BEST FRIDAYS: with Jeff Rosenstock of Bomb the Music Industry! and Quote Unquote Records

What’s Worst Mondays without a dark and villainous foil? That’s the kind of thinking that forced us to create Best Fridays. So for all our weekend warrior brethren: Wooooo, T-G-I-F, right? Herein we hope to bookend your awful week by quizzing our previous Worst Mondays candidate about slightly more encouraging things. Every Friday!

Alright, this hasn’t been our busiest week. But it was Christmas and we started a record label, so between all the turkey and family and free rock and roll, I don’t feel too bad about the state of things over here.

But we didn’t forget about our friend Jeff Rosenstock and his pretty much the best answers to this crap so far. Plus, we stole his idea for an online-only donation-based record label. Seriously, these are the best answers so far. Everyone else, time to step your game up.

Best injury
About a year ago my friend Brett from the Riot Before came to visit New York right when I moved to Brooklyn. I parked my van with all of my stuff in a nicer neighborhood and longboarded to the bar where we met up. While jumping between bars, we rode the longboard together in the rain and everything was fine. When we got to the next bar, I bought Brett a 32 oz. beer but he’s a baby so kept pouring his beer in my cup. When I left it was pretty cold so I decided to skate to the train station instead was a good compromise between skating home drunk or walking to the train station in the cold. I actually made it just about to the train station fine, but when going up the curb I flew in the air and landed on my wrist. Since I was pretty hammered I didn’t feel anything until I woke up at 6 in the morning because the pain was so crazy. It was either a fracture or a sprain, but since I didn’t have health insurance I just bought a 15 dollar brace at the pharmacy, and tried my best to stay off it ’cause I had a tour coming up. However, I couldn’t refrain from going to the bar without my brace and re-fucking my wrist while high fiving someone who had the same sweatshirt as me, bringing me back to the brace for another two weeks. Dumb dumb.

Best historical figure
Is Doug E. Doug a historical figure?

Best shirt
For my kickball team a few years ago, I took a few hours to painstakingly craft a stencil of Karl Malone‘s face for our jerseys (we were Karl Malone and the Mailmen)… the stencil was super thin though, so after like two shirts it looked kinda distorted and gnarly. I got one of the least gnarly shirts and I would wear it every day if it didn’t say “666” on the back of it… I still wear it quite a bit though.

Best thing to do with $20
What is there besides skipping lots of meals, not eating anything but rice, walking or riding your bike instead of taking the subway, getting your music off the internet, asking your friends to put you on guest lists for their five-dollar shows, then spending that twenty dollars on tipping well on overpriced bottles and cans of beers at bars in Brooklyn? I guess the best way to spend $20 is taking your girlfriend out to dinner or buying your buddies a drink. You owe ’em.

Best party trick
I can play songs on my face by slapping my hollowed out cheeks. I can also fit my fist in my mouth.

Best monster
In all honesty I thought that the monster that chased Janice Ian from Mean Girls down the subway tunnel in Cloverfield and then dug into her back and made her eyes bleed and her body explode was pretty fucking bad ass. I also thought the smoke monster on Lost was pretty cool, but we need more action from it!

Best question ever asked of you in an interview. Now answer it:
From Scott Heisel, regarding Alternative Press‘s 100 Bands You Need To Know in 2007:

“Some meaningful quotes from you about the band—your sound; what makes you special; why you do what they do; which is cooler, monkeys or ninjas; stuff like that. Just responding via e-mail is A-OK for this; no need to set up a phone interview. The more in-depth you can be, the better.”

My answer, circa January 2007: [Ed’s note: The following is hilarious, poignant, unedited and far, far, far too long to be on the front page of a blog. Read it.]

we’re based out of athens, ga right now but we’ve got members in new
york and grand rapids, mi too. and even sometimes a dude in new
hampshire. i bet that makes things very easy for you.

basically, touring bomb the music industry! is a handful of people,
often with an ipod instead of a drummer, with a really loose
commitment to dropping everything they do to go on tour. I think it’s
fun like that because everyone’s always excited to be playing the
shows, every show is different and it’s nice to be able to just enjoy
playing music with friends where no one feels like missing out on a
tour here or there will ruin the momentum (i’m also very thankful that
it hasn’t.) The idea at first was to have a collective, and then it
became a band for quite some time and now it’s back to collective
mentality, where everyone’s scattered across the country but still a
part of it, which I love. We all work our asses off at home and then
celebrate every night we’re on tour. It keep things interesting for

