Interview with Ronnie from EarCandy_Mag
(CamChat) Ronnie, let's talk about the website first. I love the design and I visit EarCandy_Mag at least twice a month to get my music news and latest CD reviews.
You built the site yourself. Is that correct?
(Ronnie) Yes, that's right - but I had a lot of help from "Obi-John-Kennobi", the nickname that I gave my computer guru! (SickPuppy) He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me web design and giving me pointers along the way. And he guided me towards using AceHtml.
Since its humble beginnings in 1999, EAR CANDY has gone through A LOT of design changes. When I look at the old backups of the 1999 site, it is almost laughable it looked so amateurish! I guess I'm never satisfied with it, always wanting to make it look more professional! Plus, the free web site servers that I use keep changing their size requirements, which forces me to be frugal with all the images that I show.
(CamChat) Your site seems to cover all styles of music. Why is that?
(Ronnie) I listen to a lot of different stuff and I was betting that other people do to....and hoping that maybe they will find it interesting.
I guess I wanted it to reflect my musical tastes, which are never restricted to one genre. Depending on my mood, I will listen to: heavy metal, classic rock, oldies, garage rock...you name it. Hell, sometimes I even get out the hoaky stuff: ABBA, the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, the Archies...or some of those '80s "classics" such as Musical Youth, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Madness, etc. I recently got a copy of "Nuggets" (classic garage/psychedelic rarities) on CD and I'm really diggin' it!
Also, I'm a fan of the old CREEM magazine from the '70s and early '80s. I loved how they would cover many different musical styles. Plus, I LOVED their smart-ass attitude, ha ha.
(CamChat) Ronnie, you have interviewed some of the biggest names in the business, The Beach Boys, Motorhead, Britney Spears, Brian Wilson, Sex Pistols, The Kinks, just to name a few. Here's the next question.....
How do you do that?
(Ronnie) I'm sorry, but that is a classified government secret. My modus operandi is outlined in a document which currently resides in a safe inside of Area 51 in Nevada.
But seriously...its mainly just PERSISTENCE and LUCK! Persistence in that you don't give up when you hit a brick wall. For instance, the publicist for Henry Rollins kept promising us an interview, but never came through. One of my writers did some investigation and was finally able to reach Henry Rollins personally and got the interview! I think Mr. Rollins needs to find a competent publicist or at least cut his costs, ha ha! Oh, by the way, Rob Halford shares the same publicist, which explains why we never got that interview either!
Actually, I've had two things in my favor since EAR CANDY started. First is the internet explosion - now, every single band whether signed or not, has a web page and an e-mail and are easy to contact. Just a few short years ago, I had to handle all of this by telephone, which meant endless calls to Los Angeles or New York trying to reach the right person. And back then, you had to submit requests for interviews and such by FAX! But, only a few dinosaur publicists still ask for faxes.
The second thing in my favor is that the EAR CANDY page looks professional (especially compared to its origins in 1999) and we get quite a few hits, especially for a site that doesn't even have its own domain. We get about 10,000 hits every 4-5 days.
(CamChat) I know people who would KILL to be in the same room with some of the music stars that you have interviewed.
(Ronnie) Ha ha, actually only a very small percentage of the artists do their interviews in person. Most prefer to do "phoners", although I have had a few that actually prefered e-mail interviews.
(CamChat) Thanks again for getting me backstage at Motorhead. Hey, remember when the bar stopped selling beer, so we went backstage and started drinking Motorhead's beer? hehe. That was cool
(Ronnie) Actually, I think that was Nashville Pussy's beer!
(CamChat) I know your interview with Britney Spears was before she was really big, but what can you tell us about that interview.
Didn't you say her manager was a pain in the @ss?
(Ronnie) This was back in 1998...WAY before she was really big (both popularity wise and...well, you know - her so called "enhancements"...). So, it was basically a case of being in the right place at the right time. At this time (1998) she probably would have taken an interview by anybody, ha ha.
