Monday, August 08, 2005

Interviewing Nobody, For Booty!

WFMU: "Phil Collins Minus One and Other Promo Scams"

In this excellent blog entry, Brian Turner discusses the old-school radio practice of supplying radio stations with "interview" LPs, on which an artist is featured answering questions, sans the actual questions. With the help of a printed interview sheet, the local DJ can ask the questions, then play the LP, and make it seem as if they were able to get a star artist to appear in West Bumblefuck. Brian describes it much better than I do, and includes a link to an mp3 of a Phil Collins interview record.

I have a personal story about this. In the early '90s, when I was hunting down anything and everything related to George Michael and/or Queen, I came upon a promo CD called (if I recall correctly) "George Michael: Answers Without Prejudice." (His most recent release at that time was entitled "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1.") I thought it was a typical interview disc, but when I listened to it, I realized it was exactly like Brian describes. Tracks 1-15 consisted of a normal dialogue between interviewer and interviewee, but tracks 16-30 were just George's answers. The liner notes listed the questions that the DJ should be asking in order to get the right response.

For fun, I popped in the CD, set up an external tape recorder across the room (for inclusion of ambient noise), and recorded myself asking him the questions. I even figured out some of the places where I could ad-lib some "hmms" or laughs, in George's natural pauses.

When my girlfriend came over (a big George Michael fan, btw), I asked her if she had ever heard my interview with George Michael. She seemed pretty skeptical, and asked where I had met George Michael. Figuring that the jig was up, I just went for broke and came up with the most unbelievable scenario I could imagine: that George Michael happened to be visiting in the area of my summer camp (in the middle of West Bumblefuck, of course), and stopped by the summer camp for a radio interview.


She asked to hear the tape. I played it for her.

Remarkably, she bought the entire thing. Hook, line, and sinker. She was duly impressed. I was going to tell her the truth, but then I got booty that night. I'm pretty sure it was because of my interview. So obviously I was comfortable living this lie.

She still doesn't know the truth. While I have since met George Michael in real life, he has never sat down with me for a lengthy interview about his introspective songwriting process. Nor do I know why she'd think I would have the insight to ask such questions at age 15.

I had no idea these types of interview records existed before I picked up the GM disc, but once I did, it was easy to detect when radio stations were utilizing them. In fact, it seemed painfully obvious to me. And I was hearing them on major NYC stations to boot.

If the 22 MB Phil Collins file is too much for you, at least check out the Weezer station IDs, where the guys in the band are forced to repeat the same dialogue over and over and over, only changing the station name and location. Note that Rivers isn't present on the IDs; clearly (and unsurprisingly) he wasn't going to put up with this shit. Listen carefully: you can hear the souls being sucked out of these guys as the track progresses. (Either that or they're drinking while recording.)

The station ID chore has been in practice for many years. I have a Beach Boys Pet Sounds-era bootleg where Mike Love and Carl Wilson do radio promos for "Caroline, No" - which, ironically, was issued as a Brian Wilson solo single at the time.


At 8/08/2005 3:32 PM, Anonymous Big Daddy Rinke said...

15, huh? That makes Howland the girlfriend? I don't think you got booty because of the interview, I think you got booty because it was Howland. :-)

At 8/09/2005 2:52 PM, Blogger Krischelle said...

Doesn't this belong on an elaborate postcard on its way to Maryland?

At 8/09/2005 2:55 PM, Blogger Jason said...

LOL! Too late - I told someone already. :)


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