When an interview and a band fall through

The story of my week is the story of Robbers on High Street’s life

by Frederic Hanson

BEN TROKAN (OF ROBBERS ON HIGH STREET): Hi, this is Ben. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you.

THE MINNESOTA DAILY: Hello Ben. This is Frederic Hanson from The Minnesota Daily. I keep having cell phone problems and am trying to get a hold of you for our scheduled interview. Please call me back at this number when you can.

He never called.

These were the first and last words I heard from Ben Trokan. For whatever reason, the interview we had arranged fell through.

So then what? When everything goes to hell and it’s 5 a.m. and it looks like this guy is not going to call, what are you left with?

Initially, things are stressful. You start thinking about job security. Assuming people will be mad, you will avoid going to the office the next morning. Then, after a while, you accept the situation. Completely.

Why start caring now? A puff piece about a really bad New York hipster band is nothing worth reading anyways, you say.

The interviews are always the same – safe, inoffensive. The “artist” is always very nice and is always feeding a dog, or driving a car, or playing some German art rock or something. The reporter usually could not care less about the whole thing and proceeds to ask a series of boring, pointless questions. The “artist” then talks his mouth off and always says he’s happy with the record.

There is never any story in an interview with a band like Robbers on High Street. You could ask them interesting things like, “If you were going to rip off Spoon so much, why didn’t you just name your band Spoon 2?”

But then they would hang up. So what is the point? It’s all about image, and bands like Robbers on High Street – which has been hit hard by critics during the past two years – need all the cool hype they can get. They can’t afford honesty from anyone else. Ultimately, the writer’s apathy and the band’s overzealous desire to look good results in a very typical article.

Which sucks. Because the real story is always more complex.

The real story is this flubbed interview. On some kind of stoned-intellectual level, the interview and the band are one in the same: They epitomize missed opportunities, the same, old thing and an unavoidable outcome.

While this interview – and Robbers on High Street for that matter – could have been successful with a little effort a little sooner, it was nonetheless doomed to fail from its mundane beginnings.

The following are questions I was going to ask Trokan. Fill them in with your own spine-tingling answers.

Are you happy about the response to your latest record, “Tree City?”

What has changed in your band in the past year?

Where do you see Robbers on High Street in another year?

Why do you guys continue to make music?

Do you get discouraged by negative criticism?

Do you know what The Strokes are up to?

Do you like Spoon?

– Frederic Hanson welcomes comments at [email protected]