First off, I just want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. Now, can you please give us your name and position in Bomb the Music Industry?
I am Jeff Rosenstock. I am the main songwriter in Bomb the Music Industry!, and all the songs are recordings that I've made in my bedroom, or on some lucky days, my bathroom. For the past two years, there have been a bunch of people in the collective that play the songs and give them some more personality. So, it isn't just a slightly overweight dude whining into his computer, getting sweaty, in a comically small room with a comically poor set up. I've been watching tons of Comedy Central to help me ease into the art of being a good interviewee, as well as tons of The Soup on E!
If you don't mind, could you please give our unfamiliar readers a quick history lesson on Bomb the Music Industry?
Sure. Bomb the Music Industry! started as a musical outlet for me at the end of 2004, after my old band, The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, was on what felt like it would be a permanent hiatus. This was pretty big news, since it was like ten years of my life that seemed to be gone now, and I also received some very bad news about a close friend of mine. This led to a lot of drinking, and on New Years Eve that year, I decided that I wasn't going to perpetuate my depression by getting into alcoholism, too. So, I stopped drinking entirely for a full month, and I recorded the first Bomb the Music Industry! record in my bedroom in my parents' house. To my suprise, some friends of mine, from The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and elsewhere, expressed interest in playing these songs as a band, so we practiced a bit, played a show, and decided to give Bomb the Music Industry! a shot as a touring project, as well as a recording project. The structure of the whole thing is very loose, so people have come and gone, not played tours, and then come back, which is actually a lot of fun because hopefully that means every show will be cool in a different way. However, it will also mean that every show will be shitty in a different way, which I suppose is better than seeing the same middle-of-the-road set every time you see a band. But, now that I think about it, it probably won't be better than seeing a band that doesn't have that shitty part in it. But, that's where we stand, and I'm proud of it!
I hate to reiterate a question you've likely answered a handful of times before, but once and for all, can you please explain the name Bomb the Music Industry?
To be honest, nobody ever asks me this question. To make a point that will disappoint people, I was watching a lot of Style Wars, a movie about graffiti in New York in the 80's, and when they talk about putting their tag up all over the place, they call it "bombing." I really enjoyed that idea of "bombing", not as destroying something, but as making something your own. So, that's where I got that from. Also, I obviously know that you can't say 'bomb' anymore without freaking people out, so I guess I'll always be shooting myself in the foot when it comes to band names.
How would you describe your sound, as a collective, to the unfamiliar ear?
We use lots and lots of unnecessary instrumentation, chord changes, and complaining. Plus, that douche bag doesn't even use real instruments for the drums! What the fuck?
You've announced that you will be releasing an EP entitled No No New York. What can fans expect in terms of material on your forthcoming release?
To be honest, I'm not even sure. I had a couple of songs that were about New York, and I'm starting to think that "The Soul Crushing Northeast" (which is available at the Quote Unquote Records website) was the only one that was any good! I've got a bunch of songs that kind of revolve around living in "the city that the terrorists terrorized and want to keep terrorizing" that I was planning to use for this project that I'm starting with Rick Johnson and this guy, John, from North Lincoln. I'm writing some songs for the next Bomb the Music Industry! record that feel a little bit more organic right now. But, honestly, I have no idea what the next record is going to sound like. I'm just recording some demos right now, and I'm not sure whether or not that EP is going to turn into a full blown album, or just kind of disappear. I'm also not sure if it is going to be a band or a computer. There's like 40 or something Bomb the Music Industry! songs right now. That's enough for a year and a half.
Bomb the Music Industry! undoubtedly present a unique approach to music, both in terms of sound, and from an entrepreneur's point of view. What inspired you to give your music away for free via the internet, as opposed to using your material for personal, financial gain?
