TWMs Jade-Louise sat down with El Toupee of Twitter Fame, to talk about all things content, real-life and future goals.
He is a published author, and all-around stand-up guy – with roots in Music, Wrestling and Roller Derby.
Not to make this too much like a Tinder date, tell me a little about yourself and your story?
Put simply, I’m the token Old White Guy (well, maybe not). I don’t think I’ve got much to show for the life I’ve lived to date, but I’ve had some fun experiences. Bear in mind, none of what I’ve done has been earth-shattering or paradigm-shifting, but I’ve played in a band at venues across the UK (imagine Machine Head fused with Human Waste Project); I was a Roller Derby official and commentator for 5-6 years (across the UK, North America, and Northern Europe); I provide Commentary and act as Ring Announcer for a number of wrestling promotions in England; I’ve written (and self-published) five novels; and I’ve given a presentation at the 2019 Modern Heavy Metal Conference (“Heavy Metal is My Religion”)… and I’ve held down the same office job since 1995(ish).
Why should someone new read your content?
I offer what I hope is conversational content. I’m no authority on any subject but if I’m writing about it you can be sure it’s something I’m more than passingly familiar with (and I will have researched it before writing about it, even if it’s on the fly) and I try to convey it the way a mate in the pub might. And it won’t be a one-trick dog and pony show – there are lots of things that keep my motor ticking over, so if there’s a will to see it written then write it I most certainly will.
What inspired you to get into Writing?
When I say I’m the token Old White Guy I’m only half-joking. I grew up with the first VCR’s, 45’s, and taping songs off the radio. As a kid I fell ill a few times, so my main source of entertainment back then tended to be reading – mainly adaptations of TV shows or films, but I developed a taste for visceral horror and splatterpunk relatively early in my adult life (Shaun Hutson, Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon, Stephen King, and Clive Barker) – and I’d always had quite an active imagination it seemed only logical to try my hand at writing. I wrote as a means of therapy whilst I was still at school but it wasn’t until a major break-up and a breakdown that I knuckled down.
Has the Pandemic affected the way you Write in any way?
Truthfully, the Pandemic has kind of brought the important things in life more sharply into focus and has (for me) highlighted how over-saturated the majority of the media marketplace is. I haven’t felt the same optimism for creative writing and its potential to find an audience whilst finding that so many of the ideas I’ve had brewing for a number of years have finally coalesced into actual coherent narratives… which I’m incapable of actually writing down (due to a complete and utter lack of motivation on all fronts a.k.a. The MEH!)
What’s your favourite food?
I don’t have a single favourite food. Long story short, my mental health means that I ‘crave’ different food at different times. I have a thing for Mexican food – courtesy of (bizarrely) a Brazilian ex-girlfriend – but generally, I love anything which leaves my mouth glowing after the fact (my Bolognese is practically a chilli).
Favourite Book Genre? And why?
Again, I don’t have a single favourite. I have a thing for early Clive Barker, early Stephen King, early William Gibson, early Michael Marshall Smith, early… which probably makes me sound like a literal hipster but the honest truth is things in life meant I couldn’t follow their journeys so when I caught back up with them things had changed so much… Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files has been something of a constant since I ‘discovered’ them, likewise Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, but my main go-to is (unashamedly) the new Star Wars canon.
Favourite music genre? And why?
Heavy Metal. End of. Arguably you could blame my childhood neighbours – I was serenaded to sleep by Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Status Quo – but I developed a taste for heavy metal all by myself, rapidly going from Iron Maiden to Metallica to Slayer to Ministry and beyond.
I know I sound like a stuck record (oh, the irony!) but… I’ll go out on a limb and say, Iron Maiden. I saw them at their first Donington headliner, and I saw them on their last UK tour, and end-to-end I can’t think of a better or more consistent live band. Their recorded output may have had its peaks and troughs – but they can’t all be zingers! – but they always put on a great live show.
I’ll give honourary mention to Slipknot, Anthrax, Machine Head, and Doctor Steel.
