Lou Reed calls journalists “lowest form of life” in an iconic TV interview from 2000
“They’re disgusting. Mainly the English. They’re pigs.” – Lou Reed
There are few artists capable of striking fear into the hearts and minds of journalists across the world as Lou Reed did. In March 2000, the singer and songwriter faced with yet another interview and he was clearly not in the mood to discuss anything of value, instead, using the time to call journalists the “lowest form of life”.
In the documentary below, journalist Niklas Kallner reflects on the most nerve-wracking moments of his life as he prepared to interview and was then eviscerated by the Velvet Underground’s mercurial leader.
In a hotel room in Stockholm, one man sits with an air of underwritten authority. Reed casts an eye over the interviewer and sees yet another musical parasite ready to jump on his back. While the opportunity may have seemed too tantalising for Reed to refuse, his victim was a comparative green-gilled newbie.
It was the first “press interview” Niklas Källner had ever conducted and it would be one he’d never forget. Reed had granted the interviewer thirty precious minutes of his time and he was clearly ready to deflect every single question that Källner had readied for him. It begins from the first moments as the duo miscommunicate and Reed’s sneer begins to appear from the very beginning.
Staring into the camera after yawning, Reed says to the crew: “Come on, pay attention! If I can do this, you can stand there,” with an understated menace. “I was extremely nervous,” reflects Källner, “My legs were shaking and I felt nauseous.” Reed wouldn’t put him at ease and answered every one of his questions with a simple and effective answer.
Never really neglecting to interact, Reed instead communicated with a cold and deadpan facial expression and never really opened himself up to the conversation. In Reed’s defence, and in Källner’s own words, “he expected a typical music journalist to show up—Journalists who knows everything about Lou Reed. Instead, he meets a 22-year-old guy that knows nothing about Lou Reed… And who is just terrified.”
A terrified journalist for Lou Reed is like a ready-made lunch and the legendary songwriter never turns down a meal. He turns the questions on his interviewer and persists with a question of who is the biggest star Källner has interviewed, then turning his attention to the cameraman and staring down the barrel of the lens. Truly frightening stuff.
When Reed is asked if he holds any prejudices, the singer replies with fire in his eyes, “I don’t like journalists. I despise them, they’re disgusting. With the exception of you. Mainly the English. They’re pigs.”
Thus concludes one of the most painful interviews in history. If you were to look at the top 10 most awkward conversations in the history of mankind, we’d wager that Lou Reed talking to journalists would occupy about 80% of it.