Marc Maron on Interviewing Difficult Musicians

AllMusic: Early in your comedy career did you get to meet any of your musical heroes and have a moment?

MM: When I was the doorman at the Comedy Store in the late ’80s, people would come in. I made a fool out of myself in front of Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton and Phil Collins came in, and I was cocky and high, so I don’t really know how that went, and neither one of them are really heroes of mine, so the respect factor wasn’t really there. There’s a story I wrote in my book about going to get my record signed by Lou Reed, and that was sort of a big deal, but the exchange was very minimal. I didn’t really know what to say, so I just asked him what gauge pick he used, and he said, “Medium,” and that was pretty profound to me. But not until I started doing the podcast was I able to spend time with these musicians in a real way. It’s always very intimidating, and I’m always very in awe of musicians. I’m usually not really disappointed, I’m always pretty amazed. With people like Iggy Pop, who turned out to be completely different than I would have anticipated, and spending time with Aimee Mann or Nick Lowe or Thom Yorke or Jack White, it’s never been disappointing, it really hasn’t. All my music interviews have been really the opposite of that. J. Mascis was incredibly difficult, because he doesn’t really talk much, and I didn’t know that going in, I knew he wanted to do the show, so I just kind of persisted, and eventually we found a way to communicate, and it worked out great. Maynard from Tool was great.

There are even musicians who I don’t even know their stuff that well, but if you get them talking and you have the right amount of patience and respect, a lot of them have a lot to say, especially guys who have been around forever. I interviewed Booker T. and John Cale and Benmont Tench from the Heartbreakers, there’s some real history here, and how do you move through that and still honor it? You can’t go record for record. I did have Billy Gibbons in the garage, which was spectacular for me, I was a huge ZZ Top fan as a kid, and he was great, I just had to figure out how to guide him. I’ve never been anything but impressed or excited to engage about music. Nick Cave was a little difficult, because he’s a bit standoffish. I think that was the hardest time I had with a musical guest.

Via AllMusic