blade.

"I still suffer from all the let downs, the highs and lows that I had when I was 14," he explains.

"I get terribly scared that I'll wake up one day and I won't want to go to gigs and I'll be unemployable.

"It'll be my hobby and my job gone, wiped out.

"I love going to see bands - I could do it all the time really."

Lkam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher and controversy go hand in hand

What's happening

His show has become the first place to turn to find out what's happening in the industry.

"You convey what's happening in the music industry by what you pick out to play and what you leave out.

"You try and set up a context for people, to give them a few clues as to where music is gong.

"You don't want to sit there and say 'I think this will happen' because 'a' you'll probably get it wrong and 'b' they can make up their own minds."

Rock 'n' roll infamy

Lamacq is perhaps best known for three things, two of which are now part of rock 'n' roll infamy.

As an NME writer he was interviewing Richey Edwards, of the Manic Street Preachers, when the lyricist took a razor blade to his arm and carved the legend "4 REAL".

"Whatever you've read is probably wrong," he writes in the book.

He is still reluctant to talk about the incident, admitting he's always been afraid of people accusing him of exploitation.

When they started swearing you knew they were going to end up in the press

Steve Lamacq

Slightly less controversial was the interview with the Gallagher brothers, of Oasis.

In a beer-fuelled, expletive-filled interview Liam and Noel threatened to fight each other, as well as half the music community.

Lamacq says: "We knew the press would be listening and that there would be a fuss.

"I just wanted to keep them on air. This was the first time in three or four years that they had been interviewed together. You knew this was history before they'd even opened their mouths.

"And then when they started swearing you knew they were going to end up in the press."

Lamacq rode out the storm, partly because he has never courted sensationalism.


He was also among the first crop of music industry observers to spot the Britpop wave arriving.

"In the week Common People [by Pulp] came out, all of a sudden there were these phone calls from people saying the record was going to go into the top five.

"I thought 'our music is never that popular'. There was excitement everywhere you went.

"Britpop was real: it was no longer a figment of the music press' imagination and of people massaging their egos in Camden."

He describes his job in typical self-effacing style.

"All we are doing is keeping the place warm while some of the music is in hibernation," he says.

Steve Lamacq can be heard on BBC Radio 1 across the UK on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 2000, and in England on Thursdays at 2000.

Going Deaf For A Living is published by BBC Consumer Publishing, price 9.99.

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