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Sigur Rós interview goes badly, very, very badly.
October 11, 2007 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Sigur Rós have been doing publicity for a documentary about the band called Heima (trailer). They went on NPR's The Bryant Park Project and did an interview which went achingly wrong. On the show's website, interviewer Luke Burbank describes it as "possibly the worst interview in the history of electronic media."

In case you were wondering, excepting () and the song Olsen olsen on Ágætis byrjun, all Sigur Rós songs are in Icelandic. Using actual words.
posted by Kattullus (184 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. I thought you had to be outgoing to be in show business. Vaudeville really IS dead.
posted by Faze at 7:55 PM on October 11, 2007


Can I be dumb for a second? Thanks, I thought so. I love Sigur Ros. This interviewer claims that all their songs are in an invented language. I thought they sang in Icelandic. Kattullus says they are in Icelandic.

Am confused.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:57 PM on October 11, 2007


What a weird coincidence. I just quit studying because they were playing Sigur Rós at the coffeeshop and asked my friend, "on a scale of Eating Aluminum Foil to Filing Your Nails on a Blackboard, which is more annoying: Sigur Rós or the Decemberists?"

I can't decide which is worse: the pretentiousness of supposedly making up your own dialect to sing in, or debasing your native tongue because you're too incompetent/self-obsessed to know better.

Decisions, decisions.
posted by spiderwire at 7:58 PM on October 11, 2007 [10 favorites]


You know, I've listened to these guys, really trying to figure out why they're as huge as they are, and, well, I've never figured out why they're as huge as they are. They just don't float my personal boat. But lotsa people love 'em, so, it's all good.

I have to say, though, that these non-responses on their part are some real assholish bullshit. Why should they show up at a radio interview if they're not going to say anything? So, they have nothing to say. Fine. Then don't waste the interviewer's time. It strikes me as a particularly perverse sort of egoism.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:59 PM on October 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


Based on the evidence here, "possibly the worst interviewer in the history of electronic media" is more like it.
posted by bunglin jones at 8:00 PM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


They're one of the most beautiful and powerful bands I've ever seen live.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:00 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is NPR. As long as you give them a long enough answer, they can make you sound good. Sigur Ros defeated them.
posted by smackfu at 8:01 PM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


Can I be dumb for a second? Thanks, I thought so. I love Sigur Ros. This interviewer claims that all their songs are in an invented language. I thought they sang in Icelandic. Kattullus says they are in Icelandic.

Well, I'm Icelandic and I understand the lyrics.

Here's what it says in the band's official FAQ:

what language does jónsi sing in?
on von, ágætis byrjun and takk, jónsi sang most songs in icelandic but a few of the songs were sung in 'hopelandic'. all of the vocals ( ) are however in hopelandic. hopelandic (vonlenska in icelandic) is the 'invented language' in which jónsi sings before lyrics are written to the vocals. it's of course not an actual language by definition (no vocabulary, grammar, etc.), it's rather a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music and acts as another instrument. jónsi likens it with what singers sometimes do when they've decided on the melody but haven't written the lyrics yet. many languages were considered to be used on ( ), including english, but they decided on hopelandic. hopelandic (vonlenska) got its name from first song which jónsi sang it on, hope (von). tracks 7-9 on takk are in hopelandic.
posted by Kattullus at 8:03 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Based on the evidence here, "possibly the worst interviewer in the history of electronic media" is more like it.

yes. his questions sound like he has never listened to this band, or perhaps any rock band, before. And he's boring and monotone, even by NPR standards.

and posting this on their website while still claiming to love the band is a true dick move. That's behavior you'd expect more from KROQ-type "morning zoo" mouth-breathers than NPR.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:08 PM on October 11, 2007


Kattulus, if you don't mind, could you tell us the sorts of things they actually sing about, or it all vague sort of emotional lyrics.
posted by Falconetti at 8:08 PM on October 11, 2007


Based on the evidence here, "possibly the worst interviewer in the history of electronic media" is more like it.

Disagreed. They might not have been the most dazzling or unique questions in the world, but they are very, very standard for this kind of musicians-get-interviewed setting, and Sigur Ros should know that. Questions like these are the norm, and Sigur Ros, as professionals, will be fully aware of this. What most smart musicians (that is, those who don't just want to make some sort of statement by not answering) do in these situations is have something that they want to say, then say it. It doesn't even matter what the questions are. You turn the interview into your forum for delivering your message. It's very simple, and musicians have been doing that for years, cause in fact it doesn't necessarily get a whole lot better than this interview. But obviously, these guys have nothing to say. Nothing wrong with that, but again, I'd say, in that case, don't do interviews.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:09 PM on October 11, 2007 [5 favorites]



I can't decide which is worse: the pretentiousness of supposedly making up your own dialect to sing in, or debasing your native tongue because you're too incompetent/self-obsessed to know better.


Yeah. Just like how that dickhead Picasso debases the human face because he was too incompetent/self-obsessed to know anything about anatomy.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:10 PM on October 11, 2007 [14 favorites]


I never cared for any of Sigur Ros's records, but they were excellent when I saw them open for Bjork.
posted by brevator at 8:10 PM on October 11, 2007


It's a weird world where when someone gives straightforward answers that are not full of crap that it is 'one of the worst interviews ever'. Why do they have to make up drivel about 'their creative process' or whatever?
posted by sien at 8:13 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think if that's their thing... to be so non-responsive in an interview - then just don't do the interview.

Maybe the PR people or the movie distribution people had them contracted to do it.
posted by cusack at 8:13 PM on October 11, 2007


Interview trainwrecks are always awesome. I have a soft spot in my heart for this Trail of Dead interview, which may have set some sort of record for incestuous, holier-than-thou indie-rock self-indulgence, e.g.:
Conrad: We've been accused of being pseudo-intellectuals.

Jason: Well, at least we could kick their asses!

Pitchfork: It seems that, in art and in music, there's a trend away from enthusiasm.

Conrad: Yeah! Why is that? What happened?
This interview also scores a 9.6 for its awe-inspiring name-dropping quotient.
posted by spiderwire at 8:13 PM on October 11, 2007


Yeah. Just like how that dickhead Picasso debases the human face because he was too incompetent/self-obsessed to know anything about anatomy.

Ah yes -- I was about to compare Colin Meloy and Sigur Rós to Picasso as well. I apologize for my lack of perspective.
posted by spiderwire at 8:16 PM on October 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


Based on the evidence here, "possibly the worst interviewer in the history of electronic media" is more like it.

Agreed. "Are you a phenomenon in Iceland?" "Did you think your music would be so not normal?" Jeez. For someone who supposedly loves Sigur Ros, I guess the interviewer just didn't understand what the music was about.
posted by suedehead at 8:23 PM on October 11, 2007


I like Sigur Ros. But I also think "Wolverine Blues" is Entombed's best work, so what do I know.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:31 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


That was deep. They're kind of muppety. Awesome.
posted by Skygazer at 8:32 PM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


To be fair the questions, for the most part, were fucking dumb.
posted by carfilhiot at 8:32 PM on October 11, 2007


I don't understand.

So, they lied about the language? To be shitty? Because the body language doesn't match ill-intent. They look and sound painfully shy and awkward. The singer even blushes, doesn't he?

Nobody in this interview offends me. Everyone, interviewer and interviewees alike, just seems kind of normal and not on. Which, I don't know, I guess I sort of prefer.

