THE WEEKND STARTS Q4 EARLY
The race is on. (9/4a)
PTX: DON'T "SLEEP"
RCA's a cappella kids are making (extremely well harmonized) noise. (9/4a)
BIEBER'S BRITISH BOOM: HIS FIRST U.K. #1
No "Mean" feat for the Biebs. (9/4a)
IT’S OFFICIAL: SAM SMITH IS BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES
You may scream now. (9/4a)
PAINTING OMAHA RED (AND GREEN)
Start up that Steamroller, Santa. (9/4a)
There’s a 99% likelihood that my post-Boomer music business peers, especially those of us who grew up in an industrial town along the Delaware River, quoted this lyric from “Thunder Road” in their high school yearbook. Aug. 25 marked the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s perfect album Born to Run, which was even acknowledged on KROQ, as Kat Corbett chose Frank Turner’s gorgeous cover of “Born to Run” for her 12:35 “pick.” I know this album note for note, word for word; it still holds a permanent spot in my all-time Top 10. I wonder which records from the past decade, well after Nevermind, OK Computer, Ten, Pretty Hate Machine, etc. will still have that emotional resonance 30 or 40 years from now. Adele’s 21 is certain, and I am confident that Vampire Weekend’s Contra, Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More and Arcade Fire’s Funeral will be remembered as transformative records that also shifted the mainstream. My favorite song on Born to Run is “Meeting Across the River,” in case you were wondering…
Nearly 30 years ago, I met Soundgarden when they were signed to Sub Pop. Then A&M Records, where I worked, signed the band. The label’s New Music Marketing Department, which I ran, oversaw the promotion of the SST release Ultramega OK and the band’s A&M debut Louder Than Love. In the years that followed, Chris Cornell has had countless Modern Rock radio smashes with Soundgarden, Audioslave and solo. He’s sold millions of records and has played shows in front of millions of fans. I’ve worked at HITS. Chris has one of the best voices in the history of rock music and remains one of Modern Rock’s truest STARS. I’ve worked at HITS. Now, I’m absolutely enamored with “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” the first single from his upcoming solo album Higher Truth. It’s rare to see a song #1 Most Added at Triple A and Active Rock, while also garnering 10 early adds at Modern Rock. It happens maybe once every few years, at best. “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” is an extraordinary song—certain to mitigate any bias the format might have (this week) against ’90s core artists. As an executive once declared, at an album listening session attended by Ted and me, “Sometimes the best song is just the best song.” I’m about to embark on a three-day/five-city trip to find out if my radio friends agree…
I’m not the only one celebrating a 25th anniversary this summer: CD1025 in Columbus has been on the air since 1990! To mark the occasion, the station launched an extensive Indiegogo campaign to raise the $1 million necessary to renew their broadcast license and remain on the air. So far, the station has received donations from more than 2,000 individuals/groups, raising $153,000. Many of you reading this have deep pockets. You remember growing up with your ear glued to the radio—it’s how you discovered new music. CD1025 is an independently owned and operated station, run by people who live and breathe music. Wasn’t that once your dream—to own a small station in a cool college town, playing music you loved? I had empirical evidence that Tame Impala’s “Elephant” was a hit because it was the #1 testing song of the year at CD1025, months before we launched it at Modern Rock. There are so few stations that are willing to step out on new music—we need to protect the ones that do. Make a contribution NOW to www.cd1025.com. The clock is ticking….
In case you missed it, here’s the latest: Leslie Scott, our friend since her WPGU days, has been upped to PD at KNDD Seattle. She’s been “in the building” for many years and her success as PD seems preordained. We are thrilled…
Bill Carroll has moved back to the East Coast, and will announce his new plans soon. Gary Gorman, formerly of Atlantic WC, is his replacement at Capitol. Ed Brennan, last at Concord, following his years at Wind-up, is replacing Gary. Ron Poore will be returning to his post at Atlantic very soon, which is truly exciting news. Mike DePippa marked his final week at Columbia by being #1 Most Added with the Neighbourhood single. He’s headed to Republic, replacing Ron Cerrito, who will segue into marketing. A replacement for DePippa has yet to be named, but, considering it includes access to the Springsteen catalog, I might have to throw my hat in the ring. In the meantime, Nick Petropoulos is under contract at Glassnote, with no intention of going elsewhere.
