Interviews Ė Asking the Right Questions
Jerry Lucky Commentary September 2017
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2017 All Rights Reserved
Last Month I was reflecting back on Progressive Rock FanzinesÖhow they were such a reflection of their time. So I was thinking, Iíd like to carry on that thought process only this time focus on a bunch of old interviews. And Iíll tell you why. A couple months back I was going through a bunch of the stuff Iíve accumulated over the years with the idea of paring the stash down a bit. The truth is the older Iíve gotten the less important some of the stuff I have becomes. So with that in mind I dug out a couple boxes of old cassettes. I actually kept those interviews with some crazy plan to doing something with them. The only problem is I donít own a cassette player anymore.
No you have to understand, there was a lot of interesting stuff on some of these cassettes. There were cassette radio shows devoted to certain artists, there were air-checks of some famous DJís along with my first time on the air, there were stacks of old commercials I had done, a few synthesizer compositions I written and lots of other bits-and-bobs. Also in there was a selection of interviews Iíd done over the years at the various radio stations Iíd worked at. As I read the cassette labels I even came across my very first band interview from way back in 1971 Ė it was the band April Wine. Man, how many times have I seen those guys live? I also noticed a little note beside that interview. I identified the interview as ďitís really bad.Ē And as I listened to it I concurred, it wasnít a very good interviews because I was so nervous and probably more than a little intimidated. Still Iím glad I kept that one to remind me that I did get a little better over the years.
Fact is I think that interview sparked an ongoing desire to conduct more interviews and to get better at doing it. I learned over the years that itís not always easy being a good interviewer. I could have the best questions prepared but if the interviewee doesnít respond well or we donít set up some kind of rapport the interview could very easily fall flat. Conversely I could go into an interview poorly prepared and hit it off with the person right away and come away with some great responses. The bottom line in getting a good interview is to listen. The more that I listened to what the person was saying the better my responses and questions became because we were having a proper conversation. And itís only by listening that I learned to ask the right questions.
So getting back to the cassettes, why did I hang on to them for so many years? Well, for the longest time I thought I would write another book incorporating transcripts of those interviews. It would be a book that focused on the concept of ďwhat they thought back thenĒ with an eye to updating the listener with what the interviewee was up to now. Given that we all change as we age I thought it would set up some interesting story lines. Not sure if thatís a very good idea, but I thought it was. In amongst all the interviews were some interesting little bits like when Ian Anderson said how fond he was of fish-farming or how Tony Banks explained how in the 1990ís he was still playing keyboards in much the same style he was in the early seventies. Thereís lots of little bits like that that I thought would make interesting reading. Thereís even some interviews with some rather obscure Prog artists like Carl Tafle from the Canadian prog band Terraced Garden and members of the bands Tamerisk and Gothique. I mean, come on, how many interviews have you read or heard from those two bands?
To show you how much this book idea haunted me as recently as a couple years back when I still had a cassette player I actually set about transcribing one of the interviews. It was then I realized just how much time this was going to take and I stopped, thinking Iíll pick this up another day or maybe find somebody whoís a better typist and can do this quicker. And so the cassettes languished in the back of the closet and the idea of the book hung out there in the ether.
Then a few months ago I was having dinner with The Diving Line Broadcast Network, head-honcho Shawn Bishop and was telling him about the idea of a book transcribing the interviews and he quickly discouraged the idea of a physical book. Instead he said ďwhy donít you post them on the network? Weíll create a place for them that people can click on to and actually listen to the interviews.Ē He then suggested that I should do a short intro that sets up the time frame and nature of the interview and follow that up with an extro that perhaps brings the story of the band or artist up to date. This was something I hadnít even considered, but that, ladies and gentlemen, is the plan.
After that conversation I went out and purchased one of those software packages that comes with a cheap little cassette and lets you plug a USB cable into the computer and converts everything into MP3 files. Doing this allows me to work with the interviews, chop them up, match the levels and so forth because most of them were done over the phone and many times one side of the call was louder than the other. Going through the various people I had the good fortune to talk to, I realized I hadnít saved all of them. Missing were my chat with Bev Bevan of ELO and Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath. Still besides those I mentioned earlier thereís quite a few that I hung on too like Saga, IQ, Klaatu, Keith Goodwin, Pallas, Eddy Offord, Supertramp, Kansas, Crack the Sky, and plenty more.
So it would seem like a good winter project, or perhaps even a long on-going project. But I will keep you posted on when they start showing up. In the meantime I want to draw your attention to the pages of interviews on this site. While they may not be audio, thereís still plenty of great conversations to be read. At least thatís what I think.