I’m not a very good journalist. Most would argue I’m not a journalist at all, but it is on my business card so more fool them.
One of my many shortcomings is that I don’t like writing about boring things, and most things are actually quite dull.
I was wading through the cat litter tray that is my email inbox full of impressively dull pre-releases I was delighted to discover this gem; ‘We invite you to get drunk with Iron Maiden’.
Finally a cause I’m genuinely passionate about.
Not to mention a chance to finally put my degree to use. Drinking was pretty much the whole syllabus if I remember correctly.
I also listened to a lot of Iron Maiden, indeed I have my whole life. I discovered Iron Maiden aged six when my friend Simon described a poster he saw in an older brother’s bedroom.
He (incorrectly) told me they were the most disgusting band who’d ever existed and I was instantly entranced.
It was several years before either me or Simon got our hands on actual Iron Maiden music but his second hand description of the poster was burned into my young mind.
They were my first exposure to counter culture or alternative culture. The first hint that you didn’t have to listen to the music on the radio and watch what was on TV. That there was this whole hidden world for you to discover if you wanted.
That is the true spirit of Iron Maiden. They are the, often literal, banner wavers for metal music.
They’ve been going since 1975, and have some fans that have too. But ultimately they are sending a message to young people, come together, try something different, you might end up with 16 studio albums and your own jumbo jet.
An especially poignant message in the face of a general election in the UK where young voter apathy is widely predicted.
But this isn’t about that, it’s about that email from Iron Maiden’s promoter. One line that particularly intrigued me was ‘we’ll drive you to the venue in a coach full of trooper ale, Iron Maiden’s management, music journalists and beer journalists.’
What on earth is a beer journalist? Who do they write for?
How do I become one?
If it took all of my investigative journalism skills I would find out. Using the convenient disguise of meeting my musical heroes I would meet and get drunk with ‘beer journalists’ so I could learn their secrets and steal their career advice.
As I arrived at Warner Music’s London office to embark on my mission I realised that it was going to be harder than I realised – about 20 journalists were lined up ready for the best day out ever.
It was going to take a lot of schmoozing (and boozing) to find my target journalist.
I began as quickly as possible introducing myself to as many people as possible and trying to awkwardly find out what they did for a living.
Over Trooper ale and mini burgers I met the designer of the Iron Maiden Game: Legacy of the Beast which was a fascinating discussion, but ultimately a distraction from my ultimate goal of a beer career.
Next I ended up in a conversation about Iron Maiden’s bassist, Steve Harris’ multi-year project to create the ultimate headphones for listening to rock and metal: ED-PH0N3S. Another impressive distraction from my true aims.
The main problem was that I was drinking free beer pretty heavily at this point and I have no idea what a beer journalist looks like.
I did however know what Iron Maiden’s bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris looks like when he popped backstage to meet us all.
For someone who formed a band that has gone on to become a global icon Steve is one of the most chilled out and down to earth people you could imagine.
It was completely surreal to see the same man grinning ear-to-ear but equally relaxed in front of 10,000 fans at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena less than an hour later.
For a band whose average age is 60-years-old Iron Maiden still know how to entertain a crowd.
Bruce Dickinson throws himself across the stage in leaps and bounds that had me wincing while Janick Gers launches his guitar around his body with gay abandon.
The songs soared, the beers poured and the crowd roared.
Iron Maiden’s 16 studio albums have spanned such a long career that they’ve touched so many parts of my life and touch on such a breadth of metal genres – while always remaining unmistakably Maiden.
The gig was a tour through an incredible discography but also through my own long and varied journey with the band.
It was almost overwhelming, the scale of the sound was matched by the scale of the stage props that loomed over the singing audience.
And to top it all, I met my beer journalist. They look nothing at all like I expected.
Turns out she’s blonde and incredibly well spoken. I soon find out why when I ask my most important question:
‘Do you spit out the beer like wine tasters?’
My dreams are crushed. It’s normal journalism for me it seems.