NPR logo Updated: When Good Interviews Go Bad


Updated: When Good Interviews Go Bad

Let's establish one thing right out of the gate: We love the band Sigur Ros.

Their music is beautiful and moving, so much so that it doesn't matter that they're singing in a totally made-up language. Sigur Ros is four lads from Iceland, and recently, they were in New York to screen a new concert film Heima at the New Yorker Festival. Their P.R. folks called and asked if we wanted them on the show, to which we quickly replied, "hells yeah".

Anyway, last Friday the band showed up promptly at 11am (EDT) and commenced to give what is possibly the worst interview in the history of electronic media.


It was that bad.

We're not sure if they were tired, or if it was a language thing, or what... but wow. (UPDATE: Music journalist Jancee Dunn sorts through the interview's wreckage.)

Whereas most shows would just bury an interview like that, we've decided to actually show it to you. It certainly made us laugh. We hope you'll enjoy it too.

And to repeat, we love this band. We are going to be the first people to buy their new album "Hvarf / Heima" when it comes out this November. And the concert documentary is beautiful — please go see it if it comes to your town.

Just never invite them on your radio show.



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So. Painful. (Yet squirm-inducingly entertaining.)

Sent by Maura | 1:04 PM | 10-10-2007

I've had to do my share of interviews with indie artists over the years, some of which have been downright painful for a variety of reasons (try interviewing Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips minutes after discovering that your tape recorder is broken and you have to do an entire 45-minute interview in shorthand with a tangent-loving guy who talks at about 120 mph), but...yeah, that's bad. That's worse than the interview I did with They Might Be Giants' John Linnell where the guy was so completely guarded and non-communicative that I ended up deliberately writing the entire story without a single direct quote simply because he just hadn't said anything interesting.

Sent by Stewart | 1:22 PM | 10-10-2007

I think the most dynamic part of this was Luke's pronunciation of the band's names.

Sent by Sarah | 2:04 PM | 10-10-2007

If you love them so much, why did you post this?

Why don't you just marry them instead?

Sent by laura | 4:37 PM | 10-10-2007

Brutal. Good job Luke, I would have lost it.

Sent by Bumpas | 5:00 PM | 10-10-2007

of course, there is also the classic Tom Snyder interview with Johnny Rotten...good stuff

Sent by Catherine Johnston | 6:29 PM | 10-10-2007

oh it hurts...I can't even listen to the entire thing.

Sent by kate | 6:38 PM | 10-10-2007

Oh that physically hurt to listen to. Good job Luke. I hope you didn't pull out too much of your hair.

Sent by Hannah Burbank | 7:36 PM | 10-10-2007

Wow, that's amazing. The only difference between them and George Bush is that Bush uses more words to say as little.

Sent by Rich | 10:23 PM | 10-10-2007

It is similar to interviews of the cocteau twins. They would all sorta sit there ummmmm....... I think as they mature they may have something to say. ofcourse this is only my opinion. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it and will reference such later.

Sent by robert | 12:11 AM | 10-11-2007

ease up on the band. the interviewer was terrible. there is no continuity in the questions, and there is little attempt at being personable to the band which creates an awkward atmosphere. how else could you respond?

Sent by ros | 3:16 AM | 10-11-2007

Yes, terrible. But I think the main problem was the interviewer who asked questions leading nowhere...

"How dou you create music, do you just sit down and play?" - "........u, yes".

"What is Hopelandic, does it mean anything, is it Icelandic?" - ".......u, no, it's just gibberish".

And up to three questions at a time:
"Do you do this, or that and then just that?" - "......uuu, B".

You can't really look good in an interview like this unless you're an interview- and conversational whizard :D

Sent by Hildur | 5:32 AM | 10-11-2007

hahaha.. have you guys never seen a interview with Sigur R??s before???

This is normal.. this is how they are.. and thats why we love them....

Sent by Vuni | 5:38 AM | 10-11-2007

What kind of stupid medium posts interview with a name like "When Good Interviews Go Bad"? Only to put down the band maybe? I lost all respect for NPR.

Sent by maxell | 5:39 AM | 10-11-2007

HAHahhh bara fyndi??. Funny...

Sent by Thor | 5:41 AM | 10-11-2007

I agree with ros - the interviewer didn??t really help, some of the questions were even dumb. Maybe he should have used the hopelandic language.

Sent by Steini G | 5:52 AM | 10-11-2007

this is the funniest thing i've seen and heard... i actually think the interview just started up so bad, the first question was so badly put...kind of answered with the question...

you can see them looking at eachother like: "what the hell are we doing here"

funny nonetheless...

SIGUR ROS is the best!!!

Sent by sigurros fan #1 | 5:56 AM | 10-11-2007

Var Jonsi ?? Tur ? Djofull var hann full !

Sent by Islandsvinur | 5:58 AM | 10-11-2007

Pr??fi?? a?? fara me?? hamar ??t ?? svalir.Og berji?? ?? j??rni?? ?? ??a?? koma betri hlj???? en fr?? Sigur Ros.

Sent by alli | 5:58 AM | 10-11-2007

Maxell - "...with a name like "When Good Interviews Go Bad"
Exactly! It should be called "When a bad interview isn't saved by the ones being interviewed" :D

Sent by Hildur | 5:58 AM | 10-11-2007

Bara snilld!

Sent by Steini | 6:03 AM | 10-11-2007

I have to agree with Maxwell. You state why you had the band on your show, but the motive for airing the failed interview here is more elusive. Feels a bit like a "kiss and tell" case. If a kiss fails, whose fault is that, yours or the fault of the one you kissed??? Look closer to home guys, perhaps all the way inside...

Sent by Dr Ragga | 6:17 AM | 10-11-2007

We are the greatest nation in the world, we have the most beutiful women and also strongest mens.

Sent by matti | 6:24 AM | 10-11-2007

Starting with a very leading question with an 'either-or' option as an answer is perhaps not the best way to start an interview with a well established band. Further to this, they've probably been answering this same question in many interviews for the last 7 years.

Was this interview a part of a school project, or something, that then went wrong?

Sent by Yes, money, olr??t | 6:28 AM | 10-11-2007

??etta er svona svipa??ar spurningar og ????r??ttafr??ttamennirnir koma me?? ?? h??lfleik og eftir leiki ?? ??slandi...

"j??ja Logi n??na eru ????nir menn einu marki undir og eru ekki a?? spila n??gilega vel?"

haha... hvet f??lk til a?? commenta h??r ?? ??slensku.!

Sent by ??sland | 6:33 AM | 10-11-2007

I'm sorry. But the interviewer is bad. Asking yes and no or just really leading questions. Shouldn't be working on radio...

Sent by Johannes Kjartansson | 6:34 AM | 10-11-2007

After reading some comments here I had to listen to the interview again. The questions are indeed very bad and usually lead to a simple yes and no answer which is the only thing he (the interviewer) got. Of course he would have known that in advance if he had done any research on the band at all.
The main thing a fan wants to know is when new material is being released - not one question on that.

Sent by Throstur | 6:38 AM | 10-11-2007

If youre up in the morning, possibly after a late night, doing an interview where the questions reflect little if any research or knowledge, youre going to be hard pushed to be enthusiastic...

besides, Sigur Ros have never been a band of the Industry, and they so far have not needed the shake hands with the right people, their music takes care of it, as they are a musicians band

btw there are s***loads of interviews of a similar vibe..this does in no way stand out as bad, it is just dry and boring, compliments to the interviewer

Sent by Malik | 6:49 AM | 10-11-2007

The interview didn??t quite have the excitement and adrenaline rush as watching Die hard 4. Not that I??m putting all the blame on sigurros. The interview had too many bad questions that lead to simple ??yes?? or ??no answers. Sigurros isn??t quite your most chatty group of guys but people that interview them usually know this and adjust to that. That??s what good interviewers do.

Sent by Dustin | 7:25 AM | 10-11-2007

This the most stupid radio host ever. What kind of questions are that??

As one of the guy said: This is f***ing bull***t.

Sent by Santos pablo | 7:32 AM | 10-11-2007

I think the guy asking the questions is just f**king thick. "How to do guys create a song?". Stupid f**king yank.

Sent by Angry Pea | 7:59 AM | 10-11-2007

Sigur Ros should've just answered with their instruments, played the answers, then this whole thing would've made more sense....
The band was just as bad as the interviewer; both wanted to be somewhere else; the band in a library where there's no talking allowed and the interviewer practicing in front of a mirror...

Sent by Kay Gee | 8:07 AM | 10-11-2007

Sigur Ros were being complete a******s. Apparently they're too good to answer any of the "dumb American's" questions. yes, the questions weren't award-winning, but they were straight forward.

MOST people in the U.S. don't know who Sigur Ros is. Those questions were intended for an audience who is being exposed to them for the first time. It was an opportunity for Sigur Ros to convey their ideas. Poo poo on them for being so damn stuck up.

If they didn't want to do the interview, they shouldn't have gone to the studio.

Sent by Shew | 8:17 AM | 10-11-2007

Holy crap guys. I couldnt watch more than like 20 seconds of that. That was painful. Theyre a great band, I love them. However,, anyone who sings an entire album in a made up language is obviously a pretentious a*****e.

Sent by Alex Kiss | 8:21 AM | 10-11-2007

good interview gone bad? i don't see how this was ever a good interview. anyone who had read up on the band in previous interviews would have seen that these questions have been asked for the last 5 years. come on! they just released a new documentary. get with the game and ask some questions relevant to whats going on with the band NOW. i can only say that the band was pretty brave to let the shitty interviewer flounder in his bad questions instead of deigning to reenact the same, tired Q & A they've done over the last five years.

Sent by Frikki Nashyrningur | 8:34 AM | 10-11-2007

I have to agree, the questions were pretty lame and showed a lack of knowledge of the band. And isn't it "Hopelandish," not "Hopelandic"? They've talked about it in many previous interviews. A little pre-interview research would have helped.

Sent by SlinkyJ? | 9:37 AM | 10-11-2007

I think that both the band and the interviewer are responsible for this monstrosity (the questions were indeed silly and poorly worded, and the band refused to meet them halfway).

What I don't appreciate is the lead-in text under "When Interviews Go Bad." It seems that the interviewers, having been offered the interview, felt entitled to an uninhibited, free-flowing interview without having bothered to do anything but the most basic of research. There wasn't a single question about the documentary "Heima," which is a pretty interesting story.

Sent by Scott O. | 9:52 AM | 10-11-2007

I can't believe the criticism to this interview. I love this band but don't let that cloud your judgement. Yes, the questions are basic, but c'mon, how well known are Sigur Ros in the States? Being in a band means being interviewed and asked the same inane questions day in and day out. It's not hard to answer a yes-or-no question and then expand on your answer.

I don't expect every NPR listener to know about the band. Now, if I were reading this interview from, say, Pitchfork, then they can be more specific. The video was funny, and I don't think there's an ulterior motive.

Sent by Johnny | 10:08 AM | 10-11-2007

Two words: media training. Maybe two more: people skills. The band clearly lacks these things. Luke, I commend you for seeing it through to the bitter end.

Sent by Amanda E. | 10:19 AM | 10-11-2007

Someone told me they started as a Metallica cover band, and the first album I heard with them nearly a decade a go was drum and bass-ish. So I guess your initial question killed the mood and destroyed the interview.

Sent by Atli | 10:58 AM | 10-11-2007

oh s**t... that was too painful. but you can't put blame on either the band or the interviewer.

i don't agree with the posts above - I don't think the questions were lame... the questions you started with are standards. anyone in a band has heard these countless times, and they should have a ready-made, interesting answer like anyother celeb.

Angry Pea is egotisitcal retard who has probably never played an intstrument in his life. Yet somehow he's got all the answers (obviously he must know how all musicians create their songs.) f-ing idiot.

To the idiot commenters who are neither in a band, nor have ever interviewed anyone in a band: don't you understand...? this is the band's image... this is how they want to show themselves... this is how they market themselves... even if the questions were the most interesting in the world, the band wouldn't have responded much more.... why... well, as Vuni says above "thats why we love them...." its an image thing. They are boring because their idiot fans think its cool!

I suppose all of these other commentors/ 'SR fans' would know exactly what to ask a foriegn musician.... interesting that you asses don't give any better suggestions - hmm must not have come across a situation like this in all your years of broadcasting...? aholes.

My favorite part was watching the guy closest to the camera look absently around the room.

I'm a fan, just not an idiot fan.

Sent by Frocker | 11:02 AM | 10-11-2007

Good interview?
Unfortunately the presumption that the interview is a good one (which would be predicated on insightful questions and some ability to connect)
is false. The questions don't deserve more than a 2 word answer: " Are you guys a bit of a phenomenon in Iceland?"
"Did you expect to sell 2 million records?"
It's obvious that Luke Burbank is blind to his own failings as an interviewer. In posting this clip with the smarmy intro "we love them too, but they gave the worst interview ever", we see that Luke has yet to learn that he is, in fact, the douchebag.

Sent by Paul | 11:08 AM | 10-11-2007

Paul makes my point perfectly! Well said Paul... Now, climb back into your cave...

The interview is a success because we are all so inspired to comment on it!!

Sent by Frocker | 11:33 AM | 10-11-2007

I really think this video makes them look brilliant! Why should you reply when you have no good answer to a stupid question? And why in the world should you have to please every retard that wants to make you something you're not, just to get better ratings on their radio show?
The thing is; they do their jobs really well, but Luke obviously kind of sucks at his...

Sent by Katla | 11:44 AM | 10-11-2007

I like the part where the interviwer asks them if they are enjoying life playing music etc.

answered extremely quietly devoid of any enthusiasm "yeah its fun"

Sent by phil thomas | 12:08 PM | 10-11-2007

??etta er ??hugavert. "Blablabla". M??r kemur ??etta vi??tal ekki ?? ??vart. ??essir menn eru ??eir s????ari af tveimur mannger??um, ??eim sk??rpu og ??eim v??mnu. ??ess vegna gera ??eir ???? t??nlist sem kom ??eim ?? ??etta vi??tal. There is no more to it than that.

Sent by Benjamin Plaggenborg | 12:11 PM | 10-11-2007

Oh no! Sorry to say, but the questions were innane and poorly formulated. Invite Terry Gross to the show, or perhaps John Sawatsky... Folkenflik did an interview with him last year that was very illuminating: Also, and apology to the band for the blog entry might be in order. A bit harsh.

Sent by Anna | 12:22 PM | 10-11-2007

Regarding Frocker's comment: "I don't think the questions were lame... the questions you started with are standards. anyone in a band has heard these countless times, and they should have a ready-made, interesting answer like anyother celeb."

That's exactly the point. I guess most musicians will try to improvise a bulls**t answer when they get a bulls**t question, but why should they have to? It's so meaningless. I don't think they became musicians to do that. Wouldn't their time be better spent doing something else like... making music? You can call Sigur Ros prententious for not "playing that game" but I think it's actually the opposite - they're not pretending to be something they're not. Their image is the last thing on their list and that's how it should be in my opinion.

FYI: This band are often very talkative and friendly in interviews but they don't seem to have connected with this interviewer at all. I guess if he tried to be a bit more sincere and engaging it would have been better...

Sent by Brian | 1:04 PM | 10-11-2007

I think you got them up too early Luke. I listened to the interview the other day, but actually watching it gave it a whole new element. A couple of them looked like they may have been hung over.....NAW!! Who ever heard of a rock star hung over!

Sent by AOK | 1:44 PM | 10-11-2007

Yeah, that was hard to listen to. For the record, I enjoy a lot of your interviews, Luke. I think it's just a bad combination of the styles of the interviewer and the interviewee. I'd say that they didn't mesh well, not that either were especially bad or were trying to intentionally wreck the interview.

Sent by Will Kistler | 2:35 PM | 10-11-2007

Luke did pretty much fine. Most of the BPP's other interviews are pretty conversational, but it's hard for even the best interviewer to hold up both ends. Or often, if a band is generally obtuse or shy, there's one more open member of the band that acts as a de facto spokesperson and usually fields most of the conversation. Not so here.

Remember: THEIR side contacted BPP to do an interview, not the other way around. And when they were in studio, they were hostile witnesses, so to speak.

Luke, make a mental note to have them be the call in guests for "Not My Job" next time you guest host Wait Wait...

Sent by Wally | 2:44 PM | 10-11-2007

It's just a bunch og silly and very stupid questions... How are you suposed to answer them any diffrently???

Sent by Sign?? | 2:49 PM | 10-11-2007

Possible alternate names for Sigur Ros:

The Tumbleweeds
The Crickets (Buddy Holly already used)
The Not Everybody All at Onces
Jonsi n' Da Mornin' People
Silence is Colden
The Trees Falling in Woods
Luke and the Dramatic Pauses
The Elipses

Sent by Saul Goodman | 3:08 PM | 10-11-2007

To be fair, these questions are terrible, they are clearly jet-lagged.

I've seen worse.

Sent by Andrew | 3:31 PM | 10-11-2007

worst interviewER ever. I don't listen to this band but I think the title should be renamed appropriately. you don't ask yes or no questions. "Did you think you would have success?" Can you get any more amateur and uninformed as to creative process as far as your line of questioning?

