How to Interview a Band: What Questions to Ask the Musicians

By Robert Russell ; Updated September 15, 2017
A lot of band interviews take place on the road.

Band interviews can be interesting or boring depending upon the type of questions asked. No one wants to read about a boring interview. The job of an interviewer is to engage the band members in a natural conversation that is enjoyable, while revealing for the band's fans.The ultimate goal is to ask thought-provoking questions that encourages the band to open up and share information and stories about itself.

Preparation and Planning

The first rule of thumb is to do the necessary prep work prior to the interview. Showing up for an interview with little knowledge about the band is not only disrespectful, it is a sure way to end up with lackluster results. Read previous interviews with the band if they are available, listen to their music and visit the band’s website to prepare for the interview. Get to know the band's history and personal bios of each band member first. Attending live performances will give you a deeper appreciation and insight into their music. Doing the necessary prep work helps to formulate interesting questions for an interview. Write out questions beforehand and bring a digital voice recorder to the interview.

Band Interview Questions

Fans are curious about the history of their favorite bands. But interviewing a well-established band is different from interviewing an up and coming band. Little may be known about the latter, while fans of well-established bands may know all the nooks and crannies of the band’s history. New bands are often eager to share their story. Explore the origins and history of new bands with questions that allow them to share how they got started, how the individual members of the band met, their hometown's music scene and what they hope to accomplish down the road.

Avoid Rehashed Questions

Well-established bands have answered the same questions numerous times about the history of the band. In other words, they will probably not be terribly excited about going over the same territory. Think about ways to dig deeper into the lesser-known periods of the band’s or individual member's careers. Ask them questions such as, "What are some of the high and low points of your career," "What's different in the music industry today compared to when you first started" and "what would you do differently if you were just entering the industry today?"

Songwriting and Creatvity

Fans are always curious about where the inspiration for songs come from and the creative process in general. Probing a band about the genesis of their musical ideas and sound can be revealing for the band, as well as their fans. Ask questions such as “Are the songs a collaborative effort," “Does the band have a main songwriter,” “How does the music affect the lyrics and vice versa,” and “How would you describe the evolution of the band’s sound?”

Influences and Role Models

Asking a band about their influences and role models helps to dig deeper into a band’s sense of itself and its music. It may also serve to turn the spotlight from the band and allow them to speak more freely about their musical passion and motivation. Some musicians have big egos and love to talk about themselves. But it is equally common for musicians to be shy and reluctant in regards to their own careers. They may not want to toot their own horn, but they may love talking about their musical heroes. Fans can learn a lot about their favorite band by hearing about their musical influences. U2’s the Edge, for example, was heavily influenced by the Irish rock guitarist Rory Gallagher. Their guitar styles are very different, but Gallagher was a role model for aspiring Irish rock musicians. Ask questions such as “Who inspired you to pick up a guitar,” “If you could play in any other band who would it be,” “What was your favorite concert when you were younger,” and “Name your five favorite top bands.”

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.