Tuning In

A new show about the local hardcore scene

Not that long ago, my friend Jason and I got ourselves in hot water with our girlfriends when we went on a double date to a nice restaurant and, after several shots, began acting like drunken jackasses -- literally. We were running through all of the farm animal noises we could think of, and, sadly, it's not the first time that had happened out in public.

It's hard to effectively apologize for the embarrassment we caused our long-suffering lovers. But I recently came across a pretty good option if the situation should happen again in the future -- a reasonably priced television commercial on the new local music TV show Feedback Video Magazine, which premières on Thursday, April 20, on KAZ-TV (channel 13 on Cox Cable or channel 27 with the rabbit ears).

"If you want to buy 15 seconds, it's $50 for 15 seconds," says Darin Roberge of Spyderdog Inc., which is producing the show in partnership with cameramen/editors Marc Barbour and Donnie Martin from 3B Studios. "If a kid wants to get up and go, 'I heart my girlfriend,' for 50 bucks, he can do that."

Fifty bucks . . . not that much more than a nice bouquet of flowers. And it would be on one of the coolest concepts I've come across lately. Feedback Video Magazine is a new weekly show that will feature shoots of local and national bands playing live at local venues, with interviews interspersed between the songs. The first episode, debuting at midnight on the 20th, features Bury Your Dead live at Neckbeard's Soda Bar, Propagandhi live at the Clubhouse Music Venue, and the world première of Job for a Cowboy's first video, for "Entombment of a Machine."

Roberge and crew also produce commercials that will air during the show, for companies like the Clubhouse Music Venue, the Horse & Hound Sports Bar, and AMJ/LuckyMan Concerts. Despite what seems like a monopoly approach to marketing and profiting off Feedback Video Magazine, these guys don't make money hand over fist. They purchase the half-hour from KAZ-TV and then are responsible for selling their own advertisements (which is why I can get such a good deal on a public mea culpa to my girlfriend if, God forbid, it's needed).

"Frankly, right now, we're getting porked," Roberge tells me. "We're absolutely not making any money. This is a labor of love for us. Honestly, if you're going to do any stuff around hardcore, punk, or metal, you're pretty much an idiot if you think you're gonna make yourself rich off it. We love this kind of music -- we want to see the scene grow in a positive direction."

The show, which I was able to preview prior to its première, is surprisingly professional for a local endeavor. There are between four and seven cameras used for the live shoots, which alternate between grainy black-and-white footage and bright color shots. The interviews are witty and insightful, like when Bury Your Dead's vocalist, Mat Bruso, talks about the elimination of racism and sexism from the hardcore scene.

"We try to do interviews that are really stripped down, with off questions, things that maybe people normally don't ask," Roberge tells me. "Basically, Feedback Video Magazine is directed at a Hot Topic version of what underground music is -- death metal, hardcore, emo, screamo, punk rock, etc. We've got the girls' pants, white belts, peacock hair bullshit handled. We're gonna cover everybody's musical tastes."

Hot Topic seems an odd company name to drop, but I concur that Roberge has a good point when it comes to actually getting a demographic that'll tune in weekly. "If you look at the success of a company like Hot Topic or a tour like Sounds of the Underground, that says to us that right now is a time when heavy underground music is really fucking strong."

It would seem like this would be an ideal endeavor for airing on public access television, but Access Arizona, our local outlet, is supposed to be shuttered this month. Besides that, Roberge wanted to reach a larger audience, something he'll be able to accomplish with KAZ-TV.

"We never really thought public access was the place for this," he tells me. "We went out of our way for that. Originally, we were looking to air it on another channel -- the scope of it was real small, just certain parts of Phoenix. About a month in, we started hitting TV stations; I have some friends that work at TV stations in the area."

Not long after they started looking, the team was contacted on MySpace by Kimberly Vega, a rep for KAZ-TV who also manages bands and promotes shows. Together, they worked out the details that led to Feedback Video Magazine's eventual weekly slot on Thursday nights.

The second episode of the show, which I didn't get to preview, will feature Lawrence Arms, Darkest Hour, and Throwdown, and I'll definitely be tuning in. The mere fact that the show exists is a triumph for underground music, locally. You can't hear this music on the radio or see videos for these bands on MTV, and the show is evidence that the underground scene is a stalwart entity here. I've got nothing but sincere wishes for its success.

Roberge and his crew may have a significant naysayer, though -- Jesus. "I was watching what was on in our time slot," Roberge tells me. "It's all religious programming in that slot. We're filming Deicide tomorrow -- Jesus is gonna be pissed."

 
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