Sent by ryan | 4:19 PM | 10-11-2007

wow! brilliant interview! I love how they didnt answer these stupid and childish questions...
its the worst interviewer I have ever heard.

Sent by Steed Lord | 6:39 PM | 10-11-2007

Judging the interviewer (beyond his first question) seems a bit off-base to me. Any decent interview is back-and-forth and Luke's efforts seem to me like someone trying (and admittedly failing) to connect and start that process.

I'm willing to bet that if the band had responded to any of his questions in a normal (remotely friendly way), the interview would have gone far differently. That is to say that I seriously doubt Luke was going to just recite questions off of a list. Give him a break, he was just searching for a way in.

Sent by Ben | 6:40 PM | 10-11-2007

haha the interviewer got owned. Ask s**t questions, get a minimal response. To the idiot wwho called sigur ros pretentious for singing in babble: They write the music first, jonsi sings with the music. Alot of their stuff from () was toured before it was released. The fans had a connection with the songs. adding lyrics would have ruined that connection. Trying to put meaning to something that people have already decided for themselves is silly. They're not f**king celebrity's, they're musicians.

Sent by Thomas | 7:19 PM | 10-11-2007

They obviously have a hard time understanding and expressing them selves in english and the interviewer asked them really complicated questions

Sent by Andri | 7:36 PM | 10-11-2007

I think it's lame that you qualified your posting of the interview. Your staff worked to get them there, they put effort into being there. Just let it speak for itself, no pun intended.

Sent by mmoore | 7:52 PM | 10-11-2007

i agree completely with Ben. and mmoore -(who i can only assume is michael moore).

i'd like to hear what questions Thomas would have asked (to our well-known, globally popular, admitedly good, but non-celebrity musicians)

ps britany spears isn't a celebrity either, she's a musician.... eh? oh, and the late pavarati as well.

Sent by Frocker | 9:16 PM | 10-11-2007

This is hilarious.

Sent by lauren spohrer | 12:07 AM | 10-12-2007

i would have kicked them out after 0:25. t***s!

Sent by Jibber R??s | 2:49 AM | 10-12-2007

It's obvious that the band was "laying out" on the horrible interviewer, or sticking him with dead air after asking such inane questions.

And then to blame it on a "language barrier" is even more ridiculous. Icelanders boast one of the highest literacy rates in the world, and English is taught as a second language throughout most of school.

The interviewer was ill-prepared, offered nothing in the way of intelligent questions, and got what he deserved!

Sent by Mark | 3:05 AM | 10-12-2007

In an effort to be a voice of reason here, I'll try to give people a more objective take on this.

First off, one's opinions are just that: opinions (i.e. not facts). Qualitative assessments of the interview/er/ees are irrelevant to anything outside of the thought processes of the viewer, however much one might believe otherwise. Please consult a dictionary on the word 'subjective' for further info.

Second, the interviewees giving 'bad' or 'unfriendly' responses does not logically indicate that they are prejudiced against people from the same nation as that of the interviewer, nor that they are bad people; nor does the interviewer giving an unsuccessful interview indicate that he is unqualified to be an interviewer. Everyone makes mistakes, even people who are good at their jobs.

Third, singing an album in a made-up language does not mean the band are jerks, no matter how 'obvious' it is to the viewer. Obviousness connotes intuition. Intuition is subjective. Also, it might be worth considering that all languages are made up.

As far as SR's pretentiousness goes, it has been argued quite successfully for some time that all art is pretense. Thus, artists are required to be pretentious in order to make art. To criticize artists for being pretentious is like criticizing mathematicians for knowing how to add.

Fourth, unless one personally knows 'most Americans' or has statistical data to back up one's claim, one cannot factually state what most Americans do or do not know, believe, or think.

Fifth, abusively criticizing people for thinking/saying/doing anything one does not like is far more effective at indicating the ignorance and, in some cases, cruelty of the one offering criticism than it is at offering any kind of insight into the subject. If I were to use the logic of many of the commenters, then they would be 'idiots' and 'asses' simply because I did not like what they said. They are not. They are people who have feelings and would probably not like being lambasted no matter much how they seem to like to do it to others.

Sixth, this interview could not have happened any other way than it did. There is no one to 'blame'. It is a historical fact, something that cannot be changed no matter how much people think about it or criticize the participants or criticize the people who criticize the participants. For more info, google/wiki causality/physics, neuroscience, or any works from scientific philosophers from the past two centuries.

So what knowledge can one glean from the interview and subsequent debate other than the fact that many people did not like it?

Sent by Jason | 3:09 AM | 10-12-2007

Sigur Ros are obviously idiots that can't write lyrics for s**t and just have to make up sounds. Is it any surprise that when you sk them questions they have nothign to say? Just like they're music. Dumb and deaf.

Sent by sigurno | 3:55 AM | 10-12-2007

The presumption here is stunning: how many North America bands touring Europe would sound lively, engaged and literate being interviewed in Spanish or German (not to mention Icelandic)?

Sent by Nat Bailey | 4:44 AM | 10-12-2007

I'm sorry, but your questions were totally dumb. And you can see it in their faces right as you start up with your interrogation. "Gibberish?" "Standard words?" You're supposed to converse intelligently with these artists and facilitate some form of thoughtful insight, not insult them with, "So uh, you're music is like pretty weird, didya ever make NORMAL music?"

Sent by Bob | 4:44 AM | 10-12-2007

I can't believe that someone would say that this was the interviewer's fault! I live in Iceland and have heard several interviews with members of the band in both Icelandic and English. The questions were fine, but they were just not in the mood, for one reason or another.
By the way, not everyone here is like these guys and Bjork.

Sent by Erik | 5:01 AM | 10-12-2007

mate, those are the most idiotic questions... "What was the motivations you just wanted to make music?" no they obviously didn't they wanted to become mechanics!!!! can't believe that you couldn't come up with better questions.... sounds as if they were in an interview by a school radio..
I'm just gob smacked.

Sent by Fred | 6:12 AM | 10-12-2007

haha..welll I know these guys and that's just how they are....ask a stupid question = get a stupid answer or no answer.
He didn't ask them about the movie they came to talk about and he was just plain boring. It's not the band's job to safe this radio show.
Most of the band's members are rather shy but they have worked on that part a bit so they have been able to give some good interviews... But it's not really long time ago they started giving interviews...because they are a band that is just making the music THEY like and doing it exactly how THEY want to... of course they are glad that people like it but that's not really the reason they are doing it. They are not making music to become famous :) And THAT'S being a real musician!!!

Sent by Margret | 6:33 AM | 10-12-2007

its comes off as a dumb american interviewer trying to ask the usual industry questions, he might as well ask 'so guys why dont you sound like a normal american band?" & "why dont you answer questions like a normal dumb american band?"

the unspoken asnwer is quite boviosu to me
"because you are insulting our intelligence
& your 'questions' do not deserve answers"

Sent by me | 7:06 AM | 10-12-2007

I love how people are blaming the band for being boring. They never said they were some kind of super-interesting freakshow, they're just four guys from iceland who play instruments.

You invite them to answer incredibly obvious old questions at your own risk, of course it's going to be boring as hell. Interview G.G. Allin if you want interesting.

Sent by Gunnar | 7:17 AM | 10-12-2007

well, the questions weren't that great really... and their answers are quite icelandic, we're not as good with blah blah blahing as most Americans...

Sent by Krist??n | 7:30 AM | 10-12-2007

Awful interviews start with awful questions. Oh, like this one. Still, admirably soldiered through though.

Sent by Jack | 7:45 AM | 10-12-2007

Try not asking closed questions or attempting to answer them yourself and you might get better results...

Sent by H | 7:57 AM | 10-12-2007

Stupid questions call for stupid answers...

Sent by Gulla Dr??fn | 7:59 AM | 10-12-2007

I could not control my laughter. This is a typical resault that you get when the interviewer is going one way and the one being interviewed is expecting something else. "We are here to ansver questions about our new project the movie" and all they got was, "did you always want to make this kind of music". You can see in theire faces the "what is he on about" and "oh not one of those interview questions!" Furthermore, when asking shy or "withdrawn" people, dont put them on a pedestal and ask superficial questions, the only result is they clam up and want to leave, and the more you try the worse it will get. This interview was a painful remider of that, but funny for the same reason.

Sent by Harold | 8:14 AM | 10-12-2007


I feel for you, but I can't help thinking the moral of the story is never, EVER ask a direct question in an interview. Rambling interview questions that lead to a direct question are even worse.

One particular question (c01:57) marks this out perfectly. You eventually ask 'what was your motivation?' an open-ended question that leads people to say something like 'Well... I love music and want to make lots of money making whale noises in the bath'. But, they never got as far as making this statement, because you poisoned it by then self-answering the question by saying 'you just want to make music?' This can be answered 'yes' or 'no' followed by dead air.

And that's pretty much what you got.

Try getting a copy of 'The Universal Journalist' by David Randall, if you don't want this to happen again.

Sent by Alan | 8:16 AM | 10-12-2007

It would have been better if they were more open-ended questions.

"What kind of response did you expect when you started making music?" is better than "Did you expect to be this successful when you started out?", as that way they can't just say yes or no.

Sent by Creature | 8:21 AM | 10-12-2007

The Sigur Ros are the worst (and by the way, sissy band) in the world, and this interview showed us how cynical and bas***** they're. We should be pay attention to "music" like this?

Sent by John Caprornic | 8:42 AM | 10-12-2007

Many comments here are saying the questions were terrible, stupid is there was not continuity between them. Consider though that Sigur Ros was doing absolutely nothing to help the interview along. Is it not possible that the interviewer was simply changing the questions on the fly, trying to drum up some sort of response from the band?

I do agree the questions weren't the greatest and the interviewer could have done some more research but, Sigur Ros could have definitely tried to meet him half way. I mean, if they are going to agree to go on an interview at least have the common courtesy to answer the questions.

Seriously just because they are different doesn't give them the right to be asshats.

Sent by Matt | 8:52 AM | 10-12-2007

S**t questions s**t answers.

Sent by Adam Shelley | 9:09 AM | 10-12-2007

The interviewer deserved to get such a bad interview from Sigur Ros because he asked questions which were really insulting to the artists.

Seriously, asking them if they used to be "normal" is a poor question and shows how little insight this interviewer has to the band and to the creative process in general. The questions are about as deep as if they were coming from a 12 year old girl who is meeting Hannah Montana for the fist time.

The fact that you are making this video available is further proof that you do not respect Sigur Ros and only wish to poke fun at them.

I expected more from NPR. I am VERY disappointed.

Sent by Dan | 9:09 AM | 10-12-2007

Orri P??ll of Sigur Ros says in an interview in an icelandic paper today that they found the interview boring, also "when we are 4 together we're just waiting for some1 else to answer".
They are obviously not that talkative and are shy so the interviewer could have drank coffee w. them be4 and tried to break the ice and bond a little w. them. You have to find a way to make a shy individual come out of their shells and I think Sigur Ros are capable of that, they're not that shy all the time.
I kinda liked their zen like answers though, you pose a simple question you get a simple answer. The interviewer was just tryin his best to get some answers, but the questions weren't that great, it just went awkward.

Sent by karl | 9:10 AM | 10-12-2007

To give them some credit, the questions were crap.
Some of them would have been appropriate about 4-5 years ago but not now that the band has reached the level they're on today, those questions sounded stupid and childish, basically. So I guess they were a bit taken back by the questions.

Also, when you have FOUR people in an interview, it's always a good idea to address each one of them with a specific question rather than throw questions at them that they weren't sure who should answer. Plus, it would have been a good idea to show them the questions beforehand and give them a few minutes to decide on the answers.

Yes, they are shy and sometimes awkward, but a good interviewer would have known enough about his subject to know what to expect and prepare for that.
We're not all shallow, chit-chatty Americans y'know!

Sent by inga | 9:40 AM | 10-12-2007

I think it would have helped the interview a LOT if the host would have directed the questions towards a specific person in the group instead of just tossing them carelessly around leaving the group of shy people in an awkward silence wondering who should take the question.

Sent by Alliat | 9:49 AM | 10-12-2007

oh you're ridiculous

Sent by name | 10:11 AM | 10-12-2007

Luke, your questions were too inane. Perhaps a more pretentious, self-obsessed band would take off on those questions and lead you down interesting alleys of conversation. But not this band.

And I'd like to reiterate inga's comments. The "hopelandic" angle has been beaten to death.

Sent by Tony | 10:12 AM | 10-12-2007

Fresh Air, years ago: Terry Gross interviewing Gene Simmons. I washed my radio afterwards.

Sent by Booger | 10:21 AM | 10-12-2007

Horrible. Not the band - the interviewer!

Did he ever ask a non yes / no, either / or question? He keeps starting with a reasonably interesting question, then tagging an "or did you not" (or something) at the end and the guy from the band just says, "ehh, no". Plus with 4 people in an interview, the interviewer needs to focus questions on each person individually - particularly when he sees it going so badly, when no-one is stepping up as the leader.

Sheesh. Pathetic. Textbook example of poor interview style - thanks for that, just a shame that you didn't have the courage to admit it in the intro text... "oh, the band must be tired, it must be because they don't speak good English"

Sent by david | 10:41 AM | 10-12-2007

I thought that the line of questions were completely inane. I respect the fact that they feel no pressure in that setting to pander the interviewer.

Sent by scott tebeau | 10:51 AM | 10-12-2007

I've taken the liberty of transcribing your questions Luke, and add comments to them:

1.a Did you start out playing this kind of music or did you start out as a more, people might think, regular sounding band and then did you kind of go here as you experimented?
1.b I mean, what was the first time you guys sat down with your instruments and started playing, did you have this thought ???we wanna create this very specific kind of music??? ???cause the stuff that you make doesn???t sound like a lot of stuff that???s out there or did you, I mean, did you get to that right away?
1.c And, how do you guys create a song?
1.d.Does one person start playing one instrument and then everybody else starts to kind of add in to that?

2. Did you think you would be the kind of a band that sold 2 million records? (WHAT SORTA CHILDISH QUESTION IS THIS?)

3. Obviously at some point, you decided to get into the same room and start playing music with each other. What was the motivation? You just wanted to make music? (NEITHER A GOOD QUESTION NOR IS IT GOOD TO ANSWER THE QUESTION YOURSELF, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT THE BAND TO SAY THEN?)

4. Could you have ever imagined though that it would become this sort of big phenomenon that it???s become? (ISN'T THIS THE SAME QUESTION AS NUMBER 2?)

5. Are you enjoying life as a y???know successful band that gets to tour the world and be a part of fascinating interviews like this? Is it fun? (WHY DON'T YOU JUST PINCH THEIR CHEEKS AND GOO AT THEM TOO? CHILDISH QUESTION!!!)

6. Are you guys a bit of a phenomenon in Iceland? (BRILLIANT TO ASK SHY PEOPLE TO RATE THEMSELVES...)

7. Are there bands that are picking up on your sound? Did you pick up on somebody else???s sound? (WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST ASK WHO WERE THEIR INFLUENCES?)

8. J??n, if I could ask you a question that you probably are tired of answering but it???s one that I think everybody is curious about as soon as they get into Sigur R??s, which is ???Hopelandic???? ??? You???re shaking your head. ??? This is the language I guess that???is it most of the lyrics, some of the lyrics, all of the lyrics? (J??nsi swears in English) ??? Now that???s not Hopelandic, I think that???s English!

9. It doesn???t mean anything? If you do it the same time every time, does it start to take on a meaning for you? (DOES THE DADOODOODOO DADADADA MEAN SOMETHING TO STING, YOU THINK?)

10. Did you start off with more traditional lyrics and worked towards the jibberish? Or was that the first thing you started with? (WOULD YOU CALL 'ICELANDIC' TRADITIONAL LYRICS? DIDN'T YOU JUST MEAN TO ASK:"WHY DON'T YOU SING IN ENGLISH SO THAT WE UNDERSTAND YOU?"?)

11. Is this, do you think, gonna be going forw[...] J??n, how you lyrically wanna approach music? Or do you ever think that you???ll start to use more standard words? (WHO CARES? DON'T YOU KNOW THAT THE GREAT THING ABOUT SIGUR R??S IS THEIR MUUUUSIC?)

There you have it, 11 questions (actually 14) that totally insult the artists and show ignorance towards their work and history. This is a 13 year old band that has released 4 albums and is now promoting their newest project, a MOVIE!!! Yet, not one word about the movie or the unique tour they did around Iceland while filming it.
Bravo Luke!!!

Sent by Bertha | 10:53 AM | 10-12-2007

I honestly don't think the questions were that bad -- I mostly had a sense of the interviewer foundering in many different directions in the vain attempt to find some avenue for conversational connection... In vain, because none of the questions "took." I don't know what the band was doing on the show -- maybe their A&R people forced them, who knows? Or perhaps, just a not-so-elaborate stunt. I've no idea. Uncomfortable, but probably not the worst interview in history -- and kind of a "YouTube-ish" title to introduce the interview: why not just let the thing just speak (or sit in uncomfortable silence) for itself? A bridge burned.

