Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
- Let's drop the attitude. I'm sure you were a big deal at your high school talent show, but I've never heard of you before and chances are 99.9% of the record buying public hasn't either. You're not too good to spend 20 min. on the phone with a reporter who is trying to give your band a little publicity. I have interviewed some of the bigger names in punk, folks in Bad Religion and Flogging Molly, who don't need a mention from my magazines to sell records, and they have been fantastic, entertaining every single question I had without an eye roll. You'd be lucky to have a career half as successful, so suck it up buttercup and handle the interview like a big kid.
- Buy a watch. This one seems obvious, but if you're on tour, I know you have nothing to do until sound check late in the afternoon. There's no need to be two hours late for an interview. Put down the PSP and show up to the interview on time.
- Pretend like it's your first time. I know interviews can sometimes get tedious. Especially when you get asked the same questions again and again. Here's a little secret: we're asking you those same generic questions because we know absolutely nothing about you. At all. You've been together as a band for less than a year, you have one five-song E.P. to your name and your bio includes absolutely no interesting details other than your drummer spells his name with an "i" rather than the traditional "y" spelling. We're just desperate to keep the conversation going longer than three minutes. If you're give us nothing, then you're going to get questions like "How did you guys first get together?" Here's a deal I'll make with you, you don't sigh loudly when I ask a question you've heard before and I won't ask how your band got it's name. Deal?
- You're really not that funny. I'm sure it can get boring on the road. You need a diversion, so why not screw with the reporter and not take a single question seriously. Being sarcastic is an art form that few can pull off (Fat Mike, being one). Chances are you will not come off funny, but will inevitable just sound like a douche. Nice job! You have now pissed off the reporter who will never write about your band again and alienated tens of thousands of readers who might have bought your record. At least your bass player laughed, though.
- This one's for the flacks. Dear publicist, I know you got this job to one day meet the guys in Green Day and now you're stuck pitching a band like Cute is What We Aim For (one of my worst interview experiences ever, by the way), but suck it up. Return that e-mail and answer your phones. The only time I hear from some of you is when you are pushing some no-name band that is about to disappear into the ether and your client is pressuring you for a clip. I have no problem covering small bands if the publicist has been cool in the past. Mike at Earshot and Vanessa at Mutiny and Fat Wreck Chords, for example. I would cover anyone for these guys because they have been extremely helpful, setting me up with hard-to-get interviews and ALWAYS answering my e-mails, even if it's a question about when a record is coming out. Earshot and Mutiny have a phenomenal client list, in part because their owner's know how to deal with the media.
- This one's for flacks, Pt. II. Tell me the truth. I know I'm not writing for the New York Times. If your client doesn't want to talk to every outlet, that's fine. Just don't tell me "he's not doing interviews," when I will pick up a competitor's magazine next month and see an exhaustive Q&A with the dude. Again, I'm in PR, so I know those conversations are uncomfortable, but if I lie to my reporters they don't cover any of my clients again. I'm the same way. You're dead to me. Also, don't pester me about covering some horrible band and then go silent the second I ask to get some more details on one of your bigger clients. If that's your M.O., don't be surprised to see your clients walking out the door because you can't get a reporter to answer your calls.
OK, I have stepped back down from the soapbox. All in all, the vast majority of bands and PR folks I deal with on a day to day basis are extremely professional. They make this job, of which I get paid almost zero dollars for, worth doing. To all of you I say "Thanks".
To the others, remember this phrase: "Would you like to supersize that?".