tips for conducting a successful interview

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More thanks to folk on Facebook:

  • be sober. be on time. be honest.
  • (first one’s okay if you have a drink with the band. second one is absolutely essential. third one is actually a great technique to win over the interview subject. if you *haven’t* heard their previous work or aren’t familiar with their background…telling them so is actually good at opening them up. obviously you don’t want to look like a total idiot, but i’ve learned that being straightforward when you don’t know is a helluva lot better than trying to fake it)
  • Don’t interview cretins.
  • do your damn homework. it takes all of thirty seconds to use google to get a good idea about what sort of things they talk about, what they don’t like to talk about, what they’re probably sick of talking about.
  • …also, if you DO your homework and they get testy over a question you’ve asked saying people ask us all the time, you have some leverage to call bullshit on ’em.
  • …never be afraid to lecture an artist on how to behave in an interview. after all they’ve probably never had a grown-up tell them what to do.
  • ask if they wouldn’t mind doing your kid’s math homework
  • First time I got interviewed by the NME (Lamacq) we got so over-excited about it all that we nicked some road cones on the way back over the river and half the band was arrested, locked up and done for criminal damage. So the main tip is to be ready to cough up for bail.
  • don’t make the interview about you. if you want something to be about you, write a record review. that’s what they’re there for.
  • ask what you want to know, no matter what. And don’t ask what you don’t really want to know, no matter what.
  • Don’t be me.
  • Obviously always let the band know they are the very first people ever to say they want their music to do the talking for them. And always let them know you find them really interesting and don’t think 90% of the bands you interview are very dull…
  • Try not to look bored when yet another musician gets his cock out and pisses in front of you
  • Be a good psychologist: make them know right away you did listen to their record, make a connection, make them feel like they can tell you anything cause you are not an asshole.
  • 1) Within the first three questions, ask something well-researched and non-obvious that lets them know that you’re not just some idiot, and you actually know your stuff. 2) Don’t be some idiot, and actually know your stuff. It’s amazing how refreshing they find that, especially if they’re doing a whole day of interviews back-to-back.
  • If the PR tells you not to mention something, mention it. (Note: this bit of advice can sometimes backfire…)
  • When in earshot of the band always say to the PR ‘so if I do this lot you’re definitely going to get me that interview with …. (Insert major name here)’
  • REMEMBER: the coolest people are often terrible interviewees, whist the seemingly lamest people are often the most fun!
  • Conversely, if the interviewee is, say, Chrissie Hynde or Marc Almond, just hit Record and make sure you’ve got enough tape/battery/charge/whatever. Pretty much the only question you need is “So, how are you?”, then sit back.
  • It’s amazing how a ‘shut up and listen’ approach can work if you hone your questions right.
  • Record the interview. This is VERY important.
  • I personally don’t like preparing questions and just let the interview flow as a conversation. But that only works if you know a lot about the band I guess.
  • Ask them questions you don’t already know the answers to.
  • Don’t be a dick.
  • Avoid at all costs interviewing all of the band. Waste of everyone’s time.
  • Have a list of questions so if there’s a pause you can always go on to something else.
  • Realise that really nobody gives a damn what the band say, just that they say something. So let them guide the interview to things that they can be passionate or entertaining about.
  • Listen to what the band is saying and be willing to change the course of your prepared questions. I like to make a bunch of different questions ahead of time so that I can ditch a whole set, depending on the direction things are going.
  • Just listen
  • Speak little. Appear more bumbling than you are…. Puts them off guard.
  • prior to the interview, watch or listen to as many recent interviews with the subject as you can.
  • Have a very detailed and long questions list, with priority questions bolded and other style nuances… And then use it as little as possible. It’s purpose is as a crutch … In case things dry up, and also the act of making it imprints it in your head. But wherever possible go with the flow, if there is one. Glance down at your list as infrequently as possible. Hold their gaze, listen to what they say. Unless you are very unlucky they will come up with things that are spurs to questions you never would have thought of asking. They might even surprise themselves. With any luck most of what you want ask will get covered. At the end quick scan of your bolded bits to make sure nothing crucial missed. Otherwise, flow is all. For Nothing is worse than an interview when the interviewer doggedly sticks to their agenda, methodically going through the list in order.
  • Remember: they’re more scared of you than you are of them. Unless they’re Method Man or maybe Iggy Pop.
  • Build rapport and highlight things in common, have an angle
  • Have a laugh with them. That’s the most important bit.
  • ask at the start how long you have. It’s a good guide for honing the right questions so you get what you came for and it’s also a good tool for winding up the interview if it’s not going so well
  • If you are on the radio, do not, repeat do not, interrupt them mid-sentence. Wait for them to finish.
  • If you’re interviewing for a mainstream newspaper/outlet and you want to keep your gig, form a professional but friendly rapport, let them know you mean business by asking some well-researched/meaningful stuff, then get the questions you need to ask for a mainstream audience out of the way (if the act is professional, they’ll know the drill and you can usually say what you’re about to do upfront. I often got fresher material on stale subjects by being honest about that after proving I knew what I was talking about), THEN ask questions that you really want to know the answer to.
  • Follow up every response with “mm hmm, and how does that make your feel?”
  • Make sure your recording equipment is working. The rest is chopped liver.
  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH!
  • Buy the band some food,they love you. A little goes a long way.

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