I'm always thinking a lot about labels and bands that I respect, and they all usually fall under the category of doing something different, whether it be Dischord's sole documentation of one scene, or No Idea's intense focus on vinyl, and I really wanted to do something that would be different from what other bands were doing. I'm a computer nerd, so I guess I went straight to the internet. People have asked me a lot about it financially, and I don't know what bands they are friends with, but my friends in bands don't make money off of their records, and I really can't see it as anything but a positive way to cultivate a small and growing band. If someone can hear your songs for free, that gives you more of an opportunity to reach more people, as well as to meet more people at shows and stuff. I understand why bands sell merch, and albums, and whatnot, but for me, it was always such a hassle to put this huge chunk of money I didn't have down on a big order of shirts or something. So, this way, we can kind of sustain ourselves from day to day on tour without having to worry so much about debts to other people.
Is your personal approach one you'd enjoy to see other bands practice, or would you prefer to hold it as a unique, individual quality?
I'd like to see other people take this idea, take it even further, and make it better, just so I can steal their ideas! That's what I really think music should be. One, symbiotic circle of admitted and unadulterated thievery.
Do you ever plan on embarking outside of your current formula by recording your material in real studios with a concrete set of musicians?
Yes, I mean nothing is set in stone with this whole project, and that's kind of what I like about it so much. I actually just moved out of New York and down to Athens, GA to live a little cheaper, and to play with some musicians down here. Right now, I'm hoping to record the next thing with a band because, like I was saying before, a chubby, sweaty guy shouting into his computer all alone in his house might start getting tiresome on the fourth record. Everyone who's ever been involved with Bomb the Music Industry! understands the revolving door policy, though, and we generally try and find a way so that anyone who wants to come on a tour or play a show is able to do so.
Do you have any sort of rules, regulations, or guidelines in place as to restrict an individual from becoming involved in your project?
I mean, it's usually just my friends, so I know they're not racists, sexists or bigots, and they know that I write kind of complicated parts, and that I can get kind of pissy if they can't play them. But, when we play shows, we invite people to play a song or two if they can learn them, and if they can't do it, it's usually fun, anyway. If someone with a swastika tattoo comes up to us and asks to play a song, we're probably going to say "uh, I think you're missing the point of punk rock, dude."
Now, I've never been one to trample on retired ground, but I am all for putting rumours to rest. So, without further adieu, can you please confirm the status of your previous project, The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, and your involvement in the group, if any?
There are rumors in circulation? I haven't heard anything about that, but that'd be really funny/awesome! But, seriously, I still talk to most of the guys in The Arrogant Sons of Bitches on a regular basis, and even with people who I don't speak to every day, we don't hate each other. I still have their backs, and I'm pretty sure they still have mine. I really do talk to just about everyone who's ever been in The Arrogant Sons of Bitches once in a while, but I'm pretty sure they're not continuing it without me, because most of them have jobs that don't permit them to do that. I had still been hoping to play one last show with everyone, where we could cry on stage, drink too much afterwards, and go "oh, God, I'm hungover" the next day, but unfortunately, I feel like we missed the bus on being able to do that. I don't know, maybe we'll play a benefit show one day if one of us is in the hospital without medical insurance.
I've caught wind of plans to release your album To Leave and Die In Long Insland on vinyl. What is the status of this venture, and can we expect to see any of your other releases in the form of hard copies in the future?
You can find pre-order information for To Leave and Die in Long Island on the Quote Unquote Records website. Asbestos Records is putting it out in November, and as long as this doesn't get totally fucked, we're going to try and do some of the old ones or new ones. The vinyl is available in four really limited colors, with one being a picture disc, and a portion of the proceeds go to Nuci's Space, a center for artists to get mental health care in Athens, GA. I'm a big record nerd, so I was really excited to do this, and we're still cool to have it available on the internet for free.
Has Bomb the Music Industry! received any attention and/or offers from record labels or other interested parties?
