Staff Interview Pt. 1 - 10.26.12
"Who do you guys look up to as journalists?"
Jake: Nardwuar The Human Serviette, Kurt Loder, and Ariel Helwani (MMA). Nardwuar's been doing interviews for over 20 years now, and has done interviews with nearly everyone, from Nirvana, Henry Rollins and Drake. I was introduced to Nardwuar by Zachary Garren on twitter, and I was absolutely blown away. Nardwuar's level of research is far and beyond the best I've ever seen, it's incredible. I met him early this year before he opened for Andrew W.K., and he was just as cool as I thought he would be. Kurt Loder was a writer for Rolling Stone in the 80's, and most known for his spot on MTV News - I am a huge fan of his interview with Johnny Cash, the last one Cash ever did. Ariel Helwani does interviews in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) community, generally UFC/Strikeforce fighters - his work ethic and ability to keep his cool is incredible, and something I admire a lot, he's a real easy going guy. It's been said that if you'd like to get better at something, learn from people that can kick your ass at it, I'd like to think I've learned a lot from these three.
Kyle: Anything that Louis Theroux is a part of will always have me reading, listening or watching. His documentaries are seriously incredible and he has such a knack for peeling away layers without any hint of interrogation or even the fact that an interview is actually taking place. He coaxes answers out of anybody that he is making a programme about whether it be neo-nazis, autistic children, death row prisoners, celebrities or paedophiles and he makes the subject in question feel comfortable enough to reveal the things that are of highest interest and importance to him and the people watching. I cannot recommend tracking down his shows Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends, The Most Hated Family In America Part I & II (about his time living with the Westboro Baptists Church) and Extreme Love.
Thomas: First and foremost for me is Gary Smith. I'm not sure how many AP.net users know this about me, but when I got into writing, it was to write about music but also sports. I love the Florida Gators and wanted to apply for the sports section at the independent, student-run newspaper here in Gainesville. I only worked for their sports desk for a couple of semesters (covering men's and women's tennis, but the women's team won the national championship and it was an awesome experience to cover that) before getting my current job, but I did take a sports media class and an intensive magazine writing class, and in both of those classes we read some Gary Smith stuff. We even got to Skype with him during one class last spring. This guy basically only writes a few articles per year, but they're all very long and extremely in-depth...my favorite article of his is about deep sea diving (a sport I have no interest in whatsoever), and it's about 8,000 words, but it's just so well-written and he has such an identifiable writing style that you can't help but draw inspiration. He's been named one of the best magazine writers in America. Above all, to me his articles are a reminder that the best stories aren't about music, sports, wars, business success, or anything of that nature - the best stories we can tell are about people. In terms of broadcast journalism, Bob Costas is the best of our time. And it's fun to read Hunter S. Thompson archives every once in a while too just because he has a style that no one's been able to perfect since he did it.
Jeremy: I've always been a big Robert Christgau fan. He's been covering music for forty-five years now, writes in this witty, dense prose, and has an impossibly encyclopedic knowledge of rock history that I aspire to but will probably never achieve. More than anything, I respect his honesty. Music criticism is too often stricken by a "forced consensus" that writers feel they have to agree with in order to be taken seriously. Christgau, whether or not you agree with him, is a fearlessly independent voice. You won't find too many serious music writers copping to not really caring for OK Computer, but not only did he pan it, in his review for it, he off-handedly referred to its art-rock antecedent The Dark Side of the Moon as "a snoozefest." You'd never know it by reading most of the reviews around the web today, but reasonable and credible people can in fact disagree. Being an influential music pundit, now or ever, isn't among my goals, but I would like to think that at age seventy, if I'm fortunate enough to be still kicking around, I'll be just as engaged with the new noise as Christgau remains today.
Blake: I honestly don't read a lot of "news stuff." I like to read Ian Cohen's reviews on Pitchfork, and used to read Cokemachineglow a lot, but other than that, I read fiction and like to read Videogum. However, I watched the documentary on Donkey Kong recently, and realized that one of the nerds from that movie works on the floor below my company. So that's something.
Dre: Like Blake, I've never really tapped into the journalism/news circuit (a number of us on staff aren't really in the field), but I really love Nitsuh Abebe.
Jason G: I was never one to really center out particular journalists when it comes to delivering news or opinion, but more often than not I enjoy reading anything Grantland related, especially the Chuck Klosterman stuff. I was also huge into Alternative Press, more as a whole, for the better part of my college years.
Craig: Ebert has always been my favorite entertainment critic. The way he often puts himself in the films, writing about the personal elements and implications of the work at hand, is something that I have always aspired to and that informs almost every review I write. In the music world, I read just about everyone: I definitely agree with Jason G. on Klosterman, but I'm also a big fan of David Fricke and Rob Sheffield (Rolling Stone), Nathan Rabin and Jason Heller (The AV Club), and Anthony Kuzminski (blogger at the-screen-door.blogspot.com).
Adam: Nitsuh Abebe's "Why We Fight" columns for Pitchfork were a huge inspiration for my "Consequential Apathy" column. The idea of figuring out why we love and hate most things. Finding understanding in our emotions. I would write a column and then read one of his and just go "Oh fuck, I have to do better." I like that challenge. I love Klosterman and Bangs. I loved how Bangs just called people out with no remorse. I feel like there are palettes of music journalism that are safe, and we need another Bangs. Am I that man? Probably not anytime soon. I also love reading pieces from Keith Buckley, Riley Breckenridge, Matt Pike and Neil Rubinstein. I feel like those are my contemporary peers outside the close friendships I have with our staff and some of our 'Voices' writers. They like my stuff and I'm only inspired by their musings more.
Deborah: George Stroumboulopoulos is the main one. I've been a huge fan of his ever since he was just a MuchMusic VJ hosting The Punk Show and he's basically the person who made me want to interview bands and do this for a living. I definitely look up to John Kendle and Jen Zoratti, who are my editors at Uptown. And last but not least, I have to mention Sam Sutherland. Check out his book Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Punk.
Drew: Who do I look up to? I donít know, I donít usually remember the byline but I do look up to Jason Tate, Scott Weber, and Jared Kaufman. Their opinions and reviews are what inspired me to start writing about music.
Jason Tate: John Gruber, MG Siegler, Ezra Klein. They cover their respective markets the way I would hope to, if I wrote about technology or politics.
Jonathan: Ezra Klein, Derek Thompson, Roger Ebert, and of course Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. For TV, it would be Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes. Bunch of sports writers out there I respect a lot as well.
Kelly: Chuck Klosterman is a genius. I basically grew up reading Alternative Press, Kerrang!, NME, Big Cheese, Rocksound, Hot Press.. every single week/fortnight/month so whilst they may not have the best writers, they taught me a lot of what I know. Also, I've been reading the staff members of AP since I was about 13, so I look up to the others a lot.
"What are you guys looking forward to in 2013 (doesn't have to be just music)?"
Jake: Personally, I'm looking forward to all the opportunities that could possibly come my way, as vague as that sounds. I want to work the Vans Warped Tour, even if it's a spot on catering for the entire tour, it's a tour I love going to every year. Music wise? I'm looking forward to the new Bring Me The Horizon album - Jona Weinhofen (guitar) is a beast, and I fully believe the band's fourth full-length album is going to blow people away.
Ryan: Off the top of my head, I'd say new records from Relient K and Lydia.
Kyle: 2013 is just going to be a of progress, looking forward to being back in London, going to more festivals, having my first holiday abroad in what will be about 6 years by then and undoubtedly a bunch of new music.
Thomas: I graduate college in December, so 2013 will be unchartered territory for me. I love Gainesville and I'd like to stay here, but I'll be applying to jobs all over the country and hopefully I can land something I will be able to love doing for the next part of my life. I can't pinpoint exactly what I'm looking forward to because I don't know what will come along! Hopefully I can still contribute some cool stuff to AP.net next year too.