I think that regardless what the music sounds like, what we do in Bomb
the Music Industry! is very very much based in punk rock ethics and
ideals – not in the “Please Kill Me/We’ve Got The Neutron Bomb” drug
abuse/nihilism kind of way but more in the “Mike Park/Ian McKaye”
treat as you’d like to be treated, stay true to yourself and try to
create something new kind of way. My old band, the Arrogant Sons of
Bitches, had played a lot of shows across the country and it felt like
the punk rock scene had become way too focused on merchandise and
consumer culture, the opposite of what it was supposed to be. I had
always found my drawn to the punk rock scene because it was something
that was rooted in community and friendship – not price tags. As an
experiment, I decided to start up this project in my bedroom recording
the songs on a laptop computer and giving them away for free on our
website. The reason I make music is to share it with people, so it
seems counter-productive to not get it all out there immediately. Once
we started playing shows, it was a decision that we should paint
people’s blank t-shirts (or hoodies) (or pants) (or _____) instead of
screening x amount of shirts, mathing it out every night to determine
what our gross profit was and what our net profit was, developing more
and more and more debt (and thinking about shirts instead of music.)
Instead we spent a little bit on paint and stencils, we almost always
make up for that with donations. It’s nice to know you only have a
little bit of money out of your pocket to pay off (which is usually
way less than a night of drinking in new york) instead of a huge
insurmountable pile of debt. It makes having fun a lot easier.
Granted, I understand why bands have tons of merchandise and why they
need to sell them and why that culture is at shows and I don’t knock
anyone for it. I just figured I’d try things a different way because
my favorite punk rock bands have been those that have done that.

I feel really honored to be a part of the ska scene right now. I’m not
really sure how to describe the Bomb the Music Industry! sound but
like all bands that choose to use upbeats in their songs, we are more
than likely to be referred to as a ska band and put on shows with ska
bands. As a ska fan, I don’t think we’re a ska band any more than
we’re a folk band or a synth rock band or a hardcore band, but I’m
proud to fly that flag if that’s what we’re given. In the past few
years the ska scene has started growing stronger, and bands like
Mustard Plug, Big D and the Kids Table, Streetlight Manifesto,
Westbound Train, The Fad, Catch-22, The Flaming Tsunamies, Against All
Authority, The Planet Smashers and Rx Bandits sound NOTHING like one
another. It’s fun to be allowed to join a group of such variety and
since there’s such a chastisement that goes along with “ska” I feel
it’s probably the only genre of music right now that is not trying to
be cool. We already know that Pitchfork and Skyscraper and Razorcake
and Maximum Rock and Roll think we’re lame, so we can concentrate on
making music and building our own little thing instead of hoping to
impress anyone. That’s a freedom that cooler bands aren’t fortunate
enough to enjoy.

The most recent Bomb the Music Industry! record is Goodbye Cool World.
This was all recorded in various bedrooms and bathrooms in my Forest
Hills, NY apartment. Forest Hills is where the Ramones are from. They
went to school about five blocks from me, and I passed this school
every time I drove to my never exciting job touching up of stock
photos of naked people doing back flips (see mail-1.jpg attached). The
Ramones factor had no effect on the area, which is mostly filled with
70-year-olds and Sephardic Jews who sat in a giant circle in their
wheelchairs outside my apartment every Sunday and felt that since my
skin is kind of tan that I was a Mexican and that I had no right
dating a white girl. It was strange. The combination of working 9 – 5
and having 70-year-olds who don’t appreciate many things other than
quietly staring out the window onto their fire escape led me to have a
very difficult time recording the album. By 7:00 PM, all vocals and
electric instruments had to stop. By 8:00 PM, all noise no matter how
loud had to stop. My general day of recording the record would consist
of me racing through rush hour traffic, trying to find a parking spot
on a busy street, running up to my apartment, setting up a recording
studio in my roommate’s room with better acoustics than mine,
recording about 30 – 45 minutes worth of music, drinking a cup of
water, recording the few quieter instruments, breaking down the
recording studio, cooking dinner and watching Top Chef, taking a 45
minute subway ride to Manhattan, enjoying one or two whiskeys with a
friend, returning home at 2 AM, waking up at 7 AM to do it all again.
It was very hectic but makes for a mildly entertaining story that is
not entertaining as much as it is cranky. Waaaah. It was released for
free on the internet in June and I think we had over 5,000 people who
downloaded the album in its first month, not to mention the amount of
singular tracks, which I didn’t keep track of as well.

