Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, October 08, 2007

the well-heeled novelty pimp
hopes that the bands that pay his big salary
fail and fade away after their novelty wears off

It blew my mind when I read a couple years ago that local college indie rock public radio DJ John Richards made $120,000 in 2004, but I didn’t realize that he is the enemy.

He is.

[Correction: It turns out he was only making $90,000 at the time; and, he claims that he's been offered considerably more money to work elsewhere, which I believe.]

In his piece on indie-rock band the Annuals in the terrific music edition of Oxford American, writer Bill Wasik gets Richards to bare his novelty-pimping soul.

But why did so many of these bands disappear? What about the second album, or the third? Why did indie rock seem to have become wave after wave of disposable new bands? “You have these bands working really, really hard, they’re writing great songs, they’ve had five years maybe; and their best material is going to make it on their first album,” Richards said. But then, he went on, “you have a label involved at this point, you have deadlines now—another album in six months, nine months.”

Richards said he now assumed that he would not even see second albums, no matter how good their sound. “Even an Annuals,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about a second album from them. I just assume that this is the document that I have. . . . You think: ‘This is a great movie—I hope there’s not a sequel.’”

To have one of the most famous champions of a genre hoping that the bands he is championing disappear soon, hoping that they end up economic failures -- the mind boggles. I listen to Richards’s show occasionally. He’s cheery and upbeat for his six figures, and I generally like what he plays when I’m in the mood for unobtrusive indie-rock background music. But the guy has a seriously creepy way of working. "Get 'em while they're fresh & young. Use 'em up and boot 'em out."

The Oxford American music issue is crammed full of terrific stuff. Most everything in it I’ve read could be a candidate for the annual Best Music Writing series. And -- it comes with a CD compilation full of lovely music, accompanied by in-depth essays for each song -- really, it’s a book!

Picture of John Richards from seattlest.com -- thanks!

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