How NOT To Interview Musicians

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On Monday night, I had the privilege of watching James Murphy salvage an interview that, in lesser hands, probably would have gone down in flames. Mostly, the interviewer seemed to suffer from poor posture (perhaps he should watch this dry-mouthed TED talk on the power of body language) and lack of confidence– “Should we open it up to questions?” he asked at one point. Murphy’s response? “I don’t know, dude, it’s your interview.”

To be fair, maybe he was having a bad day, maybe he was forced to do the interview last minute, and it wasn’t the worst two hours of my life. I wasn’t the one onstage, after all. Plus, let’s be real: Musicians can be a finicky bunch who don’t really like to talk to the press. In the meantime, let’s look at some ridiculous, less-than-stellar interviews in the long, tenuous history of journalists versus musicians.

In short: This is how you don’t do it.

Don’t dress up as Nardwuar.
Apparently Blur never grew out of the reportedly dog-eat-dog British school system known for its cruel headmasters and worse bullying. The band members push Nardwuar around, remove his glasses, and steal his hat, which he asks for repeatedly while amazingly not breaking character. “As long as we’re getting this on tape, we’re good!” he says at one point. At least Dave Rowntree found it within himself to apologize years later. [All of them acted like JERKS!]

Don’t look like an idiot and be sure to understand your subject’s references.
When Will Oldham introduces “Big Friday” during a morning interview on Kansas City TV, the anchor, god bless her, says, “I love big Fridays!” Buzzkill Bill points out that it’s actually a reference to Big Wednesday, a surf term popularized in the 1978 film of the same name. She also doesn’t get it when he references Bonnie Prince Charlie as one of the inspirations for his three-pronged Bonnie Prince Billy moniker. Live and learn, I guess.   [ Awful Awful! ]

This might seem obvious, but know how to pronounce your subject’s name.
Terry Gross’ interview with Gene Simmons goes to some dark places, but things start to derail when she doesn’t get his Hebrew birth name, Chaim Witz, quite right. “The name came out of a gentile mouth,” Simmons says. “It came out bland.” “It’s not a gentile mouth, actually,” Gross responds. “Ooh, maybe it’s a discussion we can have. But I don’t want to start something we can’t finish,” Simmons says. Maybe it’s because I’ve listened to This American Laugh too many times, but Simmons’ sexual undertones in this case (or ever) are just, well, gross. [ Hilarious! At least should have practiced pronuncing the name right!]

If you make a joke, make sure it’s a good joke.
Clive Anderson’s interview with the Bee Gees goes well enough until he interjects one too many times. “We did make one hit during that time,” Barry Gibb says, “called ‘Don’t Forget to Remember’.” “I don’t remember that one,” Anderson retorts. With a straight face, Gibb walks out, followed swiftly by his brothers. It’s pretty pathetic watching Anderson’s face slowly fall as he learns, as we all do, that his actions have consequences. [ haha! I would have done the same: WALK OUT!]

When in doubt, interview yourself.
A few musicians have found a way around the necessary evil of giving interviews: ask not what your interviewer can do for you, but what you can do for yourself. In a pitch-perfect parody, “Dick Flash” of “Pork Magazine” interviews Brian Eno, hilariously mixing up the title of Small Craft on a Milk Sea and cutting him off.  [Gosh Brian Eno is a super smart dude. What an embarrassing interview! Shoot the interviewer!]

Don’t be a dick and remember that musicians are overly sensitive about everything and will probably misread your constructive criticism.  When Queen toured in 1984 after a three-year hiatus, guitarist Brian May gave an interview with a French journalist who called Queen’s style “a bit overblown.” “Is that a criticism?” May asks. He starts to answer and then abruptly turns around to scream, bizarrely but appropriately, “Fuck off!” at someone making noise behind him. [Haha! I would never interview any of these dudes!]

The 10 Best Concerts in NYC This Weekend, 6/14/13

he Postal Service perform at Barclays tonite.