2007 is going to bring a few more Bomb the Music Industry! releases.
First off will be a split with Houston, TX ‘orgcore heartthrobs O!!!
Pioneers!!! This release (Team Science/Absestos/Quote Unquote Records)
will focus on slightly more political matters as I have felt that it’s
strange that even with the overabundance of political songs recently,
there have been very few that have tapped into how I feel about
things. Me me me me me. This CD will come with a comic book drawn by
Nothing Nice to Say’s Mitch Clem. July 31st will see the release of
the first Bomb the Music Industry! full-length record with a real live
drummer. This record is called Get Warmer and discusses the pros and
cons of moving (or touring, or drinking, etc.) as a vehicle to solve
problems through distraction. We’re recording it with Joel Hadstat (of
Pegasuses-XL fame) who I feel is one of the best up and coming
producer/engineer people right now. He’s got a set-up in a warehouse
type space and gets these huge sounds so I’m looking forward to the
contrast of that as compared to recording in a bedroom. We haven’t
decided whether or not we’re gonna release that on a label yet, but
like everything it will be free on Quote Unquote Records. There is
also talks of a split towards the end of the year with The Emotron
which will include both bands covering half of Everclear’s Sparkle and
Fade in an incriminatingly unironic fashion.


“The more in-depth you can be, the better.”

This past year I started Quote Unquote Records, and as far as I know
this is the first digitally oriented record label that relies solely
on donations as a means for money for advertisements, promotion and
recording budget. This came about when I was on tour with Rick Johnson
(Bomb the Music Industry! bassist, also of Rick Johnson Rock and Roll
Machine and Mustard Plug) and we had played a show with The Matt Kurz
One, a friend who learned how to play five instruments at the same
time. The performance was so amazing that we took him on the rest of
the tour and eventually decided to try to give him the same treatment
as Bomb the Music Industry! – a mildly successful attempt at getting
music to a larger audience. It has grown a little bit larger than that
now, and I feel proud that we are releasing some great music for
people and they have the option of donating if they like it and want
it to keep going. That’s what punk rock is to me, the support of your
community. Last year we released stuff from Pegasuses-XL, Rick Johnson
Rock and Roll Machine and The Livingbrooks and this year we’re working
with even more bands – The Riot Before (Richmond, VA pop-punk (not the
bad kind)), Satori (ex-Rx Bandits, California based tradition ska,
rocksteady, dub and soul) and Chotto Ghetto (Southern California late
80’s post-punk/hardcore but NOW) – all of which I’m sure you will
receive slightly less wordy e-mails from me about (get that “report
spam” button ready, bro.)

I don’t know. I use drum machines because I can’t play the drums. I
use a lot of synthesizers, horns, acoustic and electric instruments,
percussion, pianos and more because, if you haven’t realized yet by
the unnecessary length of this email, I tend to overdo things. So I
guess it sounds like Brian Wilson and Minor Threat trying to play
Neutral Milk Hotel and Dillinger Four covers, but ending up being
compared to Less Than Jake because the songs have that bit of ska in
them (or on a good day, Big D.) And that’s why I’m bad at this.

