On the other hand throw in an easy, some would say unoriginal, line such as ‘how’s the weather where you are’ and Bob is, invariably, your uncle.
Take the other day. Having never interviewed the whirlwind that is Holy Moses’ Sabina Classen before, I admit to some pre-call nerves.
Just look at the pictures. Quake in the face of the live footage. And listen to the girl scream.
Then she called. A soft German accent and an incredibly cute way of pronouncing my name almost made me melt on the spot.
And so disarmed was I by this unforeseen start to a potentially terrifying interview that the best I could do was throw in the weather line there and then.
Sabina, politeness personified, explained it was a typical Hamburg day. On a roll I responded that although I had never set foot in her home city I was a big fan of their most famous English import – Kevin Keegan.
I qualified the statement by explaining he was a footballer. As if Sabina didn’t know!
Well, she did. And the woman responsible for inspiring a generation of female ‘growlers’ – as she so charmingly describes her myriad protégés – went on to reveal she was KK’s biggest fan.
She has his record. She watched him at Hamburg as a kid. And it was Newcastle United’s beleaguered boss who inspired Ms Classen to pursue her ‘soccer dream’.
At one point one of Germany’s hottest teenage prospects attended an international camp run by none other than Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller.
And all because of former European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan.
I’d like to say it was his silky skills, 100% determination and never-say-die attitude that had Sabina smitten.
But staying true to her rocker roots she revealed it was the fact that he had a permed mullet which wouldn’t have looked out of place in The Scorpions.
I told her he once locked me in a squash court and she told me that would be heaven. It wasn’t – but then that’s another story.
And so we got talking about Holy Moses and the real business of making very heavy music.
But it just goes to show. Even the most tame of ice breakers can melt a Teutonic heart.