Jeremy: I've learned that most of the time, anticipation ultimately results in disappointment, so I don't have high expectations for anything in particular, music or entertainment wise. But 2012 has been a year of personal growth that I honestly never expected to come at this stage of my life. I look forward to progessing down that road.
Dre: I'll also be graduating in December and 2013 happens to be my "Saturn return" year (if you believe in that sort of thing, and I'm still not sure if I do or don't). I'm both excited and nervous, because the job market favors certain qualifications more than others. But whatever the new year brings in, I want my skills to wreak havoc with it, and hope that I don't sink.
Blake: I do a really horrible job of keeping up with what new things are coming out musically. That's why I like this site and the other people on it. So they'll tell me soon enough. From this post, looks like Relient K is releasing something. That'll be good, I hope. On personal terms, I'm just trying to survive and not completely alienate everyone around me.
Jason G: While there are a handful of records I'm looking forward to Ė A Wilhelm Scream and hopefully a new Circle Takes the Square record Ė I spend more time getting excited about video games more than anything else. A new Dead Space and Bioshock game are high on my list, as is the game Watch Dogs (fingers crossed) and Splinter Cell.
Craig: I will also be graduating college, albeit, in the spring (at the normal time!!!) so I am pretty psyched about that. I will be starting a job search fairly soon, I think, looking for work writing somewhere. And my girlfriend and I finally won't be long distance anymore, so that's a huge plus. As for music, I don't really know what's coming yet, but new stuff from Butch Walker, Jimmy Eat World, and U2 seems likely, so mark those down as my three most anticipated. For now.
Adam: Native and Former Thieves are going to write the records which finally will give them the attention they deserve. 2013 is going to be a great year for music, because if decades work in the same cycle they generally do, 2013 and 2014 is the last boom before things get a bit stale and over done. I'm interested to see if bands can push past these next two years and not fall into that same cycle.
Deborah: I graduate in April so I'm just looking forward to entering the next phase of my life and possibly moving to Toronto. Music wise, I'm looking forward to new stuff from Broadway Calls, Living With Lions and Against Me!
Drew: Working with Jason and entire AP.net staff on creating and evolving the best music website on the internet. AP.net 3.0 is coming, trust me. Musically, new Tegan and Sara album in January is all I need.
Jason Tate: Living. Heh. I'm sure there will be a lot of great things released (music, movies, books), but more than anything I'm just looking forward to living in the moment and being present in whatever I'm doing.
Jonathan: First and foremost, the Thunder exacting revenge on the Heat in the Finals and the Packers winning the Super Bowl. Also the finale of Breaking Bad, return of Community and Jimmy Eat World's new record.
Eda: My website, Made of Chalk, being launched/live. That and SXSW.
Jack: Mostly just continuing down my career path and getting further ingrained in the music community. Work and AP.net account for a large percentage of my days, and Iím excited to go further down the rabbit hole.
Kelly: The new Arcade Fire album, the new Arcade Fire tour... the new Arcade Fire. That and finishing high school and starting college.
"Also, what AP.net user's favorite bands do you find to be the most overrated?"
Jake: Pre-"Devil and God" Brand New, Post-"Louder Now" Taking Back Sunday
Ryan: Haven't spent much time with these, but in regards to material released this year, I'm still trying to get into Frank Ocean and Japandroids.
Kyle: A whole load but of ones that are spoken about the most recently? fun. Not necessarily "over-rated" or whatever, just don't click with me in any way shape or form.
Thomas: I tend to go with the site's general music taste for the most part but certain things don't click with me either. However I don't really feel like sitting here and thinking about which ones they are.
Dre: I won't really go into what's overrated on here, but that's because I think there are artists that need attention like Punch, Code Orange Kids, Lemuria, The Narcycist... the list goes on. I could talk your ear off about artists I think are worth listening to - in fact, let's swap suggestions.
Blake: I don't really like Brand New. I hate John Mayer. The Killers are poop. What else? Weird heavy stuff? If we're gonna get sad, I don't need you to yell at me, too.
Jack: Could care less about the Tell All Your Friends tour Ė I prefer the Fred era, and didnít listen to angsty stuff growing up.
Craig: I've honestly never been a big fan of any of the bands this site was built around, with the exception of Jimmy Eat World. Taking Back Sunday have always struck me as grating; Brand New is a band with a few songs I love, but who I have never been able to get into, album-wise; Thrice, Thursday, Blink-182 - all acts that I am only a casual fan of. That's not to say that I don't like them, it's just that I probably would not see any of them live.
Alex: I'm not a fan of Brand New's material after Deja Entendu, I've never been able to get into Radiohead and I don't like Morrissey. It's a good thing I like pop punk so much or I'd probably be the antichrist around here.
Drew: Taylor Swift. Iíll probably still buy her new album on Monday though.
Jason Tate: Almost the entire nu-pop-punk wave.
Jonathan: Bon Iver, The Wonder Years
Eda: The Dangerous Summer, The Wonder Years (luvu Thomas!), Say Anything, Death Cab for Cutie, The Spill Canvas... and many more.
Kelly: I like The Dangerous Summer, however not as much as everyone else seems to. Taylor Swift also completely passes over my head, John Mayer annoys me and I'm still a little lost on Anberlin.
"What other music sites do you also regular?"
Jake: The Masked Gorilla, Under The Gun Review, Alter The Press, and Property of Zack. I also watch "The Breakfast Club", a hip-hop morning show, on YouTube.
Kyle: Fake DIY, Consequence Of Sound, Pitchfork, NME, Fader, Paste.
Thomas: It's part of my job to make sure news sites are posting news about the bands I work with, so I pretty regularly frequent most sites that cover punk or pop-punk or blah-blah.
Jack: Mind Equals Blown, Under The Gun, Property of Zack, and Alternative Press are the ones youíd expect. If youíre at all planning on working in music, Iíd suggest Music Think Tank as well.
Jeremy: PopMatters is probably my favorite, for their wide-ranging coverage of not just music, but film and television as well. Their scope aligns well with my own preferences, and their reviews seem genuine and not agenda-pushing.
Dre: Vice, but I mostly dig their Noisey channel since I do videography work. They just put a whole different spin on the way they approach interviews and news in general. And a local publication named JUMP (Philly). I really respect their work because not only do I feel that more towns should be invested in covering a decent mix of local artists, but the magazine itself is free. And who doesn't like free stuff?
Joe: Idolator and Property of Zack
Blake: Pitchfork. Sometimes Hipster Runoff. Some blogs that post illegal twinkly/pop-punk downloads. I like to check NPR pretty regularly, too.
Jason G: Mind Equals Blown, POZ, The Alternative Review, Under the Gun, Punknews, Alternative Press... I mean pretty much everything minus Pitchfork, which I have to have a pretty good reason to go to.
Craig: The AV Club, Rolling Stone, Spin, Pitchfork, a bunch of blogs, and pretty much every review for the albums that I truly love.
Adam: Twitter and Facebook.
Deborah: Punknews and Exclaim! are the main ones.
Drew: The AP Voicesí sites, Pitchfork, Sputnik, PureVolume, weworemasks
Alex: I check all of the AbsoluteVoices sites on a daily basis. Before discovering AbosltuePunk, Lambgoat was my music refuge, and I still frequent the site.
Jason Tate: I read practically all of them -- I wouldn't consider myself a "regular" beside skimming headlines though.
Jonathan: Billboard, MTV, Pitchfork, Spinner, Stereogum, Spin, Audio Perv.
Eda: I check Stereogum and Consequence of Sound occasionally, but not regularly.