The beginning of last year, I had started booking a tour with the Rick
Johnson Rock and Roll Machine only to realize that most of my band in
New York was stuck in jobs that they could not leave, even for a few
weeks (come on) to go to Florida in the winter (come on!!!) Eventually
Rick had convinced me to go on tour with and iPod playing the songs
(which is how he does it) and offered to play bass. I mean, shit, They
Might Be Giants and Against Me! have toured like that kinda. Thanks to
this rare lapse in insecurity on my part, i was lucky enough to do so
many things things past year that far surpassed any goals I thought I
could ever achieve. I guess i had always felt that my goal was that
maybe someone somewhere might hear one of my songs and like it and see
how I’m doing things and think “Hey, I could do that!” This past year
I toured the country, played with some really reputable ska bands that
I loved as a kid (and still do), started a record label where more
artists can do stuff on their own terms and distribute it as they see
fit – fuck, man, I got to go to England and Ireland on a really good
tour for FREE. There were some people who flew from Austria to see
Bomb the Music Industry! in London. I got to release music for free to
everyone and a record label (Asbestos Records) still allowed me to
fulfill a lifelong dream of having ridiculously rare, meticulously
numbered and vibrantly colored vinyl. Think that last part over again
while listening to track 10 on Goodbye Cool World and visualize a
semi-fat dude sitting in an empty room about to be evicted from his
apartment completely naked because it is 90 degrees outside playing a
ukulele that is about the size of a ping-pong paddle. Yeah, I don’t
know how it happened either. If I was the kind of person who could
physically stop making music, I’d stop right now. Bomb the Music
Industry! has done so much more than I ever thought it could, I
couldn’t ask for more and I’m extremely grateful.

It’s exciting to find out that you’re going to be featured in a
nationwide publication (apparently after I had rumoredly “totally
blew” a “huuuuge feature” in punk planet) so I did what any artist you
need to know about in 2007 would do: I called my girlfriend, and IMed
the two people I know who still use instant messenger that were online
(one of which was my mother, who had gone idle.) After this huge
celebration, I went to wash dishes at a pizza place and got completely
fuckin’ slammed, so much that I was there more than two hours after
closing, moppin’ and scrubbin’. The next day we drove seven hours to
Wilmington, North Carolina (two hours in the wrong direction) to play
a free show, wrote “Kerry/Edwards 2004” “Not My President” and “Vote
or Die” on our arms in an attempt to be hilariously anachronistic. The
response was 98% confusion, except for one drunk dude who was in the
audience who threatened to kick our asses for “insulting soldiers” and
swore he could take out me, Matt, Jeff (bassist) and Kyle (of the
Emotron) in one punch. He clearly doesn’t like hilarious anachronism
and has an impressive punchspan. I wondered if Bloc Party had the same
experience a few years ago.

TOURING PLANS: This year is pretty recording extensive but there are
some plans for some smaller tours, especially since the end of last
year was spent opening up big shows, where people (who DID at least
get really good shows) who came to see us had to pay a little more
than usual and we got to play for about 25 – 30 minutes. We’re touring
a few weeks in March to play a block party during the SXSW hubbub. May
and June will see another tour with our buddies Chotto Ghetto, and
there’s also been talks of our first Canadian tour finally as well as
(fingers crossed) another European tour that would cover more of the
mainland (fingers crossed still.) We don’t really see touring as a way
of promotion, because having everything available for free does the
same. We tour ’cause it’s fun, when it’s possible and we release music
the same way.

Cinemechanica, We Versus the Shark, The Hot New Mexicans, Cars Can Be
Blue, Sanawon, Scream Poet Scream, The Matt Kurz One, Mustard Plug,
The Fad, Chotto Ghetto, The Riot Before, etc.

Deerhoof, Quasi, Regina Spektor, Botch

“I don’t know,” says Rosenstock, “I heard this interview with Ian
McKaye once where he said that so many bands have blown his mind over
the years that he just wants to return the favor. I think that’s a
pretty good reason to make music and the only thing you could hope
for.” He sits on the park bench to finish his cigarette and offers me
a ride back to his hotel. We get up to the room, toss back a few lines
of blow and finish watching the post-season football games of the day.
I guess that’s a pretty good reason indeed. [SH]

It seems easier to me to just be nice and honest with people, and
that’s actually been working. We’ve broken even on tours by asking for
what we spend in gas and a little more to eat if the show does well.
People have donated money and allowed us to keep the free music online
going and we can actually pay for records to be recorded better now.
Like I said a million times, people always told me this would never
work and I consequently never thought anyone would hear this or care.
But I guess those people were wrong, and not being a jerk can really
go a long way. And even if it doesn’t, at least at the end of the day
you feel good ’cause you weren’t a jerk.

Minjas. I mean “thanks.”

Posted on December 26, 2008 by | Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | 10 Comments »| Tags: , ,

10 Responses »

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