The internet is a fickle beast, constantly fluctuating with the incessant tide of trends and technology. It provides an excellent resource for musicians to be heard while, at the same time, being the bane of fans who are forced to wade through heaps of rubbish in their quest to find those few new diamonds of Rock N Roll brilliance.
Mediocre bands can be propelled to mega-stardom on the back of one viral video while great bands can be forgotten in the dust of a stampeding herd mentality. The internet can be quite a double edged sword where some, for fear of breaking the so called "formula" for success, will conform themselves to the expectations of others without ever being true to themselves.
Good Rock N Roll can easily elude you like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or fall into your lap with a single line of text on a social network... and this is precisely what happened to me.
One day, not long after the launch of this site, I had logged into Twitter to review our account and there, buried deep within a swamp of data, was a tweet posted by a band who went by the name of Iron Claw (Facebook - Twitter), directing people to have a listen to a track they put out.
Ok, this is nothing surprising in of itself, every single band on Twitter is doing the same exact thing, but when one follows thrashhead.com it's our obligation, as an online music 'zine, to have a listen. I followed the link and was blown away but what was thunderously flowing from my speakers; new music from a genre which seems, over the past couple of decades, has been relegated to the clubs of Austin, Memphis, L.A. and New York. It was the style of rock which the mass media nowadays tend to ignore in favor of the Justin Beiber and Lady Gagas of the world. It was soulful, bluesy oldschool rock n roll and the band themselves were no mere newcomers who were emulating a style which has ostensibly disappeared from the modern mainstream rock world; these guys had lived it, they were all experienced musicians who began their careers in the late Sixties and early seventies! I don't care who you are, in my book, that's what you call "hardcore"; anyone who can stick with their craft through thick and thin deserves respect.
"My god" I had exclaimed to myself, "what have I just stumbled across?" The music I was listening to had the purity of years gone by but with the undeniable mastery that only comes from musicians who have paid their dues through years of sweat and tears. I sat back in my chair, this was hard rock, it was not thrash metal and most certainly not punk rock...but it was damn fine music nonetheless. I had no choice, I felt the need to tell folks about 'em; I mean, what good is a music site, if you can't turn people onto some jamming tunes?
It wasn't long before we did a review of Iron Claw's album "A Different Game", and we soon became acquainted with both the band and the founders of their label, Ripple Music. Now, all the labels we have had the privilege of working with are great folks who have created something from nothing and you can just tell by all their attitudes that music comes first and foremost. Ripple in this sense was no exception, here was a label that was pressing incredible albums which ran the gamut from retro metal to stoner rock, but the difference was that their story is perhaps as equally incredible as the music they press.
Ripple Music was born in 2007 from a website named The Ripple Effect and it began in much the way this site began, with two friends getting together and going for it.
The founders, Todd Severin and John Rancik, decided they were going to create a 'zine which was going to be centered around reviews of each other's vast vinyl collection. A simple enough idea, though the music they were reviewing wasn't exactly what you would call "mainstream" anymore, especially on the tangled mess of the internet.
In time, The Ripple Effect steadily grew in readership and expanded to the point where they had a staff of nine writers and was being syndicated in Guitar World Magazine, Redgage, USAToday, Paperblog, and the MOG Network among others!
Before they knew it, Todd and John were being contacted by bands who wanted to work with Ripple in an artist-label relationship and by the summer of 2009 they launched Ripple Music, a label which was dedicated to the music which Todd and John loved. Co-founder Todd Severin describes it as: "An independent label created by fans for music fans which is focused on authentic, organic guitar driven Rock N Roll!" And with that, a new path was laid out before the two and it wasn't even a year before Guitar World Magazine trumpeted the creation of Ripple Music in one of its "Stories of the week" articles.
That first year, Ripple put out eight releases, albums which garnered incredible success for both the label and the artists. Some of these releases which made "Best of" lists for 2010 were Poobah "Let Me In", Fen "Trails Out of Gloom", and JPT Scare Band "Acid Blues is the White Man's Burden"; even Rolling Stone's Ed in Chief David Fricke declared the Poobah release as one of the "Reissues of the Year".
Think about that for a moment, you get together with one of your best friends, decide to do a review site, then a label and suddenly one of your releases is being singled out by the Editor of the music world's most revered magazine. For a metal label it may be Metal Hammer, for a punk label/distro it may be Maximumrocknroll; the point is, just imagine how you would feel if you were in their shoes.
Ripple's artists were quickly gaining momentum, landing major air time on the radio, with bands such as Modern Day Moonshine (who play with a southern style, Allman Bros feel) making the National Roots/Americana Charts while Fen, another band, growing with such popularity among the alt music folks that they charted for that genre and Sky Parade's "I should Be Coming Up (But I Keep Coming Down)" made it into the top 20 charts of Seattle's famous indy radio station KEXP.
2010 had to have been an incredible ride for these guys as they moved towards their goal of firmly establishing themselves as respected merchants of oldschool Rock N Roll. And from what I can see, the trip is only going to get better; with a new Poobah album and a deluxe vinyl edition of "Trails Out of Gloom" due to be released, as well as new groups like Grifter from the U.K., Scotland's Iron Claw and Irish band Trucker Diablo becoming part of the Ripple Music family. Not only that, but new and reissued albums are to be released from bands like Stone Axe (who have a heritage metal sound to 'em), legendary stoner rock outfit Mos Generator, and Santa Barbara's modern rockers Tripdavon.
Now, some of the music they put out may not be what you are into, you may be strictly hardcore punk or thrash metal and won't give the time of day to anything else. But that is really neither here nor there when relating Ripple Music's tale, this is an inspiring story about two guys who cared about their music so much they simply wanted to share it with the rest of the world and because of that, they are now creating new music for the rest of us to enjoy. They survived the dog eat dog world of competing websites and turned it into something truly amazing. It's a "do it yourself" story, something which many small punk and heavy metal labels can identify with; a story, not about money, but about loving something so much that it loves you right back.
I can't wait to hear more great Rock N Roll from these guys and we here at ThrashHead congratulate Ripple on their success and one year anniversary!
As we had mentioned in this week's news, Ripple is giving away an awesome one year anniversary music sampler, check it out below. Also, we threw in a Stone Axe vid fer ya, just below the gallery!