I met Merge Records co-founder Mac McCaughan (that him to your right) in 1995, when Corey Rusk, the head of Touch & Go Records, and I flew to Chapel Hill to discuss my possibly working a new Superchunk single at Modern Rock radio. The song was called “Hyper Enough” and Mac was also the band’s singer. That was the beginning of two decades (so far) of working with and for someone I admire and adore in equal measure. Mac’s answers to “11 Questions With” arrived just past the deadline for the last issue of HITS, but I couldn’t celebrate 25 years without his inclusion.
25 years ago, were you alive, what were you doing, and what were your goals? How’d that work out for you?
I had been alive for a while at that point. The only goal was to be in a band and make records—that worked out OK!
Whom would you consider your mentors in your career?
Whether it was in situations where we would directly ask specific questions, or just being around artists and music business people we respected, and seeing how they worked, I would say I learned invaluable things from tons of people, including Ian MacKaye, Gerard Cosloy, Mike Watt, Corey Rusk, Yo La Tengo and our old booking agent, Bob Lawton.
What moment changed your career and/or life?
I don’t think it has ever come down to one moment, though seeing The Who’s The Kids Are Alright in the theater in 1979 made a big impression on me.
What do you consider the best decision of your career?
I think our best decision AFTER HIRING KAREN GLAUBER TO WORK OUR 1995 SINGLE “HYPER ENOUGH” was not signing to a major label in the early ’90s.
What record of yours that never happened still breaks your heart?
We’ve put out so many records on Merge over the years; obviously we thought all of them were great and that many deserved more attention than we got. But we were never in the business of “needing a hit,” which is especially handy now, since there aren’t any anymore.
What’s your favorite career memento?
I have many great posters and flyers, but looking around my office, from where I sit now, I will pick this small flyer I made with a woodcut for a Fugazi show that my band Bricks opened, and also a Chills poster that I snagged the first time we went to NZ and got to rifle through the Flying Nun closet.
What has been the highlight of your career, thus far?
On the Merge side, having Top Ten albums by Arcade Fire and Spoon were great moments, but so is getting to work with our musical heroes, like David Kilgour, The Clean and Bob Mould, or seeing artists like Lambchop grow and change over the years, producing incredible records every time.
On the Superchunk side, it's impossible to pick one show or one tour, though the sidestage of Lollapalooza in ‘95 was a great couple of weeks. On our stage were Helium, Versus, Built to Spill, Redman, and more. On the main stage were Sonic Youth, Pavement, Elastica, Jesus Lizard, Beck, etc.
How many grudges are you currently nursing, and against whom?
I don't want you to have to add more pages to your magazine.
What do you do for fun, if that’s still possible?
I try to see as much art as I can. It happens during the daytime, unlike these rock bands who still insist on playing late at night. I buy records; I make records; we travel with our kids...
What do I, Karen Glauber, mean to you?
Karen, somehow you've managed to live and work in L.A. all these years—in radio, no less—but you still like good music. You have been our way into the mainstream, albeit for brief flashes of time! Considering what you've had to work with, I’m still amazed.
He was a punk before you were a punk. Massachusetts native Gerard Cosloy got into the Boston hardcore scene early, putting together shows and starting the mimeographed fanzine Conflict before taking a grown-up job running indie label Homestead and moonlighting as a DJ at WFMU, while also playing in the Air Traffic Controllers. Cosloy’s profile rose considerably after he co-founded Matador Records at the dawn of the ’90s, as he went on to become one of the quintessential characters of the alternative era, working with the likes of Pavement, Guided by Voices and Liz Phair—he also played with G.G. Allin for a time, so it’s obvious that he has a strong stomach. Whip-smart and highly opinionated, Cosloy doesn’t suffer fools gladly, so it’s shocking to find him slumming in this sorry rag.
Mark Williams was a 19-year-old kid armed with little more than his impeccable taste when he began a career that spans R.E.M. and Raury—a career that’s still going strong nearly four decades later. Along the way, Mark has worked at I.R.S., A&M, Virgin, Outpost, Interscope and, for the last five years, Columbia. In his present gig, he’s doing what he’s always done—spotting talent, connecting with artists, making records and doing his best to enable art and commerce to coexist. Mark is one of the good ones.