Band Interviews: A Tip Sheet

summersleepy.jpgHey everyone, give a nice welcome to John Zaremba. John plays in an awesome band called Say When – a band that is able to support themselves being on the road year round with no label! Any advice he gives you, your band should be listening to! -ed.

Frank Zappa said it best when he described rock journalism as “people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” But I think we have it in us to prove Frank wrong. There are insightful interviewers, interesting musicians and a public who would like to know more about the music they love (or about a band they don’t know they love yet.) After the jump are some tips on how to conduct yourself in an interview.

Be Entertaining
Most interview questions are open-ended and invite
incredibly boring answers. If you’re a new band, your interviewer’s
first question will inevitably be about how the band got started.
Answer in 10 words or less, then get on to something else, because it’s
not interesting to hear about how this guy was in this band and this
guy was in that band and this band broke up and this guy posted on Craigslist and that’s how the magic started to happen. Stories about
bands forming are boring. Stories about what happens to bands after
they form are far more interesting. Tell those instead.

You will also be asked about your influences. Now, chances are you all
like lots of different music. Unless you’re some insane mash-up posse,
do not mention this in your interview. If you tell people your drummer
loves Bob Marley, your bassist loves Pantera and your guitar player is
really digging the new Paramore record, you just told people your band
has no fucking idea who they are collectively. Find your common
influences, then talk about them, why they’re great, and what they do
to your sound.

Be Sober
Do not go into your interview sh*tfaced. You will not sound funny. You will just sound drunk.

Be On Point
Before the interview, figure out a few things you want to
talk about: your record, your live show, your aspirations. Then find
every opportunity you can to talk about them.

Be Articulate, But Accessible
The only thing worse than listening to
some knuckle-dragger try to describe his band is listening to some faux Ivy League douchebag use big words unnecessarily to do the same. It is possible to
speak intelligently and simply at the same time. So do it.

Be Confident
Nobody wants to hear you say “um…”.

Be Positive
Keep your interview about you, and for Christ’s sake,
don’t sh*t on a club or a promoter or another band or former bandmates.
You won’t come off as a badass, you’ll come across as a drama queen.
Badasses take care of their dirty laundry in private.

Be Smart
The interview is a chance to get people into your band, so do
it. (Even if no one is listening or reading, you can use it in your
press materials, or if it’s on video, you can post it to your website.
This is instant credibility.) So be engaging and talk about why you
love your band. If you don’t love your band, then quit your band and
join a new one that you do love. Or, change something to make you love
the band you’re in right now. Then schedule another interview and talk
about why you love your band.

John Zaremba is the guitarist in Boston’s Say When.

  • a fan

    Great article… very helpful info. Nice to see John in print again. He’s very clear and to the point. musformation is lucky to have him on board.
    I remember Zaremba WAY back in the day before he became a superstar rock’n'roll chick magnet (yeah, ladies, he’s not just a kick-ass guitarist, he’s hot, too) when he wrote for our local paper. Always looked forward to his articles (‘cannoli’ is already plural, *******).
    Anyway, after we got attacked by lions in the Congo, crashed our hot-air balloon 500 miles off the coast of Ireland, and adopted that penguin together at the Aquarium, John set off into the wild world of the insanely successful road band and I haven’t seen him since. I go to “Say When’s”
    myspace page and play “Deception” over and over as it features his guitar work so brilliantly.
    He still has a frozen drink waiting for him back home at the beach.

  • Anonymous

    We are indeed very lucky to have him