If I had to imagine the back story it's like this: Shy guys are in a band, have to or want to promote something, don't give a lot of forethought to the interviewing process, get into interview room and kind of freak out a little and go mute with some awkward laughing and uncomfortable self-adjustment (and possible weird lying). Not close at all?
posted by birdie birdington at 8:33 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


falconetti: Kattulus, if you don't mind, could you tell us the sorts of things they actually sing about, or it all vague sort of emotional lyrics

Well, they kind of oscillate between very specific lyrics and more vague emotional ones. For instance Heysátan (Bail of Hay) on Takk is about a guy who's cutting hay and loading into the back of a wagon. Then he falls down and crumples his baseball cap. He decides to just lay in the grass for a while. On the other hand Viðrar vel til loftárása (Nice Weather for Airstrikes) on Ágætis byrjun is more of an emotional response to news of war. More of their lyrics are specific than vague. If I put on my interpreting cap for a second and spew out a (quite possibly bunk) theory, I'd say that their "big topic" is loss of, and return to, innocence.
posted by Kattullus at 8:35 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't decide which is worse: the pretentiousness of supposedly making up your own dialect to sing in, or debasing your native tongue because you're too incompetent/self-obsessed to know better.

spiderwire: If ever you needed a demonstration of why modern music is completely, utterly fucking useless, now you have it.

Yeah, well, forgive me if I don't give two shits what you think about music.
posted by papercake at 8:36 PM on October 11, 2007 [7 favorites]


Yeah, well, forgive me if I don't give two shits what you think about music.

...you distrust someone's musical taste because they don't care that some dude stole the lead singer of the Arcade Fire's basketball?

Hey, if that's your yardstick, I give it an 8.5. It's like the Picasso of ironic anti-criticism -- a new vista in non-referential analysis, if you will.
posted by spiderwire at 8:44 PM on October 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


I can't decide which is worse: the pretentiousness of supposedly making up your own dialect to sing in, or debasing your native tongue because you're too incompetent/self-obsessed to know better.

Learn to make sense before you try to sound clever. I hope you're just trolling or something.
posted by carfilhiot at 8:45 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sort of on topic, one of my favourite Lou Reed radio interviews (third link on the page).
posted by bunglin jones at 8:46 PM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


What most smart musicians (that is, those who don't just want to make some sort of statement by not answering) do in these situations is have something that they want to say, then say it.

Yeah it's a shame that SR are too dumb to fit into your little dream world. Go back to bashing your drums session muso.
posted by carfilhiot at 8:50 PM on October 11, 2007


Learn to make sense before you try to sound clever.

But wait, didn't David Byrne urge us all to stop making sense?

Not that I'm any big David Byrne fan or anything... matter of fact, I just linked to that clip to show how you can hire Bernie Worrel to do your gig and still manage to sound so un-funky.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:50 PM on October 11, 2007


The interviewer was horrible and proved that he knows nothing about the band.

Falconetti, look them up in Wikipedia, they have some good information about many of their songs.
posted by mike3k at 8:51 PM on October 11, 2007


"So... do you guys like... stuff?"
posted by Flunkie at 8:52 PM on October 11, 2007 [7 favorites]


Learn to make sense before you try to sound clever.

Obviously, you're not a bowler.
posted by spiderwire at 8:56 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was reminded of some spectacularly bad Lou Reed and Bob Dylan interviews while watching the Sigur Rós clip, bunglin jones. To be honest I thought the whole interview was hilarious. The friend of mine who sent me the clip put it in the context of old timey interviews with farmer. Y'know, in the mold of:

Interviewer: So, it must be great to work here in the bosom of nature, amongst the living, growing things of the earth and the proud, noble, gallant animals of the homestead, with sun in the sky and a light breeze blowing across the pate, yes?
Farmer: My wife committed suicide last week.
Interviewer: Errrr...
posted by Kattullus at 8:57 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, interviewer was a phony. He wanted them to play the game of "hey...were on the radio and we're all good buddies and la la la de da da...etc". And they didn't and that interview jumped off a cliff and never looked back. The End.

Other than that, my guess is they hadn't slept for a few days and came straight to the studio from the airport....
posted by Skygazer at 8:58 PM on October 11, 2007


Yeah it's a shame that SR are too dumb to fit into your little world. Go back to bashing your drums session muso.

Hmmm, now who's trolling? You one angry-sounding little person, there, carfilhiot. As regards my "dreamworld" though, I'd just add that, um, you don't know what you're talking about. I'll refer here to something my friend bugbread once posted to MetaFilter: "Some people know from experience, and some people don't know but argue anyway. It's the internet."

Oh, and "session muso"? Hah! I only wish I had more session work! I could use the dough. But again, only more evidence that you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:58 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can only repeat what has been said above: with one exception, the interviewer seemes to have never heard the band before. He askes the same questions he would ask Queen Latifah or Norah Jones. That is lame. (With the one obvious question about the linguistics of their lyrics.)

Even without knowing much about them, the interviewer could have asked questions like:
"How do do you reproduce such a heavily studio-produced album on stage (hint: string quartet), and how do you feel about the results?"
"Is there anything about Iceland that has resulted in a surprisingly original corpus of music?"
"Do you know Bjork? How would you compare your music with hers?"

Of course, the band was amazingly inarticulate. Given their artisitic brilliance, you'd think at least one of them could have utttered and interesting sentence. Are all their interviews this bad?

I mean, you can be a good musician and not be an Oxfordian debater like Clinton, but, still, I have hardly ever known a musician who couldn't hype his music at the drop of a hat.

It is required in the (visual) art world, and expected in the world of performing arts in general to be able to explain your work.

Hungover, maybe?
posted by kozad at 9:01 PM on October 11, 2007


MeTa.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:04 PM on October 11, 2007


with one exception, the interviewer seemes to have never heard the band before

Which is not at all unusual in musician interviews. Not unusual at all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:05 PM on October 11, 2007


It is required in the (visual) art world, and expected in the world of performing arts in general to be able to explain your work.
Rationality is for hacks and charlatans.
posted by spiderwire at 9:06 PM on October 11, 2007


It's Icelandic scatting!
posted by edgeways at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


fleetmouse for the win! Very, very badly indeed!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:13 PM on October 11, 2007


heh
posted by edgeways at 9:14 PM on October 11, 2007


( )
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:17 PM on October 11, 2007


This band sucks.
posted by ChasFile at 9:23 PM on October 11, 2007


For instance Heysátan (Bail of Hay) on Takk is about a guy who's cutting hay and loading into the back of a wagon. Then he falls down and crumples his baseball cap.

well, thanks a fucking bunch for that. i can't wait to find out what you do for an encore - will you set fire to an orphanage, or a hospital?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:36 PM on October 11, 2007


I hate this band and I've never even heard them.
posted by nola at 9:45 PM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


Of course, the band was amazingly inarticulate. Given their artisitic brilliance, you'd think at least one of them could have uttered an interesting sentence.

actually, i kinda always imagined they'd be more or less like that - quiet to the point of being painfully shy, with a hint of asperger's thrown in. a touch impish, as well.

it seems quite natural to me that people who are so reserved in a conversational setting would be more than capable of sublimating their energies into other forms of communication.

do this enough, and the gap between the two might widen into an unpassable chasm, whereby being asked to revert to the shunned language in order to explain the otherworldly reaches of the music ends up feeling like a pointless exercise, at best, or complete descration at worst.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:50 PM on October 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


I hate this band and because I've never even heard them.

there you go, all shiny & fixed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:51 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


They come off more like a bunch of dullards who couldn't complete a sentence if you held a gun to their heads.