Kelly: PopMatters and Pitchfork a little, more time spent on Paste. (I like the A.V Club too, but I didn't want to spoil the alliteration.)
"If you could change one thing about the site, what would it be?"
Ryan: Place to better integrate show review photos into show reviews
Thomas: I love this website to death, but it breaks my heart that the talented people who we have on our staff can't put their whole focus in on producing content and increasing the AP.net brand. I wish there was a way to pay a normal-sized staff to dedicate all of their time to the website, because I know it would be an entirely different beast of a publication. It would really be something.
Jeremy: Not to get all New Age and stuff, but I'd like to see more positivity in the threads. There's a lot of energy wasted on disparaging particular records or the tastes of other users that could be put to much better use in promoting the good stuff. I think people get way too offended that bad music and ignorant people exist.
Dre: I really wish users would be more open-minded about listening to new music, not just the bands that this website was founded on. Genres are always undergoing shifts or overlapping, and as such I feel that every year people gloss over amazing art. In addition, the site could be a major powerhouse if active staffers got compensated for the amount of time they contribute, which sometimes seems to be misinterpreted from many different sides. What some don't realize is that we don't just sit around our computers all day pressing buttons. We're constantly engaged with PR folks, promoting the hell out of underground artists, covering shows and events, setting up exclusive content, making our own creative works, building and maintaining relationships with each and every single artist, and the list goes on and on. Anyway, the means for compensation are there, but it has yet to be implemented. And it's not a complaint, it's just the way I feel it should be for hard workers.
Jack: Iím following off Dre here Ė Iíd love to find a creative way to introduce the community to new bands. Iíve got a few ideas that are on the backburner, but with so many bands calling it quits this year, definitely think itís important to find a way to promote up-and-coming talent.
Blake: Simplicity. And less typos in news posts.
Jason G: Consolidating review scoring into something we can all agree upon.
Craig: Letter grades. Please. Numbers are the bane of my existence.
Drew: I just want AP.net 3.0. Thereís no reason to complain about the current state of the site because we all dislike it. But I also hope Iím just the first of many full-time paid staffers to come on board.
Alex: I felt greedy saying paying the staff, but Thomas really hit the nail on the head. It really would make the site an unstoppable force. Most of the other smaller changes will be addressed in the new version of the site.
Jake: Crazy shit would go down if I was paid...and didn't have to worry about whether or not the Berlin Conference happened in 1884 or not (for the record, it did).
Jason Tate: I'd have changed most all of it and launched the newest version.
Jonathan: Obviously, AP.net 3.0. Also having the general community be a bit more positive would be nice.
Eda: Above anything, I would change the design. I'd also like to echo what Thomas said.
Kelly: I'd add decimal points to the album review scores. Can never have enough decimal points. Also, it'd be nice to see more indie/folk fans around the place.
"What album in 2012 took you completely by surprise? Maybe an artist/band you didn't think you'd like or someone you've ever even heard of blowing you away?"
Jake: Joshua Michael Robinson's Intentions, great singer/songwriter album.
Ryan: The Menzinger's On The Impossible Past, The Tower and The Fool's How Long, Make Do And Mend's Everything You Ever Loved, Major League's Hard Feelings
Kyle: Ceremony, having never heard their older stuff, this album landed on my lap and I fell in love with it. I appreciate a lot of die hard fans of the band are pretty love or hate about the change of sound, but it suits me far more than their earlier material. I love how it sounds like great 70s UK punk bands mixed with some New York hardcore punk, The Dead Boys vibe or something. Anyway, it's definitely a top 5 for me this year.
Thomas: Japandroids definitely came out of left field for me, and Hostage Calm's new album is considerably better than their previous work.
Jeremy: The fact that we got a new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album in 2012 was a surprise in and of itself. That it's as awesome as it is makes it that much better. But I'd really have to go with Lotus Plaza's Spooky Action at a Distance. I didn't care at all for The Floodlight Collective, but after Deerhunter came out with Halcyon Digest, I remember thinking that an album full of songs just like "Desire Lines" would be an album of the year contender. And wouldn't you know, that's exactly what Lockett Pundt delivered.
Dre: Floral Green from Title Fight. This band has grown so much since starting out in tiny basements to where they're nailing a very mature rock sound. It took me by such a pleasant surprise.
Jack: Misser for sure Ė never expected to enjoy that album as much as I did. I had never given mewithoutyou a chance, but ďFoxís Dream Of The Log FlumeĒ clobbered me, and is still my song of the year. The real winner here is The Smashing Pumpkinís Oceania Ė was shocked at how much I enjoyed the album.
Joe: Sharks' No Gods. Never heard of'em before and I love the album.
Blake: Questions like this always feel very "of the moment." Right now, it's Alt-J. Earlier it was All Get Out's 2011 release, The Season. I never liked Passion Pit before this year. Oh, and Young Statues are definitely a band that smacked me over the head with some serious great tunes.
Jason G: No Trigger for sure.
Craig: Agreed with Ryan on The Tower and The Fool. I got that as a promo for another site I write for, with no previous knowledge of the band, and I was just blown away; The Killers came back from their weakest record with a masterpiece that is getting ever closer to my album of the year title; and Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball really surprised me as well: I always thought it would be good, but I didn't expect it to be 80s-Bruce-level great.
Adam: Basement's colourmeinkindness. I didn't really like much by the band up to this record. Now this is probably in my top 3 favorite albums this year. There's a personal attachment to it, so maybe that's it. Okay, enough, I'm being lame with emotion now....
Drew: Completely by surprise? You Blew It! and Forever Came Calling.
Alex: Not from this year, but I only recently discovered The Front Bottoms. "Flashlight" might be my favorite song right now. As for this year, The Menzingers are a band I had only heard in passing before, and now On the Impossible Past is likely my favorite record of 2012.
Jason Tate: The new Stars album got a whole lot of plays from me ... and I was only sort of a fan before, this one just clicked. Probably also that new Macklemore & Ryan Lewis record, just because it's on the front of my mind at the moment.
Jonathan: I've never been able to stand Taylor Swift but will admit her new album is pretty dang catchy. I thought Frank Ocean was very overrated when that came out, but it has grown on me a lot since. Favorite discovery has been Walk the Moon.
Eda: Gonjasufi's MU.ZZ.LE. I did not expect to love the album this much. It just blew me away. Same with Lower Dens' Nootropics.
Kelly: So many albums this year have blown me away out of nowhere. The Mountain Goats' Transcendental Youth has surpassed everything in their back catalog for me and is one of my favourite releases this year. Cloud Nothings and Japandroids were big hitters that I hadn't really checked out until this year, but I have to say it's the smaller bands that have taken me aback the most this year. Gatherer's Postcards EP and The Dandelion Wars's We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes were absolutely superb and match up with any of the big names right now.
"What are your guys... day jobs?"
Jake: Full time student at Oregon State University, majoring in English Education. It'd be cool to teach middle school, there's a whole lot of bullying around in 2012, and it'd be great to be a faculty member to help curb it in a major way. I'd like to think that there's some truly brilliant minds out there that don't get to utilize their full academic potential, because they're afraid of coming to school.
Ryan: Freshman at The University of Texas at Austin
Thomas: I'm the label manager for Paper + Plastick Records. I do marketing and day-to-day label and artist management. I own a publicity firm called Exit 384 Media, where I do P+P bands and some independent clients. I do some other odd things and I'm in my last semester for my journalism degree at the University of Florida.
Jeremy: I'm a "statistical analyst," which most days feels like a glorified secretary. On one hand, it's fairly low-impact and low-stress, but I've been going through a little bit of a "what am I doing to make the world a better place" crisis, so a career move is probably in the cards for the future.
