Evan Lucy on Life as a Music Writer

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Here at Get Sad Y'all, we thought it would be a great idea to interview numerous people in various aspects of the music industry to serve as guides for those that might want to pursue a career. Those interviews can be found here.

If there's anyone you'd like us to interview, give us a shout.

Below, we chatted with Evan Lucy about life as a music writer.

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Who are you and what do you do?
EL: I'm Evan Lucy, and I'm a freelance music writer and on-again, off-again (currently on-again) musician. I also hosted two podcasts for a number of years: Voice & Verse, a songwriting podcast, and Simpler Sound, a topic-based show with my friend, artist manager and donut maven Zack Zarrillo. Right now, I've got a band/music project called Shine Like Satellites.
How long have you been writing?
EL: I started writing both music and about it around age 15, so more than half my life. Back then, it was mostly album and concert reviews for my own memories, as a way to express my obsessive love of music. That turned into writing for the student paper at the University of Missouri, which then became freelance gigs for Alternative PressBillboardSpinSubstream and a bunch of others.
Who are some of the biggest artists you've interviewed? For what publications?
EL: Over the past decade, I've been incredibly fortunate to interview virtually all of my musical heroes, from the 90s bands I first fell in love with like Vertical Horizon, Eve 6 and Barenaked Ladies, to more modern acts like 5 Seconds of Summer (their first American magazine coverage, the cover of Alternative Press), Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, The Wonder Years, All Time Low and A Day To Remember. And of course, both Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge. As someone who had his life changed forever by Enema Of The State, those two have definitely been the biggest pinch-me moments. In the last few years, I've also begun working directly with more and more artists behind the scenes. Recently, I wrote a companion book for The Maine's new album, You Are OK, as well as a retrospective for The Dear Hunter's upcoming vinyl box set.
What's your day-to-day look like?
EL: Music writing isn't actually what pays my bills, so the majority of my time is spent doing my day job. Before and after work, though, I'm deep on the internet reading about music news, checking out new artists and records, and working with publicists to confirm artist availability and schedule interviews. These days, I spend more time chasing down unpaid invoices than anything else. Labels, especially, are usually terrible about paying people on time. Never count your money before the check clears.
How did you get on the path to becoming a writer? What made you want to become one?
EL: As long as I can remember, I've always been good at writing. Learning about Alternative Press was definitely the thing that set me down a path to music writing, though. I remember picking up the 100 Bands You Need to Know in 2002 issue with Saves The Day on the cover at Harris Teeter and devouring every page. It was the confluence of my love of underground music and an outlet for writing. I never dreamed that one day I'd have written 15 cover stories for AP and be able to help so many artists tell their stories.
What is something you've learned about writing over time that you wish you had known from the start?
EL: Having writing as a side job can be just as rewarding, if not more rewarding, than doing it full time. When I was younger, I was dead set on being a full-time entertainment writer – only to learn that there's not a ton of money in it. (It seems the decline of the traditional music and print journalism businesses hit around the same time.) After a while, I realized I'd probably need to shift to doing it part time in order to survive. It's actually pretty great: I can work a job with a reliable salary and benefits and still get to listen to music and make extra money writing about it.
Where should someone looking to get into writing start their career path?
EL: Like many things, the internet has broken down all sorts of barriers to content creation. It's never been easier to start a blog and review shows or albums, then use the power of social media to connect with artists and ask if they'd be willing to do an interview. Most large artists have publicists and teams that act as gatekeepers between them and the press, so start building connections with these people and asking for opportunities to interview their bands. (Most bands have their press contact on their website or Facebook page.) You never know who will say yes. Also, write as much as possible. Like anything, the only way to get better is through repetition – a lot of it. And read. Find a few writers you really like and read everything you can get your hands on, then find your own style.
What are three key things that someone looking to get into writing should know?
EL: 
  1. You need to learn all the boring rules about grammar and the English language – or whatever language you're writing in. It might seem painful, but being able to turn in low-maintenance copy that virtually needs no edits will keep editors coming back with more assignments.
  2. When interviewing people, do your homework so you can have actual conversations. Don't simply read your questions off a piece of paper (or, even worse, your phone). Artists sit through so many painfully awkward interviews every day that they're way more likely to open up if you ask interesting questions and treat them like humans – not quote machines.
  3. Remember it's supposed to be fun. There's a time for professionalism, but don't forget to take a moment to look around and realize how cool it is to be able to write about something you love. For me, that was standing side-stage at Hersheypark Stadium while 5 Seconds of Summer played to 25,000 people, or being a text away from some of my favorite artists of all time. It's not something I take for granted.
    Anything else to add?
    EL: Thanks to Emo Raleigh for featuring me. Feel free to reach out over social media, and let's chat. Also, Shine Like Satellites has an EP out now called Past Lives and a double single that came out last Friday – check it out wherever you stream music!

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    Be sure to check out some of Evan's work as well as throw Shine Like Satellites a follow and check out his music below!

    A Sample of Evan's Work

    "It Feels Like a Big Middle Finger": Mark Hoppus, Alex Gaskarth Talk Simple Creatures (Alt Press)

    Shine Like Satellites
    Listen: Spotify | Apple Music | Amazon
    Socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


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