So yeah, like musicians.

I had never heard their music and as a result of this thread, I checked our some videos and iTunes. I have to admit that I really like the whole package (visual/sound) ans will probably purchase their music as a result of this thread. Thanks Kattullus.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:53 PM on October 11, 2007


Is it possible that they didn't, for various reasons, understand the interview?

I got the impression that there were language difficulties, possibly translation difficulties (both linguistic and cultural) that limited the responses of the band.

And to fall back on the old standby, maybe their music really does say all they want to say.
posted by foobario at 9:57 PM on October 11, 2007


They come off more like a bunch of dullards who couldn't complete a sentence if you held a gun to their heads. So yeah, like musicians.

Whoa, whoa whoa WHOA! Just a cotton-pickin' minute there, Kevin! You ever read any interviews with Leonard Cohen? Tom Waits? Frank Zappa? John Cage? Some musicians are extremely articulate and engaging, insightful, witty, and fun to read (or hear) in an interview setting. I won't stand idly by while my musician brethren and sistren are so besmirched!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:58 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ah yes flapjacks at midnight, they are the rare exceptions. I stand corrected (it helps that I'm a Zappa fanatic too).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:01 PM on October 11, 2007


Someone screwed up, why this is not in the dustbin and onto a blog is beyond me. Either they didn't understand the questions, in which NPR should have found out in the pre-interview and had a translator on hand or they were pulling a Dylan and failed miserably, but the pre-interview should have filtered that also. In any case, the announcer did a bad job of adapting or cutting to another segment when it became clear the interview was completely loss.
posted by geoff. at 10:08 PM on October 11, 2007


which is more annoying: Sigur Rós or the Decemberists?

The Decemberists. Duh.
posted by humannaire at 10:10 PM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


No lyrics, just... blah, blah blah blah.

Love it.
posted by magic curl at 10:12 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I saw Sigur Ros at the Theater at Madison Square Garden about a year and a half ago, and Jonsi was both articulate and clearly very shy all at the same time. I'm a big fan, and to me their music is very emotional. Performing it onstage in front of thousands of people, being THAT shy and soft-spoken, has got to be a total mind-fuck.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:14 PM on October 11, 2007


That's not really fair; Tom Waits would sound cool and portentous reading a dictionary.

...Of course, by that I mean he would sound awesome reading anything, but come to think of it, hearing him read a dictionary would actually be independently interesting.
posted by spiderwire at 10:15 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I went to a Decemberist show once with my girlfriend. She really likes them but whatever. So we are standing there trying to listen to the show , and this dude behind me is screaming into his cell phone for the first 45 minutes of the show. At last my girlfriend can't take it anymore and starts looking for some place else to stand, I'm about to follow her but before I leave I turn around and get eyeball to eyeball with this guy. He looks back at me like a deer in the headlights and as I walk past him give him a good nudge with my shoulder. Guy goes down on top of his friends like a sack of nut sacks, and I think 'oh shit, what the hell have I done?' I figured he and his friends were going to come find me, but he never did. To this day when L is listening to the Decembrerists in the car or something, I'll start singing along with 'and I'll fall on my friends, on my friends'. She can't even listen to that song anymore.
posted by nola at 10:23 PM on October 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


So when I passionately defend the intellectual achievements and magic of Robot Chicken, this is what I look like from the other side's perspective? I need to sit down.
posted by maxwelton at 10:30 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I figured he and his friends were going to come find me, but he never did.

Dude, you were at a Decemberists concert.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:32 PM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: like a sack of nut sacks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:34 PM on October 11, 2007


I figured he and his friends were going to come find me, but he never did.

Dude, you were at a Decemberists concert.


There were some absolutely scathing Livejournal screeds, though.
posted by spiderwire at 10:35 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I once told some trashy yuppie chick that I'd cut out her vocal chords with a rusty fork if she didn't shut the hell up during Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds tour. She shut up, and I think it was because I was holding a fork.
posted by item at 10:37 PM on October 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


I'm actually a fairly nice guy... I swear.
posted by item at 10:38 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


so uh, you know, we know some icelandic people.

watching this interview didnt actually seem all that painful to me, because SR's mannerisms and responses just seemed so... icelandic to me. the interviewer wasnt that great, sure. but i'd wager that there are other SR interviews that look remarkably like this one.

not that all icelandic people are the same or anything, but of course there are going to be cultural commonalities.
posted by joeblough at 10:41 PM on October 11, 2007


I found this pretty hilarious, in a the-cast-of-SNL-picks -an-obscurish-band-to-personify-in-a-sketch kind of way.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:43 PM on October 11, 2007


Is this the thread where I say that I really liked ( ) and think Sigur Rós is a pretty talented band? Or do I have to wait for another Radiohead or Killing Joke thread, so that I don't look like a hipster poseur for being interested in the linked documentary?
posted by kyleg at 10:47 PM on October 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


yah kyleg, this is it. i'm not ashamed to say i think SR is awesome and Heima makes me want to visit iceland.
posted by joeblough at 10:48 PM on October 11, 2007


From the comments

If you love them so much, why did you post this?

Why don't you just marry them instead?



I love the internet. It seems that an eight year old girl is down with the NPR site. Maybe she thinks it's facebook.
posted by mattoxic at 10:49 PM on October 11, 2007


They're musicians, not actors. And perhaps they've already been grossly misquoted in previous interviews. From experience you've got to be *really careful* in such situations; who knows what editor/s will decide to publish from an interview?

And hey: would you feel comfortable practicing speaking your second/third/fourth language on a radio interview in a foreign country (as opposed to being in a local cocktail lounge/pub/bar with a few adult cocktails/beers/whatever under your belt)?

Think about it, then diss 'em for their music if you want, not for their interview masks. Because that's what they are: musicians. Not actors.
posted by whozyerdaddy at 10:59 PM on October 11, 2007


Metafilter: a guy who's cutting hay and loading into the back of a wagon. Then he falls down and crumples his baseball cap. He decides to just lay in the grass for a while.

There isn't an insurmountable language barrier there: they answer all the questions. They're just a terrible interview. All 5 of the people in that room are there to do a job, 4 of them failed that job. There could be good reasons for that, but still, they failed.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:08 PM on October 11, 2007


Regardless of their respective viewpoints on music:

Carfilot: 0
Flapjax At Midnight: 17

And that's 17 including this one.

And while I may not agree with his viewpoint here — (and ftr, I don't, because one thing I am unable to accommodate in an interview is groupies disguised as working professionals — to your credit, I have sung "Some Kind of Superhero" so many times in the past week I am comfortable singing it out loud in public while wearing headphones.

The man writes a mean song. Just sayin.
posted by humannaire at 11:35 PM on October 11, 2007


Before blaming interviewer or interviewees, I wonder if this can be down to culture and whether the musicians were in a condition to have a conversation.

I interviewed Mika Vainio of Pansonic once for a music magazine I used to write for. It was literally pulling teeth to get him to discuss their music, but I don't know if my questions were misunderstood from a language/accent persepective, or if he was just tired (I did call at what would be a fairly late hour of the day on his time).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:38 PM on October 11, 2007


because SR's mannerisms and responses just seemed so... icelandic to me.

In my experience, I'd say alot of North Europeans are not so quick to turn your failure to say anything at all into a triumph of self-promulgation. Not on account of any lack of intellect or wit, mind you. Different drives, you might say.

