Here is an old profile piece I wrote about music journalist Nick Milligan when I was briefly living in Newcastle, NSW.
NICHOLAS Milligan and I meet for an interview at The Last Drop, a café on the east end of Hunter Street.
Milligan doesn’t order anything – he’s still buzzing from the coffee he drank earlier.
When asked about the things he couldn’t live without, Milligan hesitantly answers: “Ummm, I shouldn’t say coffee but I’m thinking coffee.
“I think I’m addicted to coffee,” he says. “Couldn’t live without it.”
The staff don’t seem to mind. Seemingly, the triple-strength-long-black [no milk, no sugar] drinker is a frequent customer.
The Last Drop is conveniently located below the Reverb Magazine office, where Milligan is the Editor.
Reverb Magazine, Newcastle’s number one entertainment, culture and lifestyle street press, has provided Milligan, the self confessed music lover, with countless opportunities to meet prominent artists within the music scene.
Combined with his position as music and film Editor at YEN Magazine, an Australian women’s lifestyle magazine, Milligan enjoys a job any journalist would boast.
As described on the Yen Magazine website: “This guy is seriously obsessed with film and music.
“As YEN’s Music and Film Editor, you’ll find him nursing a beer at most live gigs.
“Milligan’s weaknesses are free food [he gets greedy] and the manipulating curve of his girlfriend’s pout.”
Milligan graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2006, having completed a Bachelor of Communication majoring in Media Production.
“It was never meant to be journalism,” he says.
“I, for a while, wanted to be a lawyer, and I wanted to be an anesthetist because I had an uncle who was … and he made a lot of money so I thought that’d be great!
“Journalism had never occurred to me and it wasn’t until the first orientation lecture for Communications in 2003 when the editor of (campus magazine) Opus came and basically told us about Opus and that we could contribute…
“I got in touch with him and he started passing me on things to write – the second interview I did was with the drummer from The Butterfly Effect,” he says.
Milligan says that his approach to journalism is generally just the opportunity to chat to people he admires incredibly.
“I interviewed one of my favourite songwriters James Mercer from The Shins down in Sydney,” he says. “That’s been one of the best interviews I’ve done.
“It was down in Sydney and we just got coffee and went to his hotel where we did this thing where I played him a bunch of songs by Australian artists he’d never heard before and got him to give his immediate opinion – that was a fantastic thing.
“He basically loved everything I played him and I gave him the CD to take with him,” he says.
Milligan’s enthusiastic interest in music can be traced back to his early teenage years.
When he wasn’t out “causing mischief”, he was listening to artists like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors.
“When I was in high school I was into a lot of old music. I got teased a bit about it!” He says.
After contributing to Opus during the three years he was at university, Milligan has now written for Uturn, Hotpress, Riot, Frankie and Smash Hits.
Not many twenty-four-year-olds have had the opportunity to share phone conversations with the likes of Marilyn Manson and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
Milligan has interviewed “hundreds of bands” and a diverse collection of personalities, from Australian musical comedian and television host Paul McDermott, to Gnarls Barkley’s Danger Mouse, to Hollywood star Matt Damon, to Spearhead’s Michael Franti, to Irish boy band Westlife, to Aussie musos Daniel Johns, Luke Steele and The Grates.
Milligan says there is a “shortlist” of people he would “really, really love to interview face-to-face,” with musician Dave Grohl as number one.
“He’s probably the biggest rock star in the world and it’s very difficult to get an interview with him.” Milligan says. “I only really interview people that I’m a big fan of.”
Milligan says he is “emotionally invested” in Reverb Magazine and considers his involvement with it to be “satisfying”.
“I really believe in Reverb and I think Newcastle is hugely benefited in having a street press,” he says. “A lot of them have come and gone over the years… But we’ve found a way to make it work.”
Having been editor for close to a year, Milligan has incorporated features and fashion sections into the monthly publication.
He says that people seem to be acknowledging that it’s very different to what it was and the feedback has generally been great.
“Everyone I speak to loves it,” he says.
Today, while balancing his positions at Reverb Magazine and Yen Magazine, Milligan also pursues his interest in creative writing, claiming: “that’s what I hope to end up doing.”
The Bret Easton Ellis fan has “a novel half-finished sitting on the shelf” based somewhat on his personal experiences as a teenager living in Newcastle.
“But there’s a bit of a darker element to it!” He says.
In twenty years, Milligan aspires to be “a well-respected novelist and screen play writer,” he says. “And someone who gets asked by Rolling Stone to write features for them [laughs].”
On top of his music and writing pursuits, Milligan is admittedly a cinema buff, sharing a love for “some of the really obvious film nerd things” and listing directors Robert Rodriguez, Stanley Kubrick and David Fincher as his favourites.
He also enjoys short stories and poetry, declaring: “[Edgar Allan] Poe is a genius, as is Oscar Wilde” on his MySpace site.
On a typical weekend, Milligan can be found wherever the best live band is playing.
“I spend a lot of money of concert tickets, that’s for sure!” He says, listing Supergrass, Daft Punk and Paul McCartney as his all-time favourite live performances.
“I don’t think that being a journalist is a very strict job,” he says. “[Often] journalists are out there doing interviews or writing on a laptop in a café or a pub.
“Usually you’re your own boss,” he says.
If he’s not in the Reverb office, Milligan can be found inside Newcastle’s cafés feeding his penchant for the “continental breakfast” and coffee.
He also balances his editorial positions with casual work as a bartender at The Civic Theatre.
Regularly pub-hopping with various bands until the early hours of the morning, Milligan says: “I drink a lot more than I should!”
Milligan’s bag contains all of the quintessential journalist necessities.
“My diary, CDs I’ve gotta review, my Dictaphone and pens,” he says.
Describing his personal style as “very down the line”, Milligan is wearing chic Morrissey glasses and a neat, v-neck sweater combined with blue, baggy jeans and thongs.
He recently underwent his annual haircut.
“I used to have really long hair, down to my shoulders almost,” he says. “I sort of have a routine – I get a haircut every year. I always let it grow back.”
Having come a long way from the days of being a “cheeky”, “pretty nerdy” and “probably frustrating” student, Milligan says that he is really, really happy at the moment.
When asked about his inspirations, he says: “I suppose other people who are doing what they’re doing for the right reasons, particularly within the music industry.
“I’m inspired when someone picks up a copy of Reverb and tells me they heard about a gig through it, feedback is always good, especially if people are enjoying it.”
When asked about his plans for the rest of the day, Milligan says: “I’ve got a lot of articles due!”
Having recently been published in Rolling Stone for an interview with Pete Townshend and The Who, Nick Milligan is certainly "Gettin' in Tune".