Sent by Junebugg | 10:57 AM | 10-12-2007

If the Sigur Ros fans claiming this interview is the fault of the interviewer could stop fellating the editors of Pitchfork for a moment and recognize that this was an interview for a general audience that mostly has little to no idea who Sigur Ros are (yes, yes, we're all hip and with-it enough to know who they are in this thread, but do check out their sales figures sometime: minor at best) and that therefore the "inane" questions have to be asked, not for the interviewer's benefit or the band's, but for the audience. If you can't cope with that concept, have fun in your little hipper-than-thou ghetto.

Personally, I've been over Sigur Ros for years anyway, ever since the dreadfully dull TAKK came out. Let me know if the Besnard Lakes ever get interviewed.

Sent by Stewart | 11:13 AM | 10-12-2007

Actually the lyrics mean something, specially from the ??g??tis byrjun alb??m, fantastic lyrics... but yeah, this interview was boring as they said in icelandic media, it was just boring and akward they said, everybody were just waiting for the next one to answer... funny shit.

and John Capronnic: u just keep listening to sterile
and unoriginal bands like My Chemical Romance, Funeral for a Friend or Panic! at the Disco.

Sent by Bj??rgvin | 11:18 AM | 10-12-2007

The interviewer really could have done a better job. The art of the interview is a lot more than just asking questions off of a list. Seriously, a good interview is a conversation, not a firing range.

Sent by Bryan Hayes | 11:19 AM | 10-12-2007

You know, the gibberish words: it's called scatting. It's really not unusual. Oscar Peterson did it in Mumbles, Ella did it in practically every song she
sang. Art Blakey scats when he drums.

And while many pop bands don't scat because it just might come out as 'weird', their lyrics are no better than scatting.

Scatting is an essential part of music. How the interviewer could have been surprised by this is beyond me.

Sent by Mike | 11:20 AM | 10-12-2007

nice way to not lose your cool! bet anything their pr people made them do the interview and their only avialable protest was non-responsiveness. i hope you gave them all a good verbal smacking afterwards for being rude and taking it out on you.

Sent by carolyn | 11:20 AM | 10-12-2007

Actually, I think the interview is indicative of the poor interviewer. Why continue to read from a script of pre-determined questions when it's obvious they're not appropriate for your participants? There's absolutely no engagement between the two parties, and the questions keep rolling like a dirge, ever onward.

It would help to understand where Jonsi and Sigur Ros come from. I actually find the interview to be exceedingly refreshing, actually, in that here are a few guys who have been astoundingly successful-- stratospherically successful-- and yet they're utterly unaffected by it. Their humility and gentleness comes through loud and clear. Does it make for the most engaging interview? Probably not. But it's refreshing that these guys don't talk in soundbytes, don't you think?

Sent by Tim | 11:25 AM | 10-12-2007

after posting once and reading the other posts, i have to post again - yes, the questions were annoying and the technique not great, but the band was a bunch of jerks - why even show up if you're going to give an interview like that? they didn't want to be there in the first place.

Sent by carolyn | 11:26 AM | 10-12-2007

When bad interviews go bad(ly).

Sent by Craig | 11:31 AM | 10-12-2007

Maybe the problem here was the idiot interviewing them, asking them questions that the interviewer himself knew had been asked time and time again. I would really have preferred that the interviewer ask them questions about their interests, what they care about, where their lives as people are heading. We know they sing gibberish, stop trying to pull meaning out of that, get to know who they are and quit treating them like aliens. Honestly, this in NPR, those were probably some of the least insightful questions I imagine one could have conjured up.

Sent by Kamran | 11:35 AM | 10-12-2007

they were both at fault. tho i would actually say teh band more than any one else. they were only being pretentious like 'weve heard these questions before' and 'all our fans know the answers to these already' so i guess it didnt matter that there have been nearly zero live interviews with them on such a big station in the states as NPR, and if they were good musicians all around instead of just focusing on the songs (which apparantly they dont do that much because this is the first time in about 70 years of rock music that a band has been so admittedly lazy they dont even finish the songs by adding lyrics) they would realise that gaining new fans and interesting people in your work is very impt and they have a great opportunity here to do this, as most ppl in the biggest record buying industry in the worldhaevnt even heard of them let alone haev an opinion on them. so i say the band blew it. just because the interviewer was kind of stupid, and asked questions that were 'meant to get a yes or no' doesnt mean they couldnt elaborate lke any other more personal musician would haev done. someone people call a cunt like thom yorke or billy corgan has heard many more repetitive questions but they realise the improtance of making new fans and not coming off as a egotistical 'star' and so they will dutifully answer the qestions regardless because how aer the radio listeners to know they haev heard this b4 or had a bad morning? poor ppl skills and poor enthusiasm and interview skills on the bands part and the interviewer too, but i think u see who came off as the bigger 'douche' as someone named 'Paul' put it on that page. if i wasnt a fan alerdy who had paid to support them by owning over 10 of their releases and seeing them live twice, or if i simply didnt like the music as much as i do i wouldnt touch them with a ten foot pole after seeing this interview if it was my first.
they had a job to do and they didtn even try. just like with the lyrics thing. after a while it smacks of taking the easy way out.

Sent by chris | 11:36 AM | 10-12-2007

Give me a break, Bertha. I'm a professional interviewer -- I do this one thing, and don't have to do any of the other stuff Luke has to do. Luke can't go in-depth until he gets something to work with, and they're not giving him anything. Really truly nothing.

If they don't want to do interviews, they should tell their publicists not to book interviews. Otherwise they should show at least a little respect, if not for the interviewer, at least for the fans who are listening.

And seriously, if you are a band who sings in a made-up language, you should expect to talk about it. This is a general interest show, most people in the audience won't even have heard of Sigur Ros, wonderful though they may be. The fact that Luke waited that long was a tribute to the fact that he wanted to talk about SOMETHING... ANYTHING...

Luke asked a few less-than-ideally phrased questions, but the fact of the matter is that when you are firing out questions at the rate of one every ten seconds, and can't ask followups because you're getting so little in response... you're just asking any question you can think of in the world and trying not to flip the F out. Take it from me, someone who's been in this position before.

Furthermore, Bryant Park is designed to be a conversational show... and this is the least conversational I've ever seen any interview subject be in my life. Luke is just desperately trying to engage them, while they are actively avoiding being engaged.

Also: insulting? Seriously? Insulting? How pathetic do you have to be to be insulted by these entirely good-natured, sincerely curious questions?

Very well played, Luke, sorry this great band was such an awful interview.

Sent by Jesse Thorn | 11:41 AM | 10-12-2007

the questions would have created contempt in any artist on your show... their response isnt suprising

Sent by pescado | 12:21 PM | 10-12-2007

The best interviews are a two-way conversation where one topic leads to another and another. This got off on the wrong foot when the band gave the interviewer a bunch of dead-air to work with. It's hard to say if they were dis-interested, shy or being deliberately obtuse. But either way, if they're going to turn up for an interview they should at least make some sort of effort! I can't see how you can blame the interviewer, whatever you think of his questions, the band gave him absolutely nothing to work with from the get-go.

Sent by steve | 12:26 PM | 10-12-2007

Way to get your snotty anti-American comments in there, people. Keep posting; you might say something worthwhile someday. Best luck.

Sent by Fran | 12:50 PM | 10-12-2007

Whoa, way to go Sigur Ros! Never even heard of them personally but can't believe all these comments they got!
I'll certainly watch out for their music now!!

Sent by Beth | 12:51 PM | 10-12-2007

interviewer shares at least 60% of the blame for the dullest interview ever recorded. not worth the time that was taken to upload this...I want my 3 minutes back

Sent by Bryan | 12:52 PM | 10-12-2007

??etta var ekkert sm?? flott hj?? ykkur str??kar!!
??g er alveg samm??la a?? ??etta voru hundlei??inlegar spurningar!! :D

Sent by IceLady | 12:57 PM | 10-12-2007

Amazing. I've got to hand it to the host for not losing his s*** with the band. Very professionally handled.

Sent by Chris Kelly | 1:06 PM | 10-12-2007

Couldn't listen to it all - no need.

The interviewing was so horrendous, one had to wonder if it was a spoof. Did the band let the banal, lifeless questions fall to the floor instead of being sports and trying to help out? Yes. But for all they knew - they could have been playing along with some sort of Spinal Tap skit. Interview questions or root canal? ... you make the call.

Sent by Clayton | 1:09 PM | 10-12-2007

the questions are very stupid : "how do you write music? did you think you would become a band that has sold 2million records? are you enjoying life as a successful band blablablabla?"

Sent by ????r??ur j??nsson | 1:12 PM | 10-12-2007

they are very, very funny. but that's the way they are. the journalist should know that to sirgur ros (and icelandic people in general) you should rather not make so direct and continuous questions. you should've just given them a subject, an opening line, and that's it. actually, if you understood their music you would know how to talk with them. And I would change the title of this post to: When bad interviews by a bad interviewer can get even worse

Sent by sigurate | 1:13 PM | 10-12-2007

Good host. He really is good at trying to keep it moving...

Sent by paul southerland | 1:16 PM | 10-12-2007

I guess this explains why I just can't get into Sigur Ros. Their music sounds interesting and different, but it's really just shallow and devoid of meaning, like its members. Stop blaming the interviewer for this terrible interview. They gave him nothing to go on and made him feel very uncomfortable which led to more awkwardness when they should have been talking and trying to engage the audience by having interesting things to say. An interview isn't just a dialog, it's an opportunity for the person or group being interviewed to express themselves to an audience. I guess Sigur Ros's message to their fans and potential fans is a small handful of inanities wrapped in awkward silences. Great... I'll be sure to rush out and buy their next album full of coma-inducing gibberish.

Sent by Sour Ross | 1:27 PM | 10-12-2007

the questions are incredibly bad. count how many yes-or-no questions you ask. you don't bring up a specific song, or album, or performance. you sound like you've done no research at all on the band. it is certainly the interviewer's fault, not the band, and you should revise your post to take some responsibility.

i can't get over how bad those questions were.

i am not a fan of sigur ros, btw.

Sent by am | 1:30 PM | 10-12-2007

The reason this interview is so terrible is that the interviewer kept asking inane yes-no questions. They're called OPEN QUESTIONS. You might think about asking one once in a while.

Sent by Eric | 1:34 PM | 10-12-2007

Is the interviewer supposed to be doing "HACKSAW HAMMERS ROCKING 94.2 FM" imitation while these lifeless droids answer with inaudible mumbles?


"Um we pl. muh. yb nh."


Sent by Adam | 1:37 PM | 10-12-2007

the interviewers questions are retarded and got what he deserved, what a dumbass.

Sent by ya | 1:46 PM | 10-12-2007

bad questions or not, these jackasses were just rude, pretentious jerks. They are the ones who asked to be on the show. all of you Sigur Ros fans out there, I'm sure they'd treat you with the same contempt that they showed this interviewer.

Sent by jim | 1:53 PM | 10-12-2007

This interview is pretty funny in a way :)
I can understand that you folks are a bit disappointed by it, though. But if you look e.g. at the documentary they did for "Takk", then you see, that they just don't have very much to say about their music. I think that's because they don't want to say anything in particular with their music and rather let the listener make up his/her own mind what the music is about or what it means to him/her. And if they say more than one or two sentences about something they do it with a lot of pauses and thinking in between. I don't think that's any bad but of course it's not at all suitable for a live radio interview.

And for the "dumb" questions.. you normally ask a rather simple question for starters and you take something from that answer to ask the next question and so on. But if the person(s) interviewed just answer(s) "yes" or "no" than you're just f***ed because you can't do much with that.

So what we have here is
a) a band that doesn't have the time to think much about an answer (which they are probably used to) because you can't have these long pauses and the dead air that comes with it on radio and
b) an interviewer who just can't find anything to start an interesting interview from and therefore most of the time asks simple question after simple question in the hope to get something from the band to work with.

Sent by Marc | 2:01 PM | 10-12-2007

The interviewer kept asking closed ended questions that required binary answers-- surely you must also get the feeling that it was also painful for the band. "Did you guys always have your sound?"
rather than "How did you develop your sound?" Geesh. The interviewer should go back to school.

Sent by vijay | 2:21 PM | 10-12-2007

the problem here is they interviewed the whole band - just go with one member next time!! F**k the quiet a******s...

Sent by GL | 2:22 PM | 10-12-2007


Sent by claytonic | 2:23 PM | 10-12-2007

classic case of garbage in = garbage out.

Sent by rigor mortis | 2:32 PM | 10-12-2007

Brilliant reenactment of Meeting People is Easy, the film by Grant Gee about Radiohead made back in 1998. 95 minutes of squirm. Yet oddly fascinating. At first the band members seem snotty and rude, but as it progresses and you see them having to answer the same questions over and over again and you wonder how they keep their cool at all.

I agree with the overall sentiment in these comments. It would have gone better had it been an organic conversation between 5 people over coffee, rather than a guy asking standard questions to the band, as if it were a single entity. It's easy to assume these guys should be seasoned interviewees by now, but they seem shy to me more than annoyed.

BTW: from the bio: "Luke Burbank is kind of amazed that NPR is letting him co-host its new morning show, The Bryant Park Project."

So are we... so are we.

Just kidding -- I loved that Flaming Hot Cheetos bit. Pulitzer-worthy. Maybe this interview would have gone better if you'd offered the band some.

Sent by GTP | 2:33 PM | 10-12-2007

It's definitely a faulty line of questions - don't give understated people yes/no questions EVER!

But in the end, he did try hard to get it to go somewhere. I love the band, and have for a long while, and this totally makes sense - Their style is so calming and soothing, who would expect them to spaz out in an interview? I thought it was hilarious in a train wreck sort of way - you don't want to look, but you can't look away.

Sent by nate | 2:40 PM | 10-12-2007

My radio heart goes out to you. Dear God, please tell me that wasn't LIVE on the air! They were the worst interview I have ever had too. Just speak something I wanted to scream, even if it's Elfin!!!

Sent by Laura Shine | 2:44 PM | 10-12-2007

Jim, Sigur Ros are certainly not "rude, pretentious jerks." They are extremely down to earth and friendly towards their fans, as I know from personal experience, having met and interacted with all of them. Other fans will tell you the same. However, they are rather shy and not incredibly talkative. The interviews they have done can therefore be a mixed bag, largely depending on the skill of the interviewer.

I realize that you and some others who have left comments are probably just trolling us Sigur Ros fans, but I felt this needed to be made clear anyway.

Sent by Einar | 2:45 PM | 10-12-2007

I have never heard of this group. But from what I gathered from the question they sound interesting. But they sure do seem like they are full of themselves. Too good to even talk in an interview? Honestly I could care less now. Go back to Iceland if you're too good for anyone else.

Sent by Eric | 2:45 PM | 10-12-2007

I actually found the part about Hopelandic quite interesting. This interview actually made me like the band more.

Sent by Anton | 2:48 PM | 10-12-2007

the interviewer's questions were ignorant. you can't pepper people with a survey of questions like that, he deserved a bad interview

Sent by rayray | 2:49 PM | 10-12-2007

"Are you enjoying life? Is it fun?" These are lame, stupid questions. I think he got the interview he deserved. He could've prepared for this interview a lot better.

Sent by Nancy | 3:01 PM | 10-12-2007

Wow... I have had spinal taps without anesthesia...and this was more painful...

Sent by Brit | 3:02 PM | 10-12-2007

My guess is their taciturn response is a result of their cultural upbringing. I know the Finnish are incapable of small talk, or talking about themselves, so perhaps this is also true of the Icelanders. I didn't find this hard to watch at all. I loved these guys in this interview.

Sent by Patricia Young | 3:03 PM | 10-12-2007

Learn to interview! You just kept asking them yes and no questions, and they just said yes and no. Half the time you guessed what their answers were ahead of time, so they were just like 'yea'! Why not ask them "How did you meet?" instead of "Did you guys, like, all know each other? I mean you did right?"

Sent by Justin Van Winkle | 3:08 PM | 10-12-2007

Oof. To chime in, these questions are elementary and fanziney. I've interviewed many bands and musicians, and it didn't take long for me to learn that these "yes/no" questions go nowhere. "Are you guys a bit of a phenomenon in Iceland?" is the kind of question that could be answered with advance research. Research might have helped the interviewer learn how to properly pronounce the name of the band, too.

I like Sigur Ros' music, but I'm not a fangirl. I am, however, surprised that a reporter for NPR would be so poorly prepared for an interview.

And no, Jim, I don't think the band treats people with contempt. I spent time with them after a show a few years ago, and they were friendly, curious and intelligent. I just think that, like me, they don't suffer fools gladly.

Sent by Annie | 3:14 PM | 10-12-2007

It's a language thing & natural reticence -- the interviewer was using more complicated words than necessary and speaking quickly. Asking if they were a "phenomenon" --that's not the first meaning of that word for non- English speakers. You could see they were puzzled. He'd need to ask, "Do you feel very 'popular' in Iceland?" Short questions with common vocabulary is better, and will make them feel more at home.

