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Career Featured Interviews Life

How to Interview a Rock Star

More specifically, Advice from a Rock Star on How to Interview a Rock Star.

Not going to lie… I’m nervous about this upcoming interview with Derek Webb.

I mean, in the first place, what if he’s an ***hole? I’m not calling him one preemptively, by the way… don’t get mad, Derek Webb, if you’re reading. I don’t have any reason to expect that he will be. But you know what I’m saying — fame gives artists the out they’ve always wanted from social decorum. If he wants to be a jerk, he can be. I’m sure he’s aware that the Christian reading public is not going to want to believe that a famous Christian singer was distant and dismissive on the phone.

So my lizard brain is spinning around the idea of how to disarm him. What conversational techniques result in successful rock journalism?

I know — I’ll consult a successful rock star.

As it happens, I know one of these. A real live one. Grammy Awards, platinum albums, 8 months of the year on tour, documentary films… Sometimes he wears sunglasses where they are uncalled for.

He’s also a very warm and kind-hearted dude. So when I asked him for some advice on how to approach this interview, he obliged.

  • First, do a bit of homework. Try not to ask questions that are “easy” public knowledge from the first paragraph on Wikipedia, like where are you from? Or what do you play in the band?
  • Second, chances are, he is interviewing to promote something. Maybe, it’s an album, event, recent release of some kind. Give ample attention to that topic and let him tell people about what he is passionate and thinking about.
  • Third, have some questions prepared of course, but ‘flow’ with it as a conversation. This will give you the best interview. Some interviewers just fire off questions and don’t follow up with a second question and it makes them seem disinterested. At the end, it’s always cool to ask, “Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to mention?”
  • Always record the conversation. Use an iPhone or some recorder of any kind! You will want to refer to it and make sure not to misquote him. Having a recorder always makes me feel assured that the interviewer is not wanting to miss anything said.
  • If it is on the phone, make sure you aren’t on a cell and are in a quiet place.

Finally, the following endorsement:

I’m sure it will go really well, you are an easy person to talk to and you always make people feel comfortable around you.

Potential clients–please take note.

Chelsea interviewingInterviewing Stanley Wells (a different kind of rock star) in 2007. Chelsea will be interviewing Derek Webb later this month for Converge Magazine’s March/April issue. Follow her on twitter @thechelseagrin.