April 3, 2005

Adventures in Real/Rock Journalism

Because I am a Real Journalist, sometimes I do Real Journalistic things like sit in front of my computer for hours, or mock people's grammar, or interview rock bands. Yes, that's right, rock bands! OK, one rock band. Specifically, Athlete.

If you don't know who Athlete is, that's probably because you're not indie enough. Being indie enough is extremely important to us college students. It's up there with getting into grad school and having sex. Being not indie enough means that you are satisfied with whatever the unwashed masses like, and we all know that the unwashed masses are devoid of taste and, ultimately, kind of smelly

Even Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse are no longer indie enough. Whenever you discover a band that seems indie it is only a matter of time before someone else hears of them or they're on MTV2 or whatever, and that's it, they suck, and you must immediately scour Spin Magazine for the next, big indie thing. Which, in this case, is Athlete.

Actually, in England, Athlete is not that obscure. They have radio singles and fans and everything, much like Beethoven. Still, when I found out I was going to interview them, I was totally cool about it. "Oh my god," I said. "What am I going to wear?" I later discovered that Real Journalists are more like, "Hmm, what probing and insightful questions ought I ask these musicians?" But this is why Real Journalists don't get that much play.

I believed that I had the situation under control and would carry off a fine interview until, a few nights before the event, I sat bolt upright in bed, awoken from my slumber by a terrible thought: What if Athlete is hot? I can handle talking to strangers. Kind of. Okay, not so much. But famous strangers? Famous with the potential to be hot strangers? I stayed up the rest of the night image-googling them, trying to accustom myself to their rock star faces so that when I met them in person I wouldn't accidentally slobber or something. Ew.

I also spent the entire morning before the interview modeling different outfits in front of my mirror and reapplying lip gloss. Because only assholes don't wear lip gloss when they're going to talk to celebrities. Yes, celebrities. Even Steve Buscemi will always be hotter than me, and, yes, putting lip gloss on my mouth is about as helpful as face painting cheerful images of flowers onto the cheeks of a corpse. But what else could I do?

However, when I showed up for the interview, there were two other reporters there, and they clearly had not spent all week selecting their outfits. They were wearing jeans and sweaters, like they were going to lunch with their ex-boyfriends instead of going to meet rock stars. And they weren't even wearing lip gloss. You see? Assholes. They gave me the sort of look I usually give 16-year-olds trying to sneak into nightclubs. I like to call it the "You Are Overdressed, Idiot" look.

This would bother me less if I weren't haunted by the sneaking suspicion that these women are also better reporters than I am. Seeing as when they met the band, they were all, "Oh, hey, nice to meet you. Mind answering a few questions?" Whereas the constellation of sounds that emerged from my mouth was more along the lines of, "Meet to nice you. Answering mind a few questions?" Athlete looked at me, perplexed. The other reporters looked at me, perplexed. "You know what I'm trying to say!" I screeched. "God!"

After that brilliant opening, I think I chilled a bit, though things went downhill when the bassist said something like, "We just got back from touring in Australia. It was amazing. I can't understand why I've never been there before." At which point most of my brain shut down, and the remaining two functioning neurons ran around in a panic, yelping, "Australia! He said Australia! How do we respond? What do we know about Australia? Anything?" After a long pause, one neuron was like, "Yes! I've got it! I am the Australia expert!" So I opened my mouth and said to the bassist, "Australia is very far away." My brain neurons got very quiet and were like, "Oops. That sounded better to us before you said it aloud."

Anyway, Athlete seemed like lovely people who were really nice about speaking to a girl whose IQ was clearly in the two-digit range. If I hadn't needed to spend so much of this article discussing my outfit, I'm sure I could tell you something complimentary about their music. Still, from now on, I think I'll stick to the Real Journalism at which I excel: the kind that doesn't require leaving my room.