Yes, but nothing too series. I've spoken to my friends who run labels about doing stuff with them, but it's made more sense just to keep doing it by myself for free. Less than a year into this whole thing, I got an e-mail from the head of a fairly big indie label who was really nice, but unfortunately, I have nothing but contempt for 95% of the music they release. We were in contact for a while, and he said that he wanted to see a show really badly, and eventually we had some shows where he had mentioned he would want to see us play. So, I got back in touch with him, mainly because I had never spoken with a label before, and I was wondering what it would be like, and he never wrote back, and he didn't end up going to any of the shows. So, I've learned that is what talking to a record label is like, and I have continued my stance of not really giving a shit. We got some kind of request for a press release for a major label, but I didn't respond to them, only because I don't support their stance of suing families and children. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think about it too much. I'm happy doing what I'm doing, so I don't go out and look for a way to escape it.
If you were offered a contract by a record label that allowed to you to maintain full creative control of your project, and one with the proper tools to support your act, what are the odds that you would ink a deal?
I know it might bum some people out, but the odds are alright, I suppose. I mean, if I could keep creative control of my music, I was able to record it in a decent studio with a bunch of equipment that I can't afford at my disposal, I was still allowed to do the things for free online, and I got someone else to promote my band besides me, just so I don't feel like a media whore, who wouldn't want that? The thing I love about doing it myself is the control I get, and if I could keep that, but get a little bit of help, I don't see a downside. The way things are right now, I would not do it if it was a major label, though. Those things are fucked dinosaurs, man, and like I said, I really don't think about it. I don't send out demos to labels anymore, as I think it's a really defeatist attitude. The Arrogant Sons of Bitches spent a bit of time waiting for something awesome to happen, but so much that we didn't realize that so many amazing things were always happening. It didn't matter that we weren't signed. So, you know, I don't strive for a label or a big tour. I strive to make music that I'm happy with, and when people are interested and it helps them through tough times, or it gives them the idea that "hey, fuck! i can do this!", that's more or less the best feeling in the world. On the other hand, I've got to wrap my guitar in miles of duct tape when I fly to England in a few months, so I guess more money wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
You appear to hold quite strong feelings towards major labels. Would you care to explain these thoughts?
I mean, I hold very strong feelings towards indie labels right now, too. They're just taking this music that I love, commodifying it, bringing five hundred bands that sound the same to the mall, and presenting it as "punk." Not to mention, it's usually really shitty. It's usually really misogynist, and a lot of these labels have this mindset that "one day an indie label will be at the top of the charts." Fuck, dude, I thought the whole point of this thing was that we were happy not to be at the top of the charts, you know? But, that shit has been going on for fucking ever, man. If punk didn't get run through the wringer in the 80's, I probably wouldn't have ever heard Elvis Costello, so I understand that. There's always going to be some good and some bad, and you've just got to learn for yourself how to pick it all out. I try not to get too wound up about indie record labels, but majors? They sue their audience! What fucking sense does that make? There is a copyright law which is called creative commons that allows an artist to have his/her works available for sampling through a means of non-commercial distribution. A technique like this could really push music forwards, and kids are going to do it, anyway. But, major labels have taken this fucking archaic, asinine position and it seems as if they don't want to promote any creativity in the world of music. It's not that I'm mad at them so much as I am fucking dumbfounded. Universal Records suing YouTube and Myspace? Websites that they use as promotion for their artists? Are you out of your mind? That's like eating at a restaurant for a year, suing them because the food was cold, and then continuing to eat there while the lawsuit is intact. It seems like majors are in it for the next five years, and then they're going to be gone, and it's this mad dash for every last fucking cent they can get from their audience, which I just don't think is good business. So, like I said, I'm not mad, I'm amazed! What are they thinking?
As a unique, independent artist, what are your uncensored thoughts on the current state of mainstream music?
