Local tunes, local ears
Sac Rock Radio brings the old-scene vibe to new lobes
Nobody focuses on Sacramento music for local listeners like Joe Gonzalez, who grew up amid a Sacramento scene bursting with talent. In an effort to better connect bands and listeners, he’s recently started www.sacrockradio.com. Through the Web-based music station, Gonzalez streams local tunes for local ears, from big and small to old and new.
Who are some of you favorite locals?
I love Aroarah. A band called Breva. There’s a lot of good punk bands that I didn’t know about. Dave Buckner’s group, Last Angels; Middle Class Rut; Eightfourseven has a new album that’s great. Death Valley High is good.
Who have you discovered that you didn’t know existed?
Jess Gowrie and Chelsea Wolfe were in a group called Red Host. Now Jess is the drummer for a new duo called I’m Dirty Too, with Zac Brown. She sent me some stuff; I love it. It’s grungy, stoner rock meets Portishead. Lite Brite is an amazing group that I discovered through the stream; I didn’t know they existed.
How did www.sacrockradio.com get started?
I couldn’t get any radio stations to play my music, so I decided to stream my own band all day. Then friends started sending me their music telling me—“Play my band. Play my band.” Then Anthony [Sarti], from Eightfourseven, made me a website, bought the domain name for me and was like, “Here you go, man. It’s yours.” Everybody just started sending me music. I’ve had over 200 bands send me songs in the last two months. I’ve received music from bands from New York, Africa, Canada.
What inspired you? Had you heard of other successful Internet streams?
I thought I was the first one to do that here in Sacramento, but I’ve found out there have been others. Alex Cosper, who used to run KWOD in the ’80s and ’90s, had a stream, but nobody caught on to it. Now the technology has caught up with us. I’ve got the bandwidth, it’s affordable and it’s pretty easy to do.
These are live shows, yeah?
I do them live, on the fly. I’ve never done this before. I’m just putting it out there. I don’t have any experience. I just wanted to hear more local stuff. A lot of people don’t know about Sacramento; it’s a good scene. But it’s underground. I just need people to send me their music.
I want it to be about different genres, too. Last week, I did an all-hip-hop local show. As long as it’s unsigned local stuff, it’s all good. I was playing Arden Park Roots, an artist named Boss. People send me stuff and I don’t even know who they are. I have to look them up. I’ve got some techno, [drum ’n’ bass], Dusty Brown, Tycho—he’s been around for a long time. I don’t know everyone, but I want to be the place where they can all get together.
What has been the response to your site?
I started spamming people on Facebook. Everyone’s been supportive. My first show I had in September, I had over 200 local listeners just for the show. I’m just under 1,000 right now; I see all the IPs hanging in there listening. I didn’t think it would be as big as it is right now. I have a program that’s linked to my server that shows me the people that are listening.
What’s around the corner for Sac Rock Radio?
Next year, I’m moving into a new office downtown; it’s going to be a full broadcasting facility. Bands can come in, set up, and we can broadcast them. I want to do concerts, Sac Rock Radio presents. I’d like to do some live broadcasts from special events. Anyone that wants to do a show and promote their unsigned band and showcase themselves for an hour or whatever, anyone will be able to use the site as a platform. I want it to stay centered on the local scene and be accessible to everybody.
Random question: Skinny jeans have a long, tight relationship with rock history. Are you pro or con?
Skinny jeans: pass. Sagging skinny jeans: fail.
What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever experienced in your music career?
My band Sleepnoise played a show last year with the artist Head [Brian Welch] from Korn; his band was called, obviously, Head. During his set, he had problems with his ear monitors, and he cussed out everyone and finally threw his microphone down and stormed out of a packed house, some 400 bodies that came to see him. He didn’t come back, and after a while his second guitarist came onstage to say, “Head is having a rough time, he’s used to playing for 20,000-plus people and this is different for him. He is a devout Christian, I hope you all pray for him.” Everyone booed. We’re definitely not playing prima donnas on our station.
What was the best show of 2010 and why?
This year, I thought the Sammies and the SacShows [Local Music] Awards were both great events. They both promoted locals and that was great to see and hear. Color the Sound played and won at both events, and I was very impressed with them. I got to present the “Best Punk” for the SacShows awards and promote Sac Rock Radio, and I received a great response. I would love to present at the Sammies.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission made a big shift in regards to net neutrality; how do you see this impacting Sac Rock Radio?
The FCC has never been a friend to terrestrial radio and Howard Stern. They’ve left Internet radio alone. It’s been pretty free. The [Recording Industry Association of America] is the one going after the Internet radio stations, torrents, etc. But after this just happened, it is something we all need to keep an eye on. It’s too early to tell how this will affect me.
If you could interview any living musician on your webcast, who would it be?
Downtown James Brown! Forget the interview. I’d let him take over, say and play whatever he wants. Now that would be content worth listening to.
With your new downtown office, that should definitely happen soon, right?
I’m planning on it.