This interview reminds me alot of what Bast says in Gaddis's "J.R.": (paraphrasing, sorry) 'Why can't I just do interesting things? do I have to be interesting?'
posted by rudster at 11:50 PM on October 11, 2007


Crap. 'Why do I have to be interesting?'
posted by rudster at 11:51 PM on October 11, 2007


Who the hell reads interviews with musicians? Isn't that like going to watch an architect dance?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:07 AM on October 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Don't know the band, but loved the interview. It's always a strike for (for want of a better phrase) the real world when people don't give the media what they want - especially when all the questions were framed so they could be answered yes/no.

Saw a Terry Wogan (don't ask) interview years back with Anne Bancroft who either stiff with booze or just plain pissed off with stupid questions answered everything monosyllabically and even then yes, when he wanted no and vice versa. Wogan began to sweat, his smile turned to concrete, and at last we had real television.
posted by jennydiski at 12:16 AM on October 12, 2007


I was cringing more at the interviewer, not the band, just because he was so...normal. SR has some very emotional and powerful music that is in no way discredited because of one lacklustre interview.
posted by liquorice at 12:18 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Have you ever been interviewed by someone who had no idea what it is you do?

It looks a lot like the one posted here.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:43 AM on October 12, 2007


Staged?
posted by vertriebskonzept at 12:58 AM on October 12, 2007


Or maybe not:

Sigur Ros Interview, New Zealand TV, 19-Apr-2006

Georg's Interview

posted by vertriebskonzept at 1:11 AM on October 12, 2007


What a bunch of dicks. The interviewer isn't the best, he's asking some pretty bland questions these guys have probably been asked a hundred times before...but that's show business. They were morose and angry-looking from the start, before one question was ever asked, and they act like that?

It's always a strike for (for want of a better phrase) the real world when people don't give the media what they want - especially when all the questions were framed so they could be answered yes/no.


Please. The "culture jam the media!" crap only goes so far, and in my book, anyway, it doesn't involve "sticking it" to the nice (if boring) NPR radio guy who's trying to help you sell records.
posted by zardoz at 1:39 AM on October 12, 2007


Well, I don't know anything about any of this, but I do know that threads involving fans defending the object of their fanaticism are amusing, whether in politics, religion, music, art, computer operating systems, or whatever. So well done!
posted by moonbiter at 1:49 AM on October 12, 2007


Thank you, zardoz. I read jennydiski's comment that you quoted, and thought exactly the same thing. Went out to get some beer (I've been doing that a lot today), all the while thinking of how I might best phrase a response to her point. I probably would've taken longer to say it, but you've expressed my feelings about it perfectly.

I would just add that if your game is to not "give the media what they want", do us a favor and at least come up with an interesting shtick. Tell some good jokes, call the interviewer a cheap hack, if that's how you feel, set your hair on fire, whatever, but do something fer chrissakes. Otherwise, don't waste your time and ours by showing up for the interviews in the first place.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:53 AM on October 12, 2007


Just a thought, but maybe there are people who do things because they want to, nice if other people like it, but aren't necessarily devoted to making as much money and publicity as they can. Why shouldn't they bore you in an interview? Boring the customer in a commercial world is as radical as setting their hair on fire. Not everything has to be for maximum entertainment and accessibility.
posted by jennydiski at 3:14 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Boring the customer in a commercial world is as radical as setting their hair on fire.
...and Michael Jackson did both.
posted by bunglin jones at 3:17 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love the internet. It seems that an eight year old girl is down with the NPR site.

What do you mean, the NPR site? We've got our very own eight year old girl right here. Do you have their poster on your bedroom wall, carfilhiot?

Real car wreck interviews.

posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:22 AM on October 12, 2007


>Otherwise, don't waste your time and ours by showing up for the interviews in the first place.

Well, it's a learning experience. I guess that's the whole point, *you* shouldn't be wasting *your* time listening to interviews by these people.
posted by gsb at 3:26 AM on October 12, 2007


Kattullus: I always interpreted Heysátan like the farmer was accepting his death after being trapped beneath a bale of hay, but it's been a while since I last read the lyrics.

I like Sigur Ros. But I also think "Wolverine Blues" is Entombed's best work, so what do I know.

Oh, come on. Clandestine is obviously a superior album.
posted by aldurtregi at 3:32 AM on October 12, 2007


The interview was about 8 flavors of awesome, for reasons stated eloquently above.

That said, the Bryant Park Project seems to be NPR's attempt at a Morning Zoo type program except, instead of Alligator Bob and the Cooter, you have fucking Sarah Vowell and the "Can you hear me now" guy from those cell phone commercials.

DO NOT WANT
posted by psmealey at 3:36 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well said, jennydiski.

They weren't being churlish here. They simply weren't accessible and lovable and charming by public relations definitions, and I think that's just swell. I prefer it infinitely to forced comedy or a desperate huckster I'm the best candidate to be junior VP of your iPod attitude. They were themselves.

I've seen them live, too. It's the only show where I've ever fallen asleep. I wasn't bored at all, but I was quite tired and the lullabies did their work. (I'd been falling to sleep to them for months, anyway -- it was practically a conditioned response.) The nice part is I doubt they'd mind a bit.
posted by melissa may at 4:04 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boring the customer in a commercial world is as radical as setting their hair on fire. Not everything has to be for maximum entertainment and accessibility.

Agreed, I guess, jennydiski. And if you personally *enjoyed* or found some redeeming quality or interest or whatever it is you need or appreciate or find validating in that interview, then, well, that's a good thing, then, isn't it? That's good for you. And there's no argument to be found there. Whatever gets you through the night. Whatever speaks to you is what speaks to you. I suppose they said something in that interview that spoke to you. So, hey, check out their music! You might like that, too. And that'd be good, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:37 AM on October 12, 2007


What struck me was the looks they gave each other throughout the interview. It reminded me of friends in high school who would come to class stoned and consequentally thought they were much funnier than they actually are. I'm not saying Sigur Ros was stoned but the looks and little giggles they exchanged made it seem like there was some kind of conspiracy.

And yes, the interviewer's questions were not the best but generally celebrity interviews go like that, even on NPR. Ask whatever question and the celeb responds with their prepared anecdote. Sigur Ros has been around long enough that they should know the routine by now.
posted by wallaby at 4:42 AM on October 12, 2007


Boring the customer in a commercial world...

But, it's kind of all a commercial world, isn't it? As soon as you're selling something. Sigur Ros is, of course, selling their music. I don't actually buy their music, as I don't particularly care for it, but their showing up for their interview is tacit admission, on their part, that they are selling something. And however "radical" you may find that being boring is, I don't personally wish to be bored. As a matter of fact, as far as I'm concerned, being bored is one of the worst possible states of being that exists, and I find it extremely unappealing, whether in the "commercial world" or any other world you can name.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:45 AM on October 12, 2007


Still a more interesting interview than a by-the-numbers standard TV interview. Variety is the spice of life.
posted by asok at 4:49 AM on October 12, 2007


I've given Sigur Ros way to many chances - I just find them to be utterly unlistenable, on record anyway. I kind of liked that album with the alien fetus on the cover, but everything else I find strangely unbearable. But same thing with TV on the Radio - people who like them REALLY like them. I just don't get it, but I do get REALLY liking a band, so good on you, fans! (Unless you're talking about the Decemberists - I look forward to everyone denying ever having liked them. Good god, they are so horrible.)
And, you fools, they were not "punking" the interview, however asinine the questions were - they just seem to be genuinely inarticulate and, as a result, totally uninteresting. In a hostile way.
posted by ghastlyfop at 5:01 AM on October 12, 2007


I don't actually buy their music, as I don't particularly care for it, but their showing up for their interview is tacit admission, on their part, that they are selling something.

