The truth about rock interviews (by a rookie)

After one year and a half as a contributor for RockZone magazine, I still see myself as the rookie of the team. Much stuff yet to learn, and apparently some shit to swallow, according to a couple of fails I’ve gone through.

It’s been a year since I had my first phone interview with great Dave Wyndorf, of Monster Magnet, and the experience was awesome. The fact that he’s an artist I’ve been following for years was an advantage, but also the guy loves talking and interacting, so everything went nice and easy.

I must be humble and confess that I definitely need more experience. I still get sweaty minutes before a  phone call, and if you were listening to the recordings you’d notice I’m nervous for a couple of minutes till I start focusing. Still I’m already able to distinguish between a good and a bad speaker, and it’s very easy to identify their mood, decisive for a successful or terrible interview.

phone

Like I said, I had the best start. I understand it now as the first timer luck, there’s no other explanation. After that, everything’s been a bit more like a rollercoaster, with peaks and fails, and the ugly truth.

Interviews are not like having a beer with a friend, even though there are occasions and people which might make you feel extremely comfortable, but let’s have something clear: an interview is fuckin’ promo, which means the least the interviewee should do is to be polite with the journalist. I’m not saying nice, which also makes things, reviews, and that personal point of view from the interviewer reflected on the text, even better.

What makes an interview worth? Personally speaking I reckon the most interesting stuff has to do with going beyond this promo part. If you have to talk about an album, you better try to get some meaning, find out curiosities and push the interviewee to talk about more personal facts. Everybody is gonna tell you their last album is the best up to date, but you have to understand why. In case promo is to be with an upcoming tour be creative about what we can expect from that, but I guess the best is to make them think. Films, family, influences, science…you name it. Put them in the position they feel like revealing something new and divert from the main path. Readers are eager to read something outstanding, and for that it’s necessary to push the artists.

Months ago I had to interview Ann Wilson of Heart. That interview together with Neko Case’s were the greatest to me, because we dealt with things which didn’t have to do with their music but their experiences and positions on certain issues. With Wilson, as per Jordi’s request, we dug into the Seattle scene back in the early 1990’s and we ended up talking about the loss of Layne Staley. With Neko we dealt with hypersexuality in music and talked about Lady Ga Ga. Believe me, it was awesome, plus it was face to face.

Probably because I’m not very experienced I’ve never had an interview with a young band. I guess it must be tough because of their short career, and you cannot bring out old stuff, so that’d be a challenge.

I haven’t told you about my two last fails. Well, the first was a disaster. I’m not naming the band because I still got hope I will manage to do something with them eventually, but I got very disappointed with the lack of seriousness they showed. I was meant to have a face-to-face interview with them and spent many hours waiting for their call to meet them for the chat. When I arrived, I had to wait for 20 minutes till the singer showed up and explained that they had to eat something first to it will take a little while. Well, I waited on the street for almost 2 hours till I got pissed off and joined some friends for a beer at a bar. When I met them they told me it wasn’t personal and they were too hangover, so we could do a phoner or I could send them the questions via email. By the time I didn’t care anymore. I was the only Spanish journalist willing to have an interview with them, because they aren’t getting press covered properly in this country. I can see why now.

axl and slash interview

For the second, the phone call was agreed at a convenient hour at lunch time so I could make it at the office without interfering in my work. I tried to reach the guy 4 times unsuccessfully, with the fuckin’ answering machine jumping all the time. I had to notify my boss at the mag, send an email to everybody (boss, manager, singer) advising it was impossible to reach him. He replied 4h later apologizing asking if I could do it then. And I did, but I had to ask my real boss for this favor, and luckily he accepted because we’re not too busy these days. Apparently his phone had run out of battery (first world problems). The interview was excellent even though I was a bit stressed with the situation but, how come you let your fuckin’ phone die when you have an interview scheduled, man? Really, I couldn’t believe it.

Thus this is my truth about rock interviews up to date. I hope I improve and don’t have to face many incidences, but to be honest, this is harder than I expected. I only wish they keep coming so I can focus better and learn the most of them.

4 responses to “The truth about rock interviews (by a rookie)

  1. Me ha encantado esta entrada. La verdad es que es frustrante cuando te preparas bien una entrevista y te encuentras con que el músico en cuestión no se lo toma enserio.
    En cuanto a los nervios…yo creo que a mi nunca se me pasaran, sobretodo cuando entrevistas a alguien que admiras. Si me hubieses visto minutos antes de entrevistar a Omar Rodriguez por teléfono…
    Un placer leerte 🙂

  2. Gracias Isabel. Espero que estés bien.

    La verdad es que las paso canutas a veces, y si algo sale mal o hay algún imprevisto, cuesta coger las riendas, pero bueno, supongo que es el aliciente, no?

  3. Puff suscribo todo… luego curiosamente hay gente que llevan mazo años en esto y son realmente humildes y super fáciles de llevar… aunque hay algunos que mejor echarles de comer aparte. He tenido uno que me dijo que la pregunta ya la había contestado en otra ocasión y que lo copiara de internet… tiene cojones..
    Al final como tu dices, les estás haciendo publicidad, y muchas veces buscando 20′ en tu curro REAL para ellos, jugándotela muchas veces…. en fin, esto sí que es algo vocacional porque si no íbamos a estar ahí pasando frío! 🙂 me encanta tu blog Toi! Ganacas de leer la de Against Me! Keep on rocking!

    • David! Gracias por tu comment y por leer esta chapuza de blog 🙂

      Cada entrevista es una auténtica aventura. Hace muy poco me las hicieron pasar muy putas y casi arruinan una. Acabé sudando y de los nervios, joder! Fue terrible.

      El lunes 29 sale la de Against Me! en RockZone. Espero que te guste, quedé bastante contenta, la verdad.

      Ganazas de darte un abrazo en Londres viendo a nuestro pelos guarroa. Va a ser brutal.

      Kisses!

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