Sent by Juli | 3:16 PM | 10-12-2007

It's the interviewer. He asks leading questions that are not at all interesting, do not lead to a smooth flow of answers, nor inspire the band members to respond with anything other than giggles, mumbles and whatever. Pointless

Sent by NYCer | 3:38 PM | 10-12-2007

Everyone here is totally trashing the interviewer, it think thats rather BS. If the bad members had any thing interesting about them besides their music the questions wouldn't have mattered. It's a shame bands put them selves through this when they fail at communicating over and over. Its time to give up doing publicity and concentrate on something they are actually successful at, creating music.

Sent by Ellusive | 3:57 PM | 10-12-2007

I thought the interview was AWESOME! Sugar Ross!

Sent by Chris Farley | 3:59 PM | 10-12-2007

go jonsi!!
i've never heard such terrible questions in all my life.

Sent by mojojojo0 | 4:18 PM | 10-12-2007

This interview is many things; perhaps most obviously an example of the cultural differences between the interviewer, and the subjects. Neither is to blame in my opinion; both parties simply were not flexible to the other, and weren't able to create a flow in their discussion.

For example and at the risk of generalizing, the art of conversation in the nordic countries differs greatly from america. The band was asked closed ended questions, which to many people means a yes or no answer. They were also asked more than 1 question at a time, and the question was at times followed by a comment from the interviewer. (a comment probably made in attempt to increase the flow of dialogue) This may have been confusing for them, not knowing which question to comment on.

I am a north american who lives in Scandanavia, and it has taken me some time to learn the differences in how conversations work here. Perhaps Sigor Ros, having probably had more exposure to American culture than the interviewer knows Iceland culture, could have been more flexible in the discussion. But perhaps they were not in the mood to, and hoped that the interviewer would adapt to them instead. (which most great interviewers would aspire to excel at)

Interviews are also different in the nordic countries, dead air is not so feared, and most people are very soft spoken and deliberate. No words are wasted, and a subject is discussed until there is nothing left to say, whereas in north america people have a tendency to shift quicker from topic to topic in a conversation(as took place in the line of questioning).

I think this interview was simply an example of cultural disconnect between the two parties.

Sent by jeff | 4:30 PM | 10-12-2007

I dunno, I've always loved their music, but i do get the sense that Sigur Ros felt they were too good for the interview. The questions were simple, natural, not too leading and, speaking as a musician, not difficult to speak on at length. My hope is that they were tired and shagged out, but my fear is that they are actually a bunch of pompous asses.

Also, knowing that they're singing gibberish takes a lot of the joy out of their music for me.

Sent by Ben | 5:26 PM | 10-12-2007

OH maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. That was painful and mind numbing. I can sort of see how they come up lyrics and just...kinda....write...stuff.

Sent by Sarah | 5:41 PM | 10-12-2007

FYI Sigur Ros usually has plenty to say in interviews. Example of a regular interview:
This time the band just didn't connect with the interviewer at all.

Also, see the Q&A session New York after the movie premiere, the same day the NPR interview was taken: (The interview with the band starts on the second file)

Sent by Brian | 5:41 PM | 10-12-2007

To Jesse Thorn: I may not be a PROFESSIONAL interviewer like yourself, but I have taken a few for print media, some with world-famous people and despite actually knowing a lot about their work I did take some time to do a bit of research beforehand.
I understand that Luke can't do in-depth interviews on such a show but had he simply Googled Sigur Ros he probably would have found where he could have learnt a lot about the band in only 5 minutes.

"And seriously, if you are a band who sings in a made-up language, you should expect to talk about it." Again, if Luke would have prepared better, he would have known - and could have enlightened you and other listeners about this - that Sigur Ros sings most of their songs in Icelandic and that this 'Hopelandic' (Hopelandish, actually) was something people came up with long time ago, when their first albums came out and Jonsi was just humming and making sounds that fit the music.

And Jesse, you have to admit that to FORGET to mention the main reason for the interview, the Sigur Ros something you and I would have gotten fired for at our jobs.

"Furthermore, Bryant Park is designed to be a conversational show..." now how is a band from Iceland supposed to know what kind of a show this is? It's not like Bryant Park is as worldfamous as Sigur Ros' music! So shouldn't Luke have talked to them prior to the interview, told them a bit about the show, explained what he wanted to ask them about, had a cup of coffee with them and eased them up?

They are honest enough to remain true to themselves and their principles despite world fame. After all, this is a band that declined an invitation from The Late Show with David Letterman because they would've been forced to cut down their song to fit a time-frame. And that's something Sigur Ros can't do, they make truthful music and stick by it. It's not up to them to save some radio show host's butt when he finds himself in trouble due to his superficial approach to doing what he's supposed to know best, his job!

Sent by Bertha | 5:42 PM | 10-12-2007

Maybe it was a bad interview because the interviewer was asking stupid questions? Why? Why? Why aren't you like the rest of us humans? Why aren't you stuck in our postmodern conundrum of mirrors? Oh my, you were so rude not to conform to the everyday crap spewing out of the "normal" peoples mouths.

Sent by Travolta | 7:04 PM | 10-12-2007

For your information, the langue isn't made up. It is icelandic just out of context. really i never get any sense in what the hell they are saying. just a few words from nowhere here and there. They are always like that in interviews. They can make music but they really don't know how to talk. This has been a joke in iceland for years but no one really takes it seriously. Their music is what is important people here in iceland really don't care if they are shy or missing a brain. At least they create amazing music although they can't charm anyone by talking. Who needs talking when can avoid it?

Sent by Krist??n | 7:05 PM | 10-12-2007

All comments here have validity to them: the interviewer was not good and Sigur Ros were not good. For a little perspective on who Sigur Ros are (or what they are really like) please listen go to this NPR Live Concert series for a really wonderful interview with them... this is a very special group deserving better attention than anything that reflects badly on them-- after all, we all have bad days (interviewers or bands):

Sent by Gerard | 7:25 PM | 10-12-2007

Yeah. Because shy, quiet northern Europeans love to talk about themselves and explain their own artwork for the umpteenth time. I'm pretty sure every question he asked is answered on the "about" page of Sigur Ros's website. Know your subject buddy. Just because the same tired line of questioning works for the average marginally talented American musician doesn't mean it works universally. As a journalist, you should know that it's not their responsibility to give a good interview. It's yours. This just makes you look bad.

And this isn't the first time I've heard interviews like this on NPR. I think you guys take yourselves and your work too seriously. You'll notice that the best interviews with musicians are the ones where they are asked to talk about stuff completely unrelated to their own careers.

Sent by Russell | 7:52 PM | 10-12-2007

The only reason the interviewer wasn't good was because the band gave him absolutely nothing to work with. "Did you initially play more 'traditional' music before you came to your sound?" is a fine question to open with, and if they hadn't acted like jerks it could've moved into free-flowing conversation.

Bleah... they haven't done anything worthwhile since Agaetis Byrjun anyway. "Good Start" -- they should've quit while they were ahead.

Sent by Steve | 8:28 PM | 10-12-2007

Ah, hell. What makes these guys so special? If you sell records, you must want people to buy your records. Which means you need to do interviews and talk (indirectly) to the people who like your music. Who cares if the interviewer is crap, or whatever.

I think I'd have got about two minutes in and then told them to do one. If you don't want to participate, why turn up unless you're a complete arse?

Sent by Peter | 9:20 PM | 10-12-2007

re: shew
sigur ros being complete a******s?? Hardly. The questions pretty much led up to being yes/no type answers. And they answered. The interviewer apparently doesn't want to take accountability for doing a bad job. Did he research anything? They do speak English very well so there's not really a language barrier to blame.
"Did you start out playing 'regular' music?" Has he even listened to their first album von? Not quite what one would call "regular."

And they're not too good to sit down and talk to some "dumb American" (and they are pretty well known here, but obviously not selling out stadiums which I think is a good thing)...if you want to listen to a good interview NPR did look up Bob Boylan's interview with the band (or I think just Orri and Kjarri) for All Songs Considered in 2005. He knows how to carry an interview, asks open-ended questions, and adds a little personality to the interview.

p.s. When Jonsi said it's f******g b******t that was brilliant.

Sent by dyermaker73 | 11:18 PM | 10-12-2007

"But if you look e.g. at the documentary they did for "Takk", then you see, that they just don't have very much to say about their music."

Then clearly the person at fault is the publicist who called the show to set up this interview with their clients, isn't it?

Although Luke, in the future, perhaps you SHOULD ask more open-ended questions. Here's a good one: "When did you decide to sound like Hawkwind with all the interesting parts taken out?" Or perhaps: "Why is Godspeed You Black Emperor so much better at this kind of music than you are?" Or my favorite: "At what point did you realize that apparently all of your fans are a bunch of defensive, pretentious wanks?"

Sent by Stewart | 11:37 PM | 10-12-2007

Luke, I have to tell you, Sigur Ros is notorious at doing this to American interviewers, because American interviewers are notorious for asking the exact same kind of questions you asked. It was an American journalist who said Vonlenska (Hopelandic) was a language. American journalists often compare their music to the "bizarre landscape" of Iceland. They're notorious for doing little research into the band at all. So they just give you enough of an answer that they're still answering, but not giving you anything you want. Icelanders have a tendency to be passive aggressive.
Read some interviews from Icelandic journalists like the guys over at the English-speaking Reykjavik Grapevine ( You'll see they can be quite amiable and responsive if the interviewer actually knows what he's talking about.

Sent by Sigurj??n | 12:21 AM | 10-13-2007

Why did the band agree to come on a radio show if they didn't want to answer questions? I don't know why some listeners are trying to blame Luke for any of this. The band is trying to sell records and they get a national forum for free. The band didn't hold up their end of the bargain.

Sent by Matt | 12:48 AM | 10-13-2007

if you've had a date or a job, you've been on both ends of awkward interviews. but how many of them get comments? my opinion on the interview aside, these 155+ comments have been incredibly fascinating and hilarious and insightful... either on their own or in a bigger sense... i'm still not totally enamoured with the alison-and-luke show, but the bpp as an npr interactive bloggy thing can be truly entertaining.

i mean, how many names with embedded opinions of the band did you think there were? to think, i was content to just germanize my first name... maybe i'll put some ????s in

Sent by johann g??r????r | 1:11 AM | 10-13-2007

It's not that bad, just they don't blabber on like Americans, that seems to be the problem you have with them.

Sent by Keepit Quiet | 1:26 AM | 10-13-2007

Sorry, those questions were not very good. For whatever reason, not much effort went into preparing for the interview.

Sent by Alex | 2:23 AM | 10-13-2007

The interviewer played his part in this particularly flat interview. All of his questions could be answered with a yes or no. Good interviewers ask open ended questions that cannot be answered with one word answers. I refuse to see this as the bands fault.


Sent by VeryOn | 2:54 AM | 10-13-2007

Heh, those questions were kinda bad to ask, not that it's the interviewer's fault, but the fact that they're so broad makes it a bit hard. He needed more "why" questions than "what"

Sent by Sam Neiland | 3:30 AM | 10-13-2007

It's definitely true that the questions were terrible. You can tell right from the beginning, when the interviewer goes "so how did I do with those names guys??" that Sigur Ros is just thinking "oh great...a boorish American", and got turned off right there. Then next we have "did you start out as a regular-sounding band?" What the hell does regular-sounding mean? Especially when you're talking to a group of musicians from the other side of the world.

Although at one point Jonsi does answer a question on a radio program by shaking his head...

Sent by Alex | 3:44 AM | 10-13-2007

has anyone realized that the questions obviously come from an uninformed interviewer... rather annoying questions.

Sent by antonio | 7:22 AM | 10-13-2007

I once interviewed a young French experimental artist who was opening for Stereolab in my town and it went almost as well as this one. I tried to research as much as I could, but he was new to the scene and very little was written about him. All I knew was that I didn't want to ask him the same insipid questions he had already been asked; i.e., influences, creative process, etc... I tried my best to be different with my approach and questions, but aside from the language barrier, it still fell flat. My saving grace was that I could edit and summarize the interview, I didn't have to broadcast it. I have since realized that nonlinear/nonverbal artists don't like to and can't explain themselves and they shouldn't. It's like Stanley Kubrick once said in response to someone asking him to explain what he wanted his movie to convey, (or something like that) "I thought I just did." Horrible paraphrasing, I know (feel free to chime in with the real story), but he's absolutely right.

For some???I would argue it should be for all--the art IS the expression and to interview someone about it is redundant. At best you can glean some understanding of the artist him/herself by learning more about the rest of their life or drawing them out in some other way, but long, drawn out questions are certainly not the way.

NPR is used to interviewing talking heads who love using big, formal language, but they are not good at interviewing artists who don't care about getting a point across but just want to create.

Sigur Ros behaved like 5th graders being interviewed by their teacher about their love life. It was awkward, because it was wrong.

Sent by frostfromfire | 7:26 AM | 10-13-2007

The bassist is the only one who speaks English.
To be fair it was brave of the others to even sitin fron of microphones and ACT as if they were going to say anything

Sent by Chris | 7:59 AM | 10-13-2007

Yes, I agree that there were too many yes/no (not open ended) questions; However, the band were terrible interviewees. As many other people have already pointed out SR is virtually unheard of nin the states outside of Indie Rock circles, so basic and simple questions ae not only expected but helpful to the band, increasing their exposure to a potential new audience. Most of the critiques of the host are from loser fanboys who will do anything they can to defend the honor of their cherished idols, brining their respectability to about that as an ICP juggalo. These fanboys should be ashamed of themselves. Remember bands are just people and even great bands can have bad interviews, bad concerts, and bad albums, it is a fact of life.
Fanboys - get over yourselves.

Sent by Xaq Fixx | 8:01 AM | 10-13-2007

hey...time out from the flagellations...i'd like to see the early interviews given by babara walters, edward r. murrow, dick cavett etc.etc.....i wonder if any of them spoke with my bob dylan...a man of very few articulate conversational words unless there was a musical note involved!!!

Sent by jay | 9:08 AM | 10-13-2007

Gees, it's not Sigur Ros, it's the muppet interviewing them. What do you expect with such inane questions as "did you always play like this or did you come to it over time?"

Sent by Blah blahblah blah | 9:20 AM | 10-13-2007

I interviewed Kjartan a few years ago and it went nothing like this. The trick is always engaging the subject in a conversation and that just didn't seem to happen here.

Sent by justin | 11:32 AM | 10-13-2007

I happened to find a bad interview by a Grapevine member on their website, but he did a far better job of explaining it than anyone here can, so I'll repost it:

Bj??rn Erlingur Fl??ki Bj??rnsson runs Sigur R??s' official website, He laughed uncontrollably when I told him I'd had a bad interview.
"Everybody does. Who'd you get?"
I told him Goggi and Orri, the bassist and drummer.
"That's the worst pair. They're so unbelievably quiet."
So what the hell, I said. These are nice guys, they make great music, why intentionally give me a bad interview?
It was nothing personal: "I got a bad interview, too. I got those two... Sigur R??s will do anything to avoid business. To them interviews are business."
"Everybody knows they???re not big on interviews," he went on to say. "The worst thing is the way foreign magazines go on and on about how quiet the guys are. They overhype the reserved qualities. They love making Icelandic things more unique than they are. 'Oh they???re so Icelandic!'"

No, their lack of interest in interviews is not typically Icelandic.
Look, Sigur R??s just isn't a band you interview. Let's leave it at that. If you want a good interview with Sigur R??s, well, ask yourself why.

-Bart Cameron, the Reykjav??k Grapevine

Sent by Sigurj??n | 12:55 PM | 10-13-2007

Yeah, it's not the best interview, but what he was doing was throwing general questions out there in the hope that the band would give him something back to work with.

It's NPR - you can't start off with questions that only a Sigur Ros fan might understand, you also have to give context to people out there that don't know much about the band.

It's a two way street, folks - the onus isn't entirely on the interviewer, it's on the interviewee as well. At least if they're interested in having something workable at the end of it...

Sent by Billy Pilgrim | 1:23 PM | 10-13-2007

fav Q: " Are you guys a bit of a phenomenon in Iceland?"
That's like asking, is it cold in the North Pole?

stupid/boring/straightforward questions deserve stupid/boring/straightforward answers....

Sent by drazn | 1:40 PM | 10-13-2007

i really think all of you as a whole should 1: do your research and 2: write better copy and questions. do you know anything about these people except for what you have previously read. are you familiar with their culture. obviously not. true they are not the most radio ready engaging of personas. but its not their job to be. its your job to make them seem like they are. instead of complaining about how artists have "nothing interesting to say" maybe you should realize that it is your job to say interesting things. they make-a-the music you make-a-the talk show. capiche?

Sent by cosmo | 1:44 PM | 10-13-2007

Pretty stupid questions. Lacking in any depth. They are annoyed and rightly so.

Sent by Marcus | 3:01 PM | 10-13-2007

Personally I thought the questions just repeated themselves and were quite standard, not very unique.

