Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Grumpy & The Dandy Warhols


Grumpy is hard-hitting journo and freelance writer Lee Bemrose ( He takes his craft very, very seriously.

When I was asked if I was interested in doing an interview with The Dandy Warhols, I jumped at it because... well because I happen to like the Dandy Warhols' music quite a lot. I know Courtney Taylor-Taylor has a bit of a reputation for not exactly snuggling up and canoodling with the media. It's not like you see Courtney Taylor-Taylor and The Media wandering through sun-dappled parks, holding hands and whispering in hot breath into each others ears about how much they need each other. You don't see them sitting on beaches at sunset with Courtney's head nestled comfortably on The Media's shoulder as he murmurs lovingly, “Media – I just don't know what I'd do without you.” These are absurd images that only the mind of an absurd person would conjure.

In fact, as you are probably aware, Mr Taylor-Taylor has said that he fucking hates doing interviews and would prefer not to do any at all. Apparently when he finishes a project, such as the new dandy's album This Machine, he spends as much as half a day each day doing interviews. I don't think this would be a bad way to spend half a day if you enjoyed talking about your latest creative endeavour, and if you spent all that time facing genuinely interesting and original questions. Sadly, I don't think interesting and original is how the Dandy's frontman would describe most of the questions he has to face.

Thing is, before any interview like this, I read up big time. I like to find out as much as possible about the interviewee and what makes them tick, which topics get one-line answers and the kinds of things they really like to open up to. I want to know which questions keep coming up so that I can avoid those very questions.

I had to interview a local playwright recently and read an interview he had done the previous week. The piece sucked the proverbial dog's dangly bits because the interviewer based her whole line of questioning on the playwright's Wikipedia profile and (apparently in awe of being in contact with him) she barely mentioned the play he was pimping and just asked about his life and thoughts generally. You could almost hear the yawns in his printed answers. I put in some effort and was rewarded with answers sometimes longer than her whole piece. It was like we'd interviewed two different people.

Sometimes you can get away with a couple of uncreative questions. Sometimes you have to completely come at the thing from left field. I interviewed comedian Sam Simmons once and after seeing the Youtube clip of him having a staring competition with actor Seth Green, I challenged him to a staring competition. Over the phone? Yeah. He loved it. I loved it. My suggestion that the mag run an intro, the staring competition challenge, then a blank page... the magazine, they didn't love it so much.

With Courtney Taylor-Taylor, my in-depth profiling came to the conclusion that it was pretty well impossible to come up with the kinds of questions that were going to genuinely engage the man. And hell, he's busy and would rather cut down time spent interviewing so that he can make music.

So I came up with a multiple choice interview. I've written all the answers so he just has to spend a few minutes ticking the appropriate box. It could be a fun read, or it could fall flat on its arse.

Personally I think there is real potential for the multiple choice interview. Your thoughts?

A. That is an awesome idea, Grumpy. You should should take it to the big league like Letterman and Craig Ferguson. Interviewing Hollywood A-listers by multiple choice rocks! Wooh!
B. As a revolutionary concept it's as dumb as planking.
C. Stupid idea but if anyone can pull it if it would be you. When it comes to stupid ideas, you're the go-see guy.

Hmm. Stay tuned.


Onion said...

Great idea! Maybe you could always leave an option for an additional "write-in" answer if they interviewee feels so inspired. By the way, love the caption on your

Kathryn said...


Lee said...

Way ahead of you Onion. Did just that. Haven't heard back so I might be looking at writing a hypothetical interview...

Awesome fun, Kathryn Shreve. Gotta put my pimp outfit on as soon as the thing is available and see what happens.