High Bias #8
NAME: Jon Ginoli
BIO: singer, guitar, vocalist, founder of long-running gay rock band Pansy Division
Do you read reviews of your work?
Do you reread them?
always, I try to archive anything I run across. Google Alerts helps.
Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?
Not really. Sometimes I have noticed writers not really grasping certain aspects of our approach. I have noticed that when taking a more subtle approach it is more likely to be misinterpreted; a number of our songs are very blunt, and those seem to be understood better.
Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?
Not really, though there a couple of writers I make sure are kept off our promo list. I am not interested in giving writers who have no interest in us a promo copy they will instantly sell. Just because someone is an "important" writer on every publicist's promo list doesn't mean they should get a copy.
Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?
I've felt like responding a few times but I don't think I ever did. I think about contacting people when they've gotten something egregiously wrong, or are condescendingly mean, but I've also written reviews in zines over the years myself, so I know it's futile. Once it's written, it's over.
Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?
There are some sympathetic reviewers, yes. Even if their viewpoints might be different than mine, I like reading them because many have followed us for a long time and sometimes have interesting insights.
Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?
I don't think so. Perhaps it would be an issue if we were getting coverage at a more mainstream level.
Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.
Yes, I can recall various times where the interviewer was trying to lead me into saying something, to try to steer me in a specific direction, put words in my mouth. No specific examples come to mind--it's not something I sit and worry about--but you have to be especially careful with the Brits, they love pitting musicians against one another.
Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?
I wrote in various fanzines and magazines from 1977 till just a few years ago. I often used a pseudonym after I started playing in bands, so I could do both without having it reflect on my band or my bandmates.
Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?
I think it used to be better, because in the past there were more bands worth writing about. The coverage carries on regardless of whether the music is worth hearing or not. I mean, my god, there are a million articles on Radiohead, it's so fucking boring. Do you really want to read more about Animal Collective, or Devendra Banhart, or find out what Thom Yorke is doing today? zzzzzzzzzz...
(photo by Michael Carmona)