photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
ive come around recently to the AUCKLAND DJ and former long-time BBC RADIO 1 RADIO PERSONALITY ZANE LOWE, especially with regards to his current THE ZANE LOWE INTERVIEW SERIES on APPLE MUSIC. ive watched and listened to his interviews for years and while he always came across as INFORMED and an ardent fan of his subject, there were times his PASSION seemed to stray into straight-up adulation. or so i thought. i believe the dude is fully aware of his role in the wider ecosystem of modern culture as a bridge of sorts for the global public to access emerging and established musicians, and i feel his ENTHUSIASM is a reflection of such. his queries are often the types a hardcore fan would want answered by a favored artist if given the opportunity and the nerve.
and that perspective of LOWE from that as a stand-in for the public was how i judged him until recently. i began to realize that, like HOWARD STERN, he is a great listener. and i think such may be an outgrowth of the long-form format of THE ZANE LOWE INTERVIEW SERIES of podcasts as it gives him time to weave and contextualize competing narratives and informed takes on his subject's career. in essence he isn't necessarily flattering his guests, instead he's creating a SAFE ENVIRONMENT for them to open up. and post-pandemic he is doing such physically as well, often meeting his subjects on their home-court. at their favorite spots. in their cities. sometimes even at their home or recording studio.
i've also noticed that he is shrewd in his interviewing style as he allows his subject to TAKE THE LEAD, with him interjecting only to clarify or contextualize a point he found interesting or needing of clarification for the average viewer. LOWE is the type of interlocutor that is comfortable not being "in the know" at all times and lets it known when he finds something genuinely UNEXPECTED or COMPELLING. i've also noticed he is not afraid of silence. it reminds me of my teaching days where there were sometimes pregnant silences were students or myself were conjuring a response to a BOLD question hanging in the air. the silences in his interviews are ones where people are fully contemplating and thus fully ENGAGED.
it took me a while to come around to the fact that the guy is just a fan of music and art and the processes/ALCHEMY from which such rise from the ether. in that sense it is almost inconsequential who the subject is, from DAVID BYRNE to MILEY CYRUS. i look forward to seeing where his long-form interview series leads him. hopefully he can interview some of my heroes like Q-TIP, JOHNNY MARR, SHANE MCGOWAN, JUSTINE FRISCHMANN, HUGH CORNWELL, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH, MIKE PATTON or even transcendent emerging artists like DRAB MAJESTY and CHELSEA WOLFE.
one can dream.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
there's something to be said about musicians interview musicians. there is a telepathy and a common wavelength at work that transcends superficial aspects like genre and style. it probably comes from a rooted common experience and mentality of persistence that comes with "making it" in a band setting. IT'S ELECTRIC! (APPLE MUSIC) was a in-person, pre-pandemic podcast where METALLICA drummer LARS ULRICH interviewed peers like JERRY CANTRELL (ALICE IN CHAINS), NOEL GALLAGHER (OASIS), JAMES MURPHY (LCD SOUNDSYSTEM), MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN (TOOL/A PERFECT CIRCLE), BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS), LES CLAYPOOL (PRIMUS), GREG PUCIATO & BEN WEINMAN (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN), DAVE GROHL (FOO FIGHTERS/NIRVANA), JOAN JETT, JACK WHITE (THE WHITE STRIPES) and TOM MORELLO (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE) among many others.
whats interesting is that ULRICH, despite his notorious reputation for talking (and talking and talking), within the confines of these interviews he is mostly listening. in fact, i'd argue he is an incredible astute interlocutor that gently guides his subjects through insightful productive conversations. most teachers know that the longer you speak the less impact each word has on your students. i was really taken when recently rewatching these interviews to see just how gifted an interviewer ULRICH was and how engaged his follow-up questions were. you didnt get the sense that he had a list he wanted to get through, rather in an almost HOWARD STERN-like manner allow the subject free reign to drive the conversation as he gently steers it. to pull this off you must be a really good listener, which in popular culture i think ULRICH never gets credit for. makes sense though, given the fact that he is often a key composer within METALLICA who often deals with arrangements, a practice whereby you need to listen with intention to surmise the best presentation of musical ideas for maximum impact.
i hope he gets back to this podcast post-pandemic, because it felt like he was really on a roll with it. and it seemed like he was genuinely in his element and having fun. selfishly i just found the conversations compelling and insightful, more so than the vast majority of ROCK AND ROLL interviews you find online.