Sometimes you unexpectedly click.
I’ve told some stories on this Tumblr, largely about musicians who were disappointing/annoying/creepy. These are the stories you remember. Every now and then, though, you connect with someone. This is the story of how Britt Daniel of Spoon became my biggest fan for a few weeks.
It happened in an interview back in 2005 for mtvU. Now before I tell you what happened, you need some backstory. Britt is a notoriously grumpy interview subject. It’s been well documented since 1998 or so. I have a lot of friends who are rock writers who’ve interviewed him and never once has someone said it went great. In fact, my best friend conducted the trainwreck of an interview with him for Pitchfork in 2003 (now edited to look like nothing but at the time he flat out asked Britt about his reputation as an asshole to interview which prompted a turning off of the recorder and a come-to-Jesus heart-to-heart).
After setting this interview up, I paused for a moment to think about how difficult Britt was likely to be and how unprepared the mtvU production staff were likely to be and decided to call the supervising producer and see who he’d assigned to the shoot. They were going to let an intern interview him. The word DISASTER started flashing in my brain in neon red and I offered to do the interview myself. I do not interview bands. I’ve been known to help producers out by providing info or writing a few questions, but honestly I tried to avoid interacting with talent as often as possible because it’s usually a drag.
Literally the day of this shoot the woman who programmed MTV2 Subterranean told me she was leaving and that I’d be taking over, so I was IN A GOOD MOOD! And I’d written some interview questions that were NOT VERY ORIGINAL! So I decided I could get by on my charm, I suppose. Here’s what happened:
I smartassed Britt Daniel at every turn. For some reason, he found it hilarious and thought me engaging. I do not know how that works, but I think it relates back to the concept I wrote about when discussing Brett Anderson of Suede: that there is an attractiveness meter that allows you to get away with certain things. As the gentleman who hired me into my first job at MTV is fond of saying to me, “Courtney, if you weren’t cute you’d be a total asshole.” What can I say, some dudes like it when you’re mean to them.
We chatted, I sassed him into answering my boring questions and then a few days later I got an email (I assume he asked the guy at Merge Records for my info) from Britt Daniels saying he thought I was the best interviewer ever and that I should interview more people and asking if I was allowed tell him the news that made me so happy that day yet. It was sweet. I don’t mean to give you the impression that it meant anything — we never emailed or spoke again. He didn’t ask me out on a date or become my pen pal. Although, whenever I saw him out in NYC after that he’d always look at me cock-eyed like he vaguely remembered me from somewhere. I never bothered clarifying where. Some things are best left unsaid.
I think the moral of the story is that sometimes being a charming asshole pays off.
Video above: Spoon “I Turn My Camera On”