Yeah, it's hard for me to see anything radical in it. Surely it's actually an astute piece of marketing on their part. "We're indie -- and Icelandic indie at that -- so we're not going to play at your typical orthodox marketing game." And I'm guessing, by the responses here, that they've judged their actual market pretty well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:07 AM on October 12, 2007


aldurtregi: I always interpreted Heysátan like the farmer was accepting his death after being trapped beneath a bale of hay, but it's been a while since I last read the lyrics.

Actually, that makes a lot of sense. I think you may be right there. Admittedly it's been a while since I listened to the album (for reasons entirely stupid I don't have access to most of my music collection from N-Z).
posted by Kattullus at 5:18 AM on October 12, 2007


> It is required in the (visual) art world ... to be able to explain your work.

Explaining your work cogently is only required if you're in marketing and the client wants to know why the logo you've designed looks like a flensed penis. You have to have a ten minute exposition at the ready to be delivered with earnest passion, and you have to use the terms "social web" "sales creep" and "neomarketplace" without breaking up in hysterical laughter. Can't do it? Try on this apron.

Regular artists? Not so much. You may be asked to explain your work, but your answer isn't given a pass/fail mark. You can say "it speaks for itself," "BONG HITS FOR JESUS," or "UGH!" This is the privilege of being an artist. Along with wearing goofy hats, leering shamelessly at pretty girls, and driving a beat up Dodge Neon instead of a E-class.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:23 AM on October 12, 2007


you distrust someone's musical taste because they don't care that some dude stole the lead singer of the Arcade Fire's basketball?

Nah, I distrust someone's musical taste who makes blanket statements like "modern music is completely, utterly fucking useless."

And, actually, Arcade Fire leaves me cold.
posted by papercake at 5:27 AM on October 12, 2007


But, it's kind of all a commercial world, isn't it?

I'm afraid so. All the more interesting when people don't give you what you want or expect.

In any case, it's a weird assumption that people who make music (etc) are going to be good sales-persons of their work.

They make music, you buy it or don't, they don't owe you anything. Not even a good interview.
posted by jennydiski at 5:28 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


OK, Jenny. Like I said, if you find that interesting, that's a good thing. They've reached you, and somehow touched you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:38 AM on October 12, 2007


They make music, you buy it or don't, they don't owe you anything.

and did anybody, anywhere, ever buy music, or become interested in a band, based on an interview? this stuff is strictly for fans-only, and as an admirer of their work, i quite liked their response to a bunch of extremely inane questions ("so...do you like...stuff?", as commented above). they've lost nothing whatsoever, and probably gained a bit, in my eyes for not having bothered to respond to such a shitty set of questions.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:41 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whatever. The movie looks incredible.
posted by fungible at 5:45 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait a second. Did anybody watch the trailer that was linked? That shit was heartmending.

on preview: Apparently fungible watched it and liked it too.
posted by dogwalker at 5:49 AM on October 12, 2007


Metafilter: like a flensed penis
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 5:56 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: haunted by Leonard Cohen
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:57 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Their promotional people made them do the interview: they didn't *want* to do it. The interviewer is shit, asking them mundane questions which really don't require any sort of answer for anyone with a brain, and they are the sort of band who are anti-mainstream, anti-promotion, and they find themselves contractually obligated to do a set number of interviews to promote their product for the record company. Blaming them beyond this is asinine. Go watch a few Zappa interviews and get back to me.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:01 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


(heartmending)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:07 AM on October 12, 2007


This question: how do you create your songs? ... cannot be answered. I don't know what I would say, personally. I'd probably say that a magical pink unicorn whispers them in my ear instead of "I get an idea and then I write it on a piece of paper".
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:10 AM on October 12, 2007


They might not have been the most dazzling or unique questions in the world, but they are very, very standard for this kind of musicians-get-interviewed setting, and Sigur Ros should know that.

They do know that, and they don't feel like playing along. Good for them. Watching that made me appreciate Terry Gross a lot more; sometimes I get annoyed with her, but she always knows the work of the person she's interviewing and asks intelligent questions. This guy... "So how do you guys make music?... So what's it like being famous and everything?" He got exactly what he deserved. Yeah, it would have been funnier if they'd gone all Bob Dylan on his ass and started spritzing him with non sequiturs, but hey, they're Icelandic.

[NOT SCANDINAVIANIST]
posted by languagehat at 6:19 AM on October 12, 2007


In any case, it's a weird assumption that people who make music (etc) are going to be good sales-persons of their work.

I never made such an assumption, nor did any of my comments indicate that I'd made such an assumption. I'd actually prefer that they not use an interview to merely be salespersons of their product. Like I said, tell a joke, call the interviewer a Nazi, whatever. But when you deign to plotz youself in front of a microphone and speak to a million-odd people, I happen to think you should have something to say. That you, jennydiski, find it somehow intellectually stimulating that they are being boring, and have absolutley nothing to say, is something that I can't personally relate to, but, hey, whatever floats yer boat.

By contrast, I'd point to musician Tom Waits, who, in interviews, is liable to talk about Cuban hats, the jungles of Siam or his uncle in Cincinnatti: almost anything but the direct hawking of his own work. But he talks about something. He says something fer chrissakes, and it's usually interesting/engaging/funny/of note... But, hey, I'm just hopelessly old-school in that way: I expect someone in front of a microphone to say something of interest. Otherwise, like, get away from the microphone! This being boring, this having nothing to say to your radio audience, as some sort of statement about media or commerciality or whatever is, well, I suppose it's a sort of post-modern intellectual affair that is beyond the grasp of my feeble, old-fashioned mind. I'll leave it to folks like you to appreciate and celebrate!

Perhaps you'll listen to some of their music now, and I sincerely hope you'll enjoy it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks very much for posting that trailer. The film looks amazing... Iceland is such a gorgeous country.

I couldn't really watch the whole interview; that guy had no idea what to ask them, and it was fucking painful.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:21 AM on October 12, 2007


This guy... "So how do you guys make music?... So what's it like being famous and everything?" He got exactly what he deserved.

That'd be all well and good, languagehat, if they were talking to this guy in a corner at a cocktail party or something, but you seem to be forgetting that this is a radio interview, going out to millions of people. They're talking to millions of people, not just this guy. Hell, this guy is superfluous. Don't you think they might perhaps rise to the occasion and address the folks out there in radioland, no matter how lame the questions this twit is asking? Lots of professional musicians do that in interview situations all the time.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:26 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I suppose it's a sort of post-modern intellectual affair that is beyond the grasp of my feeble, old-fashioned mind.

flapjax, I think they just couldn't believe that they were being asked such silly questions and came up empty. The first thing the one guy said to every question was "I don't know..."
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:27 AM on October 12, 2007


flapjax, I think they just couldn't believe that they were being asked such silly questions...

If I didn't know better, chuckdarwin, I'd assume from this comment that you're suggesting this is the first interview SR has ever done. As mentioned by several commenters above, stupid or ill-informed questions and interviewers are not rare, but are rather the norm.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:32 AM on October 12, 2007


It was literally pulling teeth to get him to discuss their music

Were you asking him "Is it safe?"
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:00 AM on October 12, 2007


Those were dick questions.
posted by four panels at 7:15 AM on October 12, 2007


and did anybody, anywhere, ever buy music, or become interested in a band, based on an interview?