You could see it in their faces, they weren't being malicious or deliberately difficult. They just aren't the type who can willingly talk up a storm. They probably hate the interview process because it takes away from the art.

I would brush up on your interview technique, preparing for future situations like this. Try and be considerate if guests do not want to talk, completely take the reigns and try and sound content with whatever they say.

I heard alot of uniformity & nervousness in how the questions were presented once you got the gist that they weren't going to be saying much. I would say just pretend to sound more cheerful about it in the future. Don't let the listener believe everything is falling apart. Maintain an air of confidence. Remember it's your turf they're on.

Sent by Pierre | 3:57 PM | 10-13-2007

this makes no sense !! XD

Sent by icelandic girl | 5:42 PM | 10-13-2007

It just seemed to me that the entire band is comprised of quiet people; they didn't appear particularly pretentious. Of course, I haven't heard any other Sigur Ros interviews, so I don't know if they're always like this or not. Besides, the host -was- asking some pretty bad questions.

Sent by jazzberry | 7:05 PM | 10-13-2007

Oh, this is a bad, bad interview. The interviewer sounds, at some points, very critical of the group (especially near the end). I know that there's a cultural difference, but he really put the band on the defensive.

Sent by Martin | 7:51 PM | 10-13-2007

this interview makes me love sigur ros all the more, they're clearly just these ordinary, shy guys who can get together and make incredible music without any need for publicity all the other bulls**t that goes with it.

Sent by Guy | 8:31 PM | 10-13-2007

Here are the questions that had obvious answers ??? So these comments are directed to Luke:
Q: "...or do you think that you'll start to use more standard words????
A: Luke, I think you know the answer to that question
Q: "Did you start out playing this kind of music...or did you kind of go here as you experimented?"
A: Luke, the 2-minute awkward pause after your question is a good indication that they kind of ended up here accidentally.
Q: "Are you guys a bit of a phenomenon in Iceland?"
A: Come on Luke, you're just showing off now -- at this point in the interview you're trying to tell me that you honestly thought the word "phenomenon" would not be a problem for these guys.

This was a lot of fun to watch !

Sent by Brent Daigle | 9:36 PM | 10-13-2007

While the band might have been tired or non-communicative, it seems that LB has to shoulder a lot of blame as well. I've heard few interviews in which nearly every question could be answered "yes" or "no." Seriously, if someone gives interviewees that option consistently (and keeps reframing questions they've already answered), it's little surprise that things would turn out this way.

Sent by Travis | 10:06 PM | 10-13-2007

Jay: yeah, but when Dylan f***ed with interviewers, it was funny! You've seen DON'T LOOK BACK, right? Those scenes where he's saying the most outlandish stuff with an utterly straight face and everyone is nodding like he's extremely deep and heavy are hilarious!

Michael Stipe used to do something very similar back before he got so boring. These guys, on the other hand, were content to be seen as po-faced twits whose arrogance is matched only by their lack of anything interesting to offer.

Sent by Stewart | 11:52 PM | 10-13-2007

"jibberish"!? [4:58]

Sent by kaleb | 12:43 AM | 10-14-2007

This is a case of a poor Interviewer combined with a shy band that doesn't have a complete grasp of the English language. Of course it was a disaster. The interviewer should have been better prepared with questions that would have elicited more elaborate and interesting responses.

A good interviewer like Mary Lucia from the Current could have made lemonade out of this with no problem.

To blame the band for it and openly knock them in a public forum like this is in poor taste.

Sent by Sean | 2:19 AM | 10-14-2007

What nerve! Why did they come?
To sit their like smarmy know-it-alls,
above the process.
Get it guys?
File them under:
"Too Cool For School"
They don't deserve to be in the business. If you want to be in the business and accept interviews, then SAY SOMETHING RELEVANT!
They come off like artsy-fartsy phonies who are actually scared little boys hiding behind their COOL.
I get their schtick, just don't dig it.

Sent by Rene Trossman | 3:02 AM | 10-14-2007

Props to the interviewer. He must be just thinking "WTF!". Where did I get myself into?

Sent by Eric | 5:59 AM | 10-14-2007

Yes, the questions were closed-ended and sophomoric. But since when does the interviewer determine how the proceedings go? Consider how the Beatles would have handled the situation and you have to wonder just how much creativity these guys really have. Clearly language waasn't the problem.

An artist can make something out of nothing. These guys can field a question--however ineptly put--about how they write their music and turn it into nothing. (And the fanboys write, "Read their website!" No thanks, that's what I'm listening to the interview for.) They could have ignored the interviewer's questions if they wanted to, possibly with delightful results.

Clearly language wasn't the problem. They simply blew an opportunity for nationwide American exposure. This is a band many of us won't be checking out any further.

Sent by Panglos | 7:27 AM | 10-14-2007

This is how you should interview Sigur Ros:,,2188080,00.html

^ From today's Guardian.

Sent by Brian | 7:43 AM | 10-14-2007


I don't really think you can call their music a typical rock music.
They are not too lazy to make up lyrics. When they used "Vonlenska" they use J??nsi as another instrument. He makes sound that fit into the music.
Music isn't always about lyrics...have you ever heard about classical music f.ex.? No need for lyrics. The consept was also that the listener should translate the "lyrics" himself...and make up names for the songs as well... you could even post your version on their website. I guess that's too much for some people, to actually demand some effort from the listeners who are used to being fedt by mucsicians that produce music ONLY to sell...
On their cd's that are in Icelandic the lyrics are actually very beautiful and I can guarantee that these guys are not lazy at all.

They are one of the nicest people I've ever met. They are quiet and they think a many Icelandic people do. They don't feel the need to say things just to say something...sometimes the quiet says more.... you should try it out someday :)

And they came on this interview to talk about the documentary and the Iceland tour...and what did they get?? Silly questions and a interviewer that sounded soooo desperate that he kept answering the questions himself...

p.s. I loooved the phenomenon part...
Feenomenon......haha sjitt hvad eg hl??o mikid..... :)

Sent by Margret | 9:45 AM | 10-14-2007

Terrible interviewer. Why would he assume this band wants to talk about the "process" of their music, when they clearly didn't want to talk about that? Yeah, because let's assume anyone else in the world can make the same music if they followed that path!

Here's a better idea. Try asking the band about their current album and tour. And as someone else stated, stop leading the band. Learn *how* to do an interview.

Sent by bart | 11:08 AM | 10-14-2007

Is this a Saturday Night Live skit? I think they did this same thing with William Baldwin once.

Sent by J. C. | 12:10 PM | 10-14-2007

They are brilliant comedians

Sent by Adam | 12:43 PM | 10-14-2007

This is one of these interviews that should be used for teaching. The interviewer hasn't prepared any interesting questions or done really any serious research. Basically just stupid questions like, "How does it feel to be famous?" While the band hasn't learned how to suffer fools gladly in an effort to reach more listeners.

All that said: it's terrifically entertaining. Nobody comes off particularly well.

Thank you NPR!

Sent by jay | 2:11 PM | 10-14-2007

in all fairness, these are the lamest questions ever.

Sent by suexian | 2:36 PM | 10-14-2007

That was indeed, a bad interview.
But when a band like Sigur Ros is in town to promote something out of the ordinary (like a film, for example), beginning the interview by asking them all the ordinary questions they've been asked hundreds of times by every single interviewer they've ever met, isn't very productive.
This was an opportunity to get their point of view on a different kind of art, and see how it reflects the progress of their career as a band - you could have slipped those boring questions in later on, once you'd loosened them up. We all know you've got to ask them, so why start with them?
I know you did what you needed to do, but try another approach next time. It might yield better results.

Sent by Al | 3:45 PM | 10-14-2007

Sigur Ros clearly didn't want to be there, but the interviewer didn't help himself by asking completely inane questions, either. The dumbest of the dumb questions: "Why did you start making music? Because you wanted to make music?" That's side-splittingly funny it's so bad.

Sent by Paul K. | 4:01 PM | 10-14-2007

They are lethargic, just like their music....what a bore

Sent by raul | 4:44 PM | 10-14-2007

the interviewer was bad - why ask a question that has a yes or no answer. Try "tell us what your influences are?" "we'd like you to talk a little about where you think your sound is going" "maybe you could spend a few minutes explaining to the folks out their what you've been upto over the last couple of years."

These would place the emphasis on them talking not just answering really dumb questions with a er... no or er... yes.

Sent by Adey | 6:59 PM | 10-14-2007

Yeah, the questions are tepid, but they've passive aggressively decided to shirk this guy from moment one. It's childish and calculated.

Sent by Tc | 7:12 PM | 10-14-2007

Anyone who's lived in Scandinavia will know that this is a pretty warm interview for a bunch of Nordic men. They're being very nice and accomodating . . . for Scandinavian men. You've just got to be prepared for the culture shock of communicating with them.

Sent by Detlef von Berg | 9:16 PM | 10-14-2007

I interviewed Sebastian Grainger of Death From Above 1979 (right before they announced that they were breaking up, incidentally) and after a minute or so of grunting and awkward silences, it became quite clear that he didn't want to talk about the band at all. Eventually I just abandoned all my questions and let him talk about whatever he wanted ... he told me some story about backpacking through Spain or Italy with his girlfriend and then we just made small talk about books and movies, none of which was remotely usable, but at least it wasn't silence.

I feel for the NPR guy ... even as an experienced interviewer, it can be really hard to talk your way out of dead silence like this.

Sent by Alasdair | 9:22 PM | 10-14-2007

After watching the video of the interview, I put most of the responsibility for its poor quality with the interviewer, not the band. It was more interrogation than conversation, and the nature of the questions left little to no room for the band members to expound at greater length than they did. /$0.02

Sent by Chris Weekly | 10:15 PM | 10-14-2007

Ahhh, the interviewer is asking yes and no questions. Not such a good interview technique. . .

Sent by phil | 7:05 AM | 10-15-2007

Music interviews can be incredibly, stupidly difficult. Some of the most brilliant musicians are totally incapable of talking about what they do, and those people just don't need to be interviewed. But the PR machine dictates (and public radio shows need material) so everybody shows up at the tea party but nobody knows what to say. On the flip side, when you get an artist who can speak intelligently about what they do, it's a rare, enlightening treat. When it comes to artists whose work I love, I've had to separate the art from the person and try not to let my opinion of one influence the other (and that works both ways).

As far as the question of preparation on the interviewer's part, I've seen that cut both ways, too. It's totally possible to "overprepare" and then you can't be open to what the guest is actually saying, because you already think you know it all. Sometimes the best approach is to just try and start a conversation with the guest, and let it flow from there, without showing off how much research you did. Some of Luke's questions were a little dopey, but I challenge anybody who posted to do much better in a similar situation. There's a desperation that takes over, as you keep asking *anything* that might make somebody brighten up and just TALK.

Thanks for sharing! It's good for listeners/viewers to see how much work it takes to produce a show like this every day.

Sent by tara | 8:25 AM | 10-15-2007

Yes truly a FASCINATING interview. ;) That was the best part.

Sent by Justine | 11:02 AM | 10-15-2007

Try to think different: that's the way Icelandic people speak! I used to travel there for many years, and learned that they speak in that way, a lot of silences. I tought it was because they didn't feel comfortable to speak in English, or maybe that's the way they speak even in their native language, who knows?
I tried to ask to my local girlfriend there, but she didn't answer :-)

Sent by Enrico | 11:24 AM | 10-15-2007

I wish the int'l press would stop advancing the idea that Sigur R??s sings in a made-up language. The newest album is completely sung in Icelandic.

This interview was awful because of the interviewer's condescension and utter lack of interesting questions for a band that's been around for 10 years.

Sent by Jared | 11:25 AM | 10-15-2007

They are so sweet and just staying theirselves.. I love this band! It's definately one of my favourites!

Sent by Susan | 12:07 PM | 10-15-2007

"Nei, Fenomon me?? Anthony Hopkins!!"

I actually thought this was a wonderful interview. Laughed my a** off. How uniquely Icelandic of me.

Sent by Gunnar J??nsson | 5:18 PM | 10-15-2007

I'm still amazed of the bad questions from this interviewer. It's unbelievable.

Sent by maxell | 8:36 PM | 10-15-2007

Perhaps it is too late to add a comment to this discussion, but some things have a simple explanation that people tend to miss.

The interviewers were far from doing a poor job, actually they tried the best they could. The reason the interview flopped like you could clearly see is that Sigur Ros is a group of people on a whole another level than most of us. While we consider ourselves straightforward thinkers who always have something to aim on, an objective to achieve. Sigur Ros is a band who can think so far outside of our imagined box that they have managed to become the creaters of sounds, unimaginably different from what we are supposed to approve as normal, and composed them into musical masterpieces.
While most people would try to tackle an interview by preparing well and emphasise on talking clearly Sigur Ros does not even seem to like expressing themselves the common way. I imagine Sigur Ros did a similar job as most extraordinary artists throughout history whould have. Beethoven, Monteverdi or Rousseau (yes, I know Rousseau is a painter) were all innovators who were surely introvert and unsocial but masterminds in their fields.

I believe both the band and the interviewers were doing their best and neither intended the interview to end up the way it did. We could call this a collision of different mentalities.

Peace from Iceland
D. Gunnar

Sent by D. Gunnar | 10:29 PM | 10-15-2007

Fenomeno - Hahahaha f??stbr????ratilvitnunin redda??i ??essu vi??tali :)

Sent by Fannar | 4:24 AM | 10-16-2007

Im sorry but i have to question interview technique here, half of the asked questions were followed with the possible answer? can see how it turned out so bad!!

Sent by simon | 7:04 AM | 10-16-2007

The band seemed to detest talking. If they are somehow used to communicated in a different way, then don't do a radio interview! Why waste everyone's time?

Sent by Tim H | 8:05 AM | 10-16-2007

Total disregard for expectation. I love it!

And after seeing this 'interview', I'm not surprised to learn that 'Hopelandic' is simply gibberish. :P

Sent by Josh | 8:34 AM | 10-16-2007

I think they need some lessons from Warhol how to deal with small talking interviewers.

Sent by Stefan Kjartansson | 9:11 AM | 10-16-2007

it is quite tragic that the one person in the room who is very fluent in english proved to be a terrible communicator, so it is a bit ridiculous to expect the icelandic lads to respond as masters of the language. you repeated questions, asked dumb questions, and had no direction in your questions. keep it up.

Sent by vidhisha | 10:46 AM | 10-16-2007

I think they just made have had too much to smoke before being showing up.

Sent by Icelandic Guy | 12:04 PM | 10-16-2007

C'mon.. the interviewer is okay.. the group is about as boring as their music.. they have about much depth as their lyrics..

Sent by Coleman Horn | 12:06 PM | 10-16-2007

I thought the interview was awkwardly hilarious, but did anyone else get bored by Luke learning to do his job on air?

Sent by Michael | 12:24 PM | 10-16-2007

Don't worry Luke - I saw an interview with Siouxie Sioux once (I like them, but I swear their concert had to rate as one of the worst I've ever attended) by a guy who had hosted a music show for years and she sat there and said that she 'didn't want to talk about music'. He later said it was the hardest interview he'd ever done. You're not alone!

Sent by Kathy | 1:34 PM | 10-16-2007

They've been answering these SAME questions over and over since 2001 (maybe before), i'd act the same way....

Sent by Joe | 1:52 PM | 10-16-2007

I agree that they seem like very shy guys but most of the interviewers questions were such that the answers could've been "yes" or "no". A bit more imagination might've made for a more exciting interview.

Sent by Ronnie | 2:09 PM | 10-16-2007

Thanks for posting this! I love that this interview wasn't hidden. However, does the interviewer actually like these guys? Honestly, this is what I think happened.

1. They came on npr because they were hoping to express to a media that might listen to their unique art. Which they didn't.

2. I think they were tired as hell.

When you do an interview, stop throwing all the provocative and buzzy questions at them. Be real. Come on, they are from a small town. If you put that barrier up they will treat you just like any other large boring media conglomerate.

My two cents.

Sent by Scott Thorpe | 2:58 PM | 10-16-2007

Did a third grader write those questions or what?...Come on, geeezz!

Sent by Reginald | 3:13 PM | 10-16-2007

a. two words: pre and interview.
and b. how about asking a question where the answer isn't "yes" or "no." I've been there with reluctant guests but the interviewer should've been a little more nimble.

Sent by david | 3:38 PM | 10-16-2007

Did you set out to come up with a horrible interview, or did you try to imitate someone else? How do you go about having a bad interview? Did you ever think your bad interview would be viewed by so many people? Is it fun being a bad interviewer?...Hear how dumb these questions are when I ask them of you?

Sent by pjc | 4:12 PM | 10-16-2007

I agree that Luke really didn't open this interview up. It's all questions that anyone would be forced to answer with a yes or no. Instead, he should have started with a question like "tell me about when you first met..." or something along those lines.

This is painful, but only to watch NPR's good name get dragged down.

Sent by amy | 4:42 PM | 10-16-2007

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! i absolutly adore sigur r??s but this was horrendous. i can't help but laugh. however, in all actuality, it makes me love them even more. humble, quirky, beautiful.

