arena rock releases music we like whether it's pre-major or post-major. superdrag was our very first release well before they went to a major. we've remained fans and it's good to have them back. as far as luna...i loved their major label records and this was just a great opportunity. most of our bands have not had major record deals but if anyone is unhappy where they are then they should have another option. i guess we're the "single boy-in-waiting".
This online interview of Greg Glover of The Arena Rock Recording Co. was conducted over a series of emails between October 3rd and 4th, 2000.
Having Luna and Superdrag on your roster, do you feel you are the label that offers bands the opportunity to take their careers into their own hands after dealing with life in the majors?
arena rock releases music we like whether it’s pre-major or post-major. superdrag was our very first release well before they went to a major. we’ve remained fans and it’s good to have them back. as far as luna…i loved their major label records and this was just a great opportunity. most of our bands have not had major record deals but if anyone is unhappy where they are then they should have another option. i guess we’re the “single boy-in-waiting”.
How many bands do you have on your label?
arena rock has less than five current acts. big dynamite…small package.
Why did those bands decide to put out records with your label?
with superdrag…our very first release was a seven inch by them. i remained in touch and love their music. with luna…their manager knew arena rock and contacted me when they were dropped from elektra and then again when their most recent label went belly-up.
What type of suggestions do you make to the bands on your label?
no shiny shirts! if there’s a song on yer new record that everyone in the room is screaming for….you should play it. show up for in-stores.
What differentiates your label from a major label?
arena rock is essentially my partner and i. there aren’t a million people to “approve” everything so we have a close relationship with our artists. the artists are mostly in control with our opinions, of course. we don’t force them into doing anything they don’t want to do although it IS our money and we make suggestions from time to time. we do, however, have major distribution (ADA). any buyer at a record store can now get our records when they order nirvana, girls against boys, superchunk or most other indie stuff. it’s no longer much of a problem when our artists are out on tour and go into a local shop to see if their records are there. if they aren’t in stock it’s because the store didn’t pay the bills. our artists DO get to stay at the arena rock headquarters here in brooklyn instead of the parmount in nyc. that can be good or bad depending on how drunk they get. i end up having to make the beds.
How often do you listen to unsolicited materials? Do you want to?
i listen about once a month to a pile that accumulates in our headquarters.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job that a typical music fan wouldn’t be aware of?
a typical music fan is going to buy whatever he/she chooses. once we decide to release something our asses are on the line both financially and creatively. no one sees you when you walk into a store and inconspicuously buy a copy of cristopher cross’ first record. if we released that…we’d be in some serious shit.
Do you have a day job or do you live off the label?
i have a day job at a major label. i take “the man’s” money and give it to the kids. a real modern day robin hood.
Do you feel distributors have a heavy hand in indie music? Such as if you aren’t that big it’s harder to get them to distribute your records?
you are 100 percent correct. why would they want to take something they can’t sell. they have to stay in business as well. there’s only so much charity you can give and stay alive. we’ve managed to that on our label. i’m not telling which acts. honest, it’s great to have credible acts but you gotta pay the bills. geffen got nirvana by having sonic youth.
How important is it to be in New York City, or any other major market city, for a band and for a label?
i don’t think it matters where you choose to live and start a label. take merge for instance. mac and laura have been there for ages and have had success on their own terms. i like them because not only are they decent folks but they release different types of music without the attitude. they also pay less rent.
But didn’t Mac get his training here in NYC as a student at Columbia, cut his teeth in the biz so to speak? He also spent all those years touring making those connections in order to get his label together?
i’m not sure of mac’s background. i don’t think he needed connections to
begin his label. it just takes a bit of heart and a hard head.
Why do you stay in New York?
my day job. this city’s addictive.
What is your favorite rock city?
i don’t really have one. that’s the toughest question you’ve asked.
What is your favorite label?
i don’t really have a favorite label. as mentioned, merge is great. hell, i like our label if i must choose one. i will tell you that i don’t like labels that specify in just one genre. they may be good at what they’re doing but in my opinion, they’re being close-minded.
How did you get into the music biz?
my parents were divorced when i was very young. music pacified me. i read every liner note to almost every record in the 70’s. i loved it. when i graduated college i saved up enough money from waiting tables and working at record stores and moved to nyc. i did a fanzine. i met publicists. i went to shows. my pal, dan, (who’s now my partner) had the idea and i knew a band and said “why not?”.
Generally what do you think about the prevalence of mp3s and the whole Napster Phenomenon?
i’m not sure how i feel about it. i always wanted to buy a record…support the local music store and end up with the entire package in my hands.
Do you believe that the “record” is going to become obsolete in favor of structures like the subscription system that some labels are toying with, and how do you think this change in music delivery changes the way the public looks at bands?
well, it’s all radio at major labels. as far as how the public views bands…live is the best setting. i’d rather see a bad band on stage sweating it out rather than “streaming” a video/song or watching some guy with baggy trousers spinning a record. i wear baggy boxers and play records at home. i don’t need that when i’m out at night. let’s have the band play or just get me to an old man bar and i’ll play the jukebox.
