Good Stories

A “pre-interview” is an interview that’s never heard, seen or read by anyone. The pre-interviewer’s job is to confirm that a potential radio or tv show guest will have something interesting to say, so that the REAL interviewer won’t find him or herself floating in what media people like to call “dead air”.

Monday’s pre-interviewer was intelligent, charming and funny, and we talked comfortably until she asked me to tell her a couple of stories.

“… like you would tell when you’re all sitting around having a beer.” she hinted. “I just need one from this tour, and maybe one from the early days.”

Despite the fact that I am a seasoned interviewee with not inconsiderable experience in the field, I could not, for the life of me, deliver a story. She needed two. I had zero. I apologized, explaining that stories have always just come up in conversation so I’ve never felt the need to choose some “good” ones for this kind of context-free interview emergency. Being a complete professional, she picked up our conversation as though the request had not been made and we successfully completed the otherwise smooth-sailing simulated interview.

The next day I asked my band-mates to help me develop some party-pieces - at least two good road stories that I could count on. For the next hour, we riffed through a small collection of oft-repeated and familiar tales that still reduce us all to hysterical laughter.

Someone once took three of us out on an expensive and powerful cigarette boat. As they pulled away from the dock, the high-strung skipper admitted it was only his third time at the helm of this souped-up macho racer - and it quickly became terrifyingly obvious that he had never been trained to drive it. After a white knuckled beeline to the middle of the lake, and with no land in sight, he turned off the roaring engines. The shaken passengers were then offered drinks … and cocaine. After nervously declining the fat white lines he had produced, they watched in horror as their host finished all the drugs himself.

This is the kind of story that we tell when we’re having a few beers. I had lied. I have hundreds, probably thousands, of them but I can’t trust myself to know with a certainty that the one I have chosen to tell will turn out to be appropriate for all audiences. This one probably isn’t.

Undeterred, we continued. There was the one about a former Trooper crew member who, at a large outdoor concert, had pissed off so many on-site crew and staff that, when he fell to the stage floor with a painful hernia attack, everyone just stepped over top of him - carrying on with their work.

There was the time when one of the band members, sick with the flu, had us stop the van quickly so he could leap out the side door and vomit impressively in front of a packed restaurant’s dinner patrons.

There was the time when, a former light man driving the gear truck in dense fog in Newfoundland nearly hit a deer and screamed - waking our sleeping merch guy who, disoriented and seeing only a white void beyond the windshield, and deducing that the truck was flying off a cliff, braced his hands and feet against the dashboard screaming “NO! NO! NO!” - waking our tour manager, Mike Pacholuk who calmly surveyed the situation and made a mental note to remember to tell us all about it later.

The search for appropriate stories continues. My real interview is a week away.