Dre: I'm an Arabic translator, and to a less formal extent I communicate in Turkish and German on the side. I also do videography (specifically color correction and grading) for musicians and other clients. I couldn't think of a wackier combo than this for when I head into grad school, but I think that's what they call living on the edge or something...
Blake: I am a creative writer at an advertising agency in New York City. I make TV ads, print ads, digital games, etc, for brands like Mercedes-Benz, Tic-Tac, Smart Car and various Ad Council accounts (buzzed driving, lead paint poisoning, etc.) It's pretty fun. I went to ad school for two years in Atlanta to get where I am, and love my job and the weirdos I work with. Everyday is a totally different adventure and I basically get paid to put my feet up, talk about movies, and occasionally write puns/dick jokes.
Jason G: I'm in retail management and I'd like to leave it at that because I get stressed just thinking about it.
Jack: Iím a Social Media Strategist at a full-service ad agency in Pasadena, CA. Most of what I do is in the video game industry, where I write content and form strategy for launch campaigns, as well as manage teams running different social networks.
Craig: I am a student at Western Michigan University with a double major in English and Music, so I guess that's my "day job" right now. I also serve as the Arts & Entertainment editor for my school's newspaper and do freelance work for a pair of online magazines and a marketing agency based in my hometown.
Adam: I'm a server. So, same job any touring band member probably has.
Deborah: I'm a full-time student at the University of Winnipeg working towards a degree in Communications.
Drew: Senior Editor at this very site. Very thankful every day that this is what I do for a living.
Alex: As a recent college graduate with a useless (but expensive) degree in management information systems, I am currently juggling a few side gigs until I find a full-time job to which I can commit. I really don't want to work in a stuffy cubicle my entire life, so I'm trying to put it off for as long as possible.
Jason Tate: This.
Jonathan: Assistant manager at a Rite Aid.
Eda: Are you ready for this? Because I sure know how to spread myself thin as far as jobs go: I work as a Research Assistant at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, as well as both the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Sociology at my University. I recently quit being the assistant for a lawyer, however, so that I could have the time to focus on my new PR agency and website. Have to make some (more!) sacrifices for music, right? I am a busy bee, but here's to hoping that I'll only be working in the music industry in the next few months...
Kelly: Well, I'm a high school student, or the Irish equivalent. It's my last year this year, so I'm pretty bogged down with exam prep.
"Tell me the best story you have about name dropping that you work for Absolutepunk.net on a date or in a social situation then getting a stonefaced, blank stare non-reply in return." (Questionable?)
Jason Tate: I get asked all the time what I do for a living and have yet to be able to explain my job in a concise manner. It's just not something you can explain quickly to anyone. Most of the time it's followed up with, "oh, so like iTunes?" or "is this Pandora?" ... yeah, I've got no real idea how to answer the question. Even harder when you're talking to a girlfriend's parents or grandparents: "uh, it's called AbsolutePunk -- yeah, um, I swear I am not some weird guy living in a van, uh ... it really is a job."
Eda: This used to happen with the bands that I would promote, all the time. I would always have to explain that AP.net was owned by the same company that owns websites like Stereogum, The Hype M, and so on. It helped make the site sound more legit eh!
"How did you discover AP.net?"
Ryan: Pretty sure it was a Hawthorne Heights chat when I was in middle school...yeah
Kyle: I honestly can't remember, I was a lurker for a long long time and just found it the best place to find the most frequent news updates about bands I was really into at the time.
Thomas: My friend Alyssa showed this website to me one day in high school when she gave me a USB of songs by The Early November.
Dre: I was always searching for punk and hardcore bands I really enjoyed, and this website kept popping up in the top results about those artists.
Blake: I think this question was on the last interview. I think I was looking for Taking Back Sunday lyrics and stumbled upon the now-defunct lyric section.
Jason G: Stumbled upon it back in college when I was looking up bands at the time.
Craig: I was Googling for Butch Walker bonus tracks back in my junior year of high school. Naturally, I stumbled upon the General Forum b-sides thread and the rest is history.
Adam: Don't remember, I remember using it a lot in college. Even before I had a Facebook. Fuck, I'm old.
Deborah: Just through clicking around online when I was 14. I was a pretty big Fall Out Boy fan and this site always gave them a ton of coverage.
Drew: Sometime in late 2003 when I was googling for those Straylight Run demos. Found AP.net and lurked for months before registering as ďThe White Pony.Ē
Jason Tate: I made it.
Jonathan: Cartel's Chroma stream.
Eda: One of my friends, on another forum, had a bunch of avatars in her signature. I looked at the url where they were hosted... and the rest is history.
Kelly: Being an adolescent who spends too much time listening to music and also spends too much time on the internet, it was only inevitable that our paths would cross. That and I think Paramore blogged about AP when I was around thirteen. And I had to do what Paramore told me to.
"When is the new site going to launch?"
Ryan: The ultimate question
Blake: A better question: Is Buzzmedia (or Buzznet, whatever it's called) even a real company?
Adam: Press "1" for English. Press "2" for Spanish. Hold on the line for an operator who can further assist you.
Drew: Hopefully soon.
Jason Tate: I wish I knew. I honestly don't know. I am not even sure what's really the hold up at the moment. I've had to go into a zen like mindset when thinking about it because otherwise I will probably just go insane and be more unbearable than usual.
Eda: Buzz Media!??!?!! Hello?
Kelly: New site?! What is this? I ain't heard of no new site...
"What qualifies a band as being important enough to have news posted about it? Fan love in the forums? Personal favorites? Being signed? Something else?"
Jake: To me, I keep an eye on a few labels (Rise, Sumerian, Victory, etc.) and post news about those bands. Also, if I really love a band, I make damn sure that they get posted.
Kyle: Ultimately, it's up to the person posting the news about a band whether they feel they want to post about them or not. I post about bands, labels and artists I love and tend to focus on the UK scene more for that audience (as I live here). But in general, it will just be bands from all around the world that we love, so we post about them and obviously everyone has their own tastes.
Thomas: The only thing you need to get news posted is to have a person on the AP.net staff who likes your band and believes in your band. We only write for this website because we like music and like introducing people to new groups, so if one of us likes your band, you're probably getting news posted.
Dre: Most gossip news submissions get ignored. If a staffer goes to a music page and either the visuals or music itself are refreshing and intriguing, then it'll get posted. We also try to hype up artists local to us on occasion. I'm pretty down to post news if I'm contacted directly, provided that the artist fits the genres I usually cover.
Blake: There's the easy ones you know will be successful, and then the ones you hope will be successful. I like to post about bands I like, in the hopes that other people will take a chance. Obvs, that never happens. For an underground music site, we are woefully afraid of new shit. Whatever. I feel like I'm at a point where I can sort of tell when a band might be popular. To a certain extent. And since I don't post news as much anymore, when I do post, it's usually because I feel pretty strongly about the jams that will be forthcoming.
Deborah: I mostly just post about bands that I like, but I'm a little less picky with Canadian ones. As long as I know our readers care about them I try to make sure the news gets posted, especially if someone emails me about it.
Jack: I try to balance out my posts between notable bands, bands the community loves, and bands I love. Definitely make sure that everything the community wants to see gets posted, but I think itís important to expose new bands through news posts as well.
Drew: Depends. I trust a handful of staff members, AP.net users, and other connections in the industry when it comes to recommendations. If I find it interesting/good and think it can be a benefit to some people visiting our site, Iíll usually post it.
Alex: All of the above or none of the above. Sometimes I'll post about a band I don't like but know some users do, and other times I'll write about a relatively unknown band that I enjoy to help spread the word.