Presumably. Otherwise, record companies wouldn't spend so much time, money and energy persuading bands to do them when so many of them loathe the process. They do tend to have music clips that go along with the interview though, but I'm guessing that the band's ideology is a critical part of the marketing package.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:24 AM on October 12, 2007


a friend went to the session with Sigur Ros at the New Yorker festival (last week) and they behaved exactly the same way with an interviewer who didn't know shit about their music. My friend said that the band mostly seemed like they wanted to be anywhere else but there, answering inane questions. They only became 'real' (for lack of a better word) and took the questions seriously when the interviewer opened up questions from the audience. And FWIW, I love their music.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:29 AM on October 12, 2007


If I didn't know better, chuckdarwin, I'd assume from this comment that you're suggesting this is the first interview SR has ever done. As mentioned by several commenters above, stupid or ill-informed questions and interviewers are not rare, but are rather the norm.

True... maybe this was the end of a junket and SR were just tired of playing along.

"You're gonna make us go on the radio? Fine. We'll go on there and make you sorry you ever asked us."
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:30 AM on October 12, 2007


the band mostly seemed like they wanted to be anywhere else but there, answering inane questions.

Maybe they're just allergic to interviews. They wouldn't be the first people to eschew them completely.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:32 AM on October 12, 2007


They wouldn't be the first people to eschew them completely.

It always comes back to shoegaze, doesn't it?

full disclosure: first time I heard Sigur Rós I thought it was Slowdive
posted by psmealey at 7:34 AM on October 12, 2007


All 5 of the people in that room are there to do a job, 4 of them failed that job. There could be good reasons for that, but still, they failed.

You seem to be be under the impression that the interviewer was asking good questions.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:35 AM on October 12, 2007


be be be be be be be be be be be be be be
posted by Mikey-San at 7:35 AM on October 12, 2007


Years ago, my dad got to interview Emmylou Harris when she was pushing Wrecking Ball. A few questions in, she asked if he knew who (producer) Daniel Lanois was. He didn't (he was a very traditional country fan, and had no idea what her new direction was all about - he hadn't even listened to the record properly - he assumed that she was going to be doing the same old stuff).

The interview went downhill very quickly from that point (she worshipped Lanois and credited him for saving her career). It was the only interview he ever said he regretted. He hated the record and gave it to me; it's still a favourite of mine (and marked the point where I started to be interested in proper country crossover stuff).
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:37 AM on October 12, 2007


UbuRoivas: it seems quite natural to me that people who are so reserved in a conversational setting would be more than capable of sublimating their energies into other forms of communication.

I think you've completely hit it here. We come from a culture where you're forced to feel ashamed of not being able to talk about every single little fucking thing in your life, shamed for not even trying to. There's too much talk and 99% is crap. Total crap. Communication is not about being a self promoting shmo, I've known a fair amount of Icelanders and they are some interesting and fascinating people. Very intuitive and very non conforming. They have such a different inner sense of balance or rhythm, best of all and to their credit they have no sense of that ingrained sense shame that we have here if we don't try to be cool or sound cool or look cool when cool is some bullshit that means nothing and says nothing to anyone.

Sometimes talking ruins things. If music could be explained in words it wouldn't exist. I say good for them, that interview was hilarious and I say screw that Bryant Park nonsense. It's like NPR trying to tap into a certain demographic and it's as annoying as any other demographic driven pap.
posted by Skygazer at 7:39 AM on October 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Skygazer: I've known a fair amount of Icelanders and they are some interesting and fascinating people. Very intuitive and very non conforming. They have such a different inner sense of balance or rhythm, best of all and to their credit they have no sense of that ingrained sense shame that we have here if we don't try to be cool or sound cool or look cool when cool is some bullshit that means nothing and says nothing to anyone.

We're also made of pixie dust and mooncheese.
posted by Kattullus at 7:50 AM on October 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Sigur Ros is the perfect soundtrack for flying The Great Circle over the pole on a brilliantly sunny day, groggy from jet lag and the airlines insistence on saving a couple pennies a seat by depriving me of oxygen while staring out the window (which you have open just a crack because you don't want to experience the wrath of the air hostess again and hear how looking out the window is depriving other passengers their full enjoyment of Talladega Nights).
posted by Keith Talent at 7:54 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I saw Sigur Ros a year or two ago (band had comped us VIP tix) and Steve Cropper sat in with them. Great show.
posted by stevil at 7:56 AM on October 12, 2007


We're also made of pixie dust and mooncheese.

you too? did we balts sail over & go hunting fern flowers with all those dottirs of yours, or what? mooncheese would have been our contribution. not many pixies here, but many enough in iceland. skygazers, yes, please, we need more of those kinds, globally.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:04 AM on October 12, 2007


I'll come clean: I like Sigur Ros, the Decemberists, Arcade Fire, etc. Not my favorite genre of modern music, but close enough. So much hate going on in this thread. I'm in college, so the law of music states that music is at it's finest right now. Actually hoping to avoid this trap myself, but we'll see how it goes in a few years.

That said, I really don't care about this interview one way or the other, and Heima looks beautiful.
posted by Arturus at 8:29 AM on October 12, 2007


"How do you guys create a song?"

"We just sit down and create a song."

Jeez. I know Luke, he's a really good guy. He's working really hard here... when you get answers that short, it can be tough to keep firing.

I did an interview like this once, with funk singer Betty Davis. I knew going in that it was going to be like that... she was a recluse more or less for 25+ years. I knew I could wait it out, and I got a few extra sentences out of her on each question, but it was unbelievably tough.

But again... I knew it was going to be like that going in. If I expected a regular interview, I might have just flipped.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:34 AM on October 12, 2007


I want to add something here, because I want to say something to defend Luke, who's not a friend of mine, but is an acquaintance who has been really supportive of me and my show when he really didn't have to (I'm kind of the competition).

Musicians do not have an obligation to be salespeople. Nor are they required to be eloquent. But neither are they required to agree to interviews. If they do agree to interviews, they have a responsibility to the audience to make an effort to communicate. These guys weren't trying, and that's insulting not just to the host, but to the audience as well.

Also: jennydinski: "It's always a strike for (for want of a better phrase) the real world when people don't give the media what they want"

As a member of the media, someone who's job is a lot like Luke's, that's completely insulting to me. Luke (and I) are there to give people some insight into what's going on in the world. We're not morning zoo DJs. We care about arts and ideas and want to share wonderful things with our audiences. If people are going to be dicks, they shouldn't accept interviews.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:49 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like the band, but now less so given that they seem incapable of understanding that press is a means of introducing your work to people who may have never heard of you. Instead of seeing the interview as a means of reaching a new audience they used it as a forum to show how cool they think they are. How hard would it have been for them to take the questions asked and work with them a little bit. I've read other interviews of the band where similar questions were asked and they met the interviewer half way describing their production and creative process. I guess I expected a little more maturity from them.
posted by gallois at 8:50 AM on October 12, 2007


At the end, when the interviewer said something like "We'll see how this goes, I don't think I did very well the first time" I thought he was referring to the whole interview (not their names) and I was worried that he was going to start the whole thing over again.
posted by rmless at 8:54 AM on October 12, 2007


I'm in college, so the law of music states that music is at it's finest right now.

