I’ve been waiting for the video to appear online. But it’s been three weeks now and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to show up, so I may as well tell the story before I forget.
Last month I was contacted by a reporter from El Tiempo, the national newspaper in Colombia. The El Tiempo website has a section called Tiempo Real that spotlights interesting web videos from around the world, and this reporter wanted to interview me about my band’s binder-flipping music video for our song Clowns.
This all occurred during my recent trip to Palm Springs with my father. The night before the interview, I asked my dad to mock-interview me so I would have some idea what kind of questions to expect. Then I practiced my answers in front of the bathroom mirror for an hour or so. Maybe this was excessive preparation for a five-minute web interview that would never be seen outside the Spanish-speaking world, but I’ve come to realise that I can’t trust myself to say anything intelligent off the top of my head. I’m very slow-witted. Even when I memorize a script, my recollection is shaky enough that I stammer and get lost and come across like an averagely dumb person speaking off-the-cuff.
The interview took place over Skype. I can’t remember exactly how it went. I think the reporter started with the obvious question – how did you make the video? And I came out with my canned answer. Then he asked me a couple less obvious questions, and I twisted some of my memorized responses so that they would seem vaguely apropos.
Then he asked me a question I hadn’t anticipated at all. I guess he’d done a little research, visiting our website and such, so he knew we weren’t a “real” rock-n-roll band, with tour dates and a press kit and all that stuff. We’re just a couple small-town guys who hang out in the basement and occasionally put our songs on the internet. “Why,” he asked, “do you make music?”
I didn’t have anything prepared for this. I must have stared into the webcam slack-jawed for thirty or forty seconds. Finally, I said, “I guess because it gives me an excuse to hang out with friends.” Which is really what it comes down to. If I lived in Los Angeles or New York, rather than here in Saskatoon, I would never schlep my guitar down to the local coffeehouse to sit on a stage alone and sing to an indifferent crowd. My dislike of strangers is too great, my thirst for fame too slight. I make music (and rock operas, and music videos, and history-themed rock-n-roll puppet shows) because I don’t go to pub crawls or barbecue parties, because I don’t join soccer teams or take pottery classes, because I don’t go on dates. I make music because I don’t know how to make small talk. Because otherwise when I called up my friends I would have nothing else to suggest except, “Hey, you wanna hang out?” – and when I just “hang out” with my friends, I often feel like I’m bringing everyone down, it would be better if I went home, better if I made room for someone else with more to contribute to the conversation.
I make music, in other words, out of insecurity.
So that’s what I tried to explain to the reporter from El Tiempo. But because I hadn’t prepared my answer in advance, I’m pretty sure it didn’t make a goddamn word of sense to him. So I’m not surprised that a few weeks have passed and the interview hasn’t turned up on the website. No-one wants to hear about that stuff.