When anyone asks me of the hundreds of artists interviews in my career, which was the worst? Easy: the Beautiful South in the summer of 1992.
Here’s how I remember it. They arrived at the radio station straight off a flight from London. They were slightly drunk, grumpy at having to do an interview right away and annoyed that they were missing an important football match. All six of them sat around the perimeter of the radio studio, each at least five feet away from the nearest microphone. Their sullenness hung in the air like a giant wet fart.
The music ended. We were live.
“I’m joined by members of the Beautiful South for an other live mic interview. How’s everyone today?”
Silence. One shoulder shrug.
“You guys came directly from the airport, right?”
“Well, we really appreciate that.”
A quiet “Yeah, whatever, mate.”
“Let’s get into the new album, 0898. There has to be some kind of significance to those numbers. What is it?”
Blank stares among the bandmembers as if they were daring each other to be the first to speak up.
Finally someone said “It’s about sex, innit?”
“Sex. That’s the number you dial to get connect to the sex lines in the UK. You didn’t know that? Daft.”
And so it went for another 60 seconds after which I couldn’t take it anymore. This was live radio and this was awkward and awful. Buh-bye. I haven’t spoken to anyone from the band ever since.
I wish I had the audio of that for posterity, just to prove that it happened. Radio, though, traditionally didn’t do a very good job of archiving audio in those days. Tape was expensive and if there was nothing useful recorded on a reel, it was recycled.
TV, on the other hand, is generally terrific at this sort of thing. This is how we can have this list of 17 excruciatingly awkward interviews as collected by The NME. Here’s a taste.