“A modern-day label has to be smart, nimble and stay ahead of the curve. The best way to do that is to LISTEN TO YOUR ARTISTS. They know more than you give them credit for.”
——Benjy Grinberg


For This Special Edition, Erica Slides Behind
the Wheel and Jesse Rides Shotgun

The mood struck this week, and Erica is taking over Wheels with a “radical” talent from Florida, an update on a favorite we’ve featured in the past and an insightful interview with Benjy Grinberg of Rostrum Records. I chime in with a band that may give Mumford & Sons a run for their money. Consider this a packed heavy jam for your long weekend. Keep feedin’ my inbox: [email protected]

Radical Face
(http://www.radicalface.com): It’s only taken four years of plotting and planning and 15 months of recording in solitude in the backyard tool sheds of Jacksonville, but Ben Cooper, aka Radical Face, is now ready to put his sophomore effort, The Family Tree: The Roots, out on Bear Machine Oct. 4. This release marks his first since 2007, and the first of three records thematically tied to The Family Tree. Basing the narrative on a fictional family in the 1800s, Ben limited his instruments to those that would have been accessible then and only making few exceptions where absolutely necessary to deliver the sound of his vision. With storytelling at the core of this beautifully crafted and sonically haunting collection, this record has all the makings of an indie classic, in the best way. Think Band of Horses meets The Shins circa Garden State, with the depth and imagination of a talented raconteur. Ben’s got international song charts, soundtracks and syncs under his belt; it’s about time you get to know the voice behind the face and download the “prequel EP,” now available on his website.

Bronze Radio Return
(www.BronzeRadioReturn.com): We were just recently turned on to these guys and were completely blown away. Imagine a mixture of Mumford & Sons with Kings of Leon and you get the basic idea of BRR, which has been featured numerous times in Paste. As for stats, their new album came out a few months ago and debuted at #4 on the Billboard Northeast Regional Heatseekers chart. They recently opened for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Other acts they've opened for include John Mayer, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Blues Traveler, Buddy Guy, Nikka Costa, Sugar Ray and more. They even performed for President Obama last October at a rally in Bridgeport, CT. Focus tracks: “Shake, Shake, Shake” “Rough Town,” “Down There.” The band is managed by Chris Maltese.

Allen Stone
(www.facebook.com/allenstone): USA Today is on our side, naming this Wheels fave one of nine “Artists Under the Radar,” with a new release coming Oct. 4. Be sure to pick up a copy and get a preview of Allen’s new tunes at one of his upcoming shows along the coasts:

9/4: Bumbershoot in Seattle
9/8: Hotel Café in L.A.
Sept 28 at SOBs in N.Y.

When evaluating artists, what do you consider to be the top three things that make them standout?
Charisma, drive and raw talent.

It seems that today, industry execs are becoming celebrities in their own right, what do you think of that and do you think it plays an important part in our business?
I actually think that was more of a fad in the ’90s and early 2000s. You had people like Puff, Dame, JD, etc., blurring the line between executive/artist/producer/celebrity. Today, I find that people are sticking more to one lane (with obvious exceptions on TV, etc.). I’d much rather let my artists get the shine. Celebrity aside, I think the more credible and known an executive becomes within the industry, the more strings he/she can pull for their artists.

How do you think your experience working with L.A. Reid prepared you for Rostrum? And by the way, what is a Rostrum?
My time with Mr. Reid was a very important growth period for me. I essentially went from graduating college to being in the center of the music universe. Arista at the time was incredibly successful. We had Pink, Usher, Avril Lavigne, OutKast, Toni Braxton, etc. We were on fire! Being able to spend every day and night with Mr. Reid was a ridiculously valuable experience. He trusted me with a lot of responsibilities and gave me room to develop as a music executive. I’ll always be grateful for that. A rostrum is a raised platform or podium from which you speak to the public. When starting my company, I wanted artists to feel that by signing to my label they would get their chance to express themselves to the masses.

Historically speaking, labels have been seen as somewhat of a take on a “bank,” for lack of a better word. With CD sales far less than ever before, how has Rostrum shifted the focus to make this label a player?
We’re involved across the board with our artists, providing management, marketing, new media, and merch services. A modern-day label has to be much more advanced than its predecessors. The company has to be smart, nimble and stay ahead of the curve. The best way to do that is to LISTEN TO YOUR ARTISTS. They know more than you give them credit for. But labeling music companies as “banks” really misses the point of what an active, intuitive record company can do for an artist.

What is your vice?
Chocolate chip cookies.

Who haven’t you worked with yet that you would like to?
I love my artists and I love my team at Rostrum. We’re a tight-knit group and we work very hard. I’m sure there are undiscovered artists and up-and-coming music executives that would fit in well as we continue to grow. I look forward to meeting and working with them one day soon.

What keeps it fresh for you?
My close relationship with my artists. As they continue to grow, I grow. As they experience new things, I experience them as well. I love learning and I always strive for a better understanding of the world. Additionally, innovation is very exciting for me. I feel that young companies like ours are starting trends and breaking new ground for artists to come.

What haven’t you done yet that is on your list?
I need to get Barry Manilow and my mom in the same room. And I need to make sure there are cameras to capture the moment. It would be amazing.

If you weren’t in the music business what else would you be doing?
I would still be an entrepreneur. I would be running some other business that I had started. Creation is what drives me. But music is my love, my soul. It’s very important to me.

Our favorite cartoon character is back on our minds. (8/4a)
The planets are aligning. (8/4a)
Rapino makes change for a quarter. (8/4a)
Billie's back...on her own terms. (8/4a)
It's high time for Justice in the Academy. (8/4a)
From tender shoots to mighty oaks.
Let's do the numbers.
It is not the name of a Henry Miller novel.
Could be. Dunno.

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