The afternoon of their sold-out concert at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion,
the Canadian rock duo Tegan and Sara granted a single interview, timed so that
the interviewers had a few minutes to change out of their soccer uniforms.
As dozens of fans camped outside for a chance to make the front row, the two sixth-graders backstage spit out their gum, tested their microphone and arranged their questions -- written on notecards with colored markers.
With their dads' video cameras rolling, Olivia Midnight, 12, and Connie Richards, 11, skipped the standard questions -- musical influences, songwriting inspiration -- and, as usual, got right to what they really wanted to know.
When you were kids, did you fight over who got to use the bathroom first? (Not really, but they did compete over who got to tell after-school stories first.)
If you had to change your band name and you could change it only to a TV show or movie, what would it be called? (Tegan: Freaks and Geeks; Sara: My So-Called Life.)
Can you name all the Spice Girls? (Yes -- which excited the musicians.)
"These are, like, the best questions we've ever been asked," said Sara Quin, clearly amused during the 15-minute meeting on Saturday that also had her answering questions by jumping rope and singing Sunglasses at Night.
"1,000 times better than most questions we get," agreed Tegan, her twin sister. The interviewers had been practicing: Since the summer, the sixth-graders at Worthington Estates Elementary School have recorded 70 conversations for their website, KidsInterviewBands.com.
Their "resume" includes bands heard on pop radio (Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees) and some that have been around longer than the girls have (Smashing Pumpkins, Flogging Molly).
Depending on the success of their requests to publicists, Connie and Olivia sometimes conduct multiple interviews in a week -- typically rushing from school, sports practices or music lessons to venues and tour buses.
They once performed a giggly version of I Believe in a Thing Called Love for the Darkness; took cupcakes to Keane that were left over from a baby shower; and, because bedtime was nearing, interviewed Free Energy in their pajamas.
Most of the time, the girls haven't heard of their subjects -- indie bands passing through smaller Columbus venues.
They don't seem to mind, though.
"To them, it might be quantity over quality," said Olivia's father, Chip Midnight. "They want to interview any and every band."
Kids Interview Bands was initially a gimmick for Midnight, a Nationwide communication specialist who, for 20 years, has written freelance stories and reviews for music outlets such as Donewaiting.com and The Big Takeover magazine.
In July, Midnight and Connie's father, Darren Richards, took their daughters (who prefer the likes of Muse to Justin Bieber) to the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, where Midnight was setting up interviews. He realized then that the exchanges would be more entertaining -- for him and for the musicians -- if the girls asked the questions.
He doubted they would agree: Olivia and Connie aren't precocious child-actor types but regular tweens who might become shy around adults and ask their parents to order their food at restaurants.
To their parents' surprise, the girls had so much fun interviewing their first band, Alberta Cross, that they approached two others at Bunbury on their own. By the end of the festival, they announced their intentions to talk to 45 bands.
Instead of booking his own interviews, Midnight began turning his attention to the girls, creating the website and accounts for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
Initially, he wrote kidlike queries for the girls: Did you pack or buy your lunch when you were in school?
The response from one YouTube viewer: "This has Dad written all over it."
Upset by the comment, Connie and Olivia responded by writing dozens of their own questions for what they call their "Box of Wonder" -- asking about musicians' childhoods but also about their nightmares and their favorite instrument brands.
"We both wanted to prove our dads weren't writing the questions," Connie said.
Before an interview, the girls listen to the band's music and try to memorize questions to avoid reading from notecards. Their favorite interview subjects answer the questions without acting as if they're talking to kids.
Still, Midnight acknowledged that the dads remain the driving force behind the website, calling the time between 10 p.m. and midnight his "Kids Interview Bands office hours."
Richards, a graphic designer who works from home, edits video and serves as "transportation chief."
The parents, who hope to score a first arena interview, talk of finding sponsors or a buyer of the concept so that the website can help fund the girls' college educations. Midnight recites YouTube statistics (at 21,000 views, an interview with the lead singer of Clutch is their most-viewed) and is trying to work a connection at Jimmy Kimmel Live!
For their part, Olivia and Connie have goals that don't stretch far beyond the number of interviews they've recorded.
They might not be the kids of Kids Interview Bands much longer, Midnight has told them, mentioning the possibility of Olivia's two younger sisters assuming their roles.
"It's my thing," Olivia replied.
Added Connie: "I like it (being) just us."
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