NOT JUST FOR GARAGE BANDS
have been many Internet-based radio stations in Boston over the past
few years—some more successful than others. This fact doesn’t deter
Jeff Royds and his quest to provide quality streamed and podcast-based
local music. Despite the name of the site, Boston Garage Bands Radio
does not cater solely to the garage genre—all types of rock ’n’
roll are showcased. The site offers opportunities for artists to distribute
their music and their message via recorded music and band interviews,
which Jeff conducts weekly at, of all places, a local pizza joint somewhere
in Metro West. Jeff’s overriding interest in this venture is to help
other local musicians disseminate their music to as many people as possible;
he does this free of charge—a philanthropic endeavor to be sure. I
met with both Jeff and his partner, Kim Slamin, to gain a better understanding
of the inner workings of bostongaragebands.com.
Noise: How did you come up with
Jeff: Well, I was looking around at other websites and I couldn’t
really find any that would do what I wanted. I was just starting to
get back into the music scene. I was creating my own CD and just starting
to get my band, Bullethead, together. This was just at the beginning
of the boom of MySpace and all of the other free websites. They are
great, of course. But I was looking for different ways to promote my
band and for things that the other websites couldn’t do.
Noise: What were you looking for?
Jeff: I wanted to know the back-story of the band—most bands
sort of interview themselves or put up a bio on their MySpace or Web
page. I wanted to hear more about the bands. I listened to a podcast
that was about Apple Macs and at the end of it they played a local band
from somewhere around the country. I thought that the band was cool
and I wished that I could find out more about them. I wanted to know
what motivated them to write the song and what went into it.
Noise: That’s an interesting take on music-based sites. Do
you have the technical background to start this?
Jeff: I’ve been playing music since I was 12 and I was basically
a band geek. I had minimal computer experience. I started off with an
Apple program called iWeb. Everything is click and drag. I thought—hey
I can do that! I bought a MacBook Pro and a couple of microphones and
a mixer and said, “I’m going to do this.”
Noise: What other background do you have that made you feel that
you could do something like this?
Jeff: I have a background in radio. I interned at WFNX back in
the ’90s. I did the overnight shift at B-106 up in New Hampshire.
I worked on a Sunday morning show that is now an oldies station out
in Worcester. So, I had the radio background; I mainly got out of radio
because it was changing and I didn’t really know what I wanted to
do with it. This is giving me an opportunity to do what I wanted to
do with music and radio. I love talking about music and this just seemed
like a good idea for me.
Noise: Kim, how did you get involved in this?
Kim: I sort of jumped aboard an idea that was already happening
Jeff: Kim is the reason that I didn’t do this eight months
ago in a very slap-dash way. I like to rush things.
Noise: So Kim is the balance that sort of slows you down and
makes you think before you just act?
Jeff: Yes, exactly.
Kim: Jeff is the creative one who likes to talk to bands and
socialize. He puts that social spin on it that I don’t have the skills
to do. That’s not my strong suit. Instead, I plan the meetings keep
the dates straight—more of the operational side of the business, I
guess. As far as creativity, it was already there. When I came on board,
we re-vamped the site; we did the new design and met with the designers.
Jeff: Um, yeah, the designers. We got it off of iWeb.
Kim: [laughs] Yes, we did get it off of iWeb. As far as my background,
I have more of a business background and not so much a musical one.
I think we are a good team, he has the vision and I have the business
background. I didn’t get into the musical creative part until I picked
up the bass and started playing in Bullethead.
Noise: You obviously make a good balanced team. It’s great
that you are trying to help other bands, but it does have a self-serving
component. Don’t you think that there was an initial element about
promoting your own band?
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. There were selfish reasons for why I
started it as well.
Noise: I don’t think that anyone would expect you to be doing
this for free for your health.
Jeff: [laughs] I’ve met a ton of bands off of it that I would
have never met. I wanted it to be a social networking arrangement for
other bands to get to know each other and be able to play shows together.
Two of the bands that I have interviewed, Jake & the Jakes and Drunks
Don’t Lie hooked up a show together and told me that they never would
have met each other if it wasn’t for the site. It was cool for me
to know that I was able to bring two bands together. Before I started
the site I didn’t know any original bands because for years I was
in an oldies cover band. I put it together to meet other bands.
