No, more like, I find that a lot of editors ask me ‘Are you prepared to ask the hard questions?’ In a lot of interviews I read, I find the person interviewing seems to be focusing on being friends with the band or making a good impression on them that they might not ask harder questions so as they don’t put them offside.
AM: Yeah I see what you mean. If there is something I do want to ask a band like how they are perceived in the media or how a particular event went down, I wouldn’t put that as my first question. You’d want to put it towards the end so if they got pissed off you’d still have something of an interview so if they hung up you wouldn’t be screwed [laughs]. I don’t think I’ve shied away from asking those kinds of questions, I think it’s just a matter of phrasing them in a way in a way that isn’t antagonistic. It’s one thing to bring your bias into an interview to a certain extent – it’s hard to avoid that – but if you’re putting a question to them totally from your bias I think it’s disrespectful as a journalist. I always try to portray things as fairly as possible. If I was interviewing an artist for example and I was talking to them about a sex tape they had that had been published, I wouldn’t take an antagonistic question about it. I’d talk about how other people have portrayed it and whether they think that’s fair.
Do you worry about competition from other writers?
AM: No not really. In music obviously it is super competitive, which isn’t why I’m getting out of it, as I explained earlier I’ve always had my goals outside of music. I see music journalism as a bit of a stepping stone towards my true passion which is narrative style feature writing. Music journalism in Australia is competitive and in many cases it’s who pitches a story and interview first that’s who gets commissioned which sucks! Let’s face it, just because you’re not on your email all day looking at news and seeing who’s touring or whatever and if you miss out on that that shouldn’t be the reason why you shouldn’t be commissioned to do a certain story. It should be on a case by case basis – this again comes down to most editors being time poor and them just wanting to slot in whoever is free to do the interview.
Going back to the question, no I don’t worry about competition because to some extent we’re all in this together and there wouldn’t be any point in creating rivalries or harbouring bitterness towards other journalists because on a long-term scale that’s not wise or sustainable. I like to have writer friends and I like to talk writing with people. I’ve always been open to speaking to other writers and answering their questions like I have with you. There’s no point in seeing it as a competitive thing because each writer brings their own experiences, bias and passions towards each article they write.
I myself have always found it hard to connect with other writers. I find writing can be a pretty solitary pursuit. I’ve only ever really had two other friends that are writers and one of them maintains he doesn’t have friends! Anytime I’ve found myself in a room with other writers I feel on the outer, a lot of times they already know each other and don’t seem so open to talking to someone new but maybe that’s just…
AM: Had you connected with any of them before meeting?
No, not really I guess.
AM: Something I’ve been doing for the couple of years since I’ve been doing journalism professionally is that if I read something I really like and that influences me in any way, I do my best to contact the journalist and tell them. That’s always been beneficial. Hell you know and I know that when you stay up late at night and invest so much time into an article you want to feel like you’re making a difference at the end of the day. It’s always nice to hear from other writers that they like your stuff because in some way their opinion holds greater weight than the average reader because they know what goes into writing these articles and researching. Every time I’ve written a writer and they’ve responded they’ve been like ‘wow! Thank you for doing that because it means a lot to me as a fellow writer.’ I’d be upset if I didn’t make that connection with the other writer. Great writing to me –this may sound stupid – is one of the most important things in the world because I love reading, I love writing and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I feel that way with interviewing. Unfortunately I haven’t read something in ages by another writer that has totally blown me away.
AM: In what fields do you read in? Do you just read music journalism?
No, I pretty much dislike most music journalism.
I think the quality of most music magazines is really poor. I usually find myself reading interviews with musicians in fashion magazines and pop culture magazines. Some of the questions that get asked in music magazines really annoy me for example: are you looking forward to coming to Australia?
It’s like really? You have 15 minutes with this person, this artist, this creative person and the best you can ask them is that! I know everyone starts somewhere, some of my earlier interviews were pretty bad and my questions sucked but it’s questions like that that really annoy me. It’s like who is going to say to you ‘Oh I’m not looking forward to coming to Australia!’ The answer is pretty obvious and makes for boring reading.
AM: Were you the one on Collapse Board that wrote the Snoop Dogg press conference thing?
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