At some point during your music career, you will have to give an interview. An interview serves multiple purposes. You can plug upcoming gigs and show off your band personality to the public.
Hitting The Press
Although securing an interview with Rolling Stone may be a little hard, there are still plenty of outlets for interviews. Almost every hometown newspaper has some form of entertainment section. If not, there is probably a chance they will give you a small column. For radio interviews, connect with college radio stations. Some college radio stations allow DJs to make their own shows and may have some type of local music segment. For larger radio stations, check their formats for any type of local music broadcasts (Probably late-night Sunday when no one is listening). Internet promotions sites may also consider giving you an interview segment. Some public access channels are also willing to do band interviews with a live performance.
You should also start asking other bands in your area where they have interviewed. Do not exclude high school or college newspapers just because they seem unprofessional. Any type of press that you receive will help you build your professional portfolio as well as your band press kit.
Tips For Success
I asked a colleague of mine who gives band interviews on almost a daily basis at a radio station if he had any advice on band interviews. He stated, Band interviews suck. When I asked him to explain, he said that most bands only want to talk about boring things involving themselves. He also stated that it annoys him when bands show up with no personality, and go on air with no personality. You can make your interview better by following a few simple steps.
Only have 1 or 2 members be the primary spokespersons for the band during the interview. Things get too hectic when you have 5 guys all wanting to answer the same question. Choose the person most knowledgeable about your band or the one with the most out-going personality. Remember that this person will reflect your band's image. You may consider letting the person whose personality reflects the medium to give the interview. I am affiliated with a radio station based in a costal town that reflects beach music. Recently, they did an interview with the drummer from O.A.R. who had a very surfer guy-like nature to him. It fit very well with listeners and was one of the best interviews the station had.
During a busy gig week for a previous band of mine, we booked an interview for a college radio station. I brought along 2 other band mates with me and they came just because they wanted to be there. During the interview, it was obvious that I was the one who knew all the answers to the questions and could elaborate the best. When the DJ asked the simple question, When is your next gig? I pointed to one of the guys to answer and he did not even know! When another question was asked dealing with the musicianship of the band, the other guy gave some really long philosophical answer that really went no where. It brought down the interview tremendously. Keep your answers simple and to the point.
Before you come to the interview, prepare a list of questions you want the interviewer to ask you. They will have their own list, but by providing your own, you already know how you will answer them. You could have them ask questions related to things such as opening for a national act, previously playing a benefit concert, winning a contest, etc. Anything that will make your band seem interesting.
Always have some interesting stories to tell about your band. Nothing makes for a more boring interview than hearing the questions: Who is your main influence? and How long have you been together? Almost every interviewer will ask these overdone questions. An interesting story can come from a gig experience, personal life, way the band communicates with each other, etc. The interesting story for one of my bands was the fact that our first gig happened 1 hour after the rhythm guitarist was hired and he had about 20 minutes to learn 3 songs for a Battle of the Bands show. We ended up taking 2nd place. If your band does not have much experience, look at the lifestyles of each member for interesting stories. If all of your members are straight edge, you can use that. Use anything that makes your band stand out.
Make sure that you mention any upcoming gigs, CD releases, etc. This may seem obvious, but sometimes during interviews, people get sidetracked and completely forget to mention what they came there for. You do not have to announce it every 30 seconds, but be sure to mention it at least twice during the interview. You should always have something to promote during a band interview.
Some journalists or DJs ask every band they interview the same witty question as a form of personal trademark. A radio station in my area asks bands, What is your musical guilty pleasure? Look at past interviews to look for trends so you can be prepared to give a good answer.
It is sometimes hard to avoid mistakes made on the interviewer's part. A few months ago, my current band's lead guitarist did an interview for a local entertainment column about our band. The next day, a previous band member called up our lead guitarist extremely mad and wondering what was going on. My guitarist was clueless Until he read the interview. The article basically said that the band was struggling and gave false reasons for the previous band member quitting. They also posted an older picture with the previous band member in it, and listed the names in the wrong order. Although it is nearly impossible to see a final copy of the interview before it is published, be sure that the interviewer has all updated information and a recent picture. There are just some things you cannot do about being misquoted.
Unfortunately, there is a high turnover rate in the field of journalism. Be sure to keep your contact list at press outlets updated. Newspapers will often have several staff writers in a department. Review past interviews to find which person may be the best match for you. Getting press for your band is an important step towards gaining a fan base and establishing your name. Some people may think, Boring interviewboring music. Establish your music along with your personality.