Noise: Is this site geared to garage bands in terms of a sound
or are you open to all types of bands?
Jeff: Some people sort of gave me crap for the term “garage”
band—I wasn’t thinking of it as a genre specific thing. I was just
thinking of most bands practicing in their garage or basement. I’m
not sure that the site would have the same vibe called Boston Basement
Bands. It’s for bands that are from Massachusetts and play original
music. I try to keep this mostly based in rock ’n’ roll by whatever
definition that you want to use. Rock has sort of been pushed to the
back burner over the years.
Noise: A few Internet-based radio stations have sprung up over
the years in Boston—most notably RadioBoston. Most of these have failed,
mainly due to financial reasons. Is this more of an outlet for you or
are you trying to be financially successful with this?
Jeff: I think that it’s more of an outlet—being financially
successful would be great. I didn’t start this to make a gazillion
dollars; I did it to bring attention to music—mine and other people’s.
Anyone who can tolerate playing a club at 1:00 am for the sound guy
and two drunks on a snowy Wednesday deserves some kind of recognition.
You know, I sort of look forward to doing that and I love music and
that’s the driving force. I think because I’m in the actual music
scene I know what motivates people to do it and want to keep it going.
If I’m on the website at any point of the day and I’m at work and
I see that there are 20 people listening, I am really excited. We just
officially launched it, so for anyone to be listening at this point
is a bonus.
Noise: I’m sure that it’s nice to see that passion that you
have be realized into something.
Jeff: I took my passion for radio —I went to the Connecticut
School of Broadcasting—but I don’t want to be a gypsy and travel
the country and live out of a U-Haul. I did want to be in radio and
this allows me to pursue a dream out of my house. There is a lot of
competition—more than ever in radio. You have traditional terrestrial
radio, satellite, Internet, and HD. When I was thinking of the idea
originally I was amazed at how much of a variety that was available
on the Web for this sort of thing.
Noise: The good news is that there is no shortage of bands for
you to interview or CD’s from local artists that want any place to
get their music heard.
Jeff: The local terrestrial shows are great, but there are only
a small handful of bands that they can play because they are so limited
in the amount of time that they are allowed to play local music—maybe
eight or ten songs in an hour-or-two show. Each band that I have on
Boston Garage Bands gets played three times on a steady block and we
use different songs from each band. You are virtually guaranteed to
get played sometime in a 24 hour period.
Noise: What are your plans if it does take off?
Jeff: We’d like to do other states at least throughout New
England. I’d like to ultimately get this established over the next
five years and develop a following. If it does well, go for another
station—maybe metal—which has a big following in central Massachusetts.
If we could do something along those lines I think it would be good.
It’s very eclectic right now, because I like different genres—we
could of course segment it later.
Noise: Your shows are pre-recorded for the Web and aren’t streamed
live. How do you find time to DJ and manage the site?
Jeff: I was luckily out of work for six weeks because of knee
Jeff: [laughs] Well, in this case, yes—or I wouldn’t have
gotten it done. I was able to work on the site every day. If you work
a little bit at a time and really focus, you can get it done. I did
the Boston Garage Band commercials and got all of the music together.
Since I was away from radio for so long it took me some time to get
used to doing spots or ID’s. Another cool thing is that you also have
more leeway on the Internet in terms of language and what you can and
can’t say. I’m not saying that we swear all of the time, but it’s
nice to have that freedom. If someone drops an F-bomb, it’s not the
end of the world.
Noise: So at this point do you have DJ’s?
Jeff: Right now it’s just music and there are no DJ breaks.
At this point I just do the spots and give quick tips on how to get
more out of the website. I call it a trifecta for bands. You have an
interview, a webpage, and your music is on the radio. If people are
on their computer listening on iTunes, they can hear your song and see
who the band is that is performing it. They can go to your page and
see when you are playing out. No searching the Web to try to find out
more info it’s all right there for you. I can put shows together with
the bands that I have interviewed and now become friends with. It’s
such a small community of musicians that we all have to stick together.
Everyone is able to do so much more themselves now in terms of internet
distribution that the labels don’t have the power that they once had.
There is a reason why everyone has a MySpace page and an Internet site,
because it works. I really just want to help promote my band and other
people’s bands. I have no other ulterior motive. If we ever do get
sponsors we will just put that money back into the website to make it
better for everyone.