One Direction are busy boys at the moment, what with a new single just out and their second album on the way next month. Things are more intense than ever now, because since the release of their debut album, ‘Up All Night’, they’ve become the biggest boy band in not only the UK, but the US too.
While the release of ‘Up All Night’ was staggered around the world, so that they could fully concentrate on cracking the States, this time it’s all happening at once. Which means interviews. Lots of interviews.
I’ve often wondered what it must be like to be on the artist side of those phone interview sessions – sitting for hours, accepting ten minute long calls from endless journalists you’ve never heard of. It makes me glad I get to be the one who has just the one ten minute slot on the phone, wondering why the person on the other end isn’t amazed by my gleaming array of interesting and probing questions. Anyone would think they’d been answering the same questions all day.
So, actually, Zayn Malik’s interview with Ottawa radio station Hot 89.9′s morning show The Morning Hot Tub might have been something of a relief for the boy band boy. Though apparently not. Well, at least One Direction’s ‘people’ didn’t find it amusing.
If you didn’t hear it – which is entirely possible, as either Syco, Sony Music or Hot 89.9 itself had it entirely scrubbed from the internet within hours of the station posting it to YouTube – the chat between Zayn and interviewer Scott Rush didn’t get off to a great start. The time slot for the interview was moved several times, and when Rush’s moment did arrive he was given a list of questions he wasn’t allowed to ask.
Now, most of these were questions that the band are probably justifiably tired of answering, including topics like pranks, girlfriends, ‘X-Factor’, bad habits, religion and money. Though presented in one list right ahead of a ten minute slot where the interviewer was never going to be able to go much beyond the basics, that was always going to put the reporter on the wrong foot.
I don’t know what Rush was planning to ask in his interview, but in a moment of quick thinking, he decided to play up to the PR person’s rules with comedic effect by simply asking Zayn nothing at all: “So, Zayn, I wanna to talk to you today about, er… no I can’t do that… [starts rustling sheets of paper] pranks… X-Fact… pranks on the… where the… OK, well that’s about gonna do it, thank you for taking the time for us today and continued success in the future”.
It’s a shame such a good job has been done removing any trace of this interview, so that you can’t hear all this for yourselves, because you’re missing out on the best bit, which is Zayn’s response of “Thank you, bye”, given without pause and seemingly without any realisation that he hasn’t done an interview at all.
Faced with accusations that they were dictating what interviewers could and couldn’t ask them, One Direction yesterday issued a statement denying this, saying: “Regarding the recent story about One Direction ‘banning questions’ – this is a complete misunderstanding. One Direction asked if certain recurring questions could be avoided in future interviews as the band were giving the same answers continually. They knew, via feedback, that the fans were requesting a wider range of subject matter in interviews. Questions relating to describing each band member, or referencing ‘The X-Factor’, are certainly not out of bounds. A suggestion was merely made to try and make interviews more interesting for the fans, which has been misconstrued and misunderstood”.
So, it’s all the fault of fan feedback. Though, in the broadcast of their conversation, the PR person who set up the interview did clearly say, “we have a few things that you’re NOT ALLOWED to ask Zayn”, rather than “here are some suggestions for making the interview more interesting”. And anyway, One Direction can entertain their own fans via Facebook and Twitter, surely it’s for Rush to decide what is of interest to his station’s listeners, who may or may not be existing fans?
But, whatever, you can make your own mind up about who was at fault via this handy transcript, including preamble from Rush and co-hosts Jeff Mauler and Jenni Condon:
Mauler: So Rush, what happened here? You had to come in around, what, one o’clock…
Rush: Yeah, the interview moved around, it was scheduled for 1.15, then I was told they were running about a half hour late, and actually it was very lucky that I decided to come in when I did because on the way in here they told me it was no longer running late, so I came in here and I just made it in time then they started running late again.
Mauler: But you got to interview Zayn from One Direction! You know that this is the most popular band in the world right now?
Rush: Huge. Before we get to that, when you talk to a band like this, you have someone from the record company who handles the interviewing, and they connect me to Zayn.
Mauler: Like a PR person or something…
Rush: Right, and they do the connecting. She – very nice lady, I’m sure following the rules that she had – gave me some rules that I had to follow before I did my interview with Zayn from One Direction…
Mauler: I’m sorry, you’ve been in radio for what, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years…
Rush: I have, yeah.
Mauler: You’ve interviewed everybody from Rihanna to Justin Bieber. You’ve interviewed everybody!
Rush: And you know what? I have never caused a problem. I’m a good interviewer and I’m friendly.
Mauler: But here is the girl – this is going to be the whole interview now – this is the girl from the record company, the handler so to speak, telling you what you can’t ask Zayn from One Direction about.
Condon: Can not.
Mauler: This is a list. And then after the list, you [go] into the interview.
Rush: We go right into the interview. And we should have time.
Mauler: Alright, this is the audio, here we go – Rush and Zayn from One Direction – here is the handler saying, ‘You can’t ask him these questions’, then the interview, here we go.
PR: Okay, so, we have a few things that you’re not allowed to ask Zayn, I’m just going to go through them really quickly.
What is your celebrity crush?
Which of you have girlfriends?
Who came up with the name One Direction?
Anything ‘X-Factor’ related.
Worst habits about each other?
Do you fight?
Best prank someone pulled on you?
Describe each other in one word.
Funniest fan stories?
If not in a band what would you be doing?
And then no questions about money or religion.
Rush: Alright… [giggles]
PR: So I’m just going to conference you through and you’ve got about ten minutes.
Rush: Sure, sounds good.
PR: Zayn, are you still there?
Zayn: Yeah, I’m still here.
PR: Right, so I’ve got Rush on the other line, you’ve got about ten minutes, alright?
Rush: How are you Zayn, you’re a very busy guy today, huh?
Zayn: Yeah, kinda busy yeah.
Rush: So, Zayn, I wanna to talk to you today about, er… no I can’t do that… [starts rustling sheets of paper] pranks… X-Fact… pranks on the… where the… OK, well that’s about gonna do it, thank you for taking the time for us today and continued success in the future.
Zayn: Thank you, bye.