What was it like? Well, the interview was all set up and I appeared at the right door at the agreed upon time. "Sorry, you're not on the list" was what the guard at the door said. Although I had the publicists telephone number, I had no cell phone on me. I tried from a payphone, but since his number was a cell, they wanted like $10 in quarters to complete the call! So, I called my wife at home, had her call the publicist and see if he could call me at the payphone in the fucking venue! But, you know what? He was so fucking stuck up that wouldn't do it! So, I figured that the interview was a bust. Hell, my daughter got to see the show and I sold some of the extra tickets that Britney's people were oh so happy to send me. (Usually a publicist gives you only two, which makes sense...but they sent me like 6 of em! So, being the diehard capitalist that I am...I sold the ones remaining after my daughter's friends got in. )
But back to the story...I was hanging around the lobby during N'Sync's show (Britney was opening) when I heard this obnoxious guy in an expensive suit with artsy glasses yelling at some guy. Something told me that this was Britney's publicist, so I went up to him and asked. "Where were you", he yelled at me?! "I can give you 10 minutes with Britney, follow me" and we walked around the venue, thru the back alleyway to one of the backstage doors. All along the way, he wouldn't shut up..."if you are going to be in this business you need to learn to follow instructions" and crap like that! I'm thinking to myself..."this guy needs a good old fashioned Texas ass-beating" and thinking of very real ways that I can make his "fall" look like an accident to avoid any assault charges. Just at this time, Britney and a few of her dancers meet us outside. So, Brit's publicist doesn't know how close he came to an...."accidental fall". We got to her dressing room and I had about 10 minutes alone with Britney Spears! Although the interview was crap (just read the interview), I did get her to sign two autographs, one for me and one for my daughter. Ha ha, maybe I can sell mine on e-bay! Anyway, that's the whole story about how I met Britney Spears.
(CamChat) Can you give us any inside info on how we can meet the stars too?
(Ronnie) Well, you could join the Church of Scientology and meet all the Hollywood stars like John Travolta.....Or you can write for EAR CANDY!
Other than those two...I'm afraid that you are on your own and run the risk of violating the new stalking laws!
(CamChat) I have to ask. What was it like being in the same room with the sex pistols?
(Ronnie) Ha ha, actually that interview was done on the telephone. But, it was pretty funny because Glen Matlock called me from London to my day job office in Atlanta during my lunch break! Since I was in a cubicle, everyone else got to listen in on my interview! The same happened for my interviews with Brian Wilson and Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap - both on my lunch break at work! It's pretty funny to hear the receptionist go on the intercom and say, "Ronnie....there is a Derek Smalls for you on line 4"!!!!!!
But my interview with Lemmy was in person and let me tell you, he is intimidating!!!!!! (hint: read the interview to see the funny thing he did right after we met!) Actually, that was one of my favorite interviews.
(CamChat) I understand you used to write for printed publications. Tell us about that.
(Ronnie) After I first moved to Georgia in 1994, I wasn't playing with any bands. I was itching for a reason to go to shows. My brother in Austin had written for POP CULTURE PRESS, so I asked him for the number of the editor.
I started writing articles for them and then wrote for INDIE FILE and BAD TRIP. POP CULTURE PRESS has actually gotten bigger, almost a mainstream music magazine now. INDIE FILE bit the dust a few years ago and I'm not sure if BAD TRIP is still in existence.
(CamChat) Why did you decide to take your work to the internet?
(Ronnie) Actually, I started EAR CANDY so I could write about the bands who I wanted to write about!!! When I was a little guitar wielding teenager, I had NO idea that someday I would be talking to some of these people on the phone or meeting them in person!
But...I generally despise and detest and "serious" journalist. Most journalists are like music majors: pompous, condescending and generally clueless! So, priority number one was to make EAR CANDY "real"...not simply a soapbox for some geeky little attention-starved geek to rant about some album that only 3 people will ever buy or hear!!
So, I used the contacts that I had from writing for the 3 magazines (Rule #1: NETWORK!!), added my newly acquired web skills courtesy of Obi-John-Kennobi and EAR CANDY was born!
(CamChat) When did EarCandy_Mag go live on the net?
(Ronnie)August of 1999 was the first issue, although we've changed addresses a few time and been deleted a few times! The first time we were deleted was because I didn't read the 80 page "disclaimer" which goes with every single free web site. On page 69 (or was it 70?) they had a little rule against having mp3's on the site. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to this and had tons of downloadable mp3's on EAR CANDY. Presto! The page was soon gone.
Then, came the time my page was mysteriously deleted again. This happened about the time that I featured the Britney interview, so I'm guessing that Britney's people didn't approve - at the time I had some very unflattering pictures of Brit to go with the interviews. I never found out why, and the web people just said I violated the rules, so I'll never really know. I have since deleted the "offensive" pictures from the Britney interview, leaving only the interview itself along with a disclaimer that I have the actual cassette of the interview as proof as to what was actually said. Armed only with FACTS, they can't touch ya!
