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Miscellaneous - Interviewing Rock Bands and Stars

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 27 / 11 / 2018

Miscellaneous - Interviewing Rock Bands and Stars


Nick Dent-Robinson reflects on interviewing major rock stars and bands and how that has in recent times changed.

Watching Queen's film did make me reflect on the good fortune I've had to actually meet and interview quite a few of rock's bigger names. And yet the major rock interview is a strange phenomenon. Always essentially a business transaction, it is undertaken by both parties for mutual commercial benefit. Yet it must masquerade as an informal, friendly exchange which happens as if it is a chance meeting – though often it will have taken weeks of hard slog and negotiation to arrange! Both participants will feign nonchalance. The interviewer will be excited and nervous but adopt a cool, relaxed, professional air. The interviewee will be suspicious, guarded and, at least initially, will want to minimise the time given - but will pretend to be relaxed and welcoming. When the subject is a mega superstar – like Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan or Madonna, most of all the interviewer must work hard never to betray a fraction of how impressed and excited they are. An aura of false calm, relaxation and bonhomie and rapt attention must suppress that inner child that is silently screaming, “I'm talking to Paul McCartney, I'm talking to Paul McCartney” whilst all past professional experience dictates that the interviewer retains as much information as possible about the subject - like body language, clothes, hair, surroundings etc etc. Rock star interviews are an especially big deal for my (baby boomer) generation because for us very few film stars and no star of literature, sport, business or politics could ever eclipse a top international rock star! This may be a fading phenomenon, however. With the growth of social media and various other changes, it is now impossible that any new musicians will be able to maintain the mystique - or behave as badly - as those of the Sixties, Seventies or Eighties were able to. All misdeeds would today be seen live and forever! Similarly there won't be the same opportunity for live bands to learn their craft before being subject to intense on-line scrutiny. So the likes of John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen are unlikely to reappear. I was fortunate in my youth to see performances by Duke Ellington and by Louis Armstrong. Both were probably past their best by then but it was great to personally witness artists who had been there from when their genre of music first began. Today I always urge young music fans to see the likes of Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Elton John, if ever they can. Because these people are definitely some of the last of the originals and they have something in the way they perform that is very unlikely to be emulated again.

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