Meeting Ryan Babel…and his agent!

Earlier this week I met Ryan Babel, the much maligned Liverpool winger, who was launching a competition in conjunction with Juice FM to find the next big urban music star.

As a big Liverpool fan the chance to interview one of their players was definitely not being turned down and although the focus was on Babel’s music and his search for new local talent, I was determined to slip in a few questions about the football.

Babel is now in his third season at Liverpool and things haven’t been going well. In his debut campaign we witnessed his undoubted potential as he scored a number of crucial goals and proved very effective when coming off the bench.

But last season he failed to build on this and found himself in and out of the matchday squads, never managing to hit the heights of his first season and facing plenty of criticism from fans and pundits who expected so much more from the 22-year-old.

This season, just a few games old, has been much the same. He was left out the squad completely for last week’s 4-0 league win over Burnley at Anfield and was limited to a fifteen minute cameo against Debrecen in the Champions League midweek.

I spoke to him on Monday after the Burnley game and following speculation in recent weeks that he was on his way back to Ajax from whom he signed in 2007 when the transfer window reopens in January.

Despite English being his second language, the Dutchman is a master of the football speak and deflected questions about his Liverpool future with ease when I asked him about it, insisting he intends to stay at the club.

This had as much to do with his undoubted training in the ways of dealing with interviewers as it did with his agent, present throughout the interview and hovering behind me as I asked questions.

I am reliably informed he got even closer behind me and was practically breathing down my neck as I broached the issue of Ajax towards the end of the interview. Check it out below.

Nonetheless it was a decent interview and Babel himself was an incredibly nice guy with a firm handshake, a smile and a wink. He was not at all like the typical arrogant, moody footballer nor did he display the kind of ‘don’t care attitude’ that sadly he often seems to do on the pitch.

Having met him on Monday I witnessed him at close hand, just three rows from the pitch, make an impressive substitute cameo against Debrecen on Wednesday night.

Babel up close

In his interview Babel insisted he sees his long term future at Anfield. You would like to believe it but if he is not doing the business on the pitch he may not have a choice in the matter.

But having seen what a nice guy he is, for purely selfish reasons I hope he does have a long term future at the club, realising the potential he has shown all too infrequently over the last few years.

A musical juxtaposition: Bill Harry and Creamfields

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Interviewing Bill Harry at The Beatles Story, Albert Dock

A busy past few weeks. Along with working to pay the bills I’ve had some interesting freelance assignments.

Last week I spoke to Bill Harry. He is founder of the influential and groundbreaking Mersey Beat newspaper and former college friend of John Lennon. He was on the frontline of The Beatles world domination in the 1960s.

Harry also did public relations work for the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie when he lived in London during the 1970s. He’s done it all and probably seen it all.

He and his delightful wife Virginia were at The Beatles Story museum on the Albert Dock to launch his new book ‘Bigger Than The Beatles’ about Liverpool’s 1960s musical odyssey.

He was soft spoken and not at all as I expected him. My idea of a brash, loud, cynical veteran journalist didn’t come across at all. He was just a really nice, ordinary guy whose happened to work with some incredible people down the years

From the swinging 60s and the world famous Mersey sound to the other end of the musical spectrum, Creamfields 2009. Two days of dance, techno, house, electro pop and probably some other stuff too.

I was there covering the festival for Click Liverpool and Purple Revolver, filing updates throughout while having all sorts of hassle trying to get video interviews uploaded to the site.

A myriad of problems prevented us from uploading in real time so we had to wait until earlier this week to unleash our collection of interviews online. They are there now in all their goriness with me being decidedly awkward as I ask a variety of DJs, who I know little about, very general questions!

It was fun though, for me if not for them as they had to go through the same interview process for three different camera crews. It was good to experience the buzz of a festival back stage in the press/artist area. Every now and then you would see someone famous.

Spots included Lip from Shameless, Dizzee Rascal nipping to toilet under a white towel to stop him getting wet just minutes before he went on main stage and blew the audience away and Erol Alkan also nipping into the loo to check his hair was okay before he came and spoke to me about his dislike of David Guetta and former love for Westlife.

There was rain and muck and you are not shielded from that backstage but it was tons of fun. I’ve definitely learned a lot about covering a big event which will hopefully put me in good stead if I am to return next year.