It has been a while since I last published a blogger interview on this blog. Luckily enough, I found this blog called NewRockNews43 that deals with underground rock music in a very interesting way. It is made of well-written blog posts about bands that you wouldn’t necessarily discover on your own and each post includes a description of the band’s sound and opinions on their records. The writer behind this is a college student called Adam Marx.
Born in New York City, Adam grew up in the Atlanta suburbs and is now going to school in Boston. He first got into music heavily around 8th grade, after his dad introduced him to the good old rock bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who and Cream. He then decided to start a band and got really into writing lyrics – he is also an avid writer of poetry. On NewRockNews43, Adam is doing another kind of writing in the form of blog posts about music. Check out the interview I conducted with him earlier in the month and don’t forget to check out his blog right after that!
Why did you start the blog NewRockNews43?
That’s a funny story actually. NewRockNews43 started out in late 2009 simply because I was at the beach and was bored on a rainy afternoon. Cliché as it sounds, it just came out of wanting to have something to do for a couple of days. It was the kind of thing that if 10 people read one of my short articles, I could close up shop and go home. To think that I have readers worldwide that log in to read my articles and reviews blows my mind. I think that’s also why my style of writing and topics changed over time: I started out writing about things like Green Day’s then new album 21st Century Breakdown and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’s then recent release Lonely Road; at that time my articles were very short and were basically just bursts of blogger thought making it out onto the web.
But over time, I started searching for my “niche” and sort of fell into it when I started writing short articles about unheard-of and underground bands. Using sites like Unsigned.com, as well as the basic ones like Myspace and Facebook, I started stumbling upon hundreds of artists that I’d never heard of before; ones that were just simmering below the surface of the mainstream. These artists were (and are) just begging -metaphorically- for attention, and the more attention I started to give them, the more my articles started to change stylistically. From the short bursts of paragraph-length posts, I started to move into a more journalistically-influenced style of writing, posting longer articles with more detail, like you might find in the more popular music magazines.
What makes it different from other blogs on rock music?
The first thing I can think of is my subject matter: most of these artists have never had a write-up in their lives, yet they win contests and play Warped Tour and get minor play on their home radio stations. And I’m talking about artists from all across the spectrum genre-wise: I’ve covered bands whose sounds run along the lines of everything from heavy thrash metal and hard-rock to pop-punk and acoustic rock. What makes it even better is the relative ease with which you can contact and talk to the actual artists: they’re more than happy to talk to you and hype your blog simply because they’re getting coverage there too. That’s something I love about what I do: as a true music fan, nothing compares to the opportunity to sit down with an artist or band and find out the background behind the music.
That leads me to my second thing: I’m not interested in band politics and drama and I don’t do negative articles. Sometimes a band or artist gets involved with a certain political cause, and I suppose that if it was something I really thought was important I’d cover it, but that hasn’t happened yet, and I’m just not interested in reporting on band drama. Similarly, I don’t do negative articles simply because I don’t agree with the idea of writing a ripping review of an album. I think it’s an outdated concept that in many ways poisons music journalism and distracts from the real enjoyable things in music. It’s those negative articles and reviews that ripped albums or bands that I liked that always turned me off to mainstream music magazines. It’s that component of pretentiousness that I’m not interested in bringing to my site.
My last thing is that I love hearing new things all the time. I will be that journalist who takes time to listen to each and every album that’s sent to me and respond to every band or artist, no matter how outside my realm of knowledge it might be. When I write an article, I want the readers to be able to hear the album in their heads, so by listening to a larger and larger pool of music, it actually helps my writing to remain fresh and interesting.
You also keep a Facebook page and a Twitter account for the blog. It seems like you’ve got more on your mind that just keeping a blog?
Well, I actually started my Facebook and Twitter pages to give my readers an easier way to keep up with new posts on my blog and for bands to post new updates of their own. Up until now, the traffic on those pages has been of a relatively small quantity, but hopefully that will change in the future as NewRockNews43 grows in the coming years.
