By Samantha West
When Erik Thompson was younger, he never imagined he’d someday be interviewing the musicians he grew up listening to.
Since becoming Clubs Editor at the Minneapolis-based alternative weekly City Pages in 2009, that’s exactly what he’s gotten to do.
But that didn’t come easily — Thompson wasn’t always sure of what he wanted to do.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1996 with a degree in English, Thompson worked in retail at Barnes & Noble for several years, working at locations in Madison, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.
After moving back to Minneapolis permanently, Thompson shifted from writing fiction and poetry and began writing a blog about what he’d always been most passionate about, but had never really explored — music.
That, in turn, led to more opportunities freelancing, which then led him to his current job.
“When I started writing music, that just opened the floodgates,” Thompson said. “I wouldn’t finish things, I’d be very critical. I’m still critical, of course, but I enjoy it.”
Thompson has found himself in the midst of musicians he’d admired for his entire life, some he’d never really cared for and some he’d never heard of. Still, getting paid to go to concerts all over the Twin Cities area and then getting to write about it is by far the best part of his job, he said.
Sounds pretty glamorous, right? Not entirely.
When I visited Thompson at his Minneapolis office on Sept. 30, Thompson was recovering from a late night reviewing the Icelandic rock group Sigur Rós’ performance at the Orpheum Theatre.
Sure, Thompson said the two-hour show was like a “religious experience,” the band being one of his all-time favorites. But that also came with a tight deadline that kept Thompson writing until 2 a.m.
This is the reality of being an arts and entertainment reporter — usually, it’s not that glamorous at all, Thompson said.
As Clubs Editor, Thompson is in charge of compiling events across the Twin Cities that would be considered relevant to their readers. That being said, much of his day-to-day job is data entry.
Although his job may sound “mundane,” Thompson said he knows it’s an important role in putting together a paper product every week.
“It’s fun putting out a paper every week as a team,” Thompson said. “There are a lot of moving pieces, but it’s cool to see it come together; to see it in print; to hear that people saw what you wrote.”
What struck me the most about City Pages was the palpable synergy in the group of 10-some journalists, all passionate about art, entertainment, food and the Minneapolis scene in its entirety.
And not just that, they all, Thompson included, seemed thrilled to be working, even on a sunny Friday afternoon. That, I’m sure, is something I’d like to be part of someday.
“It’s kind of a rarity that you get paid to do things you love to do,” Thompson said. “So I’m fortunate, I really am.”