The Science of Being A Good Person
Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 4, 2011 00:11
[Our apologies for the dark footage. iPods don't take that great of video]
I get to do a lot of really cool stuff with this job. Under the guise of some kind of "professional" music journalist, I get free CD's in the mail every week and I get to talk to some of my favorite musicians on the phone or otherwise. You wouldn't believe whose numbers I have in my phone. It's a trip. I am forever grateful to my school and to my coworkers here at the Clock for trusting that I have some idea of what I am doing and giving me the elbow room to get it done. Most people, including people in popular bands, are good people. Of course, a lot of publicists and managers won't give the time of day to a small New Hampshire school that really doesn't fall anywhere near any of their target touring markets or even contain a record store, but you have to work with what you've got. There are a lot of cool people (like Natalie at Equal Vision Records and Liz at Earsplit Press – THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH) that will return all of your emails and hook you up with what you need to get the job done with a smile on their face. On the artists' end, for the most part, they are ready and willing to answer questions about their music and are usually pretty pleasant as long as the spotlight is kept on them.
That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed almost every interview I've done in my college career, but few more than my conversation with indie rap superstar Astronautalis last week. Members of the Clock staff flew down to Orlando for a media conference with hundreds of other colleges last week, and Astronautlalis happened to be playing at a club just a bus ride from our hotel. Veronica and I had already planned on attending, but a couple nights before the show we had one or two adult beverages and decided to email Astronautalis' manager and see if we could get a face to face conversation. Surprisingly, we were quickly emailed back and told that while he had already had some press lined up for that day, he hated to turn down an interview and gave us a 5:30 time slot.
We waited in the rain outside the venue, and I paced back and forth nervously, trying to remember my questions. Astronautalis (he goes by Andy in person) came outside personally to fetch us and took us in the back door of the venue, up the stairs to the lounge.
If you know anything about Andy Bothwell, you know he is an intense and passionate performer with an unbelievable stage presence, which is eclipsed only by his ridiculous vocabulary and an ability to transition from singing to rapping that is completely unparalleled in the hip-hop world. This guy has been all over, opening for Tegan & Sara and P.O.S., among others. He counts the cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as friends and if you look closely, you can see the rapper's posters in Charlie's bedroom on the show. He also has just about the most intense eyes I have ever seen on a human being. I mean, piercing, icy blue. Needless to say, I was intimidated.
But once we got to talking, I felt more at ease than I had in any other interview. Bothwell is humble and engaging, quick with an easygoing laugh and devoid of ego. He was honestly one of the easiest, most stress-free interviews I have ever had the pleasure of doing, and I did it hungover in a stuffy Orlando back lounge surrounded by a crew of managers and members of his band I had never met. Then he played a set that had me literally on the verge of tears for how amazing he was live. I had a lump in my throat. No joke. Veronica and I risked missing our bus back to the hotel (Which would have resulted in a $50 cab ride) to catch the encore. He was that good.
At some point in the interview, Andy told Veronica and I something along the lines of "If you're a good person, people will pay you money for what you do." While I have met plenty of good dudes in bands that went nowhere, Andy's formula seems to work in reference to himself. Astronautalis' flawless new album This Is Our Science, is garnering critical praise the world over, and for good reason. There are beat-centric bangers, there are ballads, and there are brainy tongue twisters of hip-hop mastery of epic proportions. You should buy it. Really, you should go to a store or log onto iTunes and pay valid American currency for this record. It's absolutely incredible, and I don't think I know anyone who wouldn't love it. Furthermore, if and when you purchase This Is Our Science, you can take comfort in knowing that you are supporting not only an amazingly talented artist, but also a terrific example of a human being. Check out my interview with Andy at www.theclockonline.com, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of my favorite Astronautalis songs.