Transcribing Is a Bitch: The Collected Craig Hlavaty Interviews

Categories: Inquiring Minds

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Note: Not actual author.
My last official day at the Houston Press is tomorrow, so these past two weeks I have been sifting through my body of work here at Rocks Off, almost seven years of words. I've been gleefully overdosing on nostalgia here at my desk, and I have (almost) no regrets. I'll have some more words on my departure on Friday, including a rundown of all the concerts I covered.

While I was compiling this blog of interviews I have undertaken for the Press, I got sad, because I started thinking about the ones that got away, the ones that I couldn't do because of time constraints or scheduling conflicts: Dave Grohl, Merle Haggard, Ozzy Osbourne, Dickie Peterson, Slash, Marilyn Manson, Joe Walsh, Willie Nelson, Jim James, Ronnie James Dio... the list is long and annoying.

Then there are the interviews that went horribly. Sometimes both parties, myself and the subject, were rushed, agitated, or otherwise mentally checked out. Sometimes the artist was really not into being interrogated while in a bumpy tour bus or smelly van, and it came out in the copy.

Even worse is when you don't know how to pronounce the musician's name and he or she calls you out, making the rest of the 15 minutes painfully testy and the interview turn into a vanilla preview.

Sometimes you don't even get to talk to the mack daddy in the group, and have talk to someone else who has been tasked with doing press. I assume that the Beach Boys' Al Jardine was actually a bit more insightful than Brian Wilson would have been, though Wilson would have been one for the scrapbook.

Do I have any tips for those of you aspiring to write about music and interview musicians? Sure I do! Of course I didn't always follow these rules myself, as you will see.

  • Be natural. They are just people like you and me. Unless you get to talk to Daft Punk. They are French robots.
  • Be conversational. Don't just ask what is on your notepad. Don't be afraid to pry. Pretend you aren't on the phone but having a meal together. Naked.
  • DON'T INCLUDE EVERY LITTLE THING FROM YOUR INTERVIEW IN THE FINAL COPY. Excise wisely. Too many bloggers these days think they need to be court reporters.
  • Do your homework. Know when albums and singles came out. Know how pronounce band names and proper names. It's just polite. Trust me.

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Photo by Marc Brubaker
The Dwarves' Blag Dahlia Tells One Hell of an Emo's Story
The Dwarves (who will be in town soon at Fitz) have a storied history with Houston, as lead singer Blag Dahlia told me before Fun Fun Fun Fest 2009.

The Pixies La La Love You
Before the Pixies came to Houston in late 2010, drummer Dave Lovering told me about new Pixies music and his side career as a magician.

Aerosmith Returns With New Album
Aerosmith's Joe Perry told me that if music didn't work out he would've been a Sea Shepherd, and admitted he and Steven Tyler's volatile relationship is what makes the band tick.

ICP's Violent J Talks Texas, Faygo & The Juggalo Family
J turned out to be a jolly fella on the phone, and we talked about all the varieties of Faygo that can be had in the Midwest, plus his Houston baby mama.

The Beach Boys' Endless Summer
The Beach Boys' Al Jardine gives me the lowdown on the band's 2012 summer tour, which didn't end in the best way. Wilson had his own bus, and the rest of the old-guard Boys share another, but it was Mike Love that scuttled the traveling show.

Photographic Memory
Before he was a globetrotting troubadour, I talked with Robert Ellis about his second LP, Photographs.

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Mayor Black
Mayor Black

much success to you! and thanks for all the help with our music events at Jamail Skatepark over the years.

MadMac topcommenter

I've enjoyed your work and I wish you success in your endeavors. Thank you.

Craig Wilkins
Craig Wilkins

If you guys have a Craig shaped hole that only another Craig can fill, hit me up. I was definitely a fan.


Daaaang - you and Chris were the only ones whose musical tastes I knew I could trust. Guess I better get to know some of the other writers and see who really knows their shit.

Mont Hoyt
Mont Hoyt

ahh more turn over.. bring in the next UH journalism major who will work for 30-40K a year.


Nicely done, sir. I'm definitely going to miss seeing your work in the Press. :(

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