An interview can go off the rails at a moment’s notice, especially when the subject is an unruly and unpredictable rock star. For any number of reasons, reporters -- no matter how seasoned -- sometimes can’t prevent things from unraveling. Sometimes, the interviewee gives one-word responses; other times, she throws a compact at Madonna. Such is the nature of rock 'n' roll, and that's part of the fun. See if you can avoid cringing while watching our 10 Most Awkward Rock Interviews Caught On Tape.
These days, Andrew WK is as famous for his personality as he is for his party anthems, so those familiar with the singer may not have been surprised when his 2009 interview on the Fox News show 'Red Eye' went a tad bit weird. As the host asks WK his opinion on infidelity, the ‘I Get Wet’ rocker’s frown slowly but surely morphs into a look of pure rage. Just as quickly, the singer snaps out of it to respond with a simple and unaffected “Yes.” In the end, it was all in good fun, as both the host and WK laughed it off.
Pete Doherty "Defends" Himself
Pete Doherty certainly isn't the first musician or celebrity to get annoyed by an interviewer prying into his personal life. In this particular exchange, the British singer attempts to dispute reports he was “visibly shaken” at the mention of model and former flame Kate Moss. Unfortunately, he's not very convincing, as he appears to be a bit out of it. At times, he's unintelligible, and even in lucid moments, the singer gets hung up on recalling whether the phrase is “twanging” or “pulling on heartstrings.”
Icelandic group Sigur Rós don't pull any stereotypical rock star behavior to derail this 2007 interview on NPR’s 'Bryant Park Project'; it’s actually quite the opposite. The group is reserved, offering what might as well be one-word answers to the host’s questions. The interviewer doesn’t break under pressure, but he does take one small jab when he asks the band, “Are you enjoying life as a successful band that gets to tour the world and be a part of fascinating interviews like this?”
Morrissey Disses the Royals
Morrissey is famous for his sad songs and a laundry list of things he just doesn’t like, including the English monarchy, Margaret Thatcher and eating meat. Therefore, an interview in which the host asks questions regarding all of the above is bound to go awry. Stephen Colbert did just that, albeit knowingly, during his 2012 interview with the British singer-songwriter. When Colbert says he doesn’t understand why Morrissey doesn’t like the British royals, the singer asks if the comedian has a royal family. Colbert responds, “Yes, it’s called the Romneys.” What ensues is a few seconds of unadulterated TV perfection, as Morrissey stares blankly at the camera. To top it off, Colbert even tries to trick the singer into thinking that former Smiths bandmate Johnny Marr is on set, ready to join the interview — a startling suggestion, given the pair's longtime feud.
Courtney Love Upstages Madonna
Courtney Love wasn’t even the subject of Kurt Loder’s interview with Madonna at the 1995 MTV VMAs, but she sure managed to make herself the focal point. In the clip, Loder and Madonna are having a lovely, innocuous conversation when yelling emerges in the background. Madonna attempts to power through, but lo and behold, a compact comes flying just over her head. The culprit is, of course, Love. What’s perhaps even better than Madonna saying, “Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now,” is the fact that Loder enthusiastically invites Love to join the conversation, despite Madonna’s objections. Sure enough, Love joins, causing Madonna to make a quick exit while the sometime Hole singer continues to chat up Loder and initiate some weird kind of reconciliation with former MTV News reporter Tabitha Loren.
Lou Reed Acts Like Lou Reed
Toward the end of this 1974 interview, surrounded by journalists, former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed denies press accounts accusing him of attacking fans and shouting obscenities. This leads one of the reporters to ask, “Is this perhaps why you don’t like journalists?” The singer responds, “Oh, I love journalists.” It may seem hard to believe, as the rest of the interview is filled with one-word answers, contradictions and one brilliant exchange when the singer, asked why he wants his listeners to take drugs, replies, “’Cause it’s better than Monopoly.”
Johnny Rotten Earns His Name
After years spent as the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, Johnny "Rotten" Lydon has become synonymous with outrageous and rebellious behavior. While promoting a recent tour with Public Image Ltd., Rotten proved not much has changed. During this interview for the Australian TV show 'The Project,' co-host Carrie Bickmore mistakenly interrupts the punk icon to ask a question about the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Rotten goes off, telling Bickmore not to interrupt when a man is speaking. It only gets worse from there. After ordering the co-host to learn some manners, Rotten, true to form, looks directly at the camera and says, “I’m Johnny f---ing Rotten.”
Courtney Love makes our list twice, this time for an interview the singer did with David Letterman while promoting her debut solo album, ‘America’s Sweetheart.’ “Sweetheart” certainly isn’t the word that comes to mind, as the singer opens her segment by pretending to flash her chest while turned away from the camera and audience. Eventually, she climbs on Letterman’s desk and lifts her shirt up while facing the host -- a move that required some censoring. She proceeds to smoke throughout the interview and ask if the FCC law banning obscenities on television is “Reagan trickle down economics.”
Sid and Nancy Self-Destruct
Johnny Rotten isn’t the only Sex Pistol to make our list. Along with girlfriend Nancy Spungen, doomed bassist Sid Vicious makes the cut for this interview. Throughout, Vicious is barely responsive, at times appearing to doze off. Meanwhile, Spungen tries to make him interact with the interviewer, and at one point, she leaves to make him coffee. Perhaps the most perplexing and sad moment is when Spungen asks the interviewer, “Should we kiss for you?”
Sex Pistols Curse Up a Storm
While Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious earn their own places on this list, the full-on Pistols lineup tops it. This 1976 interview on 'The Today Show With Bill Grundy' launched the band into infamy and forever solidified their place as punk legends. The band clearly doesn't take the interview very seriously, nor does Grundy, who admits to his own inebriation. It's ugly from the get-go, but Rotten really loses it when Grundy mock-flirts with Siouxsie Sioux. The singer flings a few expletives at the host during the live broadcast, and the interview quickly comes to an end. The next day, the exchange made headlines around the U.K., boosting the Pistols' profile and earning Grundy a two-week suspension. His show was cancelled shortly thereafter, but he remains a footnote in punk history.