A friend of mine, who I will call “Paul”, because I usually do, prefaced many a story about musicians with the line above. It wasn’t the most important thing to him; it wasn’t a prerequisite to liking someone’s music – often it was stated before referencing a person whose music he had no interest in at all. But it was always interesting to me that this was almost always interesting to him.
Does it matter if someone making music is a nice person? Obviously my initial reaction is to say not at all – you could tell me that The Backstreet Boys are all really hard-case, good value, right crack-ups and it would not send me to the store to buy any of their product and I would not give anything of theirs a second listen (and I’ve been lucky enough to not have to give much of their work a first listen). But sometimes I almost feel like hearing those stories or seeing that information first hand – in an interview, say – I do almost want to like the artist a bit more. Sometimes.
One of the first “big name” international interviews I did was with Alex Van Halen drummer for Van Halen – the band he and his brother, guitarist Eddie Van Halen formed some 40 odd years ago. It was great talking with Alex Van Halen on the phone because I had been a huge fan of his as a youngster. He was one of my first drum-heroes.. And he was just hilarious and so nice – and such good value. So, yeah, that was cool. But I was already a fan. It’s a bummer when you’re a fan of someone and they’re a jerk down the line, but it happens, that’s the interview process. That’s part of it. Sometimes. But I still think back to that interview and the memorable aspect was just how nice Alex seemed.
And I had a good laugh talking to Ben Lee on the phone (the interview never actually materialized in print anywhere) and I’m sure that actually did lead me to spending more time listening to his album of that year (Awake Is The New Sleep); an album I subsequently reviewed favourably. That in turn made me go back to Breathing Tornados and even to his teen debut Grandpaw Would.
He went on to release Ripe last year. And it was a dud – for me. So I think I’m cured in that particular case. I’m sure he’s still a nice guy though. But it doesn’t make me blind (or deaf) to his misfires and mistakes.
So, care to share any stories of “supposedly” nice guys or girls in music that you’ve heard – or perhaps chance-encounters that you’ve actually experienced. And has it ever made you actually go back to someone’s music and/or momentarily fool you in to reconsidering the worth of their musical output?