Thomas Wictor

My First Interview

My First Interview

Meaning the first time I was ever interviewed. Bass Musician Magazine did the honors. Here’s an excerpt:

In less than a year after he first appeared from out of nowhere on the forum, Wictor’s book Ghosts And Ballyhoo: Memoirs Of A Failed L.A. Music Journalist was released. It seemed that Tom’s fateful career at BP would actually have a fairy tale ending, that his work as a music journalist would finally be recognized by the public, and that his readers would get a whole bookful more of juicy stories about bass-playing characters and music industry zombies. A win-win for all. Well… not so fast.

“I was the most haunted person you could ever meet,” writes Tom in the first line of his book. “This memoir is about my ten years as a music journalist in Los Angeles, my obsessive quest to ‘help’ one of the finest musicians I’ve ever met, and my inability to move beyond a failed relationship with a woman I’ll call Carmen.” And so began Thomas Wictor’s tale of his own life.

It was very strange having the roles reversed. I don’t mind giving interviews, but I can see why people who are interviewed a lot get suspicious of journalists. Although I stopped being a journalist in 2002, I read everything I can about the industry. I’m aware of the trends.

Rick Suchow did a fine job conducting my first interview. The only unexpected question concerned the short story “The Family That Set a Trap for Me,” on pages 198 to 201 of Ghosts and Ballyhoo. Rick challenged me quite forcefully and didn’t really accept my initial response or followup. That’s fine. There’s no “right” way to interpret my work. But Rick’s reaction to that story surprised me. I honestly hadn’t expected it.

Entertainers have specific “visions” they apply to their creations. I now understand how it can be frustrating when someone doesn’t interpret something in the manner you’d hoped. In fact, I once interviewed a bassist who said, “Fuck you!” when I gave him one of those “What would you say to people who think—” questions. He brought up my question about five more times in the interview. It almost derailed the whole thing. He was furious.

For anyone reading this who wants to interview me, I won’t get angry or offended at any question I’m asked. But there are just certain areas I can’t explain fully without disclosing information that I won’t reveal. So I’ll politely decline to answer. My book isn’t a tell-all. If you think about it, tell-alls are very unsatisfying. When there’s no mystery, the story becomes banal, and you lose respect for the person telling it.

There were two comedians I really liked, and when I tried to read their memoirs, they were so disgusting, self-pitying, and boring that I was never able to finish them. It also changed my perception of the two authors. They exposed too much.

If you go on a blind date, and the person shows up naked, carrying a bag of marital aids, you might take them home that night and have your world rocked like a Velikovskyesque dream. But are you going to have an actual relationship with your new buddy? I’m in it for the long haul. I want to marry you. In a platonic, literary way, I mean.

So I won’t be exposing myself to you. If we go on a date, this is how I’ll present myself. I want you to respect me in the morning.


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