The Postal Service perform at Barclays tonite.

For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar.

Friday, 6/14:

The Postal Service
Barclays Center
Friday & Saturday, 8pm, $35-$50
Back in 2003, few would have guessed that Sub Pop’s biggest-selling release since Nirvana’s Bleach would come from a Death Cab for Cutie side project, an indie-electronic duo that paired frontman Ben Gibbard with Headset’s Jimmy Tamborello. Nevertheless, under the name the Postal Service, the band gave the label its second platinum album, never cracking Billboard’s top 100 but slowly accumulating sales as it circulated among high schoolers at study halls and teenagers about to go to college. Those teenagers have since grown up and moved to Brooklyn, and this weekend you’ll find many of them at the Barclays Center for a special delivery from the reunited pair.

Black Flag + The Men + Good for You + The Netherlands
7pm, $32
It’s easy to forget that Black Flag existed before and after Henry Rollins, but the recently reformed line-up featuring founder and guitarist Greg Ginn alongside vocalist Ron Reyes, who began performing with them in the late ’70s, is here to catch you up. To help solidify this reunion, the band have a new album in the works and a tour that will bring together punks old and new ones to tear up venues across America.

Mavis Staples + Cody ChestnuTT
Prospect Park Bandshell – Brooklyn, NYC
7:30pm, free
Husky-voiced gospel powerhouse Mavis Staples, 73, started out sharing stages with the Dixie Hummingbirds and Soul Stirrers until venerable “Pops” Staples realized that ’60s rock contained at least as much spirit. Her two recent Jeff Tweedy-produced albums continue to deliver the transcendent goods. Cody Chesnutt channeled his inner Marvin Gaye on last year’s Landing on a Hundred.

Carmen Souza
9:15pm, $15/$20
The Lisbon-born Cape Verdean singer sounds crazy like a Ross (Annie) or a Mitchell (Joni) in the best possible sense on her effervescent new Kachupada, a dazzling blend of highwire jazz improvisation, French accordionism, African roots music, and smart, sublime kookiness. It’s a foaming polyrhythmic puddle of unceasing acoustic amazement from top to bottom and you probably shouldn’t miss her.

Saturday, 6/15:

Calexico + Susana Baca + Radio Jarocho & Akoko Nante Ensemble
Prospect Park Bandshell – Brooklyn, NYC
7pm, free
Tucson-based Americana indie band Calexico makes cultural appropriation sound good, with well-conceived guitar-based melodies about border crossers and journeymen, tinged with mariachi horns and a general sadness. The two main members, Joey Burns and John Convertino, have proven album after album that although there’s nothing quite new under the desert sun, the old sounds can still evoke an abstract nostalgia for the American Southwest that is as beautiful as it is mesmerizing.

Chance the Rapper
Europa Night Club
7pm, $15
Chance the Rapper’s technicolor dreamcoat mixtape Acid Rap has taken 2013 by storm, pushing the artist from cult adoration in his native Chicago to out and out national fame: Despite its independent release, the album is polished enough to invoke the names of Kanye, Kendrick, and Andre 3000. Expect a rap show that features as much squawking, grinning, and tooth-and-nail rhyming as it does slowed-down introspective cultural critiques.

Merchandise + Milk Music + Destruction Unit
285 Kent Ave
8pm, $15
Described as noise pop, punk or even shoegaze, Merchandise drawls the lazy slurs of southern phrasing and contrasts them with an amalgam of sonic sounds too diverse to name and too muddled to pick apart. Just off the release of their Totale Night EP, from this show one can expect distortion and drama, but told in slow motion.