I wrote this song on the last record that was my response to an article I had read in Alternative Press earlier in the year, and a lot of people have asked me who it's about and whatnot, and when you're a musician and you're in a band, you know that some of your friends are friends with these friends of these other friends and blah, blah, blah, so I never told anyone who the band was that talked about how they don't want to play it safe, while putting out a safe record. But, I'm glad I never did because that is fucking everyone now! Panic! at the Disco is talking about not playing it safe on their fourth single from their shitty album that sounds like the most forced attempt to bridge the gap between Fall Out Boy and whiney emo. You're fucking pop bands, for Christ's sake! I just don't get it. I do not play unsafe music! By listening to Bomb the Music Industry!, you are not going to get shot when you're walking down the street, and your house isn't going to burn down. You might get thrown out of school for wearing a Bomb the Music Industry! shirt, but that's as far as it goes. I can't think of any band/artist that is unsafe to listen to. These bands kind of have this policy that is not unlike our current administration; tell the kids you're doing one thing, and then go ahead and do another. So, we've got a huge amount of kids who think they're rebelling by being victims to marketing strategies. Uh, please. Then, on the other hand, there was probably some douche bag who was as pissed off as me doing an interview with a zine about the same stuff when Green Day started getting popular. So, I guess I'm just an old, whiny, cynical fuck when I think about it too much, so I usually don't. I think there are a lot of really good, special bands right now, though, and those bands seem to be getting some attention, too, so that's really cool.
If you could implement one, single change into the world of music, at this very moment, which would it be, and why?
I'd be fine with all the bands doing what they're doing, to be honest. You've got to have shitty bands to have great bands. I'd make major labels to stop suing their audiences, and maybe exercising a little more creativity in their ways to make money off of a record.
Bomb the Music Industry! are preparing to embark on the Skank and Destroy tour alongisde headliners Mustard Plug and Against All Authority, as well as additional support act Westbound Train. What can audiences expect from your performances on this tour?
Audiences can expect to see me smile really big on this tour, because I get to tour with some of the nicest people in bands I've ever met. Plus, all of the bands sound completely different, and they are all really good at what they do! I've been really excited about this tour for a very long time, so I guess you can expect me running on stage and singing with all the bands. If you're fortunate enough to catch the last show of the tour, I'm pretty sure you'll be fortunate enough to see every band on this tour sick of me being so excited about being on tour with them!
Once your current tour schedule has run it's course, what's next for Bomb the Music Industry?
I'm going to start trying to get together a big band down here for Bomb the Music Industry! I've already got some people who are going to incorporate baritone guitars, banjos, horns, synthesizers, percussion and some other stuff into the live performance. Right now is probably the first time in my life I've ever had the rest of the year planned out. So, I'm not really sure what's going to happen when the stuff I'm doing right now is done. I'll probably write some more songs, do some more tours, and work some more on Quote Unquote Records.
Which bands and/or artists would you recommend our listeners pay close attention to?
I felt bad before for talking so much shit about music right now, because there are a ton of good bands, but I would recommend that everyone Rchecks out some of the following bands: Deerhoof, We Versus The Shark, The Fad, Art Brut, The Blood Brothers, The Decemberists, Against Me!, Cinemechanica, Big D and the Kids Table, Westbound Train, The Thermals, Ted Leo, Cinemechanica, La Guillotine, The Hold Steady, The Go! Team, Armalite, Defiance, Ohio, The Riot Before, Dillinger Four, and Hot New Mexicans. There are probably a lot more, too. That's what I love about music. You can fucking hate what's going on while totally loving what's going on. I also really enjoy all the bands on Quote Unquote Records. I feel really honored to be able to work with all of them.
Well, Jeff, that's all the questions I have for you. Do you have any last words you'd like to leave our readers with before we say goodbye?
I ask you all to check out Quote Unquote Records, just because it's free! Also, check out the Matt Kurz One because he plays five instruments at the same time, and he's going out on tour soon. He deserves your love! As for last words? Don't worry. Dubya's got everything under control.
Thank you very much for your time, and best of luck in the future.