Sent by jordan glaser | 5:26 PM | 10-16-2007

When an interviewer asks a yes/no question and receives an appropriate answer, who is responsibile for the abbreviated response? A "bad" interview is more than just a short answer. Ask Terry Gross how she engages her interviewee and I'll bet she says something about the how much research she does prior to the session.

Sent by Don | 5:49 PM | 10-16-2007

C'mon guys, the band has only WRITTEN ONE SONG! Different variations, yes, but still the same darn song... Asking them to explain their music is calling for trouble.

Sent by Omar | 8:33 PM | 10-16-2007

Luke, you are right in everything you did in this interview. This band should learn to talk. If people do not like how NPR conducts interviews, they should listen to something else. I can't imagine if the great Terry Gross interviewed this band. Or Neal Conan. They almost need to be on a show like PRI's This American Life or WNYC's Radio Lab.

Sent by Jake | 10:57 PM | 10-16-2007

Okay. First: These questions are not yes/no questions. The interviewer is trying to understand how a band with such an original sound came to make that sound and it's not a stupid question. In fact, it does the band a lot of respect. Rather than simply blowing smoke up their a**es, the interviewer is asking them how they got to where they are.
Second: It seems to me that Sigur Ros is too cool to be bothered. They could have tried a bit harder, understanding that not everyone is going to ask them exactly what they want to answer. In the end, they came off as total jerks who were too afraid they might sound stupid so the opted to pinch their lips. Well, if they don't sound exactly stupid, they certainly sound pretentious.
Also, as far as research goes, it sounds like the band's pr contacted npr, not the reverse. Perhaps there wasn't enough time to do tons of research. As it was, the questions were not as bad as the general attitude in the room which probably made the interviewer struggle to make his questions sound interesting. Poor form on the part of Sigur Ros.

Sent by KMA | 3:52 AM | 10-17-2007

I live in Iceland and love Sigurr??s...But this IS the worst interview in world history! :D

Sent by jakob | 5:55 AM | 10-17-2007

I have to say that im proud of Sigur R??s for not answering the stupid questions by pulling some crappy b******t answers out of there arses. For the future pls ask intelligent people intelligent questions.. they are from Iceland but dont some crazy "fame is everything" band from the usa. They dont care about fame or stupid interviews...the play the music cos they wanna play it but not for the fame.

and that guy who was asking the questions should really sit down the day befor an interviews and take a moment to think about what questions he can ask people..not just aske yes or no questions. For do u make ur music? how do u think they make it.. just like other bands make music..they sit down and brainstorm about what they can do that hasent been done befor.. u should try it sometime.

Go Iceland and go Sigur R??s.. we rule!

Sent by sally | 6:13 AM | 10-17-2007

i would like to think that every single (and married!)blogger who has been so highly critical here has experienced an upward "learning curve" in their respective careers... i know i fact, i have become a brilliant professional...i wish the same never ending growth to y'all! Peace.

Sent by jay | 7:02 AM | 10-17-2007

What stupid questions. Start with specifics. What does he expect asking "did you create this sound on purpose?" No doubt media-savvy US bands would have a pre-written soundbite for that, but it is a meaningless question, and unsanswerable unless in the context of a directed conversation.

Sent by jon | 9:12 AM | 10-17-2007

it's never the interviewer's fault. these guys make music FOR A LIVING. they should try their hardest to give the interviewer what they want and if the questions are bad just go along with it and remember that you're just a lame musician who got lucky one day.

Sent by dietrich | 9:57 AM | 10-17-2007

Really trite questions. How about asking the band about their film Heima, which they came to the NPR studio to promote!!

Sent by Emily | 11:13 AM | 10-17-2007

HAHAHAH so funny, ask a stupid question get a stupid answer

Sent by Linda | 11:50 AM | 10-17-2007

I think Luke did an admirable job. Sigur Ros are either the most painfully shy people on the planet, or complete assholes. Either way, they shouldn't bother showing up for an interview if they're just going to sit there going "I dunno?" and "uhh.." Even if Luke was the absolute worst interviewer in the world (which he is not, by a long shot), it is the responsibility of the band to be responsive. As a former professional musician myself, let me educate some of the posters here (especially our Icelandic friends) on how the music business operates, at least in America: Sigur Ros were not kidnapped and brought to the NPR studio under some kind of public radio rendition program - their publicist, (whom the band or their label pays to help promote the band, their recordings, and their film) actually lobbied NPR's talent coordinator to have the band on the other words, Sigur Ros, indirectly or not, is actually paying someone money for the privilege of promoting themselves or their "product" (sorry) on the airwaves of NPR. Given that they essentially ASKED to be there, you have to agree, they certainly didn't act for a minute like they WANTED to be there. Which begs the question: why f***ing show up in the first place? So you can show how much you dislike being interviewed, even though you went to a bunch of trouble to get yourself interviewed? It's the responsibility of the band, in all instances, to either put up or shut up. I love Sigur Ros's music. But they come across like self-absorbed, pretentious a******s. How much did you pay your publicist for that, guys?

Sent by jethco | 12:17 PM | 10-17-2007

Ultimately fault for this poor interview falls on the head(s) of the band members and/or their handlers.
If they don't want to do interviews
they should refuse them.
Let their music speak for them.
If they are just too cool for the room
then their handlers should not let them do interviews because they come off as jerks.

Sent by Chris S | 12:37 PM | 10-17-2007

what a pathetic contribution to such a dynamic program. i feel really sorry for this talented band... they should be embarrassed of such tepid engagement. good job though luke, your interviewing skills are titanic, too bad the band was as interesting as a deflated preserver.

Sent by kate | 1:16 PM | 10-17-2007

this was childish, and I'm really suprised by all the people defending sigur ros and their 'stonewall' attitude. that was an opportunity to promote or at least inform listeners about their music. to basically shutdown all the questions because of an apparent contempt for the interviewer is infantile (but isn't that why everyone loves them?). if you want to promote your music then develop the conversation, answer questions and lead the interviewer to more interesting and relevant topics. if you don't want to promote your music or respect the fans who'd be listening intently to such an interview, don't bother turning up. i love this band's beautiful music but I really must applaude the interviewer for not laughing in their faces. or vomiting.

Sent by dan thomas | 1:20 PM | 10-17-2007

Pronouncing the band's name correctly would have been a step in the right direction.

Sent by jen | 1:29 PM | 10-17-2007

hmm... i'm not sure why the article is sayin bad about sigur ros cause clearly that interviewer is like.... stale rice cakes man

Sent by Jeliza Clementine | 1:30 PM | 10-17-2007

I think a large problem lies with the interview format and not the interviewees themselves. There were way too many yes and no type questions! If you look at it from this perspective, the interviewees were giving the interviewer much more than he was leading them toward in his questioning (monosyllabic yes and no type answers). If the interviewer had taken the time to write better questions (who? what? when? where? and most importantly why? and how? type questions), the interview would have probably been more interesting for participants and audience members alike.

Sent by julie | 1:36 PM | 10-17-2007

It's all in the intent.

Sent by JDM7 | 2:49 PM | 10-17-2007

The questions were good, there wasn't just any idea how to answer. why? maybe just some people do the music, and another can talk about it. It's good to know, that it's better to listen to them.. on thei albums :) Luke - you were ok :) really.

take care and all the best.

Sent by Jadwiga / | 3:42 PM | 10-17-2007

Aw. It's only a disaster if you don't have a sense of humor about it. I thought it was pretty funny.

It was a tough interview, and I don't blame Burbank for seizing up. I do think he could have (1) asked more open-ended questions, rather than yes-no questions; (2) avoided really long, complicated questions; (3) followed up on certain topics instead of jumping to the next question - eg., probably the longest answer was to the question about touring; he could have followed up by asking about favorite/worst gigs/cities, etc.; and (4) tried connecting with the band, acknowledged how awkwardly the interview was going. That could have led to some humorous exchange and broken the ice.

Sent by Elaine | 3:45 PM | 10-17-2007

One of my good friends acts just like that when he first meets someone. Similarly to him, perhaps Sigur Ros is trying to build some sort of mystery around themselves for their own amusement.

Sent by LAURA | 7:10 PM | 10-17-2007

i don't wanna be redundant about the yes/no questions, the poor research and all that (and as you may notice, i pretty much agree with that).

i'll just say this:
after more than four decades of rock history (and consequently, of rock journalism), it's stupid to ask ANY band how they write their stuff and other questions of the like. an interview could never be good if the interviewer does not have some kind of curiosity about the band. and if all HE wanted to know about sigur r??s is if they expected to sell 2 million copies, well... he's the one to blame.

and regarding the audience that might not know sigur r??s, the point is not to ask standard questions, but to provide some kind of introduction before engaging the band, and maybe that way making it worth the while for everyone. because let's face it: the audience that does not know sigur r??s is not quite interested in the band in the first place, so that's no excuse to have a shallow interview. quite the opposite.

Sent by leandro | 7:18 PM | 10-17-2007

Loved the Andy Warhole ? aint that his name ?? haha my english is not so good. This interview was just ruined from the beginning. the guy who was asking questions.. I can??t pronaunse his name or write it.( sorry I??m Icey) oops think I forgot it. They were probably tired. and the only way to answer these long questions was yes or no. They really tried. you could see the concentration. I love their music. Maybe they have just put all their words and feelings in there. Who needs words when you??ve got music ??

Sent by huldukonan from Iceland | 7:46 PM | 10-17-2007

this interview is so bad. this interviewer is asking the worst questions possible. is iceland icey? jonsi, do you like playing guitar? do you guys breathe air? come on. give me a break!

Sent by tiffany | 1:47 AM | 10-18-2007

"Sigur Ros have never been a band of the Industry, and they so far have not needed the shake hands with the right people, their music takes care of it, as they are a musicians band"

Well, you know, nobody forced them into the interview at gunpoint. Either come along to chat nicely and be interesting, or "preserve your integrity" by staying home like Stanley Kubrick.

Don't waste everyone's time by coming in and being petulant monosyllabic douches - there's no need to be a "dog in a manger". There's a thousand other bands that would have killed to have that 2-3 minutes of airtime and who listeners would have enjoyed more.

Sent by C Potato | 10:31 AM | 10-18-2007

The questions were not so bad, and the band could have been graceful enough to meet the interviewer halfway and steer the conversation in the direction that they wanted, if they were unhappy with his questions.

One of the band members at least tried to answer some the questions, but the rest came off as arrogant, "too cool for school" types who didn't give a **** about anyone but themselves. That my please the fans, but unless the band members are autistic, they really have no excuse. If they didn't want to do the interview, they shouldn't have come.

And by the way, I'm Icelandic. I'm not really a fan, nor do I hate Sigur R??s, but this was just plain stupid behavior. My condolences to the poor interviewer.

Sent by Reykvikingur | 10:49 AM | 10-18-2007

Wow. Sorry, but Sigur Ros was not the problem. The interviewer used very poor interviewing techniques. He answers his own questions, he doesn't give the band members any time to answer questions, he quickly gets into an almost adversarial mode of questioning that is likely to further alienate the band members... I could go on, but the point is, the interviewer created an awkward, uncomfortable environment that resulted in a disaster of an interview. Poor Sigur Ros, and poor fans who listened!

Sent by James | 1:17 PM | 10-18-2007

anyone think maybe first, they arnt used to studio interviews in the states, or maybe there English isn't that great, the interviewers questions weren't horrible, just typical, and they aren't used to typical.

Sent by qlint | 2:03 PM | 10-18-2007

plus the band's name is hard to pronounce too 'si'ur rose' actualy sounds more like it than , sigur ros

Sent by qlint | 2:04 PM | 10-18-2007

In all fairness to the band and being a musician who's had to answer interviews, the interviewers questions were completely assinine. He actually asked, "Why do you play music?"

Sent by e | 3:13 PM | 10-18-2007 hilarious. i agree with the comment above too, the interviewers question were pretty bad..

Sent by ben | 7:05 PM | 10-18-2007

Yeah. This is what happens when you don't bother to connect with a band's PR people prior to an interview. Amateur hour.

Sent by WTF | 1:16 AM | 10-19-2007

Painful. It reminded me of the (in)famous interview of Meg Ryan by Michael Parkinson for the BBC a few years back (now available on youtube:

Sent by Daniele Malleo | 2:39 PM | 10-19-2007

I've never heard Sigur Ros's music, but checked them out after watching this interview, and now they have one more record-buying fan. So, an effective interview, and funny as well. Good job!

Sent by Grzegorz A. Brzenczyszczykiewicz | 4:26 PM | 10-19-2007

Omigosh...what a bunch of self-absorbed elite sob's...Geesh. At least they could be nice and polite and say why they think doing interviews are a pain...they weren't even helping further the conversation. What a bunch of jerks. I'm not supporting their music anymore.

Sent by dale baker | 6:20 PM | 10-19-2007

They all seem nearly "overly" respectful and much more timid than the average person that Luke would have dealt with that day prior to the interview. This seems like a cross of culture to me more than a "Horrible" interview. If anything about this seems in bad taste it is that NPR has allowed you to post a follow-up to the interview attempting to paint the band members as being the fault. Clearly Luke's questions came across as being read from a list on a page. He seemed very un-interested in the personalities present in the studio with him - more focused on superficial b.s. and that just doesn't equate to those who have an understanding of and respect for the word "Improvise".

I think if Luke wants to continue as a broadcast professional he has some serious in issues that he will certainly have to deal with... ie... stop trying to "script" everything. Be real. People can smell it when you're just there watching the clock and playing by the rules.

Sent by Bryon Evans | 1:26 AM | 10-20-2007

It's funny to read all of the obviously Icelandic pandering opinions below. The band acted like a bunch of anti-social, immature little prima donnas whose low self esteem spoke louder than any little mumble that came out of their mouths. The interview's questions may have seemed random because he was trying to trigger any sort of conversation that he could. Very difficult task given this bunch. I think he did a fine job and the band needs a dose of psychological medication and a few more crying sessions.

Sent by veryobservant | 3:04 AM | 10-20-2007

What a bunch of idiots!

Sent by GL | 10:50 AM | 10-20-2007


Sent by Herr Strotzer | 7:04 PM | 10-20-2007

Professional athletes are no longer the worst interviews in the world. Way to hang in there Luke.

Sent by casey | 4:16 PM | 10-21-2007

This was blogged here, check out the commentary:

And I am an NPR contributor and taxpayer. This band wasted our precious NPR resources (we could have heard about some other band that had something to say) and should be shipped back out on the next slow boat to Iceland. You guys are gracious about it, and still compliment the band. Fine. But I don't have to.

Sent by Mojo Flucke, Ph.D. | 11:12 AM | 10-22-2007

Man, that interviewer was horrible. It wasn't Sigur Ros' fault that the questions were horrible.

Sent by James | 12:41 PM | 10-22-2007

this is all the interviewer's fault, what an amateur.

(a) he jumps straight in to an abstract discussion of their aesthetic without even a cursory attempt to warm them up with some easy ones.

(b) his questions are incredibly stupid. "are you enjoying life as a... successful band?"

(c) his biggest mistake is that he just throws each question to the four of them as a group. this allows each of them to abdicate individual responsibility for answering. they are all squirming a bit after hearing how dumb his first few questions are, but he might have salvaged the situation by addressing subsequent questions to individual band members... instead he allows a dynamic to develop where the balding dude becomes their de facto spokesman because he is the one most embarrassed by the group silence. he is also plainly embarrassed by his unwanted role as group spokesman. when the interviewer eventually addresses a question to an individual, it turns out his researcher has made a mistake - and it's too late anyway, because by this stage he has already:

d) f****d himself irredeemably in their eyes by mocking them for being part of the disaster he has created.

the guy should be out of a job.

Sent by plagarist | 1:38 PM | 10-22-2007

This is a non-news item. The interviewer didn't get the 'gold-level' exclusive from the band - due largely to a terribly generic, amateurish interview questions - so posts this to mock them, and make it news...and as some dumb payback/self-promotion thing. This should be dumped as unworthy from NPR site. Also, this is not the worst interview ever...not by a long shot. At any 'pro' news site, the few questions they answered would have been edited to short clips...end of story. It's 'news' items like these that make jerks out of artists, because, it rightfully makes them paranoid that they're being used for some other end than journalism.

Sent by MrTojo | 2:02 PM | 10-22-2007

the questions were great. If i were to ask Sigur ros anything I wanted I would ask them if they started out playing the kind of music that they play. I'd ask who they were inspired by. I'd ask about their musical peers in Iceland. I'd ask about the language he sings in and whether or not it has begun to mean anything to him. this interviewer was great. i can't believe this shit kept on going, though. the band sounds rude and unappreciative to me. so what if they've done a lot of touring. they can still answer a few questions for tons of interested people. they could at least say thank you to the fans that have bought their records, gone to their shows, and continued to support them. this interview makes me lose a lot of respect for them. maybe i won't go see them next time they come to town.

