International Pop Overthrow Back in Phoenix for 2011: David Bash Talks About His Labor of Love

The International Pop Overthrow mini-fest will be back in Phoenix March 4 and 5.

The multi-city festival, which gathers local bands in each city dedicated to the stated mission of overthrowing the Top 40 radiocracy and replacing it with a more nuanced brand of pop-rock, is in its third year in Phoenix, where it's dug in its heels at Mesa's Hollywood Alley.

This year's bill features the usual suspects -- Domo, Zen Lunatics (featuring New Times freelancer Chris Hansen Orf), The Unlucky 8's (featuring another New Times freelancer's boyfriend) and The Breakup Society

We'll wait with bated breath for the Republic's coverage of the festival for more details on that last band.

In the meantime, we caught up with organizer David Bash to chat about the fest.

Up On The Sun: How long have you been doing International Pop Overthrow now? How long has the Phoenix version been around?

David Bash: I have been doing the International Pop Overthrow (IPO) festival since 1998, when we began in Los Angeles and, in fact, are still doing it. For the first four years of IPO, we did it only in LA, but in 2001, decided to take it on the road. Our first stop was New York, which went very well, and then Chicago, which went even better, partially because the name International Pop Overthrow was inspired by the title of the first album by one of Chicago's most beloved power-pop bands, Material Issue. Each year, we add one or more cities to the fray; the one of which I'm most proud is Liverpool, where we began doing the festival in 2003 at The World Famous Cavern Club . . . yes, the place where The Beatles made their name! This coming May, we will be back at The Cavern for our ninth straight year. It's still surreal!

This will be our third-straight year doing IPO in Phoenix, and I'm very much looking forward to it!

UOTS: Who are you excited about from this year's bill?

DB: I'm a diplomat, so I'm going to say "everybody." Seriously, if I wasn't excited about a band, I wouldn't book them at the festival, but among the new ones, I'm certainly excited about Pawl and Mergence, and I'm always excited to see a band who I have loved for many years, The Breakup Society!

UOTS: Mergence, Friday's headliner, doesn't seem to fit the mold of the traditional straight-ahead power-pop acts at IPO. Why'd you pick them and put them last?

DB: I'm glad you asked that question, because for many years I've been trying to eradicate the stigma that IPO is all about power pop. Most stigmata are
grounded in at least something factual, and it is true that in the first few years of IPO, we concentrated almost exclusively on power pop, but for the past several years, I have tried to answer the critics by showcasing more and more indie rock, modern rock, garage rock, folk rock, etc. . . . Mergence is an excellent modern rock band with lots of dynamic; their vocals and arrangements are often stunning. I put them last because I felt they were a natural headliner.

UOTS: I see you're back at Hollywood Alley -- that's really become home base for this festival, huh?

DB: They have, yes. The owner, Ross, has been very good to us ever since we first became acquainted with him, and I've always loved both the vibe and sound in the room. It's a very good fit for us, and we're happy to be there.

UOTS: I see you've got some sponsors this year -- have you felt embraced in Phoenix and has the festival here been getting the sort of support and reputation you want?

DB: I have certainly felt welcome in Phoenix, but as it is in most of the cities in which we do the festival, I would like to see a bit more support from the media (present company excluded, of course). Since day one, in 1998, a primary goal of the International Pop Overthrow festival was to "overthrow" mainstream radio with the kind of pop that we showcase. It's been a continuous uphill climb, but one way we'll get there is with more coverage, more awareness, and ultimately, more people attending the shows. I feel 100% confident that even the casual fan of rock 'n roll would love our bands, and the evidence I have is that when I play a volume of the International Pop Overthrow CD (Vol. 14 will be ready for this year's IPO Los Angeles in July) for people who aren't part of the cognoscenti, invariably the response is "wow, this is great stuff-I had no idea anyone was doing this kind of music anymore!". My belief is that if you bring good stuff to the people, they will embrace it. The challenge is in creating the awareness.

UOTS: We're all happy to see Dfactor on the bill last year -- last year we ran a story about how Dave needed to put together a band to play so he didn't have to continue sitting out and he did shortly after. Guys like that -- guys who really love fun, poppy rock unapologeticlly and without restraint, seem to be the lifeblood of this festival to me. Who do you see as the primary source of support?

DB: Well said, Martin; that kind of band attitude is what I want most at the festival. IPO has always been a labor of love for me, and one reason may be that I will often look past "bigger names" to get the kind of band who is more passionate about pop music, who has fun doing it, and who appreciates the family atmosphere that the festival provides. Dfactor definitely epitomizes that.

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Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar