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Conversations with Jamie: Artist-To-Artist Series
Hailing from Toronto, Canada, guitarist/composer Jamie Bonk has graciously agreed to become a contributing editor to Jamie will be conducting a series of interviews entitled Conversations with Jamie: Artist-To-Artist Series. We look forward to his contributions for they are both insightful and offer a unique artist-to-artist perspective over the typical interview. We hope you enjoy them.
Other Conversations with Jamie: Artist-To-Artist Series:
A Conversation with Alien Chatter, May. 2004
A Conversation with Oystein Ramfjord of Amethystium, Apr. 2004
A Conversation with Rob Eberhard Young, Apr. 2004
<<-later interviews | earlier interviews->>   <<- all interviews ->>
Jamie Bonk
A Conversation with Rob Eberhard Young
April 2004
When Rob Eberhard Young says, "Having that record (Speak) sit just kills me a little each day", I can only imagine the anguish. Speak, Rob's latest album, is unfortunately in major label limbo at the time of this writing.

And what a shame that is. In addition to Rob's incredible guitar playing and writing, the Kip Winger produced Speak features performances from bassist Michael Manring, drummer Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dreggs/Winger), pianist Alan Pasqua (John Williams Orchestra/Alan Holdsworth), saxophonist Andy Snitzer (Rolling Stones), trumpeter Chris Botti (Sting), violinist Joel Derovin (Eric Clapton Band) and percussionist Marc Clark (Ottmar Liebert). Rob has some MP3 samples from Speak (as well as from his previous albums, Consistent Variation and Sticks & Stones) on his web site and I encourage everyone to check them out!

Rob has a number of projects on the go. He's just re-released his debut recording Consistent Variation on his own Young Brave Music label. This is the same recording, with a few subtle mastering improvements and new artwork, that helped Rob get signed to Will Ackerman's Imaginary Road label. Also slated for release is Music for Film, an album of original film oriented music that shows a different side of Rob's artistry. And if that wasn't enough, there's a new solo acoustic album, What I Believe, in motion as well. Sounds like Rob has been and will be very busy!

If you'd like to learn more about Rob and his music, please visit his web site.
Rob Eberhard Young
Photo - Irene Young
I want to make the best music that I can because I believe that is what is really important." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: You've certainly had more than your fair share of business setbacks -- particularly with major labels. As you say on your web site: "To be honest, I doubt I would ever even be interested in being on a major again anyway. They suck and I hate them." I'm guessing that you prefer being an independent! But what did you learn from your dealings with the majors that you can apply to life as an indie?
Rob: Wow...did I really say that?

You have to realize that I wrote that shortly after the demise of Imaginary Road at the hands of Universal. Basically what happened was when Universal bought PolyGram they didn't want any labels that weren't wholly owned in the family. Since IRR was a joint venture between Will, Dawn, and PolyGram, it got the axe.

I was angry about it for two reasons: First, I had just finished a record which has remained in limbo ever since. Universal now owns the masters and have showed no interest in releasing it or even selling it to me at a reasonable price. Second, the demise of the label was really disappointing to me on a lot of personal levels. I don't really want to go into it in detail, but some people who I considered to be real friends at IRR and part of my inner circle of allies turned out to be no better than the major label cats. It was like, 'well, this really doesn't matter to us...we're all rich...we don't owe you anything...get over it..' It really wasn't the attitude I was expecting from friends. I don't have that anger about it anymore though - I've moved on too.

Although I enjoy being independent, I have learned a lot from these experiences. I won't say I'll never be involved with a major label again. But, if I do it will be really different. If it happens again for whatever reason, I will be holding all the cards. For example, I'm working on some classical music at the moment, which some day will probably be recorded and released. I will probably partner with a major label for that because I will need a lot of money for a great conductor and to record a great symphony on location. I just won't sign for more than one record, and I will have a reversion clause which gives me the world if they drop the ball. It is all about accountability, but good business is good business no matter what industry you are in. I have had to learn that being a temperamental artist is no excuse for making bad decisions.

There were a lot of positive outcomes from that experience though, and I never want to be seen as revealing all that negative stuff without paying due respect to some of the good things I got out of it. I had instant credibility because Will produced it. I have performed and recorded with some of the greatest musicians who have ever lived. I have traveled to great extent at the expense of others, and lived fairly lavishly while doing it. Lastly, and most important, I have been able to build quite a following which has carried over to my life as an independent. I didn't have to spend as much time as someone who never has had international exposure in building a reputation and a fan base. As much as it can be disastrous, I still recommend it to anyone coming up. Try to get a major label deal if you can and spend someone else's money to build your career - then bail out and continue on your own. Maybe the stars will line up and you will be able to do it without getting burned as I did.
"I have had to learn that being a temperamental artist is no excuse for making bad decisions." - Rob Eberhard Young

" is unquestionably the 'business' that sells the records, not the art." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: "Good business is good business no matter what industry you are in." This is such a good point! I think one of the challenges for a lot of artists is that they can be vulnerable in their business dealings because of their love of music. But in certain situations, like the symphonic album you'd like to do, the financial demands, as you point out, can be overwhelming. The music just wouldn't get recorded without financial backing -- unless the artist was independently wealthy! But major labels, like any large company, are also looking for a degree of control over the final "product". So the question is: Where is the tipping point for you, between your artistic needs and the demands of "good business"?
Rob: I think the line of division, between 'good art' and 'good business' is getting tougher to see for everyone. If you turn on MTV or the Grammy's or whatever, what you are looking at is 'good business' incarnate. I don't know about you, but to me that can be pretty disturbing. Does Eminem win awards because he is a great artist? Maybe. But we know the machine that got him there is all about business and not art. There is no question that when Brittany's shorts get shorter, record sales go up. What about Janet? That doesn't mean that she isn't a great dancer or even that she didn't have a great song on the record. I wouldn't know. But I do know that these days it is unquestionably the 'business' that sells the records, not the art.

Even New Age artists are subject to the same 'business' as pop stars are. I am living proof. Look, from the first moment I started doing pre-production for Sticks & Stones with Will, everything was being molded into making sure that we captured as much of Will as a producer as we did of me as a composer and guitarist. Why? Because even though Will was starting a new label, his success with Windham Hill was going to be what launched it out of the gate, and there is a formula to that sound. So even though there was all this marketing that SAID I was going to change the world of guitar and blah-blah-blah, all we really did was make a solid solo guitar record, with an UNMISTAKABLE Windham Hill sound. I'm not even saying that any of this was conscious on Will's part. I have no idea how he even feels about all this stuff. My point is that every sale in the beginning of my career on Imaginary Road was because of Will's legacy. It had nothing to do with my music or the record itself.

But isn't that just 'good business'? Did art suffer in any way because of the way my record was marketed. Probably not. I have never had one person come up to me and say, "You know - I'm really pissed off about how Will said you were going to change my life and you didn't..." We made a really good record, and we used all the power Will had to get it out there to as many people as we could. My publicist sends out press releases and such every day that have publicity quotes from Will in them. Why not? The fact is, when people who have never heard of me read something like " The first new guitarist signed by Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman since Michael Hedges in 1980...." it is instant credibility - just like when we launched S&S. Nothing has changed. I'm still really proud of my place in that history too. It took a lot of work to get there and no one can ever take that from me.

The net effect of the 'good business' is that we are getting new music into the hands of someone who might have thrown me in the trash otherwise. People are really shallow. They won't give you a chance until they see how BIG you are or can be. It has never been cool to be nobody in the entertainment business. People really do care who you have performed with, recorded with, partied with, etc... Sad, but true. I guess as long as the art doesn't suffer as a result of 'good business" - and you don't hurt anyone in the process, there is nothing wrong with it. If I flew to LA tonight and played a guest solo on Van Halen's 'comeback' album, I would undoubtedly sell a boat load more copies of Consistent Variation than if I didn't. As long as the solo was great, and I had fun - Good for me. Hey Eddie - you didn't lose my phone number did you?
"I think you just have to adapt and make up the rest as you go." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie:I think one the things that is often overlooked when talking about successful artists, on either major or indie labels, is just how hard they work. Music is part of the overall picture, but a strong work ethic, like you have, is often just as important. You have a number of projects on the go right now -- new recordings, re-releases, composing for film, building a great studio and whole lot more. Have you always had such diverse interests? Is there much crossover, artistically speaking, from your film work to your records?
Rob: I always have wanted to have my own studio - even as a guitarist wanting to sketch out ideas for a record or whatever. Over the years my studio has evolved from a boom box with a built in microphone to a 4-track cassette machine to what I have now. I think I have tried to always stay realistic about my career and making sure not to put all my eggs in one basket. That's part of the 'good business' side of me that we talked about earlier. In my opinion, every artist should have exactly the studio that they need to accomplish what they need to. I know so many musicians who sit around and never release anything because they are waiting to have the opportunity to get signed and/or buy their own SSL console. The reality is that neither is likely to happen. I think you just have to adapt and make up the rest as you go.

I recorded Consistent Variation on a $200 4-track cassette machine in my Mother's basement with a $99 pair of microphones. With great care in mixing - which I did do in a real studio, and even greater care in mastering - which was done in a better studio, I was able to fool the world into believing the recording was worthy of major attention. It worked! I have had people email me in the last month saying that they think the sound quality of Consistent Variation is better than Sticks & Stones, which was recorded at Imaginary Road - arguably the best studio in the world for recording acoustic music. I'm not saying for one second that I agree with that. To me, there is no comparison. But that doesn't matter. My illusion became someone else's reality.

Regarding diversity, being bitten by the film bug had nothing to do with a career choice in the beginning. It was purely artistic. My first project was working on a film called Ricochet River with Gary Remal Malkin. It was actually Kate Hudson's first starring role, albeit an independent one. Gary called me to help him compose, arrange, and perform the guitar parts. It was really flattering since he wanted to sort of build the whole soundtrack around my playing style. Gary is a true giant in the scoring world. He is probably best known for doing Unsolved Mysteries, the Infinity 'jazz' commercials, and the feature film 1000 Pieces of Gold. It was during this project that I realized that film composers have the ultimate artistic freedom, and also the most responsibility at the same time. I left there knowing that scoring was something I was going to pursue full time one day.

Those sessions came at another really important time for me as a recording artist. I was already on my way to realizing that being at the mercy of A&R was not going to work out for me in the long run. Around that time I was doing the demos for Speak and was meeting a little resistance at PolyGram/Imaginary Road. All I had at that time was a 4-track machine to present the demos, so all I recorded were the rhythm tracks for all the songs -with all the huge guitars and drums. None of them had any imagination. I remember describing how the melodies and other instruments would be to them and they were just dumbfounded. They didn't get it at all. I was thinking "It's hard enough to go out there and sell your stuff to the public - do I really have to re-sell myself to my own label again?"

To the contrary, on scoring projects, you try out an idea for a cue with the director or producer in the room and if they hate it, they can usually tell you why because they are relating to the music on a visceral level. They want to FEEL how it affects their scene. They are never thinking about the financial impact of that cue at the box office. NEVER. You're not selling anything. It either moves everyone, or it doesn't. They also have virtually no interest in adhering to a pre set plan about the music in terms of instrumentation/style etc...They might use terms like epic, moody, dark, playful, or heart wrenching - but only to help arrive at the ultimate goal which is to support the scene and make it whole.

The other thing I really like about scoring is that the music has to travel and arrive in most cases very quickly to where it is going. It is a great challenge to the composer. You have to really focus your writing down to the marrow. Texture helps, but melody is the key. With songs you have minutes to say what you want to, in film you have seconds or less. I'll use John Williams as an example, since most people are familiar with him. Could you write a two note melody and present it in such a way that would make 5 million people afraid to go in the water for 10 years? I haven't yet. Whether you are into it or not, you have to respect it. For me, it showed me how weak I was. I knew from the first day I stepped in that studio that I had so much to learn about composing.

I also know that what I do as a guitarist, while valid, was something different and not what was going to get me there. They are two entirely different animals and no, there is no crossover for me. When I play guitar, whether just playing or seriously trying to write something I am on auto-pilot. I don't give any thought to it. I just try things out and have fun until I have something I like. When I am composing music for score, I am acutely aware of everything. I am constantly thinking about the consequence of everything I am doing. The two are really complete polar opposites. That is not to say that my film oriented music is pure craft. It is very much art, but just more refined than my guitar music.

In order for me to make that transition, I had to abandon guitar for a while. Actually, it was three years. I stopped playing guitar altogether and started writing on piano. I knew that since I didn't (and still don't) have a clue how to play piano, I would be forced to listen to everything I was doing, and eventually learn something. I did learn some things, and I learn more each day. It is definitely been more of a challenge to me than guitar ever was.