What’s your favorite old man bar in NYC?
i can’t share that. i do love milano’s on houston street…turkey’s nest in williamsburg…greenpoint tavern in williamsburg…and a couple old man, polish bars in my ‘hood.
What bar has the best jukebox?
i like the jukebox at the tile/international bar. the replacements “tim” is always good to drink to. the best jukebox i’ve EVER heard is in a brooklyn bar called o’connors. it’s got pretty things, kinks, pavement plus it features area musicians. i think any great jukebox should have around 20% local music. the bartender is a guy named, spike priggen. he provides the juke with the great selection and is a musician himself. o’connors is also in arena rock’s “top ten bars in the country” list.
What do you think of the “scene” concept and its seemingly demise here in NY?
i’ve never understood why there’s no “indie scene” here. it’s not much of a community in terms of helping each other out like there seemed to be in austin, athens and then seattle. maybe it’s because it’s such a dog-eat-dog city…every man for himself. beats me.
Have you seen the bartender’s at enid’s blow fire? Is that the closest place to where one can find the scene in NY?
enid’s is so up it’s own ass although clay and ms. lola are cool bartenders. it’s really a “scene” but in a thrift store sort of way. man, i don’t care what you say…i’m not growing my mullet again.
Do you believe the labels, both major and indie, had the responsibility to see this mp3 thing coming and should’ve prepared themselves better?
i don’t think as an indie label you “plan” for technology. we have our website and we sell things there (www.arenarockrecordingco.com). i just want to release music that we feel passionate about and if a new record store opens on mars…you’ll be able to find it there.
What do you think is in the future for small labels in relation to Napster?
i’ve never downloaded a record from napster. a few of our bands are for it. i don’t like seeing our promos on ebay. it rips off the kids. any journalist who sells our records there should be gutted.
Do you believe there will ever be any regulation, any royalty paying system for downloaded mp3s?
i think artists should be payed for what they sell. it’s sad but i think many kids don’t care about an entire full-length these days and that depresses me.
What can we do to change the kids’ minds about getting back into the album?
god, i don’t know. maybe have them smell the gatefold.
Do artists lose credibility the more music becomes easily stolen and/or easily downloaded?
i’m not much for what is considered “credible”. it’s all subjective to the listener. mellencamp isn’t credible most circles but i love him. i loved the new radicals record too. i listened to that more than i did the latest sonic youth or fugazi record.
Do musicians in general loose credibility with the mass popular audience when their music becomes free on Napster?
i don’t think they lose credibility. they lose money (in my opinion).
Do you think there is a rift growing within the “underground” between those that don’t care about the hit and those that want the music to keep living?
i feel the only rift between “underground” and “popular” is from people who have nothing better to do. i can’t be bothered.
Does music have a significant cultural value that is a necessary element in the survival in a culture like in the US?
i’m not sure that music is “necessary for survival” but when you think of procreation it’s difficult to imagine it without the sounds of barry white or galaxy 500 in the background.
Do you believe in the theory that every band has to have a hit single in order to make it?
it depends on what level. on a major label these days…yes. even a band like radiohead had to have a hit single in order to gain the attention they’re getting these days. i’m not a fan but i respect them. they’d never be on the cover of spin without “creep” a few years ago. i don’t see shellac on the cover of spin. then again, there are bands that have had a hit single and can’t get arressted by the time the second record gets released. it’s completely fucked.
You don’t see shellac on the cover of spin because mr. albini is so damn scary. Is he the producer of our indie era, and if not who is?
i don’t like his attitude. his mommy didn’t buy him an atari when he was a little boy and now he’s angry.
Do you wish there was more rock AND ROLL in contemporary music rather than indie-rock or rock?
that’s the second hardest question you’ve asked. are you stoned? i like rock and roll. rock ain’t so bad every now and then. deep purple’s highway star fucking “rocked”!
What issues would you like to see Tranjka discuss in future editions?
more 80’s bands. let’s hear it for cutting crew, hooters, mr. mister, winger and honeymoon suite!!!!
Hey, I saw the Hooters in 1988 at the pier on west 45th street, they rocked! They opened for Squeeze! Do you miss songwriters like those guys, songs with story lines and not necessarily songs about girls?
i can’t believe you liked the hooters. i loved them. saw them in birmingham, alabama opening for loverboy. i liked them too. fuck it. let’s not even get started about the outfield “play deep” record…
What is your favorite 80’s band and why?
it was probably U2 or the hooters if you must know. naw, it’s gotta be the replacements.
What is the best album of the 90’s?
tie: shack “hms fable” or flaming lips “transmissions from the satellite heart”
What bands do you feel aren’t getting the attention they deserve?
all of mine (laughs). our illyah kuryahkin records are some my favorite of all time. great press equals no sales.
Learm more about The Arena Rock Recording Co by visitng their website at http://www.arenarockrecordingco.com