Complete myth. It will bring back baggage-laden memories (pleasant or miserable take your choice...), but I can promise, you will hear music after college that will be just as good, if not better. If you look for it.
posted by Skygazer at 8:55 AM on October 12, 2007


We're also made of pixie dust and mooncheese.
posted by Kattullus


Oh and that Icelandic sense of humor? Wow. a total hilarious mindfuck, equal parts charming, funny and bewildering (and slightly creepy).
posted by Skygazer at 8:59 AM on October 12, 2007


These guys are professional musicians who sing in their native language, not professional interview subjects who speak publicly in English. I'm sure many of the folks who have no patience for what they project on the band as a stance would have no patience for an interviewer making fun of his subject's foreign accent. There's nothing wrong with hypocrisy; don't feel bad.

You can hear in the way the main interviewee (who seems to be the best at English conversation) talks about music taking them around the world a few times that he's probably tired from travelling, and you can look at them all and they look like they just got off a bus or a plane or whatever.

Anyway, I like Múm better.

And thanks, rudster, for quoting Gaddis. J. R. is one of my favorite novels.

Also, expecting interview subjects to be as listenable as Tom Waits is like expecting them to be as listenable as James Earl Jones: ridiculous.
posted by breezeway at 9:12 AM on October 12, 2007


I thought the interview was instructive in that it exposed the band as painfully shy and meshed with the ethereal quality of their music. I knew nothing about them before, apart from their nationality, but found them charming in their fey-ness.

An interview can be interesting for that which may not be said, as much as for that which is said.

Previous posters have stated their preference for the bandmembers to "say something" at the very least. I'm not sure I'd want them to go on saying stuff just for the sake of talking.
posted by Azaadistani at 9:16 AM on October 12, 2007


"You're gonna make us go on the radio? Fine. We'll go on there and make you sorry you ever asked us."

That's the attitude of a ten year old.

They are clearly angry about something from the way the one guy starts cursing when asked about his Hopelandic.
posted by euphorb at 9:30 AM on October 12, 2007


He just as likely calls it "bullshit," maybe "fucking bullshit," because "bullshit" can mean "gibberish," which they eventually get to, via "la la la la."

Then again, if you want them to be assholes, there's nothing they can do to stop themselves.
posted by breezeway at 9:47 AM on October 12, 2007


I haven't heard enough of Sigur Ros to decide if I like them or not. I did like watching this interview. But I really enjoyed listening to the Lou Reed interview posted by bunglin jones up above. Thats how you answer idiotic questions.
posted by Sailormom at 9:54 AM on October 12, 2007


Years ago, in Taiwan, I barely missed an interview with Cocteau Twins on ICRT, the local pseudo-English radio station. I was kinda angry at myself for missing the interview. But hearing this interview, and knowing how bad ICRT is, I'm glad I missed it. I bet it would've been painful.
posted by jiawen at 10:09 AM on October 12, 2007


Sigur Ros has been around long enough that they should know the routine by now.

Fuck the routine. And then turn it over and do it from the other side, as well.
posted by humannaire at 10:40 AM on October 12, 2007


I'm in college, so the law of music states that music is at it's finest right now.

When I was in college ('85-89) it was all Husker Du, Replacements, Dinosaur Jr. and Fugazi so, OK.
posted by psmealey at 11:05 AM on October 12, 2007


I thought the interview was boring, but I've seen worse interviews, interviewers, and interviewees. I attributed their reticence to a combination of being introverted and not speaking in their native language.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:16 AM on October 12, 2007


If they do agree to interviews, they have a responsibility to the audience to make an effort to communicate.

By the same token, if you agree to interview a band, you have a responsibility to the audience to know something about them and ask intelligent questions. Garbage in, garbage out.
posted by languagehat at 11:23 AM on October 12, 2007


The documentary is screening at the AFI film festival in LA next month. Tickets just went on sale here, about halfway down the page.

/end psa.
posted by dogwalker at 11:25 AM on October 12, 2007


"Is there anything about Iceland that has resulted in a surprisingly original corpus of music?"

I gather a lot of Icelandic musicians really hate that question. I read one once offering the opinion that it's just about the most cliched thing you can ask them. (Though it's not as bad as anything pre-pended by "Do you know Bjork...?")
posted by lodurr at 11:30 AM on October 12, 2007


I've written about Sigur Ros and been turned down for interviews every time -- that do them very rarely. It seems like that's a smart move on their part, and besides, it adds to the mystery.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:33 AM on October 12, 2007


Fresh Air with Terri Gross
Dead Air with Sigur Ros
posted by not_on_display at 11:34 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn you, not_on_display, I tried desperately to make a Dead Air joke for the title but couldn't make it work. Well played, sir, well played. The best I could come up with was "Sigur Rós put on dead airs."
posted by Kattullus at 11:41 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The vitriol towards Luke and his interview questions is totally bizarre to me. Not to mention the vitriol towards anyone who would dare ask an artist to talk about their work.

I am a professional radio interviewer. Given the attitude the band is taking, Luke is doing an exceptionally good job.

The interviewer's responsibility is towards the audience, not towards someone who may have been asked a question before. If someone has been asked a question before, it's probably because it's interesting or unique.

What kind of idiot would have a band that sings in a made-up language on their show and not ask them about that?! That's amazing! That's remarkable! That's unique!

By the same token, if you agree to interview a band, you have a responsibility to the audience to know something about them and ask intelligent questions. Garbage in, garbage out.

I'm sorry, but he clearly knows something about, and even personally likes the band. He's asking questions for a very general audience who need to be introduced to the band. People who aren't fans of the band going in will still be interesdted in hearing about what makes the band unique -- they have a very unique sound, they're from Iceland, they sing in a made-up language, etc. Luke was trying hard to be pleasant, making fun of his own pronounciation of their names, etc, and they were, honestly, being dicks.

Honestly, I just don't buy into the idea that being a dick to people makes you a more credible artist.
posted by YoungAmerican at 11:43 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


It seems that a Finnish veteran of the Russian war was being interviewed about his experiences of those days.

Q: "You saw a lot of infantry action?"
A: "Much."

Q: "Did you ever engage in a fire fight?"
A: "Often."

Q: "Did you ever have occasion to shoot at a human being?"
A: "Yes, several times."

Q: "Did you find this difficult."
A: "Yes. You see they tended to duck, to get behind cover, and to run in zigzag."
posted by 445supermag at 11:59 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


psmealy: instead of Alligator Bob and the Cooter, you have fucking Sarah Vowell

Wait, you're not saying they actually have Sarah Vowell, right? Because if you were, I'd actually have to listen. (Not that her voice isn't annoying as hell after a while, but I'll put up with that.)
posted by lodurr at 12:01 PM on October 12, 2007


It's an interesting interview because of the discomfort that it causes us. That discomfort points to a rather strong social imperative being broken.

I can imagine that that imperative is less prevalent in Iceland than in the rest of Europe. And less prevalent in Europe than in the US.
posted by jouke at 12:03 PM on October 12, 2007


What kind of idiot would have a band that sings in a made-up language on their show and not ask them about that?!

What kind of idiot would read and hear the band denying that it's a made-up language, averring that it's just gibberish, tra-la-la, bullshit, and that the 'hopelandic' moniker was made up by another interviewer at a loss for words, and still ask why they sing in a made-up language?

What kind of band wouldn't get tired of that same question from interviewers who claim to be fans but whose familiarity with the group seems no more robust than the average Rolling Stone reader?