Jason Tate: I'll post about something if I think it's interesting, I like it, I want to write about it, I just wanna make a joke, or I see a lot of interest from people about it. The thought process is pretty simple: I wanna write about it, so I do.
Eda: If I like what I hear, then I post about it.
"I'd like to know more about what other place else you guys write for, since Drew and Jason are the only people getting paid."
Thomas: Since starting at AP.net, I've used my experience here to get jobs at a local magazine, the student-run newspaper in Gainesville, I got my internship at Paper + Plastick which turned into a full-time gig, and some other minor things. While I would love for AP.net to be my real-world job, I think anyone who is devoted to the networking side of this can make important connections through writing at AP.net and can find themselves valuable opportunities. It's a great launching point if you do it right.
Dre: Currently I don't have time to write for other places due to my other work at my real job. But there's an up-and-coming music site founded by a fellow staffer which will have more of my contributions on it, such as video and my own writings, not solely limited to music.
Jason G: I feel like I've been in a solid number of places through the years, including some time at Wonka Vision when it was still in print. Right now, I do some editing and behind-the-scenes work (read: helping keep things moving) at Mind Equals Blown.
Craig: As I said in the "day job" question, I currently write for about five different publications. This is now my only completely music-based writing job (and is, coincidentally, the only one I don't get paid for!) I also write and edit the arts section of my school's newspaper, do some technical writing/content development for the ad agency I interned at over the summer, and write articles on a freelance basis for two magazines in my hometown (one an independent publishing venture, the other covering all-things local). And beyond all of that, I write a ton of papers for my English major and am being considered for another internship for my last semester here. I'm a busy guy.
Jack: Currently, AP.net is the only place to read my stuff Ė Iíve just grown far too busy to write for other outlets. In the past, I co-founded Mind Equals Blown and wrote exclusively there for several years. I was also Editor-In-Chief of my college newspaper, and wrote for the tech/sex/relationship/social media blog TalkNerdytoMeLover.com
Adam: I just started writing for Property of Zack. He likes my work. Poor kid.
Deborah: In January 2011 I started freelancing for Uptown, but the paper is being discontinued at the end of this month so clearly I won't be doing that anymore. I write a bit for the Uniter, which is the University of Winnipeg newspaper, but that's just on a volunteer basis like my responsibilities at AbsolutePunk.
Alex: In addition to music, my other passion in life is film, particularly the horror genre. I contribute a music column (go figure) for Dread Central and write reviews for HorrorNews.net. I also wrote for my student newspaper in college.
Jason Tate: My blog, twitter, facebook ... this count?
Jonathan: AP is the only current place I write for. Before that, I wrote for Mammoth Press, Campus Circle, Decoy Music, my college paper and I interned at the OC Register.
Eda: I don't write for any other place. However, I'm about to launch my own website, so I'll be writing on there also.
Kelly: I have my own music blog, but other than that any writing I do is split between AP and English assignments. I wrote stories for a couple of graphic novel anthologies and I'm pretty heavy into creative writing.
"What got you guys interested in music? Was there a concert you attended, an album you heard, or someone you met who influenced you so much that you began thinking seriously about music?"
Jake: I remember listening to MxPx's The Everpassing Moment and Sum41's All Killer No Filler a LOT when I was in the 7th grade, and then I had a really cool guitar teacher in 8th grade that insisted in making us listen to AC/DC, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Cream, etc. three times a week. I still wish I had that class now in college, he was a really awesome teacher.
Ryan: Growing up, the first records that really got me into music were Good Charlotte's first two records and Simple Plan's No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls. Also, Story Of The Year's Page Avenue had a great impact on me early on, along with Yellowcard's Ocean Avenue shortly after. These were the records that hit me early on - I mean I think I was like 10 - and that really made music start having a defining role in my life.
Kyle: I'm incredibly lucky and very grateful to be a part of a really musical family, at least on my Mother's side. My Uncle used to have a bunch of records from when he was a kid in love with The Stranglers, Blondie, The Smiths, Joy Division, The Meteors and then his love for stuff later in life such as Johnny Cash, The Rat Pack, The Pogues etc. and ever since I was very young I loved everything he and my cousins loved. He had a bar built in his garden shed, it was big enough to fit about 15 people and had real bar stools, a bar with optics and spirits, beer mats and all of the paraphernalia on the walls and whatnot, looked like a real Irish pub inside. It also had more drinks than I've seen any licensed bar have behind it. We used to go there most weekends and have the adults drink whilst we all sang along to him playing guitar or listening to those records, that carried on until we all left home at about 18-20 years old (by which point we had all joined in on the heavy drinking...Irish family) and they are some of my favourite times. The first album I bought was a 4-cassette album of "1950s American Diner" songs, loved it. Wish I still had it.
Thomas: My love for music started out as a product of the people around me. My dad played rock and roll while I was growing up and my friends in middle and high school progressively introduced me to pop-punk music, then other things as we got older. When I found AP.net, I became more into finding bands on my own and creating my own taste.
Dre: To be honest, I kind of ignored music as a kid. It didn't really click with me like it did others. But at some point in middle school, everything from ska tapes to Hopeless Recs zines were being tossed my way. I started playing in bands and going to shows where people were jumping on top of each other and I didn't quite understand it, but I knew I loved everything about it.
Jeremy: I've always had an interest in music, but in my younger days, it was mostly the old country albums my grandparents used to listen to and whatever was on the radio. It might seem like a strange idea to kids now, but I didn't have access to the internet until I started college in '99. Once I did, though, I was exposed to a whole new world I didn't even know existed. It's been an obsession ever since.
Jack: My Dad. He is a huge 90's rock fan, and I grew up on the stuff. When everyone was listening to Tell All Your Friends or Your Favorite Weapon, I was digging through Gin Blossoms, Third Eye Blind, and Stone Temple Pilots. It wasn't until my sophomore year of high school that I listened to the type of music featured around here. One day during my history class, I pestered a friend to let me borrow his iPod. Randomly clicked on the first song I saw, prompting Atreyu's "Right Side Of The Bed" to fill my earbuds. That riff, pinch harmonic, and chorus had me sold - I started digging into post-hardcore, which lead to more and more music exploration.
Joe: My dad always bought records and I think he would just buy stuff like Backstreet Boys, Nsync, etc for me when I was younger and it ended up sticking. It wasn't until I saw Sum 41's "Fat Lip" music video that I went out and got All Killer No Filler when I was 8/9. Then it kinda progressed to finding Blink-182, New Found Glory, Simple Plan, everything else and well...my taste hasn't really changed since haha.
Blake: I don't really know, to be honest. Nobody in my family really cares about music. It wasn't something I grew up with as a child. I think it was just this sort of moment where I was at a friend's house with a few buddies. It was probably 10th grade. Maybe earlier. Anyways, a friend popped in a mixed CD he was really proud of. And we kind of had this rare collective moment where everyone was just rocking out. And it felt really good and it felt like something I could obsess over and absorb over and over. I get tired of things very quickly, but music is the one thing that never really let me go. I just think I like the idea of something that is for everyone and just me at the same time. It feels special and important, and I think it's one of the few things keeping this garbage world from imploding in on itself.
Jason G: My family always played music, whether it was when my mother was doing things around the house or when my brother was working in the garage. It kind of started there, but getting into different types of music in high school like punk and metal turned into hardcore and such in college. Since probably late high school though, I've always been looking for new music or turning to music for various things.
Craig: I always remember listening to my brother's CDs when I was a kid, stuff like The Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind. But I didn't really get into music until about 2003, when John Mayer's Heavier Things became the first CD I ever bought with my own money and the first one I really played to exhaustion. 2004 solidified everything, with records like Butch Walker's Letters and Jimmy Eat World's Futures showing me how much emotive force music could really have. I've been soundtracking my life ever since.
