My love for elephants, indie pop-rock and interviewing collided March 13 when I got the chance to interview the up-and-coming band Cheers Elephant at SXSW.
To be honest, the band does not have much to do with actual elephants aside from it being a part of their name. But nevertheless, I wore my elephant bracelet to the interview to show my love – unfortunately none of the band members noticed my subtle tribute.
I had heard Cheers Elephant’s song “Leaves,” which has been featured on NPR, Spotify and was on an indie Pandora station of mine and jumped at the chance to interview the band. Being the nerdy journalist that I am, I researched the band beforehand and listened to their entire body of work on Spotify for weeks before the interview.
The day of the interview I was prepared, I had most of their new album memorized, I had gone to sleep with “Like Wind Blows Fire” (a very catchy song of theirs that I’ve since fallen in love with) stuck in my head playing over and over of its own accord the night before – I was ready.
The interview was to be held at The Chuggin’ Monkey, a bar on 6th Street, in the middle of the day. The day of the interview I was running late however and was scared I would lose some of my precious 10 minutes (all I was allotted for the interview) with them. The news editor, Taylor, dropped me off on 6th and I fast-walked down the street to the bar past the brave few South By-goers that dared to go out before noon with their dark sunglasses and hangovers causing them to move in slow motion.
When I arrived at the door to The Chuggin’ Monkey, I suddenly realized I was nervous. I’m never nervous to conduct interviews, not anymore. I can interview random people off the street ‘til I lose my voice. I can make up questions on the fly for university officials that sound over rehearsed. Give me the number to a Texas politician and I’ll give you an interview, no big deal. But I was nervous to interview the semi-famous (no offense guys) Cheers Elephant even though I had done my research.
After being carded at the door (because I will forever have Mathew Broderick syndrome and look like I’m 16, although I’m really 21), I was ushered upstairs to the waiting group of four late 20’s guys who looked as relaxed as possible. They greeted me warmly and cracked off a couple of jokes, which made me relax into the interview.
With another band playing downstairs, I set out my voice recorder scared however that it would not pick up their voices. Aware of this (and probably also due to the scared look on my face that I wouldn’t have an audible interview to write from), the band took turns humorously holding up the recorder to other bandmates while they answered questions. One even attempted to eat my recorder because the other band member put it too close to his mouth.
The interview rolled along and went smoothly with the band answering questions honestly and amusingly, not afraid to poke fun at themselves at times. The band was excited to be at SXSW, to take in music from their peers and to get the chance for such great exposure as they were playing 12 shows in five days.
So, cheers to Cheers Elephant. Thank you for making my first SXSW interview (and my first ever time interviewing a real live band) a great experience.
Read the interview in Tuesday’s issue of The University Star.