Being a power pop historian and journalist, how do you feel the genre has
changed since you started the IPO shows?"?
DB:It’s definitely broadened since I started IPO in 1998, and with that, the
umbrella that IPO uses has opened wider. IPO will always be first and
foremost a showcase for power pop, but along with that we also feature
melodic indie-rock, modern rock, folk-pop, garage-pop, psychedelic-pop,
singer/songwriters, and a whole lot more. With the proliferation of home
recording tools, there has thankfully been a lot more of each of these
After all these years, what do you like best about doing the IPO
festival? What do you like least about it?
DB: What I like best is going to the shows and seeing each of the bands that
I’ve booked. Booking your own festival comes with a built-in advantage that
you’re going to really like the bands that you bring in. I also love meeting with each of the bands, and hearing their kind words about the festival.
Of course, the travelling is a lot of fun, too. 😉
What I like the least is when bands cancel on me, especially at the last minute. I also don’t like "ego", which some of the "bigger bands" often
display as if it’s a birthright.
How do you pick bands for each show? What is the process? Is it different
for the IPO disc compilation?
DB: I choose the bands by doing searches on myspace, by reviewing submissions through our partners, Sonicbids, and by reviewing e-mails from bands who are interested in playing. If I like what they’re doing, and I feel that their music fits within the framework of IPO, then I’m happy to have them play. As for the IPO compilation, it’s open to bands who have recently played the festival (or will be playing an upcoming IPO) in any one of our cities.
If I’m in a band, how would I get noticed by you?
DB: The best way would be to contact me through our website
(www.internationalpopoverthrow.com), apply via Sonicbids
(www.sonicbids.com), or by my happening to find you on myspace.
Although I’ve only attended the NY shows, which city has the biggest
crowds? Not to get you in trouble here, but do you have a favorite city?
DB: The biggest crowds are, without a doubt, in Liverpool. First of all, the
shows are at The Cavern Club. How cool is that??? Bands from all over the
world want to play at the place where The Beatles made their name, and
because of this we are able to get amazingly high caliber bands for that one.
I would have to say IPO Liverpool is my fave, but Vancouver is a close
second because 1) it’s my favourite city in the world, 2) the crowds are
amazingly good; people really support live music there, and 3) there are
lots of amazing bands from that city.
Having said all this, and not to sound like the diplomat that I am (wink),
but I truly love doing IPO in all the cities in which we’ve endeavored to do
You’ve seen so many shows, and so many bands at this point – it’s easy
for moments to blend together. Do you have a list of best performances?
DB: I don’t, but I can definitely tell you which was the best performance we’ve
ever had at IPO: Off Broadway, in 2003 at Double Door in Chicago. Everyone
who was there will agree that the band was especially amazing that night,
tight as hell with lead vocalist Cliff Johnson being as animated as one can
be…oh yeah, the songs are pretty good, too (wink).
In the past, you’ve had to defend power pop as a worthy genre to
mainstream media journalists. I’ve seen a lot less criticism of the power
pop audience… do you feel the genre is more accepted (expanding it’s
audience) or is it stuck in it’s own niche?
DB: I think what’s happened over the past few years is that bands who once saw the word "pop" as anathema are now more comfortable embracing the term, which is good to see because most of those bands had always fit in that
genre, anyway. Another thing that’s happened is that, young bands, who were
never aware of the stigma, are calling themselves pop, and many who are
doing what one might label as "melodic modern rock" are calling themselves
"power pop". True, these bands don’t sound like The Raspberries or Shoes,
but what they’re doing is hooky, high energy, and filled with harmonies…a
modern power pop, if you will.
I’ve noticed less "big name" power pop acts like those at Charlotte Pop
Fest this past year. Is it only a question of money, discovering lesser
known bands or both?
DB: IPO has never been, and will never be, about "big names". When I tell
people about the festival, I am rankled when their response is "what big
names are playing this year?". I hate to say it, but so many people are
like sheep, following the flock, and don’t have enough security in their own
taste to listen to a band and decide for themselves whether or not they like
it. However, if Mojo or Spin, or one of the other "cool" mags gives a band
their seal of approval, then it becomes "okay to like them". I find that
follower mentality to be loathsome and obnoxious. People, you have an
opinion, and the power to evaluate: use them, please. Your opinions about
music are as valid as anyone else’s, and that includes any "big name"
journalist who has been writing about music for years.
IPO is about good music, not about big names. Having said all that, we have had several big name acts at IPO over the years, and as long as they are right for the festival, they are always welcome. However, as you alluded to, money is an issue with many of them, so there has always been no more than a handful of big names at IPO. That’s ok; as I said, the festival is about good bands, and there will always be many of those at IPO.
Tell me what you’d like to see for the future of IPO.
DB: I’d like to see us expand to more international cities, such as Tokyo,
Madrid, Stockholm, and Sydney/Melbourne. I have some irons in the fire, so
you never know!
Thanks for the interview, David!