Thursday, March 01, 2007


Thoughts on interviewing

Today I've had my first interview by email. It's a bit different to meeting musicians in person, where you pick up cues from their interactions, body language, clothes, whether they spend ages ripping up sugar packets, all of which can add interest to the final article. Even in phone interviews, where there's still the flow of conversation, you can ask the interviewee to expand on or explain what they're trying to say, pick up humour and what they really feel from the tone of their voices (or whether, naming no names, it's 1pm and they're stoned off their heads), to spell out the names of the obscure bands they cite as their influences - and they can speak to the moment, like Die Roten Punkte yesterday: "We're in a phone box in Keith, Astrid is doing the robot on the pavement ... there's an old couple walking past giving us strange looks, I guess they don't see many international rock'n'roll stars here..."

Writing out questions for Laura Love made me really think hard about what kind of answers I needed, and also about how I should most respectfully phrase my questions - especially when asking about how a particularly difficult upbringing had shaped her today both as a woman and a musician. One particular story mentioned in her biography is just horrific, and I'd feel intrusive about bringing it up and forcing her to recount such a traumatic memory. Her CD, You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes, is really, scarily good. On the one hand, it's great to be able to say to someone that their music, or art, or whatever they've created, has really touched you. On the other hand, they must hear that a lot, and I'm trying to be professional here (she says, three bags of groceries spilling around her feet in an internet cafe, the milk already warmed to room temperature.)

Apropos of nothing, a phrase that you probably never want to hear resounded around the tree-lined calm of Unley this evening. My housemate Pete has his plaster cast off and is getting back into his professional life ... as a lawyer. And he's relishing it. There are moments when he looks truly piratical, with his dark eyes flashing dramatically above a pile of paperwork, especially when uttering with relish a phrase as sinister as:

"I'm gonna charge like a wounded bull."

Pause, gentle reader, to allow a shudder down your spine.

Unley is a strange suburb. The power blackouts that plague Adelaide never affect us. The council offers increasingly unlikely excuses for these, ranging from the wrong kind of trees inconsiderately dropping branches, to, I don't know, drop-bears. Yet somehow our street lights shine on. Pete's conspiracy theory puts it down to the concentration of dignitaries, high earners, and Freemasons in the area - and if you've read Alan Moore's outstanding graphic novel "From Hell" - I'm not talking about that film remake - you may well believe it. I prefer to attribute it to more positive things, such as a number of powerful leylines running through Unley and converging on the nexus of power for all of South Australia. I am, of course, referring to Haigh's Chocolate Factory.

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