What do you want to see for your industry in the next 5 years?
Okay, this is where it gets slightly political. I think every industry needs to move away from the profit-at-any-cost model and invest in actual people. Everything seems to be geared toward in-built obsolescence and maximised profitability rather than longevity and quality.
Diversification is a must, not just in terms of the voices being heard but also in terms of the providers – monopolies curate and control the vast majority of what society consumes on every level, and those monopolies need to be broken up. Yes, I’m all for the convenience of legacy items (see: my iPod, my Kindle) but progress doesn’t come from hedging bets on stock market reports and making a smartphone that’s exactly the same as last year’s model except for the proprietary charging port.
Do you like video games?
Gaming may be what keeps me sane. I tend to move with the times (yes, I’m a PS5 guy) but I’m also something of a legacy guy. I was a fan of Gran Turismo for the first few iterations (up to PS3) and picked up on the Hitman series with Silent Assassin through to the PS4 era. And, of course, I’m a GTA player – 3D era onwards – and usually get in an hour or so a day of GTA Online.
I was late to the party with Assassin’s Creed, which is probably a good thing given that Witcher III, Skyrim, and Horizon Zero Dawn informed view of Origins/Odessey. And I’m still waiting for the perfect Star Wars console game – Fallen Order was good, put give me an open world(s) game over a heavily dressed up platformer any day of the week.
Favourite Twitch streamer/content creator?
I’m not a streamed content kinda person. Granted, I know a few streamers, but I’m not a follower. That being said, I heartily recommend people tracking down J Bizzle (https://www.twitch.tv/jbizzlebeard) – an old friend and an all-around good egg. Trust me, it’s not what you might expect…
What’s your favourite thing about your work?
In my 9-5, it’s got to be the final bell: it’s not that I dislike my job, simply that it requires so much energy that I’m washed out by it. Having found myself involved with wrestling it’s got to be the simple joy of being part of something I grew up loving.
My love of wrestling goes back to the original World of Sport days – which, if I’m honest, means I not only get one of the best seats in the house but I also get to run my mouth constantly!
What are your goals for this year?
Bizarre as it might sound, I don’t generally do goals. Professionally I consider what I do (9-5) to simply be what puts food on the table, and I’ve been in the same job since 1994. In terms of wrestling commentary and ring announcing I’ve always hoped to be more visible but I’m more than happy with where I’m at. Obviously, the global situation with COVID makes planning hit or miss, but I’m hoping to learn kendo/fencing and also have a little fun with cosplay.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years from now I don’t expect anything much to have changed. I’m already an Old White Man so it’s safe to say that I’ll be a few years older, and hopefully I’ll still have a positive and open attitude to the world around me as I have now. I’d like to add a few more things to my tick list – swimming with sharks is one, and visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is another – and I’d definitely like to visit a few more new cities in Europe and further afield. Heck, I might actually finally write another book.
Do you have any other interests?
I’m pretty much a child of my surroundings. I grew up with the birth of home media – everyone still rented TV’s when I was a kid, and we rented videos from the library back then too – so my interests and tastes have always been atypical. I have a huge Clive Barker hardback collection, and read pretty much all of Stephen King’s work up ‘til around Gerald’s Game, before picking up on Michael Marshall Smith, Jeff Noon, and Poppy Z Brite (did I mention Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon, and Shaun Hutson?).
Being a 70’s kid I’m also a sci-fi fan (thanks Dad!) and an occasional fantasy fan – yes, I’ll happily sit and watch the whole Middle Earth Saga in Extended Edition format, and did just that over the course of a week at the beginning of COVID! I had an interest in Formula One when I was younger (again, thanks Dad!) but that waned further with each subsequent rule change and the advent of processional ‘races’.
Where can people find you?
I don’t keep any kind of ‘professional’ social media presence, but if anyone is interested in my personal politics and humour they can find me at https://twitter.com/El_Toupee where I’ll also be pimping out other people’s endeavours and sharing random musings.