Wednesday, April 25, 2007

10 hilarious stories of the past 10 years

I've been trying to flood every publication -- from small to large -- with my work. As I've been cruising old clips, it's dawned on me that this is my 11th year of being a professional writer. It's a little strange to admit that as I'm only 25, but around this time, 11 years ago, I received a letter informing me that I was to participate in "Mirror," a Seattle Times-owned publication and the rest is history. I have seen the journalism media shift from print to Internet and all the stylistic change that goes along with it. Interestingly, I have also seen writers emerge to their own celebrity because how much freedom is allowed on the Internet. Sadly, we're only left with a handful of great writers and thousands of Hunter S. Thompson wanna-bes. Anyway, I was on the bus last Friday and I thought I'd share some of my more memorable moments of being a semi-professional interviewer guy.

1. Ryan Vs. The Rock Steady Crew (Ken Swift, Fabel), Spring 1997
Back when I didn't know anything about anything and I was just a young head who hated Diddy (f.k.a. Puff Daddy), I had a chance to sit down with the legendary Ken Swift and Fabel, who were part of a touring company for a musical called "Jam On the Groove." I made some comment where I referred to KRS-One as "old school" and Ken Swift got super pissed and said, "Kris isn't old school. I've been around longer than him." Oops. Chalk it up to the fact that I was only 15 years old, but man that was embarrassing.

2. Audio Karate Just Says No to Groupies, sometime in 2002
Audio Karate is this really great pop-punk band from California that I had a lot of respect for, not only because they write these really good songs, but also because they're four Mexican dudes in a mostly White subculture. I got into one of their shows with this girl I was sort of talking to because she knew the band. I ended up at a table with a few of the members and their friends. By the end of the night, it was me, the singer, and the girl I was there with. She was trying to get them to crash at her place. By this time, she'd been ignoring me for a good hour and she was all up on Art (the singer). He kept brushing her off and was visibly annoyed at the chick. We spent a good amount of time nerding it up and talking about recording with Trever Keith from Face to Face.

3. OMG Jim LEE!!!!!, October 1996
Within my first month as a published writer, I wanted to make the overture to interview one of my favorite comic illustrators of all time Jim "X-Men/Wild C.A.T.S./Everything Cool" Lee. So I made the effort to go to the comic store where he was signing shit and while the line wasn't that long and I totally could've scored a short interview, I geeked out and made him sign a bunch of comics before I ran back to my dad's car like a little nerd bitch.

4. Sumthin' 41, Spring 2001
Before they were platinum superstars and marrying pop princesses, Sum 41 was another Blink clone opening up for Reel Big Fish (?!?). I was assigned to interview the band for the college paper, so off I went with my PNC, James. James -- though 18 at the time -- looked a little young because Asian people don't age until we're like 80. The singer douche from the band offered James a beer and he politely declined, so singer douche says, "That's okay. We probably shouldn't give beers to a 12 year old anyway."

5. Why Linkin Park is the Worst Band Ever, Spring 2001
Other than their music, Linkin Park committed the ultimate sin by outright denying a scheduled interview to go bang some underage girls. Here's the story: I was contributing to Vinyl Exchange back in 2000/01, right when Linkin Park was taking off. Since they had a DJ, I thought I would give my girl, DJ Stef, a nice little write up about DJ Joe Hahn for her site. First I sent their press person an e-mail. Her assistant replied saying that Linkin Park has gone Gold and just played Conan O'Brien so they were too busy to talk to a small publication. I just chalked it up to large egos within the group and called it a dead interview. I think their press coordinator got wind of this because she called me a few days later apologizing for her assistant. We set up an interview with Hahn under the condition that it would only be printed in Vinyl Exchange (I think this had something to do with street cred, since VE was one of the only respectable hip-hop sites at the time). The night of the interview, I showed up at The Showbox and approached Hahn and one of the other dudes (bassist, I think). I introduced myself and he made a "shoo" motion with his hand, saying that he didn't have the time because he was trying to "get pussy." Obviously, I was pretty pissed about it, so I ended up rewriting the situation for the local paper, but not before I got a way better interview with Styles of Beyond, the opening group.

6. "We Don't Play That Old Shit Anymore," Fall 2002
Brand New's "Your Favorite Weapon" was the record I played to death during the Summer of 2002. I lucked out and saw the band open up for Finch a few months before. They toured with Taking Back Sunday that same summer, but it was in a really small venue called the Paradox and by the time I arrived (an hour before the show started), the venue had already filled to capacity. So in the fall, Brand New toured with one of the best bands ever, The Movielife. This was also after I turned 21, so I was able to chill in the bar before the show, which is where I saw various members of the band. I saw guitarist Vin Accardi sitting alone playing those weird bar computer card machines. I approached him and asked if they were going to play "Secondary" to which he replied, "We don't play that old shit anymore." I wrote him off as being an asshole, but I had a chance to sit down with Lacey and other members of the band almost a year later and they were much more cordial, if not, amazingly candid.

7. Crushing On the Lady, November 2002
Like many boys of the eem persuasion, I, too, crushed on Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley. When Halftime started to gain traction, we scored an interview with Lewis and me and my old roomie, Heather, went to do the interview. The interview itself went extremely well, but not before we got drunk and Heather audibly called me out for crushing on Jenny Lewis. Oh well, them's the breaks.

8. "Can I Get a Ride?" Spring 1996
Before I actually got published, I was worked on an article about influential Hip-Hop DJ, Nasty Nes (Nastymix Records, Sir Mix A Lot's DJ). He hosted "Rap Attack" which is probably the best radio show of all time. Period. I went down there and interviewed Nes and many of his colorful guests, which included B-Mello before I realized that he lived down the street from me. Toward the end of the night, it dawned on me that I didn't have a ride back home from the University campus, where the show was broadcast from. So I after Nes had been nice enough to do an extensive interview with me, he had to give my dumbass a ride home.

9. Before Will I Am was Every Which Way, Summer 1998
There once existed a time when the Black Eyed Peas were a respected hip-hop group and not the pop juggernaut they are now. I interviewed Will I Am during their stint on Warped Tour and we learned that we had a bunch of mutual friends, so the interview turned into a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with their group and I ended not having enough material to write a proper article. Whoops.

10. "If Michael Jordan Asked Me to Shoot Freethrows, I'd Do It," Summer 1998
During my junior year of high school, I took part in a newspaper workshop. I was covering a hip-hop show at a pop-art festival of sorts. I was taking a break from writing and I started talking to the DJ. Sure enough, I convinced him to let me jump on the turntables and I started scratching. Before I knew it, other kids from the program were watching and the director of the workshop started yelling at me to get off. When I did, she told me that I was "supposed to be covering the story, not be a part of it." My adviser, Glenn, tried to make me feel better by saying, "If Michael Jordan asked me to shoot freethrows with him, I'd do it."

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