First of all, for those of you that knew that the title was a reference to Pallbearer...good on you, we can be friends!
This is a mid year report for myself and I know what some people are thinking, "Hey it's mid-may, that's not REALLY the mid year point." In most cases, your right, but I am taking into the equation of taking the holidays off the last couple of weeks in the year, so adding that on to here, it equals out, so there. But getting back on point, I wanted to do a mid year report to let you know how I'm doing both in front of and away from the mic and let you know what's up.
First off I'll just say that this year has been quite the struggle for me, especially in the beginning on the year. I'm not going to air all my dirty laundry (till I get paid for my autobiography), but I will say that there's been a lot of issues that have been going on in my personal life with my family that have really taken a lot of joy away from me. At least for the last month or so, I have been able to say enough is enough and the issues have ceased. It was actually quite the heartbreaking thing to do, in essence, saying goodbye to your family, but I had to for a multitude of reasons. My Major Suicidal Depression being the biggest reason. It's not an illness I like knowing I have. When things are going good, I am doing good, when things are bad, I get really...really bad. But as mentioned earlier, I have been relatively ok for the last month or so and I truly hope it stays that way.
I also moved this year from one apartment in one city to another apartment in another city. Still in the Twin Cities area, but in a place that's much bigger, cheaper, and simply, better. I feel like the quality of the radio show and my audio interviews have improved greatly because of this (carpeting is such a great thing when recording your voice). For the first time since I moved away from home, I have a backyard! Which I deeply missed. I feel like I have the best of both worlds right now, in the city, but it feels like I am away from everything. It was absolutely needed.
At the time of writing this up, I am at 58 Interviews for 2018 and 475 in TOTAL! Never in my life did I imagine that I would have accomplished so much just by being myself. From anyone that checked out my earliest interviews to what I do now, you can hear the evolution: from someone who was scared witless of talking to someone that I didn't know personally, to being able to talk to anyone for an interview and make it feel like a normal, casual conversation between two friends. That was absolutely the goal when I started doing interviews: Make them feel like actual conversations and not ask the same tired, pointless questions. A new goal came with that down the road about clickbait, but let's talk about that a bit later. If things go according to plan, I should be able to hit 500 in the next month or so. I can't even fathom that I am about to hit that point so soon.
The radio show, is also going to be hitting it's 300th episode in the fall. I know the radio show gets so much less traction than the interviews do, but that is where my heart lies. I love not only talking to my favorite bands, but also being able to PLAY them on FM radio no less (yes it is more than just a podcast, you silly gooses). I was doing an early version of this show right before I started doing interviews, so it's great to be able to see the parallels and differences between the two and seeing how they evolve year after year. This week is my 280th episode. If you're reading this, go check it out. It's quite an awesome show showing off my talks with Amorphis and A Perfect Circle (I've always said it's an eclectic show that has something for everyone.)
The last great news is that my band, Systemic Collapse has recorded a 3 song demo that we are putting some final and new touches on. I have no clue when it will be available. I'm hoping sometime this year. We still have a lot to figure out. Everything from vocals to lineup to cover art and so much more that goes into being a band. After playing drums for 21 years, I'll finally have a release of my own to show off to the world, it's a great feeling.
Now onto why I called this mid year report why I did...a plea for understanding...
I love what I'm doing, I love every single aspect of what I am able to accomplish and share to the world as That Drummer Guy, but the internet has really changed for the worst over the last few years. For anyone that may not have known, I do everything as That Drummer Guy by myself. Every single aspect: the radio show, the interviews, writing up everything I do, checking out every single album in detail that I receive to see if I should support it or not, reaching out to bands and PR for promos, show coverage, and interviews, doing all of those things, advertising my stuff, promoting my stuff, sending my stuff to people. I don't have anyone on my end that takes care of any aspect but myself. No higher ups, no interns, nothing. I've tried in the past to try to line up partnerships and deals to do cross promotion, even do a full live version of the radio show for particular stations.
If you didn't understand anything I listed above, simply put, this is a one person operation. All I have to rely on is myself.
That is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I have 100% free reign of what I cover, what bands I can cover, what Interviews I wanna do, what shows I wanna cover, what albums I wanna promote, etc. There is no higher ups telling me what I can and can't cover as you would get in other areas "That's not heavy enough!" "That's TOO heavy" " Don't Cover Prog" "Only Cover Metalcore" "Only cover bands on the radio" (That last one is my personal favorite told to me).
The curse is that....I only got me. I don't got the funds to make sponsored posts on social media, I don't have others to help spread the word of what I do, I don't have enough time in the day to do every single aspect of operations to make what I do as That Drummer Guy looking as professional as the bigger names out there in this field. I'm just one guy.
In the last couple months I have been REALLY reaching out on social media for advice on what to do to improve what I do as That Drummer Guy. Here are the main things that were covered.
