Q&A: Rock And Roll Tedium's Craig Hamilton On Mick Jagger Browsing The Frozen-Food Aisle And Other Ways Stars Are Just Like Us
Most people have a story about meeting someone famous—and most of those stories are dull. So why is an entire Tumblr site devoted to the most banal ones—"Did I ever tell you about the time... ?" is the header, but it's better known by its URL, Rock and Roll Tedium—such a riot? The deadpan tone has a lot to do with it—thrilling tales about nearly killing Neil Finn's Dalmatian ("It went around the other side of my bike from Neil as he was crossing the road, and it nearly got tangled. I had to stop for a bit"), being waved to by Badly Drawn Boy (and, conversely, failing to nod back at Jimmy Page), and stealing food from rock stars (shoving Van Morrison aside to get some cakes, stealing chips from John Oates) are short, to the point, and swim with everyday absurdity.
Not a picture of Mick Jagger at the grocery store.
Launched by Englishman Craig Hamilton on December 17, the site quickly went viral by gently puncturing myths (Lisa Loeb "didn't really wear glasses," according to someone who once fetched her a guitar strap) and reducing legends to schlubs (at an L.A. Trader Joe's, the Doors' John Densmore "was buying a LOT of cat food") without an ounce of rancor. SOTC spoke with Hamilton via Skype last Thursday.
Tell me the brief version of your life story.
I'm 37, and I live in Birmingham, England. I'm married. At the moment I look after our two-year-old boy. I do various bits of work for small record labels, and I'm studying for a master's degree, part-time, in music industries.
Is the Tumblr an offshoot of those things?
It was actually nothing to do with anything that I do for a living. It came about as a bit of a silly idea, really. A couple of friends and I were talking one Saturday evening, and we were just swapping boring anecdotes about meeting pop stars, and one of my friends said, "That's such a dull idea, it's not even worth doing a Tumblr for it."
And you took that as a challenge?
I said, "Yeah? We'll see about that." I set it up a week ago last Saturday night. The site's only actually been about up 12 days now. Obviously, a Tumblr site takes two or three minutes to put together. So I set that up, I set up a Twitter account for it, and a couple of us just tweeted it around, and from there it just went absolutely crazy.
How many followers do you have?
On Tumblr, it's 520 at the moment. Twitter's about 130, 140, something like that. I put it up on Saturday night. Obviously Sunday was quite quiet, but where it went really kind of big was on the Monday, when everybody went back to work. A few music journalists in the U.K. must've seen it through their feeds, and they retweeted it, so it got picked up a lot on Monday. Then on Tuesday I got a call from a BBC National Radio Station, 6 Music, and I was interviewed on 6 Music by Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin' Criminals. That was on the Wednesday. So within not even four days of putting the site up, all of these stories had come in: lots of followers, and I went on the radio. It was quite strange.
The first time I looked at the Tumblr, I couldn't stop laughing because the stories are just so tedious, and they're so nothing, and you can tell the people who are writing them are just grinning.
Absolutely. And I think that's what people like about it, because I think most people have one, don't they? Most people have encountered a famous person, if not a rock star or a pop star, then certainly a famous person of some kind. It's very rarely, "I saved children from a burning building with the drummer from R.E.M." It's normally, "I was at a petrol station with somebody," or, "I saw somebody in a supermarket." I think everybody's got quite a dull story, and also I think what's kind of tickling people's funny bone is just the idea of things like Mick Jagger in Tesco, or the guy from the Human League leaving his headlights on. I think that's what's really getting to people. That's the main thing, the absurdity of it.