Sent by anar | 4:35 PM | 10-22-2007

i think its simple.

if youre a band of sigur ros' status, you have responsibilities. one of them is to not act like complete indie snob a-holes when you do a radio interview. answer the questions like mature adults,if nothing else but for your fans who are the reason youre even being asked questions on a radio show. we get it guys, youre too indie and complex to answer simple questions... cry me a freaking river. you play music for a living. id answer 356 questions a day asked by a toddler if it meant i got to play music for my JOB.

Sent by andrew | 2:29 AM | 10-23-2007

seriously, this guy is the worst interviewer ever. sure, sigur ros could have answered with a little more verve, but i can't imagine getting excited over snoozefest questions like this idiot's. he'd be perfect as an NFL sideline reporter, though.

Sent by 5 | 3:46 PM | 10-23-2007

Excuse Me!? To all the whining poser apologists ripping on the interviewer: F*** You! I don't care how 'great' you think you or your band are, or how 'stupid' the interview questions are, at least show some class and answer the questions. These guys are a bunch of elitist gibberish singing Sh**bag A**holes.

Sent by Willy | 5:05 PM | 10-23-2007

Based on the two other interviews with Sigur Ros I've seen, the fault is mostly with the impersonal and disinterested line of questioning. The other interviews I've seen were open, talkative and informative. For example, this one on BBC a few days ago:

And this is the band chatting with the New Yorker editor a few weeks ago: (skip about 2/3 through)

Sent by Sam | 7:20 AM | 10-24-2007

P.S. I don't understand how a lot of commentors here equate not-being-talkative with being snobbish and elitist. The guys are typically non-talkative Scandinavians, and superficial meaningless questions do not do anything to help that.

And some comments here from the obviously American commentors are a little disturbing. Do you really think a band has a "responsibility" to bullshit in an interview, just because they make music? Am I the only one who finds that totally phony?

I think there is something very wrong with the music scene in America if everyone there thinks you need to be talkative to sell records.

Sent by Sam | 7:30 AM | 10-24-2007

anar: "they could at least say thank you to the fans that have bought their records, gone to their shows, and continued to support them."

At what point in the interview should Sigur Ros have said "We'd like to thank our fans for their support"? It's an interview not a speech...

So many confusing comments here, it's hard to sift through...

Sent by Sam | 7:55 AM | 10-24-2007

they just need some coffee. pretty standard fare otherwise.

Sent by roberto | 9:50 PM | 10-24-2007

I think it's a matther of culture.. must not be usual.
The laguage also seems to be a barrier.. And I really think they just make music for making music..
But REAL BAD interview!

Sent by Dan | 1:18 AM | 10-25-2007

Just a little addendum to the last sentence: never invite them to your radio show if you only have lame, idiotic and totally boring questions in store for this band. Or any band, for that matter. If you don't have the decency to come up with good questions, you better find yourself another job. And hey: I'm not even a fan of Sigur Ros.

Sent by K-Man | 7:39 AM | 10-25-2007

You just don't understand their brilliance! They're brilliant. You should understand that! They're indie rock musicians. Don't you know what that means? Why, it means that they are brilliant! They, like, read some stuff by the Situationalists and stuff? You probably don't even know what that is with your American cultural imperialism and shopping malls and you are fat! They're just like that. Brilliant! You are the bourgeoisie and are dumb like the Nuge and so forth. They are brilliant!

Sent by Curt | 1:09 PM | 10-25-2007

Never heard an interesting interview with SR, but this interview is a good publicity stunt ;)

Sent by Logi Helgu | 6:19 AM | 10-26-2007

Well at least the interview seemed authentic, most of the stars are full of sh*t when they analyze themselves. Anyway, if you like the band then you'll find the answers in their music instead of some 5minute interview. Oral communication is way overrated.

Sent by well | 11:22 AM | 10-26-2007

Why are you p****d? As an Icelander this interview has made me love them even more.
I mean, you're askin' some lame questions and what do they do? They shake their heads. Genius! :)

Sent by ?????????? | 12:17 PM | 10-26-2007

Sorry to say that, but this radio-show guy is such an USA-like as this can be. What kind of questions are these? :(

Sent by Veik | 2:18 PM | 10-26-2007

My god the interviewer is a complete jerk! No wonder

Sent by whtevr | 5:40 AM | 10-27-2007

Sounded like a typical NPR interview to me!

Sent by Joe | 10:51 AM | 10-27-2007

I do not know if I was tired or board. I almost fell asleep. Really I did!!

Sent by Steve Bugnacki | 5:58 PM | 10-27-2007

With all due respect NPR, and I only listen to you because all other radio is crap...but this interviewer sounded like he had absolutely no clue how to respectfully communicate with this band. These questions were completely base. Sigur Ros isn't made up of "American Rockstars" who like to blah blah blah about boring bull. They're humble guys who don't deserve to have time wasted by someone who appears not to know anything about music. Would you ask a filmmaker "hey, so when you made this movie...did you just start rolling, or did you write a script first, or what?" And "is it fun touring?" FUN!? What? What is this, first grade show-and-tell? Bring-your-musician-dad-to-school day? They had nothing to say, because he had nothing to ask.

Sent by Robin Garrels | 10:47 PM | 10-27-2007

These guys are famous for being non comunitive in live interviews. But this was like a competition of which member was going to say the least. I don't get it why they don't try to get a little PR training after more than 10 years in music business. The dj was asking normal questions, not the most exciting or off the wall, but just normal. Still Sigu ros make great music but are boring as hell.

Sent by Buster | 3:41 AM | 10-28-2007

npr deserves better hosts

Sent by utku | 10:20 PM | 10-28-2007

swizzle myshizzle....I just figured they were all to "slow" to write real lyrics...but maybe it's that tower of babel thing happen' again! LOL gotta love young people!!

Sent by ye'oldefarte | 11:57 PM | 10-29-2007

Oh God forbid an interviewer ask lowly questions too stupid for this "humble" band to answer. Get your noses out of the clouds and back to earth Sigur Ros! You make music, not world peace.

Sent by Wuki | 4:41 PM | 10-30-2007

I can't believe the introduction: "we don't know if these guys were just tired, or what"? Was the idea that they would still be entertainers; they, like their PR team, should be trying to sell themselves. However, their job is in the studio and on stage - that's where they earn their money. Was Luke just overwhelmed right away at how difficult his job was going to be vs. the relative ease of asking a yes/no question and waiting for the responder to wing it from there. Even when he attempts to engage them, he doesn't seem to want to try too hard. The guys might be kooks but I don't get this approach to the interview. You might have tried to be more creative and, upon review, see where you failed the show rather than how they seemed weird.

Sent by Alberto | 7:30 PM | 10-30-2007

yeah it's ridiculous to blame the band. the interviewer is terrible, rude, awkward and has no idea what he's even asking. then he has the guts to make fun of THEM? sounds like an insecurity tactic because it's clearly obvious that sigur ros aren't the only ones not really engaged in the conversation. it takes two sides to have a conversation. this guy is ridiculous.

Sent by ben | 6:16 PM | 10-31-2007

ouch, that is painful to watch, mostly because i've been there. try talking to hank williams III about anything other than satan, drinking, or drugs...or try explaining to him the meaning of the word sycophant and watch the blood drip out his ear. there was a very famous frankie goes to hollywood interview by one of the early mtv veejays that beats even this.

Sent by CoolJohnny | 6:14 PM | 11-1-2007

they are pure genius.

Sent by alexis | 10:41 PM | 11-2-2007 said it...;)

Sent by just a guy.. | 1:59 AM | 11-4-2007

wow. I think it was a combo of boring questions and an introverted band. maybe everyone should have taken a couple shots of bourbon before the interview.

Sent by jonny | 2:52 AM | 11-5-2007

I thought the interview was fine. It seemed very logical given the cliche' questions.

Sent by JP | 10:34 AM | 11-6-2007

Okay, so this interview is extremely awkward. But you have to realize, they were just in New York right before they did this interview. Either, it's hard for them to answer questions because they feel like they just watched a porno and are disgusted or they just realize how dumb America is. Secondly, I thought the NPR Guy's questions were really bad. When he asked Sigur Ros, "So, how do you make music?"I laughed. That's such a dumb question. You have Sigur Ros in front of you and you ask them that? Unbelievable. Organize yourselves.

Sent by Will Rucker | 3:10 PM | 11-7-2007

Also, you said "When good interviews go bad." It was a bad interview from the start. The interview starts when NRP makes up the questions. And also, you said, "Never invite them on your radio show."

If I have a radio show someday, I would love to invite Sigur Ros, because I would try really hard to intrigue them, just as hard as they have intrigued me with their music. You should take note that their music is not mundane and their music is a layer of meticulous, thought-out music. And if you are smart enough to realize that, then you really should be smart enough to make your questions as meticulous, because you know they would care for something respectfully not mundane.

Sent by Will Rucker | 3:24 PM | 11-7-2007

Funny, their lack of enthusiastic responses has everything to do with really bad, lame questions asked by the question reader. Go Sigur Ros. Nicely done. I would have done the same.

Sent by Dave | 5:40 PM | 11-7-2007

Yes the new hip Icelanders are smug beyonf belief.

Sent by Orri | 6:07 PM | 11-7-2007

Poor Poor interviewer. I'm a fan and have seen/heard quite a few interviews etc. And the truth be told they are very pretentious , and tbh I would have kicked them out.

Sent by fred | 10:35 PM | 11-7-2007

The interviewer just annoyed me so much, he was talking to them with the most generic questions and sort of talking down to them, it was like someone talking to a disabled person and they think they dont understand you. And why would you question Jonsi like that? You don't question artists like that, they just do what they feel. Stop being so cliche interviewy and just talk normally, you'll get so much more out of people.

Sent by Jessica | 11:40 PM | 11-7-2007

I love sigur r??s
but this interview is really bad
I don't think that their collective level of English is really good enough to be answering these questions. They should let the music do the talking

Sent by Ing??lvur | 4:09 AM | 11-8-2007

im pretty sure this is how Sigur ros is all the time in interviews. but ok.

Sent by bryan | 4:56 PM | 11-8-2007

I interviewed them a couple of times... and I can tell you, your interview is pretty good, and the band pretty coopertive comparing some I did... the last time I me them... I stopped the interview and decided not to write the article... still, I appreciate their music very much

Sent by michel masserey | 4:33 AM | 11-9-2007

What is wrong with the interview? They answered the questions. The questions, whilst technically open questions are reality closed questions. They are musicians, not professional interviewees pimping their latest album/book/film on tonight shows.

Sample questions that may have offered more insight include:
"What does your music make you feel?"
"How has being Icelandic and living in Iceland influence your music?"
"What are you trying to communicate with your music?"
"Why use Hopelandic?"

Instead of "How do you make music?". what about "Why do you make music?".

Each of these questions offers something more than the "Do you think...?" type questions this interviewer typically asks, and creates a conceptual space which should inevitably lead to more open questions.

Remember, these guys are artists who create music, video and visual art, not the latest darlings of a major label being pimped by cocaine snorting execs with no visceral understanding of art and music, but they have a real understanding of marketing and manipulation.

Personally, I think the interviewer got what he deserved from a poorly researched and though out list of questions.

Sent by Gwynfor | 8:11 AM | 11-9-2007

Lousy interviewing skills caused the most problems. Unprofessional for NPR to let that happen.

Sent by KC in Lubbock | 8:09 PM | 11-9-2007

It seems like the questions are a bit rude towards them. The opening question asking if they used to be more normal??????

uhm... that's just dumb.

Sent by D Valentine | 10:26 PM | 11-9-2007

Sigor Ros like the British Royal Family - they should learn to smile, since they get money for nothing and will never have to work a day in their lives.

Sent by Chapterhouse b-sides | 5:06 AM | 11-10-2007

I think this interview was even somewhat interesting. There was painful awkward tension and i do agree some of the questions were badly put. However I think it was insightful these weren't really questions they could answer which is interesting. They don't think 'what sound do we want to make' 'who do we want to sound like' 'what will our next song sound like' they just create what they feel which is beautiful music. they don't plan it just flows through them which explains their gibberish and their not knowing weather they'll continue to do it. The questions asked simply weren't of interest to them because they were so standard and boring if you ask me.

Sent by Jess | 1:37 PM | 11-10-2007

Almost as boring as their music.

Sent by Nicky | 1:53 PM | 11-12-2007

Many times, being a successful performer/artist comes from not having a facility with language......I mean come on, they don't use lyrics...what did you expect?

Sent by cecily | 11:38 AM | 11-13-2007

I dunno. These questions are kind of stupid.

Sent by skeeler87 | 2:24 PM | 11-13-2007

Haha, reminds me of Conor Oberst interviews. It's almost always awkward when they interview him, but I love his music anyways. XD

Sent by Anonymous | 11:29 PM | 11-13-2007

What kind of questions are these??? The interviewer basically answered his own questions upon asking them - Q. "What made you guys start writing music together? Was it because you wanted to make music? A. Yes." What the hell else does he expect them to say to that!? Such pointless questions! I'm actually surprised Sigur Ros were as vocal as they were.

Sent by Rik | 6:10 PM | 11-16-2007

They don't have to explain their music, I dont understand why they'd be put down like this. Just go sing your music Sigur Ros and dont mind people trying to explain it or take it apart into bits and pieces that they can understand or make some sense out of.
Stupid americans don't get it... sorry.

"it's just f****** music"

Sent by mina | 6:42 PM | 11-16-2007

i'm glad the guys put this interviewer in his place, he obviously doesn't know anything about the bands history and just asked all the same questions Sigur Ros gets asked by every naive interviewer

Sent by TheLemon | 3:03 AM | 11-18-2007

Bad interview? Bad Interviewer, methinks.

Sent by Jonny | 9:21 AM | 11-19-2007

um... mina..I have a question for you. How ignorant do you you make yourself look when you say the cliched "stupid Americans" line? You're probably not, but you seem very closed minded. Thanks.

Sent by lee | 6:41 PM | 11-19-2007

Oh. My. God.

Sent by Kelly V. | 12:56 PM | 11-21-2007

those questions are just stupid...find a better interviewer...

"Just never invite them on your radio show."

thats just low.. haha..

Sent by Victoria | 2:09 PM | 11-22-2007

I think this is great. This band who are so capable and talented, have nothing tangible for the untalented fucks who interview them to feed off.

I am a musician. I am a journalist. I have very little respect or time for music journalism.

Sent by Alex James Holland | 2:36 PM | 11-25-2007

I couldn't hear very much in the questions that indicated that the interviewer had done very much research into the band at all. The interviewees may have picked up on this.

What was the interviewer hoping to get from the interview? The questions indicate to me that the interviewer really didn't know this.

Sent by Marcus Turner | 3:43 PM | 11-28-2007

worst questions ever..

Sent by pancakes | 6:23 PM | 11-28-2007

I think the interviewer being completely devoid of any knowledge of sigur ros for the interview was due to the fact he probably spent most of his time learning how to pronounce their names. It's hard not to blame him for this awkward interview but you have to imagine someone coming in from an outside situation and interviewing a band few americans know about. Sigur Ros might just have been jet-lagged too, and Jonsi is the least proficient at english which is why I wonder why the interviewer didn't direct the questions at Georg who has spent time in England and is best at speaking english. I feel bad for all of them because now some people think sigur ros are assholes for this and some people think the interviewer is completely inept. His questions were unremarkable and lacked room for any real intelligent answers...i mean, how were you supposed to answer those?
I didn't loose much respect for npr for this, it wasn't their fault.

Sent by miranda hever | 12:18 PM | 12-5-2007

Freaking hilarious.

Excellent interview!

Sent by Marcus | 9:07 AM | 12-6-2007

As a talk host, I can relate to having talented guests, be horrible interviews. That is why you need small stuffed objects around the studio to throw at challenging guests. You can see what I mean at

Sent by Rob McNealy | 1:28 AM | 12-7-2007

I think the band was just tired of being asked the same things ove rnad over again. If the interviewer had at least gone and checked out their website and read up on some things, he'd have had a few more interesting questions to ask apart from the obvious ones. Instead of moving on from one question to the next, if the interviewer wanted more specific answer, he should've worded the questions better (and also referring to music as 'stuff', really...) and/or prompted the band, asked their opinions about their music, etc. etc. The band wasn't being easy, yes, but they have the right to be. I think the blame is on both sides. (Also, the interveiwer poking fun at the band and the situation made it worse).

Sent by Rakuda | 10:03 PM | 12-10-2007

This is what happens when someone assumes all bands want massive fame and recognition. I seriously doubt Sigur Ros wants to be mainstream. That doesn't make them a bad band. Asking questions that lead them to self-congratulatory answers is a double-edged sword. If they answer, they look arrogant. If they don't answer, they look arrogant. The interviewer needs to take a refresher course in journalism and broadcast. As a college teacher, if this were a speech class, I'd fail him. He could have asked what they are working on now, what their plans for the future are, what venues they've played that stood out the most (for whatever reasons), what they do in their free time (if they have any), what activist projects they are working on, the impetus for any one of their media projects, or any number of questions that open up an actual dialog. Failing to research your subject before interviewing is bad form. The interviewer states and restates that he loves this band yet he couldn't come up with any original, personal questions. And actually, a LOT of Americans know who Sigur Ros is. You'd know this if you'd ever been to their concerts, researched their online communities and fan spaces, and just asked around on a college campus.