1.) Make actual videos (i.e. myself in front of the camera doing interviews)
2.) Cover the trends that are popular now (i.e. reaction videos)
3.) Make headlines talking about the interviews you do and label accordingly
Let me cover why I don't do those three things now:
1.) Almost every single interview I do now is either over the phone, over skype or through a written email. For two of those situations, there is zero possibility of getting the other party to be on video for obvious reasons. The one exception would be skype. The thing is though, not every person wants to be video recorded, they have no problem with voice recording but not visually. I don't blame them. On press days especially, there is so much time and effort that goes into being on camera and looking presentable, by the time they are set, the interview time is gone. I'd rather have content than visuals of us barely being able to talk. Others may point out "Hey, didn't you used to do interviews in person? Do that again!" In person interviews are a nightmare to schedule, keep scheduled, line up, and make happen and in those cases, you get even less time to talk. You get enough time to talk about the new album and/or tour and you're done. (basically, 10-15 minutes and 0 chance of being able to go in depth with answers.) It has been so very rare where I have been able to get real, in depth discussions in person, simply because of the time factor. and getting back into the video aspect of those, same thing as on skype, to get prepared to look presentable on camera, especially on a tour, is so not worth the hassle for so many bands. I wanna make every interview I do as comfortable as possible. I know the bands that I talk to will have the terrible, clickbaity type interviewers just looking for headlines and dirt to get clicks...as I'll talk about later, that's not me. If I got a half hour to talk to someone, I want it to be the best half hour that musician(s) have that day that does not involve being on a stage in front of a crowd. It goes into what I talked about earlier, I cover what I want to cover. THANKFULLY, I completely run the gambit from Pop Rock to Black Metal to Grindcore to Progressive and sooooooo much more. Basically, if I do an interview with someone, it's because I dig their stuff and want to promote them to the best of my ability as a one person operation. I want to do nothing less.
2.) This I equate to trend hopping. Some trends actually become staples, some fade away immediately. I don't want what I do to be a fad, I want it to actually matter. Let's not even get into the legality of being able to do reaction videos without copyright infringement and getting strikes against my account on YouTube. That simply isn't worth it. Plus that's what the radio show is for. I can play those artists, legally, where you can judge if an artist is up your alley or not.
3.) Probably what could be my Achilles Heel. I know in my heart of hearts that this is probably the biggest thing that's holding me back, but here's why I don't make headlines out of my interviews...integrity! Some may call that a dumb excuse, but I don't. From the opening greetings and salutations to the final words, I want you to check out the FULL interview. I don't want my interviews taken out of context (Hell, look at the main page of this site to see what I'm talking about, I have a whole section dedicated to that happening without my authorization) Granted, when the bigger sites see my stuff, find something interesting in what I do and write up an article on it, I am eternally grateful. And ESPECIALLY as of late, they write out at least half the interview instead of just the headline they choose to show it off. All that said, if I pick a headline out, I'm basically making my own claim as to what is most important, a line that could be taking out of context, and could make the interview into something that it is not. If you want an idea of what the interview is about, I ALWAYS write a short description of what's talked about in each video: "New album, touring, upcoming plans and so much more" or some variation on that. I want it to be up to YOU what is important, I just ask the questions and engage, what's important is what you take away from it all. Headlines that decide for you what's important, and especially clickbait headlines that make your attention being grabbed and most likely not even really checking out the interview panders to the lowest common denominator. If that was my goal to begin with, I wouldn't even bother supporting the bands I actually care about and just reach out to only the biggest and drama-esque bands to get dirt. And I know that if I did, even with the quality of work I do, if I started doing that, I would feel like the biggest hypocrite and I would absolutely hate myself more than I already do (cause, you know, Major Suicidal Depression).
So here is the plea. Know that I am here to bring out the best quality one guy can bring you. A weekly 2 hour show covering rock and metal, interviews almost as soon as I conduct them available with just any mistakes or dead air cut out (unless there's some information I can't let out there) my year end album reviews covering over 100+ albums every year, and any other things I can scrounge up for you guys.
With that though, especially in the last couple years, means my stuff gets seen less. Facebook is an absolute joke these days, Twitter is a little better but not by much, YouTube stifled me so hard back in January where I will not make any money from there again till I hit 1,000 subscribers (I easily hit the 400 hours a year part, just not the subscribers) I went from having my stuff seen actively by those who care about what I do to hoping that the band or the bands' PR sees my stuff and shares it so it at least has a fighting chance of getting to people who may care about it.
I don't have the funds to do pay promotion, I can't afford a PR of my own, all I can do is be myself, do my thing and hope for the best. That's my plea. Know that I am trying so hard to make every single thing I do as That Drummer Guy matter. If you're reading this I hope I did an interview, played a song, reviewed an album, or showed you a band that you enjoy. That's what makes me different than a Hipster...I search out stuff you may not know about and actively WANT you to hear them and enjoy it.
I'm not on the edge of giving up. I have too much joy in doing this and in all honestly, it feels like the only thing I can offer this world, I don't have this I'm not doing anyone any good (a harsh reality). So if you enjoy what I do, please understand that I am just one guy, working in two shifts (one when I wake up, one before I go to bed) doing all that I can to make you care about music you may enjoy, what ever that may be. Without selling my soul, I feel like I have reached as far as I can as far as quality without massively changing how I do everything and again....selling my soul. So I just ask of you...a plea if you will, to continue supporting what I do if you enjoy it. Follow everything I do on Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) Check out the radio show on the fine stations that air it (KROCKS/Zero Point Radio, and 13SRadio) and check the website (thatdrummerguy.com) daily to keep up to date on what I'm up to. I know I can't rely on social media letting you be able to see everything I do, by checking the website lets you know what's new; you just may discover your new favorite band...or a band you absolutely hate. You won't know unless you try.
So that's about it for me in this mid year update. I will be doing a Top 50 Albums of 2018 So Far the first week of June and of course the grand daddy lists in December covering EVERYTHING in 2018. Along with hitting my 500th interview, 300th episode of the radio show, and my 7th year of being That Drummer Guy to come down the road.
Until then, thank you for the support, basic line of caring, passing through to see what I'm up to, or even the silent resentment you may have for me. Love Hate o9r Meh, I need it all to keep going.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)