Other than my music journalism though, I’m thinking of getting into music production. I’m experimenting with an idea where I’d like to talk to some artists and discuss how their sounds could be. You know, like “put a drum roll here,” or “add another solo there” kind of thing. In that way, I suppose it’s more of a music consultation than a production credit, but it’s something I’m presently exploring and might run with in the future.
Are there any other blogs that you find interesting reading?
Actually, I’ve been reading and conversing with the writer of Heavy Metal 107 (Happy Headbanger), a heavy metal blog that just really exhibits what blogging is about. It’s a great place to find out about new metal and hard-rock bands, and a great forum for discussions on the greats like Motörhead, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath.
There are of course countless other sites and blogs out there that are just great to check out and are a credit to the underground music scene. I couldn’t name them all if I tried, but one of the things I always love is finding new blogs to read and connect with, so for any readers out there who have any, the two things I would say are definitely keep writing, and shoot me an email, because I’d love to read them.
Do you think there’s a valuable difference between music blogging and music journalism? Do you consider yourself a blogger or a music journalist?
That’s actually a question I’ve been thinking a lot about since I’ve been taking the journalism class I’m in. I think that years ago, the term “music journalist” had a really negative social stigma to it (just watch Almost Famous), but with the rise of the internet and blogging as powers in the music journalism industry, I think the lines are blurring indefinitely; that our notion of how should music journalism be conducted is changing.
In the old days, if you decided to write for a music magazine or some such publication, first you went to college to get a journalism degree. Then you applied for a job at a magazine, paid your dues, got your first shot at writing a real article, and went on assignment. Then you prayed that the publication would run your story, and you wrote it whatever way they told you to write it to get it published. I’m sure there were exceptions to this, but very few in my opinion. That’s really what planted the seeds of mistrust between artists and journalists; the journalist many times focused on the drama rather than the music.
But now, with the rise of blogging, and being your own researcher, writer, publisher, and promoter, you can essentially write whatever you want within the bounds of legal and journalistic standards. You’re finding a lot more people focusing their writing on the things they wanted to read in music magazines: how the band’s new album sounds, what sort of influences an artist has, or how the artists think they might move in a new direction.
So really, on one hand I think of myself as a music journalist, but on the other I consider myself a blogger. I’m a music journalist because I do my research, I take time to properly word, redraft, and edit my articles, and I try to write hard-hitting pieces that generate interest in my readers and subjects. Yet, I’m a blogger because I write what I want; I write what I would want to read as a music fan. I don’t answer to anyone, and there’s no one breathing down my neck telling me to tone down the detail about the new album and talk about why the lead singer left abruptly, or some drama like that. I suppose I’m one of a new breed of music writers who are a combination of traditional journalistic ethics and internet-age concepts of innovation.
What does the future hold for you blog? Are there ideas or projects that you would like to develop?
Haha, that’s a good question. I wonder that every day. Well, it for sure means more bands, more reviews, more lists, and more interviews. I’m in the process of learning how to do some podcasting, so hopefully that will show up sometime too. In the near future, my blog will definitely see an upgrade in usability which I’m working on now, and hopefully some new artwork that really sets it apart and says what it’s all about. Right now I’m looking into making my site the best site for what I write about; ideally it will become the place for music fans to discover new music.
As far as projects I’d like to develop, I have a few in the works. I’m always looking for and reaching out to new bloggers and contacts who show an interest in teaming up and doing new things, so there’s always an open invitation for anyone to email me with new ideas. Mainly though, I’m just really excited for the future, and I can’t wait to see what comes pumping out of these ideas.
– Your top three favorite bands at the moment: To make this fair, I won’t give you any of the bands from my own site, because there are just too many amazing ones to choose from. But others? Definitely Yellowcard, Third Eye Blind, and Eve 6.
– Last album that blew your mind: Haha I suppose you’re gonna see a lot of Yellowcard on here. It was definitely Yellowcard’s new album When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes.
– Last concert you attended: Ironically enough, Yellowcard. I saw them on Halloween weekend. Amazing show.
And now, check out Adam’s blog here!