All of the first music I wrote in that period wasn't written for any corporate project and I plan to release it all as an album called Music for Film in 2006. It is about 45 minutes of music and each track was written to either stand on its own, or to be listened to as part of the larger body of work. It was a pretty big challenge. There is no dead air between the pieces, and you will can listen to the whole thing as one composition. I had to work really hard in making sure all the key changes and tempo divisions worked out mathematically so the transitions are seamless. It was really fun and I'm looking forward to finishing it. The record has absolutely NO GUITAR whatsoever. It was really important to me to do it that way, so that I couldn't use any of the old "crutches". It is really different from what people have come to expect from me. I'm sure not everyone will like it. I have a lot of fans who are just into guitar, and that's o.k., but I think most people will be really surprised when they hear it.
"... being at the mercy of A&R was not going to work out for me in the long run." - Rob Eberhard Young

"... to make that transition, I had to abandon guitar for a while." - Rob Eberhard Young

"I have always been fortunate to have been really 'free' when writing guitar music." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: Well different can be good! Your comments about playing from a physical versus a mental state, definitely hits home for me. In fact, particularly in a live setting, I'm trying get to a state where I'm not thinking at all. Simply playing. But the physical can sometimes overwhelm the mental and/or spiritual when I'm writing. It can be hard to step back and get a bigger picture of the music I'm working on. Now, I've never stopped playing for an extended period of time like you have -- although to be honest I've considered it. How do you feel taking that break changed your relationship both to the guitar and to music in general?
Rob: I know what you mean about the absence of thought on the live thing. It has been pretty difficult for me to do that too. What seems to work best is for me to pressure myself into imagining that I am in the studio and I have only one take worth of tape left. I also pretend that it will be the last time I will ever play the piece in my life. It all sounds a little goofy, but I think I have extracted some really good performances live by doing stuff like that.

I have always been fortunate to have been really "free" when writing guitar music. As I mentioned before, when I am composing music away from guitar, I have a whole new set of challenges. Getting away from guitar really helped me find the other voice I was looking for. Surprisingly, my technique didn't suffer too much when I stopped.. My left hand strength was a little weak but all the muscle memory stuff was fine. People are always a little surprised when I tell them that I really don't play a lot anyway. The last time I really woodshedded was in my electric days. I never sit and play for hours anymore. I get kind of bored real easily. I have always been that way. I have these bursts where I will write a cool section in 15 minutes, and then I quit and go to the beach. It isn't laziness. I just like to do things in small doses and then reflect on it for the rest of the day, to see if I want to change anything.

Sticks & Stones was all written that way. We recorded it that way too. I would be sitting on the steps in front of Imaginary Road and find something cool while waiting for Will to finish a phone call or something. Then we would throw up the mics and record it. The next day I would add another section, and so on. That is kind of a dirty little secret about that record. We made every song in editing. Cutting and pasting sections. It is kind of hard to believe but true. I really love working that way. It is a real challenge to make all those sections come together and create the illusion of being a live recording. It is something that I am really good at. I think my comfort in working in small sections is why I have found the whole film composing thing to be sort of natural. Film music is all about powerful little clips of things that fit together seamlessly, as opposed to big things like songs. That is how I am able to see the big picture of everything. I just focus on all the little pictures instead.
"... presenting alternate tuning acoustic guitar in a full band setting that isn't rock has always been a vision of mine." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: I think most (maybe all) records have at least some degree of editing at this point in time -- mine sure do. Even in mainstream jazz, the style that could be argued as being the most documentary in its recording ethos, I'm hearing stories of solos and heads being punched in. Personally, I think editing can be as creative as any other aspect of writing, performing or recording, but it can also be highly destructive if not handled sensitively. You can edit the life right out of a track -- remove all of the little things that add up to an artist's personality. It really depends on the skill and sensitivity of the editor/producer.

Just to change directions for a bit, you recorded with some pretty big name players on your Speak album and you talk fairly in depth about the experience on your web site. Do you want to do more "full" band recordings in the future? Any chance in getting the Speak band out on the road?
Rob: Yeah, Speak was a really fun project. Kip used to call the cast of characters the "A" team. All those guys are absolutely monstrous players and performers. As I said in the essay you mention, presenting alternate tuning acoustic guitar in a full band setting that isn't rock has always been a vision of mine. I would love to do another record like that. I would like to see that one get released if at all possible first, though. Having that record sit just kills me a little each day. I try to look on the bright side and be thankful that at least we finished the record before the IRR plug was pulled. That gives me more options I guess.

I had every major jazz label lining up to sign it when I first left PolyGram, but none of them did when they found out how much they wanted for it. The budget was 50K and we spent every cent recording it. Obviously, they wanted all that and a bunch more to part with it. It is just big business crap, but basically the record is worth more as a catalog write-off than it is in real life. To me, since that expense has long since left the books, anything you get is found money. They don't see it that way. Any prospective label would have too much risk if they paid a kings ransom for it.