Adam: I was really awful at sports and my parents bought me a guitar and said "Here you go, fatty." I learned to play Deftones' "Change (in the House of Flies)" and the rest is history.
Deborah: My sister was the person who got me into music. She lent me her copy of Green Day's Nimrod when I was 9 and I've been into music ever since. Shortly after I discovered MuchMusic and that station got me into a ton of other bands.
Drew: In 1992, my older cousin gave me a copy of Rage Against The Machineís debut album and that got me interested in music. But it wasn't until I was 14 when I bought Deftones' White Pony that it turned into a passionate love affair.
Alex: I always enjoyed music, but The Offspring's Americana was my first CD at the impressionable age of 9, and it made me really fall in love with music. They were my first real favorite band (sorry, Hanson), and they opened the door to punk rock for me. Shortly after that, I got into Blink 182, and then the floodgates opened.
Jason Tate: Blink 182's "Dude Ranch." I think I've told that story before ....
Jonathan: P.O.D.'s The Fundamental Elements of Southtown was the touchstone record that first got me thinking seriously about music.
Eda: I was very lonely when I first moved to Canada. I could barely speak English, and I had no friends (naturally), so all I really had were music and Friends (the TV show). They kept me sane during some of the most difficult periods of my life. Music made me feel less alone; it gave me hope. I remember feeling extremely depressed this one night, and difficult as it may be to admit... I was not sure if I was going to make it out alive until "Morningstar" by AFI, and "Needle in the Hay" by Elliott Smith, came on this one mix I had made. Depressing as those songs may be, they made me feel more alive than I had in months. Because in that moment, I knew I was not alone -- other people were suffering the same way I was. And as fucked up as it may sound, that was comforting in a way. Music has been the most important thing in my life ever since / the past 10 years. It still affects me like nothing else, and it's how I know that I belong in this industry.
Kelly: I've always been somewhat into music. Around the age of twelve I made the transition from radio pop to your Fall Out Boys and your Paramores. Then I sort of made a decision to know all of the things about all of the music and I set off on my journey to find each genre, listen to as many bands as possible from it and become 'that' person that people go to when they need a musical recommendation. Awkward adolescence ensured that this became a reality and my musical knowledge is something I'm extremely proud of. Recently I seem to edging towards the more indie side of things, but I'm still in love with emo, pop punk and post hardcore.
"When listening to a band you haven't listened to before, what specifically do you look for in their songs? aka What to you makes a song good? Vocals? Lyrics? Instrumentation? What do you pay attention to the most or what specifically gets you a song?"
Kyle: I like to be surprised. Not always, but with a lot of indie/rock etc. guitar bands nowadays they have to have something unique going on or take a song to a place I didn't expect it to go a second earlier. Also, the vocals are so important to me, I like a more raw and unique vocal performance, it's hard to explain but I don't like anything too crisp or precise. It has to have its own character, if you will. I can be turned off a track or a band by the vocals quite easily, find it hard to get past them if they don't sit well with me.
Thomas: Kind of like how Kyle said, you can't replace the feeling you get when you think you're hearing something new for the first time. Anything that sounds "different" will catch my attention, but so will anything that has been done before that is just done well enough.
Jeremy: I don't think it's any different if you've listened to the band before or not. I don't look for one quality in particular. I try to stay open to allowing the music to affect me in whatever way it will.
Dre: When I listen to music I don't go into it with any expectations. I give practically all music a chance within reason, because if I put all of my time and energy into something I would want someone else to do the same. It's interesting that you asked about instrumentation; for me, that was always the most important part. One time, I thought I'd tricked my dad into getting me a bass guitar that I said was required for a summer music class when I was 12. Many years later he told me that the joke had been on me. It was pretty funny. But it was also awesome that he chose to support my early interest in multi-instrumentalism. I bought a guitar sometime after, as well as other instruments. I've just never been a lyricist. But now that I'm older and more "introspective" I've been able to feel a closer connection to lyrics, and I even go back to old albums to understand what I overlooked in the past.
Joe: I want something catchy as fuck that will never leave my head. Any genre. I don't care. That's all I look for. I can appreciate amazing vocals/lyrics/musicianship and I'm able to recognize when they're completely awful, but at the end of the day I'm gonna want to listen to something that makes me feel good. Not to mention...I'd rather have a hook on my mind 24/7 than the girl that just screwed me over.
Jack: Iím fascinated by song structuring and melody, so those definitely get looked at first. Instrumentation is incredibly important to me Ė I tend to favor the more technical musicians and the more cohesive bands. Production is huge as well; Iím just as likely to follow a producer to new projects as I am a musician to side-projects.
Blake: I look for jams, first and foremost. It's all very visceral at the beginning. Usually it takes just one song to get me in. Then I can handle the rest. Lyrics, details, that all comes later. For example, with a song like "My Friends" by All Get Out, I knew from like minute one that it would be special. But the real good ones, are the ones that reveal themselves to be even greater after 50 listens. I know that's nothing groundbreaking, but being too scientific about a song at first is a mistake and, frankly, just not a lot of fun.
Jason G: The musical side of things will always grab my attention, and I generally have a leniency towards drumming since I did that in high school. But really, strong songwriting and great musicianship will always catch my ear, even if the lyrics aren't the greatest.
Adam: I don't know. Music is subjective. Sometimes you can feel the passion, sometimes it's something new you haven't heard before and sticks out among the rest of the tunes on your iPod, and sometimes it's something that reminds you of an older record you still cherish. Also, I suffer from a good bout of depression and stress, so heavy and sad mostly without being overly dramatic. I also am very A.D.D., so I love spastic music that sounds crazy and contains bouts of fits. It sounds insane, but there's a complexity and reason behind it. Have you heard the new Taylor Swift album? 'The Shape of Post-Hardcore to Come' IMO.
Drew: Impossible to simply explain, it depends on many factors. Sometimes itís the vocals, other times itís the lyrical content or the catchiness of a song. I donít know, I donít think thereís a right or wrong way to describe that first experience.
Alex: What catches my attention is one song can be completely different in another. It's not the most important thing to me, but I really enjoy well-written, relatable lyrics. I'm also a sucker for gang vocals, whoa-ohs and hand claps.
Jason Tate: All of the above. It's the combination and how well all of that melds together that gets me interested. I can usually tell pretty quickly what category a band or album will sit in for me. It's reflexive at this point.
Jonathan: All of the above. It's hard to delineate between the three, at least for me personally, but some are easier to overlook depending on genre.
Eda: The music/instrumentation is what catches my attention. I hardly ever pay attention to the lyrics the first time around, to be honest. Vocals are a deal breaker, too.
Kelly: I tend to take all things into consideration, however lyrics are quite important to me. If a song clicks straight away, it rarely stays with me for too long, so I prefer for it to take a while, but lyrics are usually what hooks me. I also like for a song to sound unique. If I've heard it all before or if it lacks personality, I will get bored of it. If it's got its own quirk or has a very strong personal voice, I'll probably like it.
"If you could pick one band to never exist again; Who would it be? To make this question difficult. Nickelback isn't an option."
Jake: Easy question. If I could make anyone stop doing music, it'd be that guy "Deuce", he was in the "band" Hollywood Undead...that is, before he quit and they eventually beat his ass. I've never been filled with so much contempt towards a single person before seeing his set.
Blake: Your stupid band.
Drew: The band I would say would create some unneeded drama.
Jason Tate: I dunno ... those screamo-date-rape bands? Meh, that Jonny Craig dude could disappear and I wouldn't miss him.
Eda: All the new boy bands. Please disappear.
Kelly: One Direction. My lord.
"How do you feel about the current state of pop punk?"
