Stoplight Sleep: Since you already write for UCLA’s Daily Bruin and Cokemachineglow, why a music blog?
The Rawking Refuses to Stop: Well, initially I started the blog before I was writing for Cokemachineglow. I was looking for another outlet for my writing that could be more creative than the stuff I was doing for the Bruin, and blogging seemed like the way to go. Of course, the reason I want to write about music in the first place is because I’m the kind of guy who listens to an album and immediately wants to shout about it from the rooftops, so MP3 blogging gives me an excuse to talk about any song or band I want, whenever I want.
SS: You’ve been doing the blog for about a year and a half. In that time, how do you think blogging has changed? Do you think blogging has changed the music scene?
RRS: I can’t speak for blogging as a whole (which has obviously exploded – everybody and, literally, their mother has a blog), but I don’t think music blogging has changed that much. It’s more well known, which makes it more commercial – I’m not sure if people were really selling ads like they are now a couple years ago – but at the same time, the overall readership seems to have leveled off. You don’t see bigger publications talking so much about blogs anymore unless it’s an article about Tapes ‘N Tapes. I think the main effect of blogging on the music scene is two-fold – it allows tiny bands to get this great snowballing exposure if a bunch of people post on it, and I’m not talking about bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! who had a lot of other factors working for them, but a group like Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin or Division Day. A band that hasn’t really broken through yet. The other thing is that I think it’s given the record labels a better idea of how they can use digital media to promote themselves and that file-sharing isn’t necessarily evil, but we’ll see if I’m right about that.
SS: Hype Machine lists almost 700 music-related blogs. Elbo.ws lists around 1500. Do you think the music blogosphere is oversaturated? If so, what sets apart a good blog other than numbers?
RRS: Considering I don’t have time to read all the blogs in my own site’s blogroll, sure, the blogosphere is oversaturated. But at the same time, so is indie rock, so it works out. It’s like anything – you figure out what kinds of blogs you like and you support those people. The blogs I read consistently are the ones with taste that I know I can trust or that post really interesting stuff – Aquarium Drunkard and Rbally are two blogs that always have great bootleg concerts and unreleased material. The personality and the writing are important, too: A great music blog should be like hanging out with your awesome friend who knows way more about records than you do.
SS: Why do you like Ryan Adams so much!?
RRS: He’s my hero. Here’s a guy who could easily be a professional songwriter – just look at Tim McGraw’s version of “When The Stars Go Blue.” Almost any song on “Cold Roses” could be a great country song. But the thing that separates Ryan is that he’s an incredible, versatile singer and performer and nobody’s going to do a better version of his songs than him. He reminds me a lot of Neil Young in that he’s also completely in control of the vision for his records. He knows exactly what he wants to do and what the record is going to sound like from the music to the production, and for me, he pulls it off 9 times out of 10. I don’t think he needs an editor. If anything, he needs to put out more records.
SS: Seriously, what inspires you about music to want to write about it on a regular basis? What makes you decide to post on a specific song/artist/album/etc.?
RRS: The music inspires me. Sure, it’s a cliché, but music has a profound emotional affect on me and when I hear a great song, even if I’m listening to it for the 100th time, I still want to talk about it. I’m obsessed. Luckily, my girlfriend doesn’t really listen to indie rock so that forces me to figure out other things to talk about.
SS:. I happen to know you’re a comic fan as well, what books/writers/characters are you into?
RRS: Right now, my favorite books are Y: The Last Man and the two Superman titles. Kurt Busiek is doing a great job with Supes. I’ve been picking up the trades for “The Walking Dead” and that’s pretty solid as well, but I’ll read anything with zombies. I’ve been reading comics since I was a little kid and I have a nearly-complete seven-year run of all the Spider-Man comics from about 1992 to 1999, so he’ll always be my favorite hero and Mark Bagley will always be my favorite comic artist. I should mention I have complete runs of “Darkhawk” and “The New Warriors” from the ‘90s and I always felt those characters got a raw deal, especially now with Civil War, but it’s nice to see Darkhawk showing up in the Marvel universe again. Even though I’m reading a lot of DC and Vertigo now, I’ll always be a Marvel guy.
SS: If you could make one last post on TRRtS, what would it be about and why?RRS: Elliott Smith’s song “