Sent by WLC | 7:58 AM | 12-16-2007

so bad ass.

Sent by paul | 12:24 AM | 12-18-2007

I feel bad for the band. Questions were bad...he should have asked about more relevant stuff (their new dvd, going unplugged). It seems like as soon as they new which way the interview was going it really fell apart. thank god one of the members decided to make some conversation.

Sent by Matt | 10:29 AM | 12-24-2007

Obviously those commenters that are slicing apart SR for this interview have never been to one of their shows. They truly are musicians to the core -- what sort of big-name artist would travel through podunk towns in his or her home state in the same manner SR did for Iceland the past year (oh, that's right, we didn't hear anything about that because Luke didn't ask any questions pertaining to the documentary!). Bravo, NPR -- you know how to report objective news stories but you suck at respecting the true artist.

Sent by matt | 2:22 AM | 12-26-2007

It's not easy to ask shy people questions. So you can't blame the interwiever. I felt so imbarassed for them! But fun to watch :D

Sent by Emma | 10:20 AM | 12-27-2007

This is a painfully shy band who does not tend to do interviews. I felt the interview accurately depicted the band. Kudos for showing and sharing it. These guys could easily be mistaken for studio session musicians and that is refreshing in this day and age of mad egotistic lead singers. It's like Pink Floyd before they got big and recognized. Thank you NPR for taking a chance and bringing them to the attention of an American audience.

Sent by Christopher Monza | 2:01 PM | 12-28-2007

Where do these Icelandic b*****s get off treating the interviewer that way. To hell with stopping global warming. I'm going to triple my carbon emissions in hopes the rising sea levels will drown their lousy island nation!

Sent by Glenn Knopf | 1:53 PM | 1-3-2008

The interviewer should know better than ask questions that point towards a yes or no answer.It is the interviewer's job - he is paid the ask good questions & create an interesting interview. The interviewer should be embarrassed to be airing his inadequacies on the Internet.

Sent by Tom Ferguson | 10:07 AM | 1-5-2008

Wow that was seriously interesting-beautiful for some reason.

Sent by J. Olsweska | 12:00 AM | 1-6-2008

I think that this interview only lacked the laugh track.

Please, never ask a musician... "how do you compose ? It is because you want to make music ?" It's uncomfortable.

Ask a baker: "how do you make bread ?" - well, we make dough. And then we put it in the oven. "It is because you want to make bread... ?" - Uhm. Yes?

Sent by Joe Sax | 2:01 AM | 1-6-2008

You all are looking too much into this - it's not that complicated. The questions are straightforward for an uninitiated audience and the band couldn't even manage to say anything substantive. If they had the intellect and purpose that I thought they had prior to seeing this they would have been able to say something about how they make music and what they think they're trying to do.

Sent by chris | 3:33 AM | 1-7-2008

I for one found the interview entertaining, I think that it came across so badly due to a combination of factors, the first being that, the questions where a bit lame and superficial but what else can you do? the band where a bit bored maybe, speaking in a second language (pretty well I might add), as to the lyrics being gibberish, I for one found that refreshing, how many artists write gibberish using real words? they have approached the vocal treatment that same as an instrument, and in my opinion it works, good on them, this interview has endeared me to them even more.

Sent by Richard McCoy | 9:26 AM | 1-8-2008

Who is more painful? The interviewer or the member of this group? Asking silly questions, what do you would expect? Great answers!

Sent by Mariel Donz | 10:13 AM | 1-9-2008

Glen Knopf said: "Where do these Icelandic b*****s get off treating the interviewer that way. To hell with stopping global warming. I'm going to triple my carbon emissions in hopes the rising sea levels will drown their lousy island nation!"

That was a brilliant statement. You make really smart comments. In case you can't detect the sarcasm and disdain in my statement, I mean that what you posted was incredibly dumb and unnecessary. Sigur Ros doesn't represent all of Iceland. Global warming doesn't effect just Iceland. Carbon emissions don't effect just Iceland. If you are going to take the time to post something, why not post something intelligent and relevant?

Sent by WLC | 12:50 PM | 1-9-2008

Look: Yes, bad Q's but if the band agrees to do the interview in the first place then be men and do the interview.If you don't want to be there, don't. Just don't do what they did, only be half there and not be interested. It is insulting to the host. This 'bad' interview should be put on the band. If they were honest, say to the host "you know what, we have answered these types of questions alot. We would prefer to talk about Heima or this, that, and the other thing."

Sent by Eric Oddleifson | 10:18 AM | 1-11-2008

This is a terrible interview and shows no particular forethought or preparation on the part of the interviewer or the show's producers. No reason for a train wreck like this when media professionals do their homework and then do their jobs.

This situation could have been avoided if 1) the producers did a pre-interview to get a feel for how things would go on-air, if 2) the interviewer made some effort to ask relevant, clear and specific questions and 3) if everyone had collaborated a bit better and done a bit of rehearsal or prep-work given a notoriously shy set of interviewees who are not strong English speakers. These are just a few basics, let alone the more advanced expectations you might have from a professional on-air journalist, such as knowing how to build rapport and build to a story rather than jumping in and hoping to drift somewhere.

Sent by Chris Fox | 11:55 AM | 1-11-2008

What's with all the 'Yes' and 'No' questions? I would have flunked basic interviewing with questions like that.

Sent by Ashley | 1:16 PM | 1-12-2008

I agree with others in that the interviewer started off badly by misprouncing the bandmates' names, and beginning with a question that insinuated that they play strange music. They were to compare their music to "normal" music! What a way to begin an interview!!

Sent by Deed | 1:26 PM | 1-14-2008

mwahaha. Don't blame the game, blame the players. Sack the interviewer, it will help you to survive. No offends, but really...

Sent by Wodka40 (from Russia) | 5:53 PM | 1-20-2008

they seem nice,legebags!I thaught it was quite enjoyable.

Sent by E??ghan | 4:34 PM | 1-21-2008

I get the vibe something happened in the van on the way to this interview that made some kind of unbearable hatred and tension come to a head moments before they stepped in front of the mics. Or they're just completely uninterested in everything all of the time.

Sent by Luke | 1:46 AM | 1-24-2008

I think there is a pattern showing in the comments above. There seem to be two ways of viewing the job of pop musicians. (First I wanted to call one of these approaches "European", and the other "American", but realized this would be too much generalisation). One way is to view musicians, even pop ones, mainly as creative artists, who can elaborate on their art, but it's not really their duty, just courtesy towards their audience and the media. The other way would be to view them as a kind of corporate employees, whose job descriptions include giving interviews etc. regardless of the circumstances. I personally tend to stick with the first approach, but even if we assume the second one and question the band's professionalism - what happened to the professionalism of the interviewer?

Sent by Anita | 2:43 AM | 1-25-2008

seriously, whoever the interviewer is, he needs to go back to school and learn how to conduct an interview properly!

Sent by Adam | 2:23 PM | 1-28-2008

It's a fascinating look at how interviews can work and fail. The interviewer is trying hard to keep things going, and just doesn't get responsive answers: I'm quite sure the band is really good (and it's obvious that the interviewer had spent some time looking at the band's background!), and some folks just don't make good interview subjects. This video really shows, quite nicely, the good and the bad of interviewing; I'm really glad to see it because it's going to help me when I do interviews in the future (and yes, I have done interviews in the past, with folks who are not quite that laconic but close -- in public, not on a radio feed).

Luke was dealing with a difficult set of interviewees: nobody in the group was particularly forthcoming, nobody was willing to be the spokesperson, nobody was "Hey, here's who we are". The best thing he could have done before the interview started was to set out "who's going to answer this question?" -- with most small groups, this is as simple as pointing a finger (or even just seiously looking) at the "designated answerer".

I think his main difficulty stemmed from not doing about 5 minutes of a mock interview, figuring out who would be good at talking and finding a focus for the interview. The members of the band speak well, mostly; an edit that throws away all the pauses would actually be pretty good. Go talk to Ira Glass about how much "This American Life" depends on tenth-of-a-second level editing. With good editing, this could have been an okay interview. With excellent editing, the band would not have recognized that the interview had been edited.

I completely applaud Luke's willingness to show how he f**ked up on this one, and I would love to see a seriously, properly edited version of this interview (which, given what's here, would probably be a bit over a minute long; hey, is it okay to grab this so I could try my hand at the editing game? I'd bet I could make a one-minute segment that would be ready-for-NPR....)

Sent by Tom Whitmore | 9:33 PM | 2-25-2008

I am using this as an example to my research methods class on how not to conduct an interview. Thanks!

Sent by JRT | 6:08 PM | 3-3-2008

I love them more now. Thank you.

Sent by Nathan | 2:24 AM | 3-6-2008

It depends on the spirit of the person interviewing. Obviously, this person has no knowledge of really what is in the soul of the artist. There has to be a connection. These conversations are to staged and scripted. No real enthusiasm from either end. If you want, see how I do it. Please. This is not a pitch, just a suggestion.

Sent by Uncle Indie You Rock Radio | 11:52 PM | 3-6-2008

The guy giving the interview was asking stale questions that you could see the band was sick of answering. It's like in that Radiohead doc, Meeting People is Easy, you see them answer the same questions over and over again. Look at the reaction on Jon's face when the interviewer asks about "Hopelandic". I love the way the band perks up to help Jon out when the interviewer keeps hammering away at a question Jon had already answered. The blank stares on all of their faces tells the viewer that either A.) they aren't understanding these questions or B.) they're sick of answering them. The reason this interview was bad was because of the man giving it, not the subjects.

Sent by JR | 7:00 PM | 3-10-2008

i don't blame them. what a bunch of stupid questions

Sent by glenn hanning | 3:22 PM | 3-13-2008

I found out about Sigur R??s last year on British television and absolutely love them....Since then I've listened to and seen their videos on YouTube....They don't use Hopelandic in all their songs..They also use English and Icelandic! About the interview; I don't think that the interviewer did that good of a job when asking his questions... It was apparent that the members of Sigur R??s had some difficulty answering the questions, but the interviewer didn't get to the point...

Sent by Cathleen | 2:05 PM | 3-17-2008

In fairness, some of the questions were a bit stupid...
"How do you create music?"

...I mean seriously!!

Sent by Simon | 5:21 PM | 3-27-2008

The interview is bad because the questions are really, really bad and clicheistic.

Sent by stingo | 2:17 PM | 3-30-2008

Painful to watch, yes. But I think the interviewer did just as bad a job asking questions as they did answering them...

Sent by Andrew | 1:31 PM | 4-23-2008

I'm in a band that does a fair amount of press. These questions aren't great, but I've had far worse. This guy is obviously a fan of the band and knows a little about the history of the band. He didn't seem uneducated to me. Just didn't seem like he was prepared to pull a conversation out of these guys. Who would've thought he would have to go to such effort. To me, if a band, or anyone is going to take time to go to a radio studio to do an interview, they might as well make an effort to throw the ball back, regardless of how dumb the questions are. This makes me think that the reason they don't have any lyrics in their music is because they don't have anything worthwhile going on in their heads. They definitely should have made more of an effort. The interviewer should've asked about the bands future plans. No band likes talking about records they made 7 years ago. They want to talk about what's coming up.

Sent by Aaron Marsh | 4:22 AM | 4-24-2008

Sigur Ros is not the problem here.
Obviously it's the deadweight reporter who's conducting the interview. Not only did he sound completely ignorant and uneducated on Sigur Ros he asked them questions that were just redundant and nonsensical. I am in my second year in high school at City Arts & Technology and have no prior experience in interviewing other than a few small assignments. Yet I am confident when I say I could do better than this. It's really not hard to do better than this if you think about it. I feel sorry for Sigur Ros being stuck with stupidity for that long of a time. To the man who attempted this interview; keep trying buddy. That was definitely a HUGE miss. To Sigur Ros; do whatever the hell you want. Your music is YOUR music and shouldn't be questioned by unintelligent, undereducated, overpaid Idiots.

If anyone would like to respond don't bother.
I won't read it.
I'm closed minded, bias, and very lazy in my thinking.
My obvious choice of words would be expletives but I left them out for all you grannies and grandpas.

Sent by Julia | 6:33 PM | 5-4-2008

Seriously, I love Sigur Ros. I agree with earlier comments in that the interviewer's questions were really lame. I mean, if I were them I'd only be able to answer "yes" or "no" to a lot of those questions, too. C'mon NPR, get better interviewers. Get some real fans to ask them questions instead of this joker trying to make the interview bad.

Sent by Megan | 2:32 PM | 5-11-2008

i would say this is one worse interviewERs i have listened to. i think the members of sigur ros replied very accurately, especially considering they are an extremely modest band

Sent by a s | 10:04 PM | 5-18-2008

ok just to sum up what every [smart] person has said above: Sigur Ros came to talk about their film and all they got was the same-old. They are NOT a big industry kind of band, they have been around for at over ten years, these questions were poor, so all those gobshites out there saying Sigur Ros is a stuck up- FU. They are- as others have said- humble and quiet. They are different in a good way- they don't go on and on and yakk, and i think that is very admirable. SIGUR ROS IS A GREAT BAND, AND WHOEVER THINKS OTHERWISE NEEDS TO SHUT UP AND STOP COMMENTING AGAINST THE BAND WHEN THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE F*** THE ARE SAYING.

Sent by pissed at dumbass comments | 11:05 PM | 5-23-2008

terrible interview. the interviewer is to blame every bit as much as the band (if not, more). what a horribly robotic style of interviewing and what boring questions. get a job as a telemarketer, you drone.

Sent by eddie | 2:17 PM | 5-27-2008

Poor journalism...the questions are really really stupid. Those are the kind of questions that constitute a bad interview even when answered.

It seems to me like Sigur Ros just didn't care to force stupid answers out of stupid questions.

I thought the "analysis" was funny though... The interviewer's sort of chauvinistic condescension show just as much as the interview how lazy and ignorant of a person he is, and how incapable he is at doing his job.

Sent by Nick | 6:17 PM | 5-27-2008

how irritating. The band bears NO responsibility for the interview going bad. The interviewer asked questions that an eighth grader would ask a band they had never heard of. And some of the commentators here claim "but alot of people haven't heard of sigur ros" - great - check them out, and doesn't that make part of the interviewers job to both fill in listeners as to what the music is, and try to get some actual bearings, or even simple icebreakers that actually come across as intelligent, such as what kind of music/ bands do you guys listen to? etc. And to the besnard lakes being better than TAkk- HA.

Sent by mrjones | 12:29 AM | 6-8-2008

I think it's silly to blame the interviewer. Sure, his questions weren't too deep, but they were worthy of answers better then "yes... uh huh... we just play". The point of the interview was to let listeners who don't know the beand too well get to know how they work. I think the band was being disrespectful.

Sent by Robbie | 7:31 PM | 6-9-2008

Nothing really hair pulling or bad about this. I think a lot of musicians need to take notes from this interview. Hell I see their thought process....we just made some music. We did not do it for the chicks, the fame, or the "fascinating" interviews. We just play music, and we are glad you like it. It comes from the heart and from the love of music. That is something that is lacking now days.

Sent by Brian | 11:49 PM | 6-11-2008

This is the longest thread evuh! I thought I'd join in on the fun. Is anyone reading this anyway?????

Sent by Nathan in Holland | 7:18 AM | 6-12-2008

why should they provide answers or at least pretend they are remotely interested? Because the interviewer is doing his best to promote their band.If they had no interest in participating then they should of cancelled. I commend Luke for having unbelievable patience.I would of pulled the plug and called it a day after five minutes.

Sent by Rudy311 | 11:04 PM | 6-17-2008

The reason the band is so quiet is becaused they can't believe how stoopid the questions are. Is the interviewer a dead computer or just plain thick? I don't blame the band. The DJ is a total fool.

Sent by Factboy | 5:37 PM | 6-18-2008

wow. the interviewer is like a kid in a high school journalism class with mom's video recorder interviewing a local garage band for extra credit.
gee whiz guys, how do you make a song? did you get in a band cause you wanted to make music?
I would have been speechless too.

Sent by Steve | 5:14 AM | 6-20-2008

This is like watching a train wreck.... the carnage is unbearable but you can't look away.

Sent by Alex | 3:04 PM | 6-25-2008

Best interview ever done.

Sent by Andr?? | 8:07 AM | 6-26-2008

I loved the fifty-year-long pauses after each question. this is the best interview of life.

Sent by Danny | 12:35 PM | 6-27-2008


Sent by adgadsg | 10:14 PM | 6-27-2008

There is this technique called the "open-ended question." You can look it up on the Google.

Sent by Susan | 7:15 PM | 7-16-2008

here is a joke on an icelandic comedy show aird on new years eve 2002..

Its about how sigurros mebmers and how shy and backward thay act to media coverege

i Guess He is talking so fast in the beginning so they wont run away :D .. he is asking them about the harp of stones.. and in the end he screems ARE YOU ALL RETARDED ????

Sent by Kalli | 6:10 PM | 7-18-2008