ARTICLE: Writing Band Interviews for the Beginning Metal Blogger

So you started your own blog, or you took on the responsibility of interviewing a band or artist for a web-zine or blog you write for? It can be a daunting thing for the uninitiated, even after years.There have been a lot of negative articles published about writing interview questions, simply searching on Google brings up a plethora of terrifying articles about how you'll somehow mess up, or a band will hate you, just because you write something that has been asked before. On the other hand, it'll also bring up a load of advice that is put out there by people who are inexperienced or just don't like asking bands or artists about anything do with the actual music at hand. Some even claim that if you interview the wrong member of a band, it'll somehow ruin you. For one, that doesn't make a lick of sense, and two... if you happen to part of any outlet that has that viewpoint, it's probably not a place you should stay for long.

See, interviews are a very circumstantial thing. Not only does it depend on the band, the member or members being interviewed, their personalities, and their experiences but it can also come down to things like local vocabulary, grasp of the human language (if a band or artist doesn't speak or understand English or another language completely), or even the time they have to respond. Some people love to talk about the things they love, the things that inspire them, what they are doing, and so questions like 'What are your influences?' or 'What are your favorite bands?' don't seem like drivel to them. Some don't like this, though. Because after a long while of interviews or being on the road, it seems like a question they've probably heard a thousand times. Or, perhaps, they find some offense in it because they think you didn't do your research. Whatever. In reality, it comes down to the fact that you aren't only asking these questions for you. These questions are being asked because your readers. Right? And any band that expects new fans, should be willing to answer even the most common of questions. Because these aren't only being read by the interviewer, but their audience as well. Personally, I've yet to interview a band so jaded. But, the road worn are out there. Again, this is entirely circumstantial and it's something neither you nor the band or artist at hand can avoid: just ask or answer the questions to the best of your ability. If someone is offended, or misunderstands, it can't be avoided.

Now, on the side of people who ask about things that don't have to do with a artist or their musical ambitions. I understand that it's probably the best way to ask the non-typical questions. I've had my fair share of nonsensical questions (I asked Ondt Blod what animal they would be, as an example), and sometimes a response could warrant a reaction that is really funny or really interesting, but on the other hand it might get one you don't desire or piss someone off unexpectedly. Jokes, as well, are hit and miss. I've tried a few, made a fool of myself, and I felt a bit weird about it (I still posted the full interviews, however). But, your best bet is to mix these random funny or weird questions in with some more solid and informational ones. This way you have some more substantial questions to keep things nice and interesting, and avoid having nothing if something happens with the others. Again, talking from experience.

As for questions I don't think anyone should ask, I'd have to go strongly with 'What is a good/bad experience you'd had with a show?'. Only because, sometimes bands have just not toured or not toured enough to even have a story, some don't even play live. This is especially true if your writing for your own, or a blog that focuses on underground releases. I mean, it can be a great question, but it can also be a bad question. I have asked it a few times, and it has gotten some interesting results. Othertimes, it doesn't amount to much of anything. I suggest that, if you do ask it, you make sure the band at hand has some experience with shows. This doesn't mean it's always been good or bad, however. Totally circumstantial.

So, what's a newbie to do? In my experience, just take risks and ask the questions you feel you want to and that your readers would be interested in. Don't be afraid of a negative experience, because they will eventually happen at some point for you no matter what you do. There are too many numerous personalities in, even underground, metal to worry too much about it or dwell on one thing. Sometimes it won't be the best set of questions in the world, but there is also the chance that it could be, for you and your readers. Nothing is going to be perfect right off the bat, and sometimes a band or artist is new and really likes those typical questions because they read them being asked to their favorite artists. It could be something they are you really like. You never know.

To make you all feel better, here is the worst/dumbest questions I've ever asked:

Do you feel like sludge metal is perhaps a subgenre that doesn't often get as much attention as other extreme metal genres?

Why? Because the band was not a sludge metal band, but instead a hardcore band with sludge influences. In my defense, I felt the band leaned heavily towards sludge metal.

A friend of mine said they had something along the lines of a ‘Necrosexual encounter’, you have anything to do with that?

Why? Because the joke fell FLAT. Either it didn't transfer well into text or The Necrosexual just didn't get it.

How do you achieve such a large sound with only three members? Especially during live gigs?

Why? The answer is clearly just because they play loud music. Because, duh, this is a metal/rock blog and everyone plays loud music.