January 1997, and the bombshell dropped that my next piece of coursework would count towards my A-Level in the much-maligned-but-pretty-entertaining Media Studies. As I’d only managed to stay in the class because I’d “somehow winged the exam” just before Christmas, as the teacher put it (I was something of a professional absentee in the lower sixth), I realised it was the perfect opportunity to roll out my master plan: TWANG!?!

An affectionate piss-take of Kerrang!, my magazine of choice at the time, it had the usual fanzine stuff in there – badly written reviews, transcribed interviews, and oodles of enthusiasm – as well as Crispian Mills’ head coming out of my mate Daz’s arse. It also confirmed what I already suspected…I wanted to be a music journalist.

As the years passed, my initial naive style flourished into something resembling ‘proper’ writing, and both my praise and condemnation of bands became more precise, yet this is exactly what I have a problem with, and I’m guessing the reason why I go into sulky semi-retirement every few months.

In other words, what right have I got, as someone with minimal musical talent and the grand total of two gigs under my belt (and they weren’t even proper ones), to slag off bands?

Everyone’s opinion counts, of course, but most people don’t have the desire to impart their views like some ill-informed goon on Talksport. “There are too many foreigners in the Premiership (sic), and it’s harming the England team!” Even ignoring the fact that England didn’t qualify for the 1974 and ’78 World Cups when practically the only players from ‘abroad’ were from other parts of the British Isles, and the current crop of English players in the Premier League are supposedly playing with some of the best footballers in the world on a weekly basis….oh, just fuck off, I can’t be arsed explaining. You’re wrong. Anyway, I digress.

So why do it? Well, I guess that writing qualifies as a talent of mine; music has been my main interest for at least 15 years, and it makes sense to combine the two.

There are few better feelings than coming away from a gig with elation running through your bones, the band have been brilliant, and everyone knows it. Royal Bangs, Why? and The Twilight Sad have brought out the goosebumps this year for me, but what about when you want whoever is on stage to have an epiphany mid-song and flog their instruments to Johnny Roadhouse on the spot, knowing full well that they’ll always be remembered – if anyone can recall them at all – as “that shit band who supported thingy” at best?

It rarely occurs to us that they’re on stage because they’ve spent months practicing, they’ve brought their friends and maybe even family down for the occasion, and although they realise they aren’t the best beat combo around, they are at least enjoying themselves. Which is more than can be said for the cynical old music journalist, who thinks nothing of slagging them off in the most venomous tones he can muster, and delights in sending them an email to the link because whoever he is writing for will get loads of hits on their page and they’ll all see how devilishly witty he is.

Let me tell you, it’s easy to be witty when you’ve spent a couple of hours writing a review. That’ll teach ‘em for stealing half an hour of your life, eh? Well, congratulations you nasty bastard, you’ve just ruined someone’s day.

There is a flipside, though. Honesty is important, and nobody likes to be mollycoddled or patronised, but would bands prefer to hear the truthful opinion of a hack that happens to dislike them, or the sycophantic yelps of their fans? The latter, I’d imagine. When bands release new material, do a gig, or even just put a blog on MySpace, they want someone to cover it, as without publicity from reviews or news items, no bugger is going to know about them or what they’re up to.

If this is how I feel, shouldn’t I just knock it on the head completely? Of course I should, but I’ll refer you back to the title of the piece for your answer.