Classixx + Headband And Hooligan
Le Poisson Rouge
11pm, $15
In the late ’90s, Gildas Loaëc was living with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and contributing to the music Thomas Bangalter and de Homem-Christo were making under the name Daft Punk; in 2002, Loaëc started Kitsuné Records, a label whose Japanese name translates as “fox” but is synonymous with summer dance music, the sort of thick grooves that seem to radiate heat. For a crash course, head to (Le) Poisson Rouge, where two of the label’s most prominent artists, Frenchman Fred Falke and L.A. duo Classixx (who moved to the label Innovative Leisure for their recent Hanging Gardens), play the venue’s Powerslug party, and study up with Hanging Gardens’s two singles, “All You’re Waiting For” and “Holding On.” Follow the bassline.

‘Jazz Age Lawn Party’
Governors Island
Saturday & Sunday, 11am
A critical mass of the city’s flappers, dandies, and vaudevillians give Baz Luhrmann a run for his money during this weekend time warp on an island relatively untouched by more contemporary advances in technology. Governors Island may not have the sweeping grandeur of Gatsby’s house or Ziegfeld’s Follies, but Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra take spectators back to the halcyon days when Cole Porter ruled the charts, the Charleston was all the rage, and the living was easy. Dance lessons, an antique car show, and a pie-baking contest should ensure that the party is roaring enough for all ages.

Sunday, 6/16:

Bang on a Can Marathon
Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University
1pm, free
“It is snow, it is snow!” declare the instruments in Schnee, the hour-long instrumental blizzard of canonic microtonality that will serve as the centerpiece to this year’s nine-hour Bang on a Can Marathon. Don’t set your Citi Bike on autopilot for the marathon’s usual World Financial Center home, though: It’s under construction, so the River to River Festival’s annual kickoff event will be held at Pace University. Arrive early for a diverse set by contemporary experimentalists Alarm Will Sound, followed by a Lukas Ligeti premiere for dueling drums. Stick around for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, singing Nico Muhly’s Short Prayers in Respect of a Storm, and joyful noise duo Talk Normal. Then stay late for BOAC co-founder Michael Gordon’s glorious Yo Shakespeare and Asphalt Orchestra’s brassy take on Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida’s Zwimbarrac Khafzavrapp.

June 13 – 16 Manchester TN: Bonnaroo 2013 Lineup

We'll see you there!

We’ll see you there!

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2013 began on
Thursday, June 13
and ends on
Sunday, June 16

Lineup subject to change

Mumford & Sons Cancel Bonnaroo Appearance

Mumford and Sons bassist Ted Dwan.

Mumford and Sons bassist Ted Dwan.

Fans of Mumford & Sons who were hoping to see them headline Bonnaroo’s main stage this weekend are out of luck. The band just announced it is canceling its June 15th appearance at the giant Tennessee festival, along with upcoming dates at Colorado’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Kansas’ Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, while bassist Ted Dwane recovers from an emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.

The band posted this statement on their Facebook page:
Dear friends, It is with great joy that we can announce that Ted has been discharged from hospital and is on the road to a full recovery. The surgery went well, and the excellent medical team helping him are very pleased with his progress. He has been nothing short of heroic in how he has handled the whole ordeal, and now it has been medically proved that he does indeed have a brain.

Today, however, also marks the end of our Summer Stampede Tour. We were hoping to have made it out by Bonnaroo this weekend. But it is with sadness that we have to announce the cancellation of our scheduled performances at both Bonnaroo and Telluride Festivals, and our show at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, KS. If we could’ve we would’ve, you know that about us. We trust that you can respect our collective desire to encourage Ted to make a full recovery, and that this is based purely on the medical advice we have received.

On behalf of Ted, and all of us really, we would like to thank every one for their compassion and support at this time and we are very excited to get back out on tour as soon as we can.

Mumford & Sons announced earlier this week that they were scrapping three pre-Bonnaroo shows, citing Dwane’s health. The band has more summer dates planned, including major stops at the U.K.’s Glastonbury and Chicago’s Lollapalooza. It remains unclear who will take Mumford’s Saturday night headlining slot at Bonnaroo.