(CamChat) It looks like you archive everything on your site. I like that.
(Ronnie) Yep, I usually keep everything. I have started to delete very old stories about bands that broke up and never got signed. I originally wanted to save EVERYTHING, but I really had no idea when I started EAR CANDY that I would amass to many articles!
(CamChat) One of my favorite features at EarCandy_Mag are the CD reviews.
You have a WHOLE TEAM of people who review music for you. Who are these people, where did you find them, where do they come from, and why do they do it?
(Ronnie) I've always had an open invitation at EAR CANDY for anybody to write for us. That's how I find them...actually they find ME, ha ha! Why do they do it? Hell, I don't know, maybe they are like me...and have a love of music. About the only way I can "pay" them is free CD's. Actually just added two new writers in the last week...one from Sweden and one from Atlanta.
(CamChat) I bet people send you their CDs all the time in the mail for your review, don't they?
(Ronnie) Yes they do!!!! I had a family emergency for the last few months of 2002 and the CD's really stacked up!!! Luckily I have enough people (with varied tastes) that write for me that I was able to asign them all. Plus, I'll be reviewing about 12 of them myself in the next issue!
(CamChat) Your reviews are brutally honest. I have seen good and bad ones. It looks like you're not afraid to post a bad review.
(Ronnie) Ha ha, we do have a disclaimer at the EAR CANDY site that says something to the effect of, "dont send us your CD unless you want an honest review". I once had someone complain about their review...ha ha and her letter ended up being posted in EAR CANDY the following month. Hmmmmm....maybe that's what I need to add? A regular letters section!!!!!!!
(CamChat) Hey, try to get an interview with John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. That would rock.
(Ronnie) Sorry, I've tried that. He is one of the few artists that has no contact information whatsoever on his web page! I might be able to score ya a Barry Manilow interview, though! Or maybe a Bee Gees one...
(CamChat) I know your music career started in Texas, and I know you have won song writing awards. What song was it that won the award and who judged it?
(Ronnie) I've been in several bands over the years, the most productive being "airport noises". Ha ha, for a change of pace, one of our regular writers, DJ Ivan interviewed ME about airport noises in one issue of EAR CANDY. That was interesting...being on the other end...
The song was "Same Old Line" and it won 3rd place in a songwriting contest out in California in 1992. It was being judged by one of the members of the hit songwriting machine Boyce and Hart - they wrote a lot of hits for the Monkees and also had a solo hit on their own ("I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight?"). Ha ha, but I always forget which one was the judge...Bobby Hart or Tommy Boyce? (one of them is now dead, but again I forget if it is Boyce or Hart) Anyway, I have the original letter from him with the comments on the song.
(CamChat) You have also done some studio work? Production I belive?
(Ronnie) Yep, in addition to the airport noises CD back in 1996, I also was a session musician on a CD by Atlanta artist, Minnie Tee in 2000. I was also one of the "producers" on that album. It was definitely NOT a rock 'n roll record...but it was an excellent experience! Especially to see how the recording studios progresses just in the years between 1996 and 2000.
(CamChat) Name some more people you have interviewed.
(Ronnie) Members of: the Buzzcocks, Cheap Trick, the Sex Pistols, Lemmy, Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap, Dash Rip Rock, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, the Romantics, Peter Lacey, the Captain of Captain and Tennille...those are just some of them off the top of my head.
(CamChat) Just so the readers know, you bear an uncanny resemblance to Paul McCartney.
(Ronnie) I've been hearing that since I was about 16 years old!!! Ha ha, not as much lately since I've got a lot more grey in my hair now. But, at least I'm not losing my hair! Its all mine, no hairpiece!
(CamChat) Didn't you once play the part of Paul? What was that?
(Ronnie) Ha ha, that's how I met my wife!!! I audition for, and got the part of Paul McCartney in a play about John Lennon that she was directing. We married two years later.
(CamChat) Ronnie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. EarCandy_Mag rocks and I think you're amazing. Any last words?
(Ronnie) Thanks for finding me interesting enough to interview, ha ha!!! Be on the lookout...someday I'll have "earcandymag.com"!!!!!!