What kind of professional radio interviewer would categorize online criticism of a fellow radio interviewer's article, blaming a foreign band for a poor interview, as "vitriol" in an attempt to paint the critics as ghoulish and cruel?
posted by breezeway at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2007


Wait, you're not saying they actually have Sarah Vowell, right?

No... they just have that insider, quasi hip, flip, nerdy, snarky but overly precious vibe that she pretty much personifies. I don't hate her per se, I just can only deal with her in very small doses.
posted by psmealey at 12:18 PM on October 12, 2007


It's some sort of Northern European thing, obviously. Sigur Ros appear to buzzing on a combination of meth, sugar and triple espressos in comparison to your usual post race podium interview with F1 Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen
posted by Keith Talent at 12:27 PM on October 12, 2007


Your Favorite Band['s] [attitude] Sucks

How did we get this far down thread without it? And where's jonmc?
posted by lodurr at 12:28 PM on October 12, 2007


YoungAmerican, how come everybody here except you thinks the questions were stupid and inane? It couldn't be that you're unable to be objective because you're also an interviewer and personally know and like this guy, could it? Naah, it must be that we're all prejudiced against radio hosts or something.
posted by languagehat at 12:38 PM on October 12, 2007


I always feel a little cheated whenever Luke subs on "Wait, Wait"
posted by lodurr at 12:42 PM on October 12, 2007


I always feel a little cheated whenever Luke subs on "Wait, Wait"

Amen to that. He sounds like a super nice guy and would probably be a hoot to have a drink with, but from a broadcasting perspective the overly self-effacing thing really does not work. It is tedious.
posted by psmealey at 12:49 PM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


You'll notice that they talk quite happily about their music, etc. in other interviews, and in voiceovers to videos on their website.

There are, no doubt, bands and artists and stars out there who will remain silent, or nearly so, in an interview to make a point or other. Archness, haughtiness, call it what you will. But from what I've read and seen and heard, particularly on the trailer, Sigur Ros are quiet homeboys who play music and like music and don't really see the deeper point of interviews when they have, you know, the music there to play for you instead.

I think I've read they're not chart-chasers or people who want to have adoring FANS. That should be explanation enough of why they don't have the usual distant bad attitude that comes with stardom - and also why they don't get bouncy and talkative simply because they're being asked the same thing for the 100th time.

We'll probably never hear them say it, but I don't think they were trying to make a point. I don't think they were angry. Or in a bad mood. You don't have to have, or even court, all the attitude or fame or glitz to be a good musician.

And does a good musician have a responsibility to their audience to behave in a particular way? No. I don't care whether the lead French Horn in my local orchestra farts loudly in the toilet or swears at people in bars or meekly clips bonsai in his garden, as long as he has a great technique and great musicality.

Anyway. Maybe they were just tired.
posted by paperpete at 1:52 PM on October 12, 2007


Young American, I've interviewed scores of bands. Nate was asking bad questions. It was like a clinic in how not to get the answers that you want; he was asking questions that could be answered in one word, asking multi-part questions, and he was tacking on answers that could be parroted back by the interviewer. That's what you don't do.

And I've had shitty interviews before. I ended up spiking an interview with Lyrics Born because I got only two decent quotes out of him. His flacks hadn't gotten me the album, so I was flying blind and trying to do a phoner while he was on his cell in traffic (since that was the time he could give me). I know exactly what an awkward pause is, and I remember finally hearing Later that Day and thinking "This is what he was being a pretentious dick about? Fuck him."

This was hilariously bad, but the interviewer was at least as much at fault.
posted by klangklangston at 2:11 PM on October 12, 2007


God I hate Sigur Ros, but I agree. Pretty bad questions. I'm not sure if they were trying to piss him off or not, but the questions were quite painful.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:37 PM on October 12, 2007


Worst ever? No, not quite. Let me refresh your memories:
Terry Gross: Gene Simmons, welcome to Fresh Air. (mp3)
posted by boo_radley at 2:40 PM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wait, didn't the lead singer of the Arcade Fire steal the basketball from some dude? Or do I have it backwards?
posted by moss at 5:09 PM on October 12, 2007


If people are going to be dicks, they shouldn't accept interviews.

This, folks, is the bottom line here. End of story. Game, set, match.
posted by zardoz at 5:10 PM on October 12, 2007


I thought the interview was pretty funny, but apparently I now need to have a strong opinion about whether Sigur Ros were being heroic culture-jammers or complete dicks. Is it OK if I flip a coin?
posted by painquale at 7:40 PM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think we can all agree that they were all being dicks.
posted by smackfu at 7:56 PM on October 12, 2007


It's bad, but the recent interview with a cancer researcher on all the unpublicized health risks around us was much worse - there was an enormous amount of editing done to an apparently scatterbrained and unfocused conversation, with the result that she sounded like a character from the Vice City soundtrack.
posted by unmake at 8:32 PM on October 12, 2007


The Gene Simmons interview that boo_radley links to really is the biggest trainwreck interview ever. Wow.
posted by painquale at 8:34 PM on October 12, 2007


Lame interviewer, not a lame band: too many questions that could be answered with a "yes" or a "no" (Did you, do you, were you, are you...?); Scandinavians, as a rule, make poor conversationalists - too much silence!

Also,
posted by KokuRyu at 9:27 PM on October 12, 2007


Louis Menand on Bob Dylan:

On most subjects that normal people talk about, Dylan seems either not to have views or to have views indistinguishable from the views of everyone else who’s hanging around the coffeehouse. His conversation is short and not always sweet. But there is one topic he does like. He is a songwriter. He likes to talk about songs. When interviewers figure this out, the work gets easier.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:28 PM on October 12, 2007


If someone has been asked a question before, it's probably because it's interesting or unique.

I do not think this word means what you think it means.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:40 PM on October 13, 2007


> If people are going to be dicks, they shouldn't accept interviews.

This, folks, is the bottom line here. End of story. Game, set, match.

You think so? Because that would do away with approximately 60% of all interviews with popular musicians.
posted by humannaire at 7:44 PM on October 13, 2007


You think so? Because that would do away with approximately 60% of all interviews with popular musicians.

Sounds great to me!
posted by zardoz at 3:29 AM on October 14, 2007


As I see it, humannaire, being a dick isn't the essential problem here. It's being an utterly boring dick. Sure, lotsa popstars can come off as dicks, but some of them do it with a certain flair and interest!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:33 AM on October 14, 2007


(Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen & Mark E Smith of the Fall are cases in point)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:45 PM on October 14, 2007


Sigur Ros resonate with me. The videos help, but the music is really evocative. Videos of theirs I've seen & like: Untitled #1 (Vaka) (by the also awesome Floria Sigismondi), Glosoli, & Hoppipolla.
Google Video for higher resolution & links to the full version.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:09 AM on October 15, 2007


As I see it, humannaire, being a dick isn't the essential problem here. It's being an utterly boring dick. Sure, lotsa popstars can come off as dicks, but some of them do it with a certain flair and interest!

Well, that's what I saw here. It just wasn't the flair and interest you expected, FAM.

After about twenty or so of encounters with a douche puddle-type cliché-ridden/celebrity-driven "music journalists" (har har) that the null-field preservation mechanism kicks in.

BTW? The journalistos douche-puddle status was established by the fact this interview even saw the light of day. And since it did, I choose to root for the contributors to culture not the vulture.
posted by humannaire at 5:49 PM on October 16, 2007


Followup: Bryant Park Project flagellate themselves in public over the "Sigur Ros fiasco".
posted by lodurr at 10:10 AM on October 29, 2007


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