Hopefully, I can convince one of the new Universal labels to release it this year. A lot has changed over there since the first go-round. Maybe I will have better luck this time around. I'll start pitching it again as soon as I get everything done for Consistent Variation's marketing roll-out. I figure some A&R guy has got to see the logic of signing something that is already recorded, owned, and featuring all these really famous guys - many who actually are signed to their label! They basically get a free shot at having something successful and if it misses it doesn't cost them much. Who knows. We shall see.

If I am able to get the record out, I'm sure they would bankroll at least one major markets tour. That would be key to the success of the record. It all will come down to money for the guys too. It would be tough to pull some of them away from their regular gigs, because they are being paid so well for touring with them. Chris Botti is in Sting's band. Andy Snitzer was touring with The Stones. The last I heard, Joel (Derovin) is playing in Clapton's band. I think Alan Pasqua is doing movies with John Williams. If we could time the tour to fit in the cracks of that stuff, I have no doubt that they would all be into it. I have to admit that the thought of playing big jazz clubs and theaters with the Speak band could get me excited about touring again in no time.
"There comes a day in everyone's life when it is no longer acceptable to sleep in the back of your car." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: I'd definitely love to check out a Rob Eberhard Young & the Speak Band concert! Will you be doing any live playing (concerts/in-stores) in support of Consistent Variation?
Rob: I'm going to try to do a major markets tour this fall. Probably a mixture of in-stores, small theater venues, and radio. I'm thinking I'll maybe do 30 cities or something. It is really expensive to be on the road these days, and the end doesn't justify the means in my experience. I love playing live and always have, but I don't want to lose money either. Manring wants to do a tour too, so maybe we will go out for a bit and each do a solo set followed by a duet set. I'll know more when summer gets closer. "People used to say it was because of the Internet. I think we all know now that is just the tip of the iceberg." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: You're right about live music being so expensive -- and in so many cases a losing proposition. Just getting from point to point and staying in a hotel can break the bank in some situations. Never mind all of the other related costs -- sidemen, sound, advertising, etc. When you say "the end doesn't justify the means" are you referring to not breaking even specifically on the live show or more generally to total income including CD sales, airplay, merchandise, etc?
Rob: I think I really mean both. Depending on the venue size, it can be difficult to break even on the show if you are playing a small club or coffee house. It also depends on how much you are willing to sacrifice lifestyle in the interest of art. There comes a day in everyone's life when it is no longer acceptable to sleep in the back of your car.

Consider the following numbers, which closely mimic my own on my last tour: If you fly (which can actually be cheaper than driving in the long run) like I did with my tech/road manager figure $800 for two one way coach flights to wherever from wherever you are. Then figure $100 for hotel for two at the local flea-bag and another $150 per diem for two to cover food, cabs, tips, etc...Right there, if these are average numbers because flights or hotels may be more or less puts you at a minimum fee of $1000 per show to break even. Name one coffeehouse that will pay you that. You can get that and more for well publicized events in larger venues, but the majority of solo guitar gigs are small, no matter how big you are. Most people will lose money if they did this.

Of course you can do it a lot cheaper if you want to make some sacrifices in the way of privacy. You can even sleep in your car. I did it many times - when I was 20! Preston Reed used to sleep on my couch when he came to Maine. I was glad to have him, and he was glad to be there too. But it isn't always that fun. I'm just not willing to live like that anymore.

Yes, all the radio stuff helps and you do sell discs every night, but there really isn't the correlation there used to be between touring and record sales. Why do you think it is so hard for instrumentalists to get professional agency? They aren't stupid. People who book solo guitar don't want to pay for it because nobody goes like they used to. These days people will think nothing of renting 3 movies at Blockbuster for $20, but if Rob Young tried to charge that for a ticket, people would gripe. Hedges used to tell me that tons of venues wouldn't dare to charge $18 for him. Can you imagine?

It also used to be that if you went out and toured there was an immediate and traceable increase in record sales. Same with radio. I'm not saying that these things don't help. If you have good radio support you will sell more records. But how many? All the rules have changed. We are truly in a new age of music. No one has any idea how to market anything anymore. Anyone who claims to have a handle on it is full of shit and you can tell them I said so. Universal lost 40% of its business in the last few years. 40%!!! They are the largest music conglomerate in the world.

