How to interview a band: what questions to ask the musicians

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A successful music interview necessitates homework and preparation. Research the band extensively, spend time with the music and only start to develop questions when you find an aspect of the band you really want to learn more about.

When interviewing musicians, your goal is typically to help readers understand the musicians and gain a deeper understanding of the music. As such, it's important to ask questions that only the musicians themselves can answer. Besides asking question about a band's history, ask questions that reveal the musicians' opinions and feelings.

Write your questions down. Set your questions before you arrive at the interview, but don't stick to the order of the questions if you find the interview moving naturally into another, more interesting topic. Develop many questions, but ask only the most essential and potentially interesting questions.

Use a digital voice recorder. Test the recorder before you begin the interview.

Ask questions that will provide the history of the band for unfamiliar readers. If the band is well known, skip these types of questions. Ask questions such as "How did the band form?" or "Give me a brief history of the band?"

Talk about recent releases and tours. Ask questions like "How do the new songs differ from your older material?" or "Talk about the songwriting and recording process and what makes this record different."

Study the band's lyrics. Look for general themes, social commentary and personal sentiments. Ask questions that expand on the band's lyrics to give readers a deeper understanding of the lyricist and his ideas.

Ask questions about the band's recent history beyond releases and tours. If the band has had problems with a record label, had a van accident on tour or introduced a new member to the band, ask questions about these events.

Talk about music industry topics. Ask the band how it feels about selling music online and how it feels about illegal music downloads. Ask the band members their predictions about the future of CD and vinyl sales and if digital music will ever completely replace these formats.

Ask the band about future plans and upcoming releases and tours. Give your readers an idea of what to look forward to with the band.