The music industry is a tough industry, for everyone involved. From top to bottom, we all have jobs that usually require long hours, low pay, and encounters with people whose talent is far outstripped by their egos. Now maybe I'm biased, but I think it's extra tough business for music journalists. You experience all of the negatives listed above, on top of abuse from fans and a general disdain for your occupation. But there's one element that often gets overlooked, and that is the interview.
At its best, an interview with an artist can be a life changing event, the opportunity to experience some of your favorite people as actual people, and not just a person making sounds that you enjoy. At its worst, well, let's just say things can get really, really ugly. I'd like to say that this piece is an ode to the former, but it is not. This is a compilation, and a homage, to some of the times when music interviews got really bad, really ugly, and flat out really awkward.
1. Nardwuar vs. Blur
To start off, this one really gets my blood boiling. For those unfamiliar, Nardwuar is a Canadian music journalist who is unquestionably one of the most gentle and loveable souls. He's known for his easygoing, humorous style and penchant for giving gifts to his subjects. He's also respected as one of the best for his intense background research that goes into every interview, and artists such as Drake and Pharrell have even called him the best interview they've ever had.
But in 2003, when Nardwuar interviewed indie Brit-pop group Blur, things weren't so easygoing. Drummer Dave Rowntree mocks the poor interviewer, throwing his hat and glasses around the room, and ignores most of his questions. Rowntree later apologized, citing his cocaine addiction as the reason for his actions, but you don't get off the hook that easy for treating Nardwuar like that. Shame.
2. A$AP Rocky vs. A Very Awkward Fan
I'm giving you fair warning ahead of time, this one is painfully difficult to watch. To her credit, the interviewer, known as Aurelia, wasn't a professional interviewer. She had won an MTV contest, and as part of the deal, she got to travel to Pitchfork Music Festival and deliver a plate to A$AP Rocky with his face on it. The initial exchange goes well, but it's clear Aurelia didn't have a plan for what to say after. You can see it click in Rocky's face that this is not a normal interview, but he hangs in there and is a sport for her. But still, it physically hurts to watch this level of cringe.
3. Raygun vs. themselves
There's a reason why you've never heard of Raygun, and the reason is this video. Sony Music apparently attempted to purge it from the internet it was so bad. A little background: In 2009, a television channel called 4Play allowed labels to tape artist interviews and send them in for promotion on the channel. That's what happened here, but in this case there's nothing much positive to promote.
The interview includes questionable eyeliner choices, a guy named Ray who named a band Raygun after himself, and a comparison calling themselves Iggy Pop, James Brown, and David Bowie on an elevator.
4. Killswitch Engage vs. "Greg" from zambooie.com
I'm not sure what a zambooie.com is but I think I saw a late-nite infomercial where they were selling dish sponges. I really feel for Greg, he's just trying to conduct an interview with a band he likes but the awkwardness is palpable and the band really tears into him. It should also be noted that if you're ever going to try and prove how much of a fan you are by saying, "I've been a fan of you guys since you started in (xxxx) year" (which you should never do by the way), make sure you actually know what year the band started. Greg asks the band what the name of their upcoming album is and one of the band members obliges by answering, "you dying on camera". You really dug your own grave on this one, "Greg" from zambooie.com.
5. The Jesus and Mary Chain vs. Belgian T.V. Host
I'm not really sure what was going on with this interview with the shoegaze progenitors, because things come off the rails pretty quickly. The interviewer asks a question about The Sex Pistols which immediately sends lead singer Jim Reid off on an expletive-laced tirade against them and Joy Division, and before you even know what hits you drummer Bobby Gillespie is going full tongue-action with a random fan on the couch. It's a hilarious juxtaposition watching the interviewer trying to maintain a serious conversation that the band is none too keen to have while the drummer is on his way to third base.
6. ABC T.V. vs. Rivers Cuomo vs. The Hangover From Hell
Rivers Cuomo blames his not-so-cheery disposition on being tired from jetlag but between his references to Jagermeister and general unwillingness to talk, it's pretty clear he's suffering a pretty excruciating hangover. You can really feel for Cuomo, who looks like he would spew if he had to turn his head and look at host Dylan Lewis. It's painful to watch, and you find yourself wishing that the host would take a hint.