UK-born Rob spends his working life listening to music, interviewing famous bands and getting into gigs for free. When he realised he didn’t really have a nose for hard journalism, he made a career out of his ears instead.
Rob has interviewed the lead singers of Kings of Leon and The Cranberries, gets sent more CDs than he can listen to, and has seen over 200 bands in the last year. Rob spreads his musical opinion across the street press in Melbourne, Sydney and London and has become somewhat of an authority on what’s good when it comes to gigs.
I’m a freelance music journalist, mainly writing for Drum Media in Sydney and Perth, Inpress in Melbourne and an English listings magazine called East. I also have my own soccer column in an English newspaper. I basically interview bands, review gigs, review CDs and write bands’ biographies. My day is spent listening to music, my evenings are spent going to gigs and my late nights and early mornings are spent on the telephone talking to bands.
It was really random actually. I studied journalism at uni and edited the college magazine but I didn’t really want to get into being a news-hound or a really hard-nosed journalist.
It was really a love of the written word and a love of music that got me into music journalism, rather than actually wanting to be a journalist. To be a news journalist, you need to be quite disciplined and strict, and keep to word count, whereas I am more of a rambler.
You need to be prepared to spend hours standing in really sweaty venues listening to really awful bands, or sit by the phone for ages waiting for bands to call you and then not get the call. Be prepared to miss out on social events because you’re at some rubbish gig. You have to be professional – you can’t just turn up to a gig and get drunk and half watch it – you have to really pay attention. At the same time you get paid to listen to music and talk to some of your heroes.
Probably the favourite interview I have done was with Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of The Cranberries. I grew up listening to The Cranberries and they are quite a big deal – they sold about 40 million records around the world. She was in Sydney for one day and had been on Sunrise and all the radio stations, so I was really nervous when I interviewed her that night, because she’d had a long day and I thought she would be really miserable. She seemed like quite a scary lady. I went to her hotel, we sat in a bar overlooking the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and she was just the nicest lady in the whole world. She told me her entire life story and that’s as good as it gets.
When you do an interview you need to really prepare and think about what you are going to ask so you can really engage them and get decent quotes.
If you are interviewing a band that has already been interviewed 10 times that day and you ask them boring questions, you’re going to get boring answers.
I can’t see a time in the future when I am not writing about music in one way, shape or form – whether I carry on doing interviews and reviews, or write books about bands and music. I would also like to do some fictional writing, like books or screenplays.