People used to say it was because of the Internet. I think we all know now that is just the tip of the iceberg. Now all the pirate sites have been replaced with legitimate download sites where people no longer have to (God forbid) buy an ENTIRE album of someone's work. Now you can just buy one song for .59...and they aren't even doing that as often as expected. People just don't buy music anymore.

I have a "fan" who writes me every month talking about all this heavy music stuff. He goes on and on about how much he loves my music and can't wait for more, etc...Now that I am independent, I see all the orders as they come in and who they ship to. He hasn't bought my new release yet! I'm dying to write him and ask why. Of course I never would, but who can figure all this out? I have no idea what the final outcome is going to be.

I think a lot of factors have contributed to all this, but I think the phrase "Video killed the radio star..." is one of the great truisms of the industry. For me, the best course of action is to just roll with it. I'll keep making records. That is cheap...and fun. If tours are financially feasible, I'll do them. If not, I'll stay home. I try to look at everything I do offers me everything to gain and nothing to lose. I just won't sacrifice everything anymore for my art. I want to stay on the other side of that fence. No one else in the industry has to - why should we?
"We are the reason for music in the first place - not the suits." - Rob Eberhard Young

No amount of money can change the music industry in my opinion, but honesty can." - Rob Eberhard Young
Jamie: Well, we shouldn't and you're right -- very few people on the business (or for that matter tech/sound, etc.) side make the same kind of sacrifices that artists do. How many of those people would sleep on a couch like Preston Reed or sleep in a car like you did? The music industry can be brutally unfair to artists. You don't have to look too far back (or not back at all) to see artists getting beyond ripped off -- getting basically zero for their records. And of course, we now have bands paying to play... So, the question is: What can be done to improve the situation? If you had all the money in the world, and the resources to go along with it, what would you do to "fix" the current state of the music industry?
Rob: Actually, I think the best way to fix everything is to remove money from the equation. Not to sound too "New Age", but the music industry isn't the only one effected by the over obsession with money in our society. I know that sounds a little unrealistic, but hear me out. I think all the "business" has caught up to the industry over the years and there really isn't any way to fix it at all in the short run. In the long run, I think the artists will ultimately have to fix everything. We always have. We are the reason for music in the first place - not the suits.

I have thought a lot about this and I think the biggest problem is on the artist side. It has to do with fear and misdirected vanity. Make no mistake, all artists have a certain degree of vanity. We are also by nature very fragile and sensitive, and thus, subject to succumbing to our fears at any moment. We have given in to the notion that the ultimate goal is to sell the most records and make the most money. We have all been guilty of doing what the suits say because we are afraid of not succeeding immediately in terms of instant monetary gain.

That fear is what steers music into something more visible than audible. This obsession with image is born from what we see. We are programmed by what we see as being successful. What I am trying to do is be bold enough not to think about what we have come to think of as "reality" in terms of what is and is not saleable. I am trying to redirect my vanity into a place that is creative. I wake up every day and say "I'm going to write and record something amazing today...and I'm going to do that because I am Rob and I can because I am good at what I do...". That is my challenge. I want to make the best music that I can because I believe that is what is really important. Listen, I couldn't have said this with a straight face even a few years ago, but in all honesty I really don't give a shit what anyone thinks about me in the industry.

I am going to do what I do because at the end of the day, I do it for me anyway. I'm just trying to be honest and it may sound a little brutal. Music is something essential to my existence. It is part of the way that I communicate my thoughts and feelings. For that reason, I am really the only one who needs to love it. Don't get me wrong, nothing turns me on more than having someone genuinely love something I made from my soul, but my own truth is what spawns the real stuff that causes that reaction in people. The stuff that real people can connect to. That is powerful. Belly rings are not.

Imagine if every artist decided today to only write music that comes from the heart. I think the outcome would be incredible. It will never happen, but it is fun to think about. I don't know about you, but I am just STARVED to hear something cool again from rock in particular. Why don't we have any Pink Floyd's, Aerosmith's, Stones, Elton John's, Fleetwood Mac's today? What is there just an absence of talent? No way. They are out there but never get signed because they are too honest in the first place and refuse to conform, or they do get signed and are so consumed by fear and vanity that they mold themselves right into that fearful, dishonest pattern. No amount of money can change the music industry in my opinion, but honesty can.
Jamie:Rob, that's a beautiful answer. I think you have thought this through extremely well and I genuinely hope (and feel) that you're right.

I want to thank you for this incredibly thought provoking conversation. Good luck with all of your projects and please stay in touch!

Editors Note: Check our RJ Lannan's CD review of Consistent Variation on The Sounding Board.
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