Ryan: I feel like pop-punk is at a great place. You look at bands like The Wonder Years gaining a massive following, while Yellowcard, New Found Glory, Blink, etc all still put out awesome records and put on awesome shows. Not to mention labels like Hopeless, Rise, No Sleep, etc have all been killing it.
Blake: I don't know. It's fractured. Is Title Fight a pop-punk band in the same way that The Story So Far is? Probably not. But the same people in flat brims still jam them. Or at least do in secret. I think the best part about pop-punk is that it's almost exclusively made my bored people. I think it was Citizen or maybe Turnover, I can't remember, who basically wrote an album about being stuck in a shit place and trying to claw themselves out. Point is, these bored dickheads are still bored, even after they make a great album. And so The Wonder Years get serious. Title Fight steal some 90s cassette tapes and Transit gets bigger (and spawns a side-project). If we're at a place where we can not be ashamed to fucking cry about a girl, then good. But if we're at a place where crying about a shitty relationship is the only the beginning, even better.
Jason G: I've said for some time that I think pop-punk is starting to get to a place where metalcore was a few years ago where the landscape is so saturated that even the biggest bands aren't really that big. It's not a terrible thing, but it would be nice to have maybe ten really good bands that are all doing something interesting with a slight twist than not have a hundred alright bands that generally share a ton of things in common. Sure, there are still bands doing fun things, and for what it's worth, I'd have to believe 99% of them are doing it honestly. But it's starting to be one of those genres I'm a bit hesitant to listen to bands play now because it's getting a bit played out.
Drew: I donít think pop-punk ever went away. Itís never going to be as popular as it was in between the late 90s and early 00s but there are a lot of great bands in the genre (and a ton of copy cat acts). Bands like The Wonder Years, Forever Came Calling, etc. keep me interested in the genre.
Alex: I would argue that pop punk is as good, if not better, now than it ever has been. It still embodies everything I fell in love with as a kid but it has matured with me.
Jason Tate: Bored by a good 99% of it right now. It's just not all that interesting to me at the moment. I still love the genre, even as I get older -- I just don't think many bands are taking chances on moving it forward. I think it's lacking some balls. Lacking creativity. Lacking style.
Jonathan: Honestly, the genre doesn't interest me as much anymore. It's probably due to me growing older and my tastes changing, as well as the quality of pop-punk bands being a shell of what they were a decade ago. Nowadays, I seldom listen to any pop-punk bands that I didn't grow up on, i.e. New Found Glory and Yellowcard.
Eda: Hard to comment on it since I don't keep up with it the way I did back in the day. But I am always hoping that, somehow, a new pop-punk band will blow me away the same way that bands used to back in 2001-2002.
Kelly: I'm pretty satisfied with it. I like the way that the lines are blurred between the sort of DIY aesthetics of pop punk, emo and post-hardcore at the moment, and the way that the music is overlapping. We had the great spurt of bands like The Wonder Years and Transit and all those guys are still going strong. Personally, although this could just be me and not the bands, I've strayed away from the big guns such as Blink 182 and NFG, but some of the younger bands like Undesirable People and Real Friends keep surprising me and bringing me back to the genre.
"Is fall out boy ever coming back?"
Ryan: ...I hope so...
Thomas: I'm positive they'll do a lucrative reunion tour within the next five years. Honda Civic Tour 2016 or something.
Joe: September 25th, 2013
Adam: September 24th, 2013
Drew: We just saw At The Drive-In and Refused reunite. Iíd never rule it out of the question. Honestly, I just want them to repress Take This To Your Grave and From Under The Cork Tree on vinyl.
Alex: Digital pop culture impresario Keltie Colleen says yes. So, there's that.
Jason Tate: I'd say yes. But I'd rather they come back when the timing is right ...
Jonathan: Still have my fingers crossed for a 10th anniversary Take This To Your Grave tour next year, or at least a one off.
Kelly: I'm going to go with a yes. I mean, At The Drive- In reconvened. That means every band ever is coming back.
"If a train leaves Jason Tate's house at 79 mph, and another leaves Anton's house at 67 mph, how long will it take to post that interview with Gabe Saporta?"
Thomas: I have no clever answer to this question, but I laughed at it.
Blake: I think Anton got married, or is about to get married, but either way, congrats to probably this site's greatest member.
Adam: We have it coming, with 4 hours of bonus features.
Drew: As long as that train takes us to Rohanís place, probably 10 thorough listens to Midtownís Living Well Is The Best Revenge.
Jason Tate: I wish I knew what ever even happened with this ... heh. Shit, I needa type up my Ryan Key interview before I can talk.
"How many times do you listen to an album before reviewing it?"
Jake: For interviews with artists that I'm less familiar with, I give their music at least 10 complete cycle throughs.
Kyle: For reviews I will write out thoughts in bullet points upon first listen to see what the snap-decision initial thoughts are, then go back a fair few more times.
Thomas: I think I'm different from most people in that I will listen to an album probably a dozen times at least. It's not like I sit there in the dark and listen to the album and concentrate on nothing else, though - I'll listen while I'm at work or in the car or whatever. I feel bad if I don't listen that much, because I don't think I'll have given the album the necessary time for me to be able to critique it. This was probably more impressive when I wrote like 100 reviews in 2011, but now it's pretty easy for me to give that much attention to a record since I'm only working on one or two reviews at a time.
Dre: It really depends. Sometimes words just click after five or so rotations -- and other times many albums need more than that -- but even then the songs are still blaring away in the background. This is kind of going off track, but most of the other staffers prefer not to review albums they dislike, although I'm sure we all have favorite artists who have put out mediocre or subpar albums. In general, I think that covering a variety of music helps you to grow as a well-rounded writer and a perceptive music listener.
Blake: It's not rocket science. And I'm busy. I do it enough where I feel like I can make an opinion that isn't just, "hahaha sweet." I have a sneaking suspicion I write my reviews a little differently than other people, though. I kind of listen to the album a bunch in order, then skip around and see what connects with me. Then I just sort of start writing. Once I have the introductory sentence, it's off to the races. Reactions to music happen as you are hearing them, so that's how I try to write my reviews. Very reactionary, I guess. But it's fun, and way different than how I have to write during my day job.
Jack: My first listen is always within minutes of receiving an album, usually playing it in the background while I work. I'm pretty particular about production quality, so I'm usually listening through my Sony MDR-7506's - they're "flat" headphones that add nothing to the mix, but sound fantastic. I usually give albums a few spins in my car as well, getting a feel for everything before sitting down at my computer and really dissecting the music. After I've finished that listen, I put it down and write from memory, referencing when need be. Then comes another listen after my initial draft, adding details as needed. After much agonizing, I finally post.
Jason G: It used to be a bit more structured, but with less and less time to do things, it turns into a small set of guidelines and then whatever I have to do from there to form a coherent opinion and guide people through a record. I always do a full listen first, then go back and try to look at some interesting things. Sometimes, I take notes.
Craig: As is probably obvious, I like to write very long, in-depth reviews. I don't really have a number of listens it takes me to get to that place, but I usually get at least to double digits before I even write a word. Less than that and I would feel like I was missing the nuances.
Adam: I'd like to give it at least two weeks if possible. Listening and then seeing if I come back to it over the course of some time.
Drew: Anywhere between 10-15 listens.
Alex: I typically start a review after a few listens, but by the time the write-up is completed I will have probably heard it about 15 times in its entirety.
Jason Tate: I'll write a first impression after 1-4. But if I was going to actually review something in depth, or make up my actual mind about an album, I'd want it to sit with me for at least 3 weeks. And then come back to it a week or two later to see how I feel.
Eda: 10 times. Oh wait, I don't review. I just tell you guys to go listen.
