Monday, August 02, 2010

Music Monday - The Mad Mackerel Talks Wordpress, Joe Strummer and Black Angels

John Grain's music blog The Mad Mackerel is relatively new, sprouting up in England in February of last year. Working out of the U.K., (Charlbury, Oxon, if you want to know exactly where), Grain and his staff use Wordpress to its best advantages. We forgive his British spelling (as in colour), because Grain's blog comes from one thing: his love of music and sharing it with other music fanatics. Mad Mackerel's number one goal is to introduce readers to underground music, (often the first bit of press a band has received) with smart writing and legal MP3s to download. Oh and Grain loves a good murder ballad. Don't we all?

Music Monday Q&A

1. How long has The Mad Mackerel been operating?
Mad Mackerel first came into being in February 2009, just before we went to SXSW for the first (and so far only) time. We were hosted on Google Blogspot, but suffered at their Draconian hands with their ridiculous crackdown that arbitrarily punished those of us who were posting authorized tracks as well as those who weren't. So we got wiped out after 13 months, but overcame our depression to relaunch the next day on Wordpress where we have been much happier.

2. What makes Mad Mackerel different from other websites?
We'd like to say our writing. So many music blogs just post the song with no more than a line or two, so you can't be sure on what you're getting. We try and add some depth and some colour to our posts and figure that someone who has taken the time, trouble and effort to craft a song (which is far more difficult than writing about one) deserves a bit of time, trouble and effort from us to describe it and how it makes us feel. And no one writes on a Friday like Mrs. Mackerel!

3. Do you think Mad Mackerel has a specific musical niche?
We have a wide specific niche if that's possible. We like folk, country, Americana, garage, rock 'n' roll, indie, punk, and psychedelia. We love songs that tell a story, break your heart or dwell on the fringes of society. We love the swamp, the desert, the barroom and the seedy side of town in songs. And we adore a good murder ballad! We don't go much for electronica, disco, house, soul, R&B, hip-hop or rap as good though it undoubtedly is, it just isn't our music of choice. We're not much one for remixes either so it is rare for us to post those.

4. What contemporary albums are you looking forward to coming out?
There are lots and lots. If I had to pick three I would say the planned new ones from Black Angels, Wooden Wand, and Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan have got us most excited.

5. How does the Mad Mackerel support independent music and what is important about doing so?
Obviously the music industry is changing massively and unpredictably. Business models are different and new challenges are there to be overcome. We can't offer a solution to that so our approach is simple, we love music and it is our passion. Mad Mackerel is a way for us to share, with the artist's blessing, songs and videos that we like and hope others will too. We always give links when we can, options to purchase and try to ensure we only post authorized material. We also try and listen to everything that we get sent, though that is becoming increasingly challenging as the volume increases almost daily.

6. Do you think online publications are taking precedence over print? What kind of effect do you think that has on bands?

I think that there will be a place for both. We subscribe to five music magazines in print and love getting them and reading them. We have 30 - 40 blogs we like and visit regularly. We listen to 6 Music (BBC Radio) all day long. All are relevant and important, and all have a place and a role to play. Print magazines face the hardest job I suppose, as they are there to make a profit and need advertising and subscriber revenues whereas 99% of music blogs are labours of love so we can't be influenced as easily in the sense that we don't do it for profit so we can be truly independent.

7. What blogs/publications do you read other than your own?
We read Uncut, MOJO, Q, The Word, and Spin by subscription. We buy NME and Clash Magazine sometimes and The Big Takeover when we can get it. We read lots of blogs, but especially like Song By Toad, Raven Sings The Blues, The Finest Kiss, Sonic Masala, Slowcoustic, Hear Ya, Ninebullets.net and Get Off The Coast.

8. What has been your most definitive moment since you started Mad Mackerel?
There have been a few - the first post obviously (four reads in total), getting on Hype Machine... increased traffic enormously, getting 20,000 site hits in a month. Best of all have been the friends we've made all over the world, and particularly the musicians we've really admired who almost with exception have been lovely, gracious and humble.

9. If there is any musician/band you could interview (dead or alive) who would it be?
Joe Strummer without a doubt. Our youngest is named after him and he is my number one all time, put on a pedestal, complete icon and hero.

10. If you could be in any band (of all time), who would you rock with?
I can't imagine anything better than playing in The Clash in their heyday. I am sure my love for America comes from their love for America and playing a part in their New York residency would have been beyond compare.

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