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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The Innate Fallibility of Life
Thursday, August 05, 2010

This is a story about a disappearing interview. As a writer I guess I’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to my interviews over the past ten years. Back in the cassette recording days I never had a tape pop, or tear, on me, and the one time I had a tape malfunction I restrung it myself and it worked just fine (there’s something to be said for being born in 1978 and knowing how to use a plethora of forms of media). Sadly, my string of good luck ran out last Friday, and it ran out in the worst way.

I was in the city to interview Lights and see her acoustic performance at Joe’s Pub. I first became aware of Lights in 2009 at Warped Tour when I stopped by the stage she was performing at and was wowed by her. I then covered her album release show in the city that October. Her album ended up ranking as my favorite of ’09 and I’d been dying to interview her and I finally had the opportunity last Friday.

The prep work wasn’t a problem since I’d been following her career, and her tweets, for over a year, so I went into the city ready to have a great interview. The MTA became my first bump in, or perhaps more precisely, under, the road. The 6 train I was on was stalled for “train traffic,” (which I’m still convinced is totally made up. They might as well tell me they’re stopped because there’s a sleeping dragon on the tracks) and once the we were moving again they announced they wouldn’t be stopping at my stop. I had to get out at Union Square and hail a cab the rest of the way (hey MTA, any chance I can get my subway fare back since you didn’t actually get me where you claimed you would?).

A few frantic phone calls to apologize for being late, and ride from a very nice off duty cabbie who happened to be going my way, later, I arrived. My PR contact with the label joked that Lights was already writing a song about my situation. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but if you ever hear a Lights song about a manic writer who’s really upset at public transportation, that’s me!

The interview went very well. I had some great questions for her, we shared a few laughs, and it was the kind of Q&A that was evergreen, meaning it was going to be just as interesting and relevant six months from now as it would be today.

After grabbing food and roaming around the city I came back to Joe’s Pub for the show, which was great, and then headed to Karma to meet up with a few friends before heading home. I caught the 1:12am train back to CT, ready for a nice nap. I was actually asleep before we started moving and the conductor had to wake me up to take my ticket, at which point I made sure all my proverbial ducks were in a row in my bag, that everything was still in there and nothing was turned on, and went back to sleep.

My cell phone alarm went off ten minutes before my stop (how people slept on trains before cell phone I have no idea) and I went through my bag again to make sure everything was still in order. It was at this point that I noticed the green light of my recorder was on. I thought this was odd since I’d made it through all of Warped Tour with it in my pocket, and numerous shows with it in the very same bag, without it turning on, but I figured something must have jostled my bag in such a way as to get the power on key pressed down. I picked it up and noticed it was on track nine and recording. It was 53 seconds in. I started to put two and two together and suddenly my heart sank like a rock. Track nine was the track Lights’ interview was on. I desperately tried to do whatever I could to try to reverse what was going on, but it was all in vain, as there’s no “undo” on my recorder. I hit play to hear what I had. There was about 30 seconds of Lights and I saying hello to each other and then train noise.

I slowly started to piece together what must have happened, and to say it was bad luck would be an understatement. In order for track nine to be recorded over my recorder had to turn itself on, select track nine, start playing track nine, and then hit record. Since the track was at 53 seconds and running, all of that happened in the minute before I woke up and checked my bag.

I was mortified. I’ve done over 1,000 interviews in the past ten years and I’d never lost one... until now. Even though this was a true Gene Snitsky situation (it wasn’t my fault), I felt like I had wasted everyone’s time. I was also extremely depressed that this happened with one of my favorite artists, and someone who I didn’t know personally so I couldn't just call them up myself and re-do it the next day. Just three days earlier I had interviewed longtime B-Listers Coole High and Tah Phrum Duh Bush in a noisy bar and they both noted that even if the recording didn’t work out because of all the noise we could always just do it again during the week. For Lights I have to go through her label, and I knew how awful it was going to feel to have to tell them I lost the interview.

When I got off at my stop I noticed a Dasani machine in my path. I was pissed. I punched it. Hard. I’m pretty sure it scared the bejesus out of everyone around me, but I didn’t care. And yes, I know the possibility that I’m “gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company” (a bajillion points to whoever gets that classic movie reference. It’s one of my all-time faves).

I walked to my car and slumped down for a bit. I tried to figure out why the universe would have done this to me. I thought I had built up some good karma. I even found a lost iPhone at the show and helped to reconnect its owner with it. In the end, however, the last feeling of the night for me would be one of being Charlie Brown (and I don’t mean the dude from LONS). We all have that moment at least a few times in our lives.

Currently I’m working on fixing the situation and setting up a phoner. I’m still upset that the great Q&A I had with Lights will never be known by anyone other than us and the two or three people who were listening in, but now that I’m attempting to find the potential brighter side of things, perhaps the universe has a bigger plan and erased our original interview because the second one will somehow be even better. Who knows?

What I do know now is that no matter how professional you are, and no matter how hard you try to be perfect, sometimes life simply won’t allow it to happen, and how we deal with that realization, and those situations, is what’s really important. This was a pretty harsh way to learn that lesson, but the lesson has been learned.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:45 AM  
  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Paul Gargano said…

    Without sounding unsympathetic, if after more than a thousand interviews this is the first time you've lost one, you should start buying lottery tickets!

    It's the writer's equivalent to not having film in their camera during a photo shoot - you haven't made it till it's happened!

  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger Deshair Foskey said…

    All I have to say is if losing that interview brought this post to life, the read of it made your unlucky experience, worth it... sorta :)

  • At 11:27 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Paul: Damnit, all these years I shoulda been playing lotto! Now ya tell me!

    The worst before this was the batteries running out in my recorder while interviewing LL Cool J. I always carry a spare pair, though, so with the exception of some transcription fun, because the tape was way freaky for the part of the interview when the batteries were dying, it was all good.

    PS - Thanks for making me feel better about this.

    Deshair: Thank you for the unbelievably kind words, and putting a nice spin on things. BTW, Lights is Canadian. Now you feel my pain even more, right?

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