Monday 11 October 2010, 16:17 | By

Eddy Says: The thin line between fan and hero

Archive Columns Eddy Says

James Lavelle

“You should never meet your heroes”, they tell you. But what do ‘they’ know? For most of us, the opportunity isn’t one that comes along all that often, so why pass it off if and when it does? Even if you do find it all a bit nerve wracking, chances are you’ll have a great time. And never forget, such things are meant to be nerve wracking, that’s part of the fun. As Eddy explains…

I’m very uncomfortable around heroes. When my life was ‘normal’, things were easy. My heroes stayed on their album covers, on the posters on my wall, and the closest I ever got to them was at their gigs. I only ever once, by accident, met a band after a gig. It was a Northern Irish act called Stiff Little Fingers, and I was thirteen years old at the time.

When their singer, Jake, discovered I had bought a ticket to his gig with my pocket money, he gushed, opened right up, and became the most likeable, humble and grateful human. I’ve only just remembered this encounter by writing this, and I must hold onto it because it’ll stand me in good stead in the future.

Now life is different. I have this strange and wonderful job that often includes my meeting the artists that I know from the covers of CDs I love. That’s not so bad! But it’s when I meet a genuine musical hero – as in somebody who has had a profound influence on my life – that things become more difficult.

I think I told you how awkward I felt in the lead up to meeting Gary Numan. I literally did not sleep the night before, I was worried that much: What song to play first? Would he like me? Would he hate the interview? I get through life by expecting the worst but hoping for the best. I think it’s this expectation of disaster that makes these things so strained.

I’m writing about this now because it happened again the other day. I’d had an email from UNKLE’s plugger, saying they’d like James Lavelle to come on my show. I said I wouldn’t hold my breath because he’s been booked to come on my show, or play at my club night, or at a festival stage I was hosting, three times over the past decade and cancelled at the last moment each time.

When I first got on MySpace, donkeys years ago, I found his page and sent him a really lovely, gushy email telling him how he was one of the three people whom I felt were directly responsible for my taste in music. I never received a reply. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I realise he would never have laid eyes on my kind words, he will have had somebody else looking after his MySpace for him.

But my fear of the worst took all these things and construed, in a silly, paranoid way, that James just didn’t like me, or didn’t like the show – which is essentially the same thing, as The Remix has always been just an extension of me – so I was sceptical he would even show up, and made this very clear to his very nice plugger.

So, come the day, I was biting my fingernails to the bone all morning, fully expecting a call to say he couldn’t make it. But this time, bang on time, in walks the author of my favourite remix ever and, probably, pound-for-pound, the best remixer, certainly of rock records, on Planet Earth.

I thanked him for his punctuality and he sheepishly told me that he was told by his people that he “could not under any circumstances cancel this one”. I laughed. We both did, and we set off on our hour long musical journey.

I had expressed some trepidation on Twitter/Facebook before recording the show, and had seen some really reassuring messages posted in response from people who’d met James, saying “he’s lovely”. And dear Barry Ashworth, who I know is friends with James, responded: “Mate, he’s just like you… one of the good guys”.

And, of course, as it turned out, and despite my aformentioned uncertainty about the whole thing, my wise friends were right – me and James got on really well. So much so that we’re meeting up soon to discuss an UNKLE/Lavelle special for the whole show, because that hour went by SO fast and we both felt short changed. That will be the most incredible show – one of the best ever, if not THE best ever.

Then, today, a week later, I got an email from a young DJ colleague that said: “I just wanted to say how much I LOVED that hour you did with James Lavelle, it really was amazing hearing two of my biggest heroes talking about something they clearly love doing so much”.

That really blew my mind and made me think. I have mixed feelings because, on the one hand, I’m slightly uncomfortable being anyone’s hero. But it is such a humbling thought, and one that I don’t really have time to take on board, though I would imagine a super talented and humble producer like Alex Metric would feel the same if they read that someone called him a ‘hero’. It’s fair to say I’ve been influencing people for over a decade, playing music I love and bigging up the traditionally unsung producers, but what I’ve never lost sight of, and never will lose, is that first and foremost, I AM A FAN. I’ll always be nervous around heroes.

As I write I spent the last hour of my incredible life with Andy C and I was nervous about that too. But like James Lavelle and Gary Numan before him, he turned out to be an absolutely lovely human being. We’re all humans, never forget that when dealing with somebody famous. And no matter how famous YOU get, or you ARE, never ever forget to be a fan, to get excited like a school kid on their first date, about meeting a hero. If you lose that, then I think you’re lost, your soul has been taken by the darkside, lost in showbiz.

With love from your friend/fan/colleague,
eddy X

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