Telling the stories behind the music
I started Great Music Stories at the start of 2015. As a bit of fun, and almost by accident, I started a rock show on a small, local radio station near to where I lived. I’d had a break from the genre for some years and came back to it with fresh eyes. What struck me on first appearance was, seemingly, how little had changed over 10 years. What rock music there was being played on radio was the stuff I remembered listening to many years before.
I started to dig a little deeper and one-by-one discovered a crop of exciting young bands, many starved of airtime or mainstream media exposure. What’s more, starting out in a music and media landscape that was emphatically changing raised challenges for young bands. The path forward was not obvious and many had a struggle making music financially viable. The weird counter-point between mainstream media either ignoring rock or focusing on the old stuff – at the very time when there was a rich a vibrant groundswell of new and technically impressive young bands – made me want to do something useful. And to do something that put the new bands front and centre. For me, the missing jigsaw piece was the stories. It would take time and some investment to do something useful, so I set up Great Music Stories, an independent audio interview series that would grow over time and which could partner with various events and media.
Having met a number of bands, my interest in following their stories grew. Not the usual album or tour promo stuff but the real stories behind the bands. Every band has one. And every band story is different. This is how Great Music Stories started, an interest in bringing out the personalities, the characters behind the music and to present their stories that, hopefully, would help their music to be better understood or more deeply appreciated. When it comes down to it, music is about people – and their stories: the highs, the lows, the dreams, the successes – and the mistakes.
Five calendar years on – more than 550 band feature specials have now been produced – plus more than 1,300 interview shorts. Together this is, perhaps, the biggest original interview archive on the new generation of rock and blues bands – and a selection of around 20% the archive is made available on this site. Many artists have said how much they enjoy doing interviews with Great Music Stories, to many our approach is different. I hope we have captured some of those moments on this site.
I do rotate the content on this site, and take time to look at the interviews that are most popular – which, in turn, guides planning on which bands I go back to next or which ones get fast-tracked for a repeat interview.
On this site I also write one album review a month. I’m not really interested in reviewing everything, nor do I think it’s my place to criticise material I don’t personally like or ‘get.’ Critics and reviewers can be a pain – and a statue has never been erected in memory of them! My approach is to pick one album a month that, objectively, I think is special and to write about it – and do something useful. Once an album is chosen, we usually support our picks with further Great Music Stories interviews.
On Friday’s, I still air my weekly radio show on a nearby radio station. The station is small but for many bands the Friday show has started a ripple. The show is about playing the music of young bands. Giving them a chance and re-connecting people to the genre. Some are rockers, many aren’t – and for me that’s the job for media to do. From small, humble beginnings – and with no budget or production support – the show now has a national, sometimes international, weekly audience. The show supports young bands in a different way to bigger outlets, we tend to take a chance on new bands and sustain support over time. Whilst airing a show on a small station has obvious limitations, the originality of the show has been recognised. It’s been shortlisted for three consecutive years at national radio awards, shortlisted against national radio shows which, to some extent, underlines the organic progress that has been made week by week.
Many of my Great Music Stories feature interviews I air for the final hour of my weekly radio show, although Great Music Stories is an independent entity and I am happy to also work with other media and outlets that share our passion for original content and supporting new music. In other capacities, Great Music Stories has also been involved in supporting music festival stages for young bands, produced exclusive audio content for a number of events and we have supported a number of crowdfunding campaigns.
At the outset, the plan was to do a run of 20 band features. Nothing more than that. Five years on, I am still finding new acts to collaborate with. Anyone that says rock & roll is dead is in cloud cuckoo land and the factual scale of the scene makes a nonsense of such subjective comments. It’s the depth and breadth of this new generation of guitar music that makes it so interesting. It’s been there for sometime. It has not been manufactured, no one owns it and no one controls it – but it’s something everyone should be part of, and to engage with on their own terms. Do explore the bands on this site and if you like any of the band stories, do go and check out their music, buy a few albums and start your own journey with a new generation of British guitar music.
Anyone interested in being featured on Great Music Stories or working together, do get in touch via the contact page of this site.
The main social media platform for news on forthcoming interviews is Twitter. Follow my page @GuyB_rockshow for all the latest news. I also do occasional posts on the Great Music Stories Facebook page on key features.