Kelly: I don't really time it. It depends on the band, the genre and the quality of the music. I just listen to it until if feel like I've got enough knowledge of the record to write a review on it. With some bands this could be twenty times, with others, nine or ten times.
"Pick an album that could replace the soundtrack to an already existing movie. Which album for which movie?"
Jake: letlive.'s Fake History for the movie "Catch Me If You Can".
Dre: Probably Boysetsfire's After the Eulogy for The Legend of Billie Jean - my favorite movie of all time. Both have hopeful and rebellious themes to them. Gallows Orchestra of Wolves and Warriors would come as a close second.
Jason G: I'd love to put the new Hostage Calm record up on "Grease".
Jack: Balance & Composure's Separation for Warrior. Album sounds like it needs to soundtrack a fighting movie.
Adam: Better question, why isn't Caspian writing scores to films? Have you heard Waking Season? To answer your question, Balance and Composure's Separation over Pee Wee's Big Adventure or Converge's No Heroes over the last half of Heavyweights. Totally sinks up, go try it.
Drew: Justin Timberlakeís FutureSex/LoveSounds Ė any movie.
Alex: Its Teeth's stuff would be perfect for a '70s horror movie. I could hear it replacing Golbin's score in a Dario Argento film. I swear I'm going to make Jacob score a movie for me someday.
Jason Tate: Umm ... I dunno ... "Love and Other Drugs" could have used some more sentimental music, like ”lafur Arnalds' "Living Room Songs" or something ... sure, how about that. I could spend way too much time thinking about this question.
Kelly: I'd replace The Perks Of Being A Wallflower soundtrack with... Oh wait. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower's soundtrack is perfect. I'd replace every teen movie's soundtrack with The Perks Of Being A Wallflower's soundtrack.
"Why are there little to no news posts on the weekends?"
Ryan: It's the weekend - PR and label people aren't working, we have lives, etc
Drew: Weekends are for football.
Alex: Little to no news breaks on the weekends.
Jason Tate: Over the years I've watched the site stats, and most people check the website during the day ... so we use the weekends for a different kind of weird or more lax news posting. Videos, recommendations, that kinda stuff.
Jake Denning: I'm too busy making bootleg fireworks.
Eda: Are we not supposed to rest?!?!?! In all seriousness, there kinda is... no news to be posted. Would you like us to make up news for shit and giggles though? Cause I totally would.
"How do you guys go about determining which albums should be reviewed? Can you review anyone you'd like? What if two staff members want to review the same album, who gets it? Is there a list of albums that are required to be reviewed?"
Ryan: We basically have a huge album review forum. You list an album, pick "interested writers," and go from there. We always try to be super fair and even-handed.
Joe: It mostly consists of Ryan wanting to review something and then me feeling bad trying to take it from him.
Jason G: I cherry pick a lot of bands from the mailbox section because I like to see what bands I've never heard of are doing. But otherwise, what Ryan said.
Drew: When two or more writers are interested in reviewing an album, they usually have to do weird sex stuff. Or buy me pizza.
Alex: It's rare that anyone else is interested in reviewing whatever I choose.
Jason Tate: I'm sure reviewer staff can answer this better.
Kelly: It's a Hunger Games-esque system. Only the bravest and the strongest will ever review Brand New.
"What ever happened to the [unsigned band] contest?"
Joe: I think that was Julia's baby. I miss her, she was awesome.
Jason Tate: Have had a hard time getting everyone to get back to me. Heh.
"What's the one thing you've written you're proudest of?"
Jake: I really felt good about the Thrice interview. I knew it was a huge interview, and Riley was gave extremely well thought out answers. More recently, the Underoath interview. It's those damn farewell interviews.
Ryan: Probably my review of Go Radio's Close The Distance
Jeremy: My High Violet review probably drew the most overwhelmingly positive response of anything I've written. I think I'm slightly more partial to the one I wrote for The Felix Culpa's Sever Your Roots, though
Dre: If we're talking interviews, then Sick of it All without a doubt. The singer spoke to me as if we'd known each other for years, and at one point even apologized for talking too much. It was great. Out of all my reviews, Propagandhi's Failed States and Everything Went Black's Cycles of Light. The former came from the heart and the latter pushed me to narrow down a style I've become more satisfied with.
Jack: This is like picking a favorite child, but if you're going to make me, probably my retro review of Third Eye Blind's self-titled debut. Still rather proud of uncovering Macbookgate and my singer reveals.
Blake: I wrote some really sadsack reviews around this time last year, back when I was going through some bullshit personal stuff that really had me down. They basically all revolved around the point that we can use music to turn our one-off thoughts into a philosophy that helps us feel better. Music is made for the lost and the unsure. But it gives us a pulpit, a place to talk and yell and scream until we feel better. It gives us a community of one or one million, depending on what you need. In those reviews (for bands like Youth Lagoon, Johnny Foreigner, Surfer Blood, etc), I wrote to feel better using music that was really kind of bleak. I'm just happy that I had that outlet, and that hopefully they could help other people who spend a lot of time worrying that the world will never get any better.
Jason G: The interview I just put up with Jacob Bannon of Converge is pretty high up there. Same with the Anthony Green interview. A lot of times, it can get a little mechanical churning out questions, but when you can actually turn things into a conversation of sorts, it's always a little nicer to be reminded that these aren't just artists or musicians Ė they are people were inspirations, drive and reasons for what they do.
Craig: That's a really hard one, since I constantly feel like I am becoming better at what I do. But The Killers review I wrote here is definitely high on the list. Also, my end-of-the-year list from 2011: that thing was a vast undertaking, but I was so happy with it when I finally finished it and blogged it.
Adam: I'm pretty proud of my rants in my blog and my Consequential Apathy column. Blake hates'em all. But, eh.
Drew: Iím proud of my reviews for Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Bon Iver, and Cobra Starship. My absolute favorite things though are my blog-exclusive review of a Pop Goes Punk album done entirely with .gifs and my retrospective on Thursday.
Alex: My review of The Wonder Years' The Upsides is far and away my most-read thing on the website, but I wish I could go back and change some things in retrospect. I really like writing show reviews, and it's always cool when a bigger band and/or their management tells me that they read and enjoyed it.
Jason Tate: Hmmm ... shit, I dunno. That Say Anything review gets quoted a lot, maybe that? I think recently I was proud of my Gaslight Anthem write-up.
Jonathan: My interviews with Dustin Kensrue, Patrick Stump and Jim Adkins all stick out in my mind, as well as anything I've done involving Stephen Christian.
Eda: Probably my Elliott Smith nostalgia "piece." I was a wreck after writing it, but I have never written anything that heartfelt as far as music goes.
Kelly: Well, review-wise, The Dandelion War's We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes made me feel like I can write prettily.
"What is your least favorite/favorite board/user" (Nobody likes PL)
Jason Tate: That ghsNICK! guy in the political forum is a moron.
Jake Denning: It used to be CWhit, until either I blocked him and I forgot about it, or he vanished from here and off into the MuzakDizcovery archives. Other than him? Liciakasher.
Eda: You know, I'm actually drawing a blank. They can all be shitbirds from time to time, but they're not too bad.
Where's Drew with a gif?
I've been here stuck reading this since that tweet was sent...
Really interesting stuff, i really enjoyed it :)
Will definitely check pt.2 when it's up.
Hahahaha everyone hates cwhit
c'mon, even Kyle and I are bonding, I must be doing something right
"How did you discover AP.net?"
Jason Tate: I made it.
Neato. Burrito. Hold the chorizo.
Haha. That was an entertaining way to waste a lot of time.
I'm so glad someone mentioned Hostage Calm/Grease.